Life Insurance After Heart Bypass Surgery

Life Insurance After Heart Bypass Surgery

Have you had heart bypass surgery and are wondering if you are still able to purchase affordable life insurance? Purchasing life insurance can be worrisome for the healthiest of people, but for those who have had serious health issues in the past, such as a heart bypass surgery, applying for life insurance may seem like a very intimidating process.

Don’t worry, many people who have had bypass surgery decide to purchase life insurance to provide financial protection for their family.

When shopping for coverage, you’ll want to work with an experienced agent that represents all of the top-rated life insurance companies to get the lowest rates.

Quick Article Guide

1. What is a coronary artery bypass or heart bypass surgery?
2. Questions your agent will ask you about your heart bypass
3. Sample rates for applicants who have had heart bypass surgery
4. How JRC can help you find affordable life insurance after bypass surgery

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What is a coronary artery bypass or heart bypass surgery?

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), there are about 395,000 heart bypass surgeries performed in the United States each year. Heart bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass, or CAG, is a surgical procedure that diverts the flow of blood around a section of a blocked artery in the heart to restore normal blood flow. This surgery is normally performed by using blood vessels from other parts of the body, (i.e. legs or arms), and then connects them to other arteries in the heart so that blood can bypass the areas that are blocked.

Coronary bypass surgery is usually used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary vascular disease (CVD). Heart or coronary bypass surgery is a common preventative procedure for people with the following conditions:

  • A left main coronary artery that is severely narrowed or blocked
  • People with multiple diseased arteries
  • Artery blockage in which angioplasty isn’t the best solution
  • When a stent has been placed, but the artery is narrowing again (restenosis)

Coronary bypass surgery may also be performed in emergency cases as treatment after a heart attack or when significant blockage has been discovered and chest pain is present. Despite the reasoning behind the bypass surgery, significant lifestyle changes are almost always recommended in order to help ensure that the patient has the best possible results.

When shopping for life insurance, every applicant’s situation is different. Often times there are other health or lifestyle issues that the life insurance will need to consider when approving an application. Some life insurance companies are more lenient depending on your current age or other health factors.

With that being said, there is not just one “go to” life insurance company for all applicants who have ever had a bypass surgery. Some life insurance companies may decline your application or charge you a much higher rate. This is why working with a no-cost life insurance brokerage, such as JRC, is so advantageous. Your agent will shop the market on your behalf to find the least expensive policy available from a reputable “A” or better rated life insurance company.

When working with an agent that is experienced in underwriting, your agent will need to ask you some underwriting questions to determine which company will be your best match. This process allows us to provide you with an accurate quote upfront and ensures that the company we recommend is the best fit for you.

Questions your agent will ask you about your heart bypass

Below are a list of questions that your agent will ask you when you apply for life insurance after having heart bypass surgery.

How many blocked arteries did you have treated?

The number of blocked arteries can range anywhere from one to six, but the fewer the better. In most cases, applicants who have had one or two mildly diseased arteries will receive a mild-substandard rating, or the sixth best rate category available. This is often referred to as table 2. To put this in perspective, most life insurance companies offer up to 12 table rates. Applicants with more than two blocked arteries that have been treated can expect to receive a moderate to severe substandard rating, usually table 2 or higher, depending on age and overall health. With this being said, a table 3 rating usually costs 20-25% more than a table 2 rating.

How long has it been since your bypass surgery was completed?

We understand that you might want to purchase life insurance as soon as possible after having a major surgery on your heart. While we see the reasoning behind this logic, we recommend waiting a few months before doing so. This is because the majority of life insurance companies will postpone your application until after your surgery has been deemed successful. In the insurance industry, this postponement is referred to as a “waiting period” and usually lasts up to six months after your surgery has been performed. Waiting periods are important because insurance companies want to make sure that there are minimal complications from the bypass.

It is also important to note that heart bypass surgeries do not last forever. In many cases, the patient will need another bypass surgery completed in 10-12 years. Because of this, many life insurance companies are wary of applicants who are coming upon their 10-year anniversary and they usually require an EKG and/or stress test before issuing an approval.

For this reason, purchasing a term that extends more than 10 years is advisable. In addition, insurance companies tend to offer the best rate classes to applicants three years after the bypass surgery has been completed, as long as they have had regular follow-ups.

How old were you when your bypass surgery was completed?

In general, the older you were when you had your bypass surgery completed, the better. Life insurance companies tend to be the most lenient with applicants who were at least 40 years old when their bypass surgery was performed. Remember, most bypasses are not permanent and the younger you were when they were completed, the more potential issues you may have later in life. For older applicants, life insurance companies worry that the applicant’s heart may not be strong enough to endure another surgery.

With that being said, if you were under the age of 40 when your surgery was completed, or if you are over the age of 80 now, buying life insurance can present a serious challenge. If you were under the age of 40 when your bypass surgery was performed, unfortunately, we will not be able to offer you a traditional term life insurance policy. However, you may want to consider a guaranteed issue or graded life policy if you are over the age of 50 now. These policies do not require a medical exam and they offer up to $25,000 in life insurance protection.

Was the surgery a result of a heart attack? If so, when did you have a heart attack?

Heart attacks usually occur when one or more of the connecting arteries are completely blocked. If you had emergency bypass surgery as a result of a heart attack, affordable traditional term insurance coverage may still be available. In this situation, rates will vary based on a person’s age at the time of the heart attack and the total number of vessels that were blocked. Additionally, the life insurance company you apply with will want to see that you are a non-smoker and that you have had good follow-up with your doctor or cardiologist. To obtain the most accurate rates, we recommend calling to speak directly to one of our expert agents, toll-free at 855-247-9555.

Did you experience any complications after your surgery?

Some of the common complications that can occur after having a bypass surgery are arrhythmia, bleeding, stroke, and blood clots. Having any of these problems following your surgery will likely end up with a severe substandard rating or a denial of coverage. Moreover, if you experience chest pains, or angina, after your bypass, it is likely due to blockages in the arteries which will almost always result in a decline of your application.

In this situation, a guaranteed issue life insurance policy for up to $25,000 of coverage may be your best option.

Are you taking any maintenance medications to control your plaque buildup?

After a CAG, your risk for blood clots is extremely high. As a preventative measure, most doctors will recommend taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or Motrin. In addition, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner like Plavix or Coumadin for a few months after your surgery has been completed. 

Are you a smoker? If so, how many cigarettes do you smoke per day?

If you are a current cigarette smoker, your doctor will strongly recommend that you quit after your bypass surgery has been completed. This is because using tobacco products after your procedure can increase your risk of blood clots, which will raise the premiums of your policy. If you have had any other compounding health issues, testing positive for nicotine during your exam may even cause your application to be declined. Read more about life insurance for cigar and e-smokers here.

What are your dietary habits? Are you overweight? Do you exercise?

Life insurance companies like to see that you have control over your condition.

Additionally, companies are the most lenient with applicants who maintain their weight by eating a healthy diet that is low in salt and saturated fat. Some underwriters may also give additional consideration to applicants who exercise regularly.

Do you have any other health issues?

Additional health issues can also affect your life insurance rates after a bypass surgery. These issues include high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, coronary artery disease, and atrial fibrillation. Make sure you communicate to your life insurance agent if you have any of these issues because this will prevent you from applying with the wrong company and it will allow your agent to give you a more accurate quote.

Sample rates for applicants who have had heart bypass surgery

Depending on your age, term life insurance is usually available in 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year increments. We also offer permanent protection options that will guarantee your life insurance rates and coverage until the age of 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, or even 121.

Below are some sample rates for an applicant who has had a bypass surgery completed with normal stress test imaging.

Best Case Monthly Rates for a Female, Age 45-75, 10-Year, $250,000 Term Policy after a Heart Bypass Surgery

Best Case Monthly Rates for a Male, Age 45-75, 10-Year, $250,000 Term Policy after a Heart Bypass Surgery

How JRC can help you find affordable life insurance after bypass surgery

Shopping for life insurance after a heart bypass surgery can seem like a daunting task, but working with the right agent and agency will save you time and money.

At JRC, we understand that your time is valuable. We work with over 40 highly-rated life insurance companies which allows us to find your best options in a matter of minutes. We take pride in being experts on each company’s underwriting guidelines. By utilizing these guidelines, our agents will compare your health and lifestyle with each top-rated company to determine your best match.

We take our time with each client to make sure they understand all of the life insurance options available to them. We understand that each person has a different need for coverage which is why we offer both term and permanent policies. Our agents are not pushy salespeople and we do not have sales goals or quotas; we’re here to help. It does not cost money to apply for life insurance coverage and our services are free. Give us a call today and you’ll see why we’re different. Toll free 855-247-9555 or you can request a free quote here.

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Cliff Pendell

VP of Marketing at JRC Insurance Group
Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.
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