Purchasing life insurance is hardly ever anyone’s favorite life experience, but for those with heart valve issues, the experience can seem even more daunting.
While we understand that the process of purchasing life insurance can seem overwhelming, we are here to make the process as simple and easy as possible.
At JRC Insurance Group, our agents specialize in finding our clients the most affordable life insurance coverage available, even if they are considered to be a “high-risk” to some insurance companies.
In this article we’ll explain what insurance companies consider when approving an applicant with mitral insufficiency, and we’ll provide some actual rates for coverage.
Quick Article Guide
1. What is Mitral Insufficiency?
2. What are the Symptoms of Mitral Insufficiency?
3. How is Mitral Insufficiency Treated?
4. Heart Valve Repair or Replacement Surgery for Mitral Insufficiency
5. What Questions Will My Insurance Agent Ask Me?
6. How We Can Help You Find Your Best Options for Affordable Coverage
Mitral insufficiency (MI) or mitral regurgitation is the most common type of heart disease that occurs in the heart’s valves. This condition occurs when the mitral valve does not close properly and blood leaks backwards from the left ventricle to the left atrium. Most cases of mitral insufficiency tend to be mild and often progress slowly or not at all. The most dangerous issue with blood leaking back into the atrium is that it can increase pressure in the veins that lead in from the lungs which can eventually cause fluid build-up or blood clots.
This fluid build-up can eventually lead to pulmonary hypertension which can cause heart failure on the right side of the heart, and blood clots can increase your risk for stroke or heart attack. Atrial fibrillation can also occur when mitral regurgitation is not treated properly. Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib is mainly caused by the enlargement of the heart’s left atrium which leads to an irregular heart beat in the upper chambers of the heart.
While some patients with mild regurgitation may not experience any symptoms at all, those with moderate to severe mitral insufficiency may have shortness of breath, chest pains, swelling of the legs and feet, or feel lightheaded at times. The heart may also weaken in patients that have severe regurgitation for a long period of time, and this can eventually lead to heart failure.
Because most patients do not experience any symptoms from their mitral insufficiency, many people do not learn about their condition until their doctor detects a heart murmur during a routine exam. If your doctor detects a murmur and suspects that there may be a larger problem, they’ll likely recommend additional heart tests to determine the cause of the murmur.
Below are a few tests that doctors and cardiologists commonly use to help determine if mitral regurgitation is present:
- Chest X-Ray
- EKG or ECG (electrocardiogram)
Depending on the outcome of these tests, your doctor may recommend treatment or refer you to a cardiologist for diagnosis or further testing.
There are several ways to treat mitral valve insufficiency depending on the severity of your condition. Life insurance underwriters will want to know how your condition is being treated in order to assess what kind of risk you pose to the carrier.
All life insurance companies will review your medical records before approving your policy, but working with an experienced life insurance agent can help you make sure you apply with the right company.
Here are some of the treatments that are common for people with Mitral Insufficiency:
Watch and Wait – If your doctor recommends to “watch and wait” before recommending treatment, this likely means that your mitral insufficiency is mild. Most mild cases of mitral insufficiency take decades to progress or may not progress at all. If you are on a “watch and wait” regimen for your mitral valve regurgitation, make sure that you have regular checkups with your doctor to ensure that you are being proactive about your condition and monitoring its progress.
Prescription Medications – While there are no medications that can correct a valve deformity, many doctors will prescribe anticoagulants (blood thinners) to help prevent your risk of blood clots, especially if atrial fibrillation is present. Depending on your symptoms, diuretics may also be prescribed to treat fluid accumulation in your lungs or legs.
If your mitral insufficiency has been diagnosed as moderate to severe, your doctor may recommend a surgery for heart valve replacement or repair. We’ve explained both treatment options below:
Mitral Valve Repair – Mitral valve repair is usually looked at more favorably than mitral valve replacement. In some cases, surgeons are able to repair the mitral valve by reconnecting the leaflets in the valve or by removing the excess tissue that is preventing the valves from tightly closing. To learn more about how mitral valve repair surgery affects your life insurance rates, please see our guide here.
Mitral Valve Replacement – When a patient’s mitral valve is unable to be repaired, a replacement will be necessary. In the past, insurance underwriters looked at mitral valve replacements less favorably than mitral valve repairs because of an increased risk of complications or blood clots. However, this has changed in recent years, likely due to recent advancements in the medical field.
If a mitral valve replacement surgery is recommended, your cardiologist will recommend a mechanical valve or tissue valve replacement. A tissue valve involves having your mitral valve replaced with a biological tissue from a pig, cow, or human donor.
The downside to tissue valves is that they typically last 10 to 20 years and often need to be replaced. A mechanical valve or manufactured valve will usually last for the rest of the recipient’s lifetime, but they almost always require the recipient to take a blood thinner for the rest of their life.
Because both heart valve replacement options come with their own set of risks, life insurance companies usually do not favor one type of valve replacement to the other. To learn more about purchasing life insurance after a mitral valve replacement surgery, please see our article here.
During the application process you should be ready to answer the following questions so your agent is able to provide you with accurate quotes based on your current condition. Every life insurance company has its own set of underwriting guidelines; answering these questions will help your agent find the company that is best for your specific situation and health profile. Applying with the right company can save you a considerable amount of money on the cost of your life insurance.
Here are some questions your life insurance agent will ask you to make sure you apply with the right company:
How often do you get routine checkups with your primary care doctor or cardiologist?
If you have been diagnosed with mitral insufficiency, following up with your doctor or cardiologist is very important. This is especially true if you have been diagnosed with mild regurgitation and your doctor has you on a “watch and wait” program. The life insurance companies will want to see that you’re being proactive about your condition. Patients with mild or well-controlled mitral valve insufficiency can usually qualify for standard rates as long as they are healthy and have regular follow-ups with their doctor.
When was your last echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, or stress test?
Life insurance companies prefer to see that their applicants with mitral valve insufficiency have had a heart test performed within the last 36 months. This goes hand in hand with having regular routine checkups with your doctor. All life insurance companies will want to see that you are doing your part to manage your mitral insufficiency and prevent it from progressing.
Are you currently taking any medications?
Life insurance companies are the most lenient with applicants who do not take a medication for their mitral insufficiency. If your mitral insufficiency has been classified as slight and you do not take any medications to control it, you may qualify for preferred best rates with a handful of insurance companies.
If your mitral insufficiency has been classified as mild to moderate, medications such as diuretics or anticoagulants may be prescribed to help alleviate some of your symptoms. Life insurance companies tend to be more lenient with applicants who are taking a diuretic to control their insufficiency than patients who are taking anticoagulants like warfarin, Coumadin, or Plavix. If your insufficiency is mild and you are taking a diuretic, you’ll probably qualify for standard rates with most companies. If your mitral insufficiency is moderate or requires anticoagulants, you’ll likely qualify for mild substandard rates depending on your age and overall health.
Did your mitral valve insufficiency require surgery?
Whether your mitral valve was repaired or replaced, all life insurance companies will postpone your application 6 months to ensure there were no complications with the surgery.
Mitral valve repair is viewed as more favorable than mitral valve replacement. However, in either case you will likely be looking at a moderate to severe substandard rating. Applicants with other severe health ailments may even be denied coverage. Please feel free to read our article, “Purchasing Life Insurance after Heart Valve Replacement Surgery,” to learn more.
Do you have any other health issues?
If you have a few minor health issues like elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure, these issues should not affect your eligibility for life insurance, or your rates. Life insurance applicants that have more serious health issues such as diabetes or heart disease may have a more difficult time getting approved for a traditional term life insurance policy. In this situation, it’s best to call and speak directly with one of our experienced agents to determine your best options for coverage. If you cannot qualify for a term life insurance policy, we may recommend a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
At JRC Insurance Group, we represent more than 40 top-rated life insurance companies. Having access to all of these companies and their guidelines allow our expert agents to shop the market on your behalf, matching you with the company that has your most affordable options. Our services are free, and there is no cost to apply for life insurance.
Unlike the large call centers, our agents do not have quotas or sales goals to meet. We are an owner-operated agency that is nationally licensed, and we offer more than 60 years of collective experience. Give us a call today for a free no obligation quote, or request an instant quote below to shop dozens of top-rated life insurance companies in less than a minute. Toll-Free: 855-247-9555.
Latest posts by Cliff Pendell (see all)
- Recent Changes to Estate Tax Law (What’s New for 2019) - December 12, 2018
- No Exam life Insurance – Guide to the Top 15 Companies (2019 Update) - November 28, 2018
- What is the Cut-off Age for Affordable Life Insurance? (Updated for 2019) - November 28, 2018