I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2022

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Many millions of Americans suffer with heart disease in one form or another. Heart disease isn’t a single condition either, but one that comes in virtually dozens of different types.

If you believe you can’t get life insurance with heart disease, however, you’re almost certainly mistaken.

Since so many people have heart disease, the life insurance industry has moved to accommodate these millions of consumers.

In all likelihood, not only will you be approved for coverage, but it may be at a more affordable premium level than you expect.

Much will depend on the type of heart condition you have, how severe it is, how recent the last episode was, and how well it’s currently being managed.

RELATED: 5 Critical Tips You Must Know Before Buying Life Insurance

If you have heart disease, or any other significant health condition, you’ve come to the right place.

As life insurance brokers, we specialize in high-risk life insurance.

That includes not only serious health conditions, but also high-risk occupations, high-risk hobbies, and even certain behaviors (like smoking) that are viewed negatively by the life insurance industry.

For now, let’s take a deep dive into life insurance with heart disease.

What is Heart Disease?

The term heart disease is a catchall phrase that includes many different, related conditions.

The list is a long one, and this isn’t even all-inclusive:

  • Atrial fibrillation (“afib”)
  • Heart murmur
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Bypass surgery or stents
  • Heart valve replacement or repair
  • Hypertensive conditions (like atherosclerosis) caused by high blood pressure
  • Aortic valve insufficiency or stenosis
  • Arrhythmia (bradycardia or tachycardia)
  • Angioplasty surgery
  • Bundle branch block
  • Heart attack
  • Mitral valve insufficiency, stenosis or prolapse
  • Abnormal heart rhythm, including use of a pacemaker
  • Pulmonary embolism

As you can see, there’s no single condition that determines heart disease, but many. And as is often the case, you may be living with two or more of the above conditions simultaneously.

Not to fear, however. You’ll still likely be eligible for life insurance coverage.

As you can see from the above list of the many different variations of heart disease, the application process will be more complicated and almost certainly will result in a higher premium than you would pay if you were in excellent health.

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How Life Insurance Companies Consider Applicants with Heart Disease

When you make an application for life insurance with heart disease, the insurance company will look very closely at the condition itself.

And, because there are so many variations of heart disease, each will be considered as though it’s a separate condition—which it really is.

For example, while well-managed hypertension is on the low end of the heart disease scale, a heart attack within the last three years will get much greater scrutiny.

Factors that insurance companies consider in connection with heart disease include:

  • The specific type of heart condition you have.
  • Any existence of multiple heart conditions.
  • How recent the last episode, such as a heart attack or stroke.
  • The level of damage to your heart. If you’ve experienced a heart attack or stroke, or other conditions that may have weakened your heart, the insurance company will evaluate the extent of the damage in making their determination.
  • At what age the condition was diagnosed—the earlier in life it is, the more closely the condition is monitored.
  • The treatment you have undergone for your condition.
  • How well you are managing your condition, including regular visits to health professionals and following through with any required therapies or medications.
  • The success of the treatment. A condition that’s been well managed for several years will get more favorable consideration than one that has been well managed for only a year or two.
  • Your weight. This is a major determining factor for heart disease in general, so it is to your advantage to maintain the proper height-to-weight ratio.
  • Any other health conditions, not related to heart disease. This can include diabetes, cancer, anemia, as just a few examples.
  • Your family history of heart disease, including your parents and siblings. This is especially important for any family members who contracted heart disease prior to age 60.

If you have heart disease, it’s very important to make sure that your health apart from your condition is good or excellent. That includes not only maintaining proper body weight, getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding stress, but also not smoking, consuming excessive alcohol, or engaging in high-risk hobbies.

RELATED: Check Sample Life Insurance Rates by Age (No Personal Info Required)

Still another factor that can affect your premium will be your occupation. Some are considered high risk in general, like construction workers, steel workers, non-commercial airline pilots, and truck drivers.

What complicates the connection is that heart disease may be an even bigger factor coupled with high-risk occupations, due to the high stress and greater danger levels they involve.

How Much Will Life Insurance with Heart Disease Cost?

Because of the greatly expanded menu of products available in life insurance today, it’s now more likely than ever that you’ll be approved for coverage, even with heart disease. The real question is cost.

Life insurance companies employ a system of health ratings that determine the premium you pay. At the top of the list are preferred plus, preferred, and standard plus, which are available to those who are in good or excellent health. A standard rating is for someone who is in average health.

If you have a mild version of a heart condition, it’s likely you’ll qualify for standard, standard plus, or even preferred rates.

However, if you have a more advanced condition, or a combination of conditions, it’s more likely you’ll receive a substandard rating. These are commonly referred to as table ratings, and are used to assign a more customized, risk-adjusted premium to your policy.

In most companies, there are as many as 10 table ratings. Each calculates a progressively greater risk in your insurance profile, typically increasing the premium over a standard rate by 25% at each level.

For example, if you are given a table rating of three, your premium will be 75% higher than a standard rate (3 X 25%). If you are given a table rating of five, your premium will be 125% higher than a standard rate (5 X 25%).

At the extreme, a table rating of 10 will result in a premium notice 250% higher than the standard rate.

The above ratings apply to traditional life insurance products; if you still don’t qualify based on the highest table rating, you may need to consider taking a different type of policy entirely.

The Type of Life Insurance Policy You Apply For Will Be a Major Factor

Whenever you have a health condition, particularly one of the more severe varieties of heart disease, the type of policy you choose will play a big role.

Whole Life Insurance and Heart Disease

Whole life insurance, which is also referred to as permanent life insurance, is the most traditional type of policy there is. But, since it is a permanent policy, it may be the most costly for someone with a significant heart condition.

Underwriting standards for whole life insurance are higher than they are for other policy types, due to the fact that the life insurance company will pay the death benefit at some point in the future—it’s just a question of when.

From a life insurance company standpoint, the most cost-effective policies are those where the applicant is likely to live decades into the future. A major heart condition would make this unlikely. That’s why whole life insurance is unlikely to be the best choice if you have heart disease.

Term Life Insurance and Heart Disease

A better option will be term life insurance. Because it is temporary in nature, the likelihood of the insurance company paying a claim is reduced.

And, since there are significant variations in the terms of the policies—ranging from five to as long as 30 years—it may be possible to get approved at a lower premium rate on a shorter-term policy. For example, the premium on a 10-year term policy will be much lower than that on a 30-year policy.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance and Heart Disease

There are also simplified issue policies, commonly known as “no exam” policies. These policies ask very few health conditions and don’t require a medical exam.

However, they are not recommended in the case of anyone with significant health disease. There’s plenty of information available from third-party databases that could confirm your heart condition to the insurance company, even without you providing the information or submitting to an exam.

In addition, no exam life insurance is much more expensive than a comparable amount of term life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance and Heart Disease

If all else fails and you don’t qualify for traditional life insurance (including a term policy), you can consider guaranteed issue.

Sometimes known as burial insurance, it’s a type of coverage that comes with a guaranteed approval. Though your health condition won’t matter, the death benefit on a guaranteed issue policy is low—no more than $50,000.

In addition, there’s usually a waiting period. For example, if you die within the first two or three years that the policy is in force, the death benefit won’t be paid.

This type of policy is designed specifically for those who cannot get traditional life insurance, but reasonably expect to live longer than the waiting period.

A skilled insurance broker will know exactly what type of life insurance policy is the right one for you.

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Applying for Life Insurance with a Heart Disease

If you have heart disease, it’s absolutely critical that you make an application for the right policy type, and with the insurance company most likely to take a favorable view of your condition. To do otherwise will be to risk a decline in your application.

On that front, it’s important not to be distracted by the many ads for low cost life insurance. Those are designed for young applicants who are in excellent health and have no extenuating risks.

If you have heart disease, the best outcome will be a very high premium; the worst will be a decline. Low-cost providers are not interested in high-risk applicants!

If you have heart disease, or any other significant health condition, you must work with a life insurance broker. Our job is to work with applicants who have significant health conditions, high-risk occupations, high-risk hobbies, and behaviors (like smoking) that are a red flag in the life insurance universe.

Since we work with dozens of life insurance companies all the time, we know which ones take the most favorable view of each specific health-related condition.

For example, one company may take a dim view of atrial fibrillation and give it a table rating of seven. But, another may have a more accommodating position, and give it a table rating of three. Going with the second company can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

Since you don’t work in the industry, you won’t know which company is likely to give you the lowest premium. We do, and that’s how we can help you.

We’ll not only help you find the best company with the lowest premiums, but we’ll also set you up with the type of life insurance policy most likely to work cost-effectively with your particular condition.

There’s no extra charge for our services; you won’t pay any more than you would if you applied directly with any particular company. We’ll provide all the information, handle the paperwork, and make sure your application is placed with the right provider.