Finding Life Insurance After a Heart Attack

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It’s common knowledge that having a heart attack in your medical history is a red flag when it comes to applying for life insurance, but even with a heart condition, you are not necessarily precluded from being insured, nor will you automatically have to pay exorbitant premiums. Depending on the steps you have taken to treat your heart disease, and the severity of your condition, you may well be able to get a life insurance policy with affordable rates.

According to Christopher Graham, vice president and chief underwriter for Hartford Life, “We are able to offer an insurance policy to the vast majority of people with a history of heart disease.”

Dr. Robert Gleeson, a medical underwriter and vice president at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company emphasizes the same thing. “We spend our lives underwriting diseases,” he says, “And, as an industry, we’ve had a lot of experience with coronary disease.”

While your heart attack will likely disqualify you from getting the very best life insurance rates, you may be able to qualify for the second-best tier (“standard” as opposed to “‘preferred”) even so.

What can you do to ensure that you pay the lowest possible premium for life insurance after a heart attack? Here are a few tips:

Wait a While. You may be able to save money if you wait a year or two after having a heart attack before you buy life insurance, because the longer you can demonstrate that you are taking care of yourself – good cardiogram readings, for example, and low cholesterol, the less of a risk you will seem to be.

Stay in Treatment: While you’re waiting, you need to be proactive about improving your health. Work with your doctors to change your diet, increase your exercise and take the proper medications to keep your blood pressure stable.

Document Everything. When you do apply for insurance, be sure to provide documentation for everything you’ve been doing. It’s not enough for YOU to know. The insurer must know. Be specific: it will reassure the underwriters buy into your case. Dr. Gleeson explains why: “If someone tells me that they have high blood pressure but doesn’t give me any more information, I don’t feel very good about issuing a policy without getting more information.”

Underwriting procedures vary from insurance company to insurance company and are often updated as medical knowledge changes and different treatments become standardized. If one company rejects your application for post-heart-attack life insurance, try another. Sometimes you have to shop around.

Having a heart attack is frightening enough, but it doesn’t have to leave you without life insurance. If you document your treatment process, and are patient with the system, you should be able to find affordable life insurance coverage despite your heart condition.