If you have had a heart attack in the past, getting affordable life insurance may not be something that you’ve seriously considered. But despite the magnitude of a heart attack, there are insurance companies that will offer term life insurance policies, and often with lower premiums than you might expect.
How common are heart attacks in the US?
Deaths from heart disease and heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States. But at same time, it is also one of the most preventable causes of death, since so much of what causes it is a result of lifestyle choices.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following facts about heart disease in general, and heart attacks in particular:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
- About 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
- In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Each minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Alaska Natives, heart disease is second only to cancer.
- Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
What life insurance companies look for in underwriting policies for heart attack victims
While life insurance companies will extend policies to people who have had heart attacks, they do underwrite them in a different way than they will for people who have not had one. They’ll be very interested in the circumstances surrounding your heart troubles.
The first factor they will consider is the amount time that has passed since you had a heart attack or a heart related surgery. And obviously the greater that timeframe, the more likely they will be to approve your policy, and at a much more favorable premium.
Another important factor is the number of heart related events. A single heart attack will receive more favorable treatment than would be the case if you had multiple attacks.
Insurance companies will pay close attention to cardiac testing and medical reports since your last episode. It will be to your advantage to supply any requested information as quickly as possible. Any favorable information resulting from these tests and reports will obviously work in your favor.
One factor that is not in your control however is heredity. Insurance companies are always interested to know what the health history has been in your family line, and this becomes even more important if you have a history of heart disease. The insurance company will want to know specifically if anyone in your family – which includes your parents and any siblings – have a history of heart disease or heart attacks, and particularly any who died as a result.
Taking care of your health should be your priority
If you have had a heart attack in the past, this is probably something you don’t need to be told – it’s likely that you have already built positive changes into your lifestyle. But just in case you haven’t…
Emphasize healthy living. A proper diet and a comprehensive exercise plan will go a long way toward helping you to maintain a healthy weight and a strong health profile overall. It is also important to do all that you can to reduce the level of stress in your life.
Avoiding factors that will lead to other complications. This follows healthy living, in that you specifically need to work to prevent other health-related risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The fewer risk factors you have beyond the occurrence of a heart attack itself, the better your chances for life insurance approval.
If you’re a smoker, quit – now! Since smoking is often a risk factor in heart disease, insurance companies will look at it as a double risk – heart disease plus smoking. This could result in an automatic decline, or approval with unacceptably high premiums.
Go light on the alcohol. Alcohol consumption is another habit that has been linked to heart disease, and could result in another example of a double risk. In addition, alcohol consumption can contribute to high blood pressure and other factors that would weigh negatively in a life insurance decision.
With better awareness of health maintenance, as well as the steady stream of medical advances, life insurance companies actually do consider underwriting policies for victims of heart attacks. Do what you can to improve your overall health, then be prepared to shop around for life insurance companies that specialize in coverage for heart attack victims. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
Neal here. If you have specific questions on life insurance or face hurdles getting coverage - email me please. As an alternative, we could jump on the phone (818-889-6700) for a few minutes. Either way, I'm happy to do my best to point you in the right direction.