In this article, we want to try to discuss what the process will look like for someone who is applying for life insurance after they have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia.
In doing so…
We’re going to have to remain a bit “aloof” at times, simply because there are SO MANY different “types” of arrhythmias that one may have, that providing a “one size” fits all explanation would not only irresponsible of us, it would also be impossible!
When it comes to applying for life insurance after being diagnosed with an arrhythmia, it’s not all that uncommon for someone to be able to qualify for a Preferred rate while anther individual may be immediately denied!
At the end of the day, it’s all going to come down to:
- What “type” of arrhythmia you have.
- And how heathy you are aside from the fact that you’ve been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
That being said however..
There are some similarities amongst many “types” of arrhythmias which will allow us to make some “generalizations” when it comes to describing how an insurance underwriter will approach your application.
Arrhythmias are typically defined as any type of improper beating of the heart whether it be irregular, too fast or too slow.
Symptoms of an arrhythmia may include:
- Nothing at all, in which case the individual may have no idea they actually have an arrhythmia.
- Fluttering or “pitter-patter” feeling in the chest.
- Fainting or dizziness.
- Or chest pain.
Possible treatments for an arrhythmia can vary significantly from doing nothing at all, to treating with prescription medications (anti-arrhythmic drugs) and/or surgery.
Common types of Arrhythmias:
Premature Atrial Contractions.
Premature atrial contractions (PACs) are one of the most common types of arrhythmias that we’ll typically see here at JustBuryMe mainly because of how common they are within the United States. These types of arrhythmias are caused by a premature firing of the nerve cells within the atrium, causing a premature contraction.
The good news for those suffering from PAC’s is that the majority of these cases will be completely harmless and require little if any treatment or care. Additionally, most of these cases are actually discovered in normal, healthy individuals with little or no evidence of any heart disease.
These are often the types of clients who will be eligible for a Preferred or Preferred Plus rate class, however, if the PACs occur too frequently, even these clients may end up being classified as an “increased” risk for life insurance.
Premature Ventricular Contractions (Bigeminy).
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are defined as extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin within the heart’s lower ventricle chambers that will commonly cause the patient to feel a “pitter-patter” feeling within the chest.
PVC’s can be harmful for those who have other underlying heart issues, yet for the vast majority of individual with PVCs zero treatment will be required.
There are those who suffer from PVCs who simply don’t like the “feeling” that arises from having these abnormal heartbeats, for those individuals, there are medications that can reduce the symptoms (beta blockers) or they may simply try to avoid many of the environment triggers that have been shown in increase one’s chances of suffer from PVCs such as caffeine and/or Tobacco.
Individual suffering from PVCs will also “potentially” qualify for some of the better life insurance rates out there since PVCs aren’t considered very dangerous and will often be present in those who do not suffer from any other form of heart disease.
Bradycardia is defined as an abnormally slow heart beat which averages below 60 beats per minute. which can be the result of:
- Electrolyte imbalance.
- A atrioventricular block.
- As well as reactions to many different prescription medications.
Treatments for bradycardia.
Treatments for bradycardia will depend greatly on the underlying cause which could include simply avoiding certain medications all the way to needing to have a pacemaker installed.
How an insurance underwriter will view applicants with bradycardia will also vary depending on the underlying cause, however in most cases, coverage for a tradition term or whole life insurance policy should still be possible.
Defined as an abnormally rapid heartbeat, tachycardia can be caused by a variety of conditions. The ones that we most commonly see here at JustBuryMe are:
- Sinus tachycardia, is when the sinus node fires off impulses at an elevated rate which leads to the heart beating greater than 100 beats/min (bpm).
- Supraventicular tachycardia (SVT) or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), which is defined by a faster than normal heartbeat rate beginning above the ventricular chambers.
- Ventricular tachycardia (VT), defined as an abnormally fast heartbeat origination in the ventricular chambers of the heart.
Now if we were doctors instead of just life insurance agents, we could theoretically debate how serious it is to have an irregularly fast heartbeat, but since…
- We’re not doctors….
- And we haven’t gone to medical school….
- And even learning how to spell some of these technical terms is actually giving us a headache…
We’ll just stick to what we know which is this:
Insurance underwriters are going to scrutinize applications from those who have been diagnosed with tachycardia a bit more carefully than those with premature ventricular or atrial contractions.
These clients may still be eligible for Preferred rates, it’s just that most insurance underwriters are going to spend a “bit” more time reviewing your application before they just sign off on those types of approvals.
Atrial fibrillation (also known as AF or Afib) is a type of arrhythmia that insurance companies are going to be a bit more concerned about.
With these types of arrhythmias, the problem occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (atria) and the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) do not “beat” in rhythm.
Patients with Afib, will often suffer from an elevated heart rate and experience symptoms similar to heart palpitations, which cause fatigue, shortness of breath and/or light headedness.
Finding life insurance coverage for these types of individuals can quickly become complicated due to the many health factors that can come into play. For this reason, we’ve chosen to write a separate article for those specifically applying for life insurance with atrial fibrillation where we will dive further into how insurance companies are going to view this type of pre-existing condition during the underwriting process.
We’ll simply state that those with atrial fibrillation can “theoretically” qualify for all 14 possible rate classes available, but in general, if you have been diagnosed with Afib, any rating above Standard should be viewed as a victory!
Technically speaking, atrial flutters (AFL) will be classified as a type of supra-ventricular tachycardia, in which the abnormally fast heartbeat will originate in the atrial chambers of the heart where it first occurs then continue through the entire beating process.
And since, nearly 200,000 individuals will be diagnosed with atrial flutter each and every year, we figured we might as well list it here as a separate type of arrhythmia and also complete a separate write up on atrial flutters which can be found clicking on this link: Quality Life Insurance Tips for Those Diagnosed with Atrial Fultter.
Arrhythmias and the life insurance process.
Now that we’ve briefly discuss just a few of the most common types of arrhythmias and briefly mentioned how they may be viewed (at least initially) by the life insurance industry, let’s just take a moment or two and discuss how the life insurance application process is going to work, and how life insurance companies will attempt to decide who they will and won’t insure.
Types of life insurance policies.
When it comes to applying for life insurance, there are generally 3 categories you need to be aware of:
- Traditional term and whole life insurance policies.
- Simplified issue term and whole life insurance policies.
- And Guaranteed issue whole life insurance policies.
For more information regarding each of these types of policies, including their pros and cons, we would invite you to “click” on the links above and check out the corresponding articles.
For our purposed today however…
Since we already know that you’ve been diagnosed with an arrhythmia, we can pretty much eliminate any simplified issue life insurance policies from consideration simply because these types of policies will generally be more difficult to qualify for primarily because they won’t require a medical exam and generally won’t order any medical records.
Which leaves us with…
Traditional term or whole life insurance options or a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. So… let’s take a brief look at each and see how these types of policies may be a quality option for someone who has been diagnosed with an arrhythmia.
Fully underwritten term or whole life insurance options.
When most people think about life insurance, they’re generally thinking about fully underwritten types of life insurance policies. These are insurance policies where an individual will need to:
- Apply for coverage.
- Answer a series of health-related questions.
- Take a medical exam (which may or may not require an EKG).
- And wait a few weeks before they know if they’ve been approved for coverage or not.
What many folks don’t know about these types of policies is that insurance companies are also going to…
- Order a prescription data base check so that they can see what medications you are currently taking as well as what you have been prescribed in the past.
- Order a DMV report.
- Order a criminal background check.
- Request copies of your medical records.
- And in some cases, they may also run a “soft credit check” to determine if you’ve filed for bankruptcy within the past 2 years.
Or in other words…
Fully underwritten life insurance policies are going to ask a lot of questions, and order a lot of reports prior to approving your application for coverage.
Then once it has been determined that you have been diagnosed with arrhythmia, the insurance underwriters will typically ask you an additional set of questions designed to learn more about the severity of your condition. These questions will generally sound something like this:
- What type of arrhythmia or heart condition have you been diagnosed with?
- Who diagnosed your condition? A general practitioner or a cardiologist?
- How often do you see your primary care physician or cardiologist?
- When did you receive your diagnosis?
- Are you currently receiving treatment for your condition? And if so, what type of treatment are you receiving?
- Have you ever suffered from a stroke or heart attack?
- Has any of your immediate family members ever suffered from a stroke or heart attack?
- Have you ever been hospitalized due to your condition?
- What symptoms do you experience as a result of your condition?
- What is your current height and weight?
- In the past 12 months have you used any tobacco or nicotine products?
- Are you currently working now?
- In the past 12 months have you applied for or received any form of disability benefits?
From here, the insurance companies are going to have a pretty good understanding of the severity of your condition as well as a decent idea about what “type” of life insurance you’ll be eligible for as well as what “rate class” you may or may not qualify for.
It’s important to note that…
Until your life insurance application is complete and the insurance underwriter has access to all the information he or she will need, we still won’t know for sure if you’ll be eligible for coverage or what price.
Those questions won’t be answered until all the facts are in!
But one thing that we try to…
Do is “push the odds” in our favor. We do this by using the information gathered in your life insurance application to “match” you with who we “feel” might be the best life insurance company for you, based on their own internal underwriting guidelines.
Here at JustBuryMe, because we’ve chosen to remain an independent life insurance brokerage that is able to work with dozens of life insurance companies. Which means that, we don’t need to rely on just one or two different insurance companies when it comes to helping you find the best life insurance policy out there, we can shop dozens!
But what happens if we learn that….
You simply won’t be eligible for a fully underwritten insurance policy? What happens then?
This is when we need to take a look at some of the “alternative” life insurance policies that are available that won’t require you to take a medical exam and won’t require you to answer any health-related questions!
These types of policies are called guaranteed issue life insurance policies and as long as you are between 40-85 years of age and are a US citizen, you will be eligible (product may not be available in your state).
Advantages of a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
The main advantages of a guaranteed issue life insurance policy are that:
- Provided that you meet the two main requirements for approval, you won’t be denied coverage.
- Applications are super quick and easy and can generally be completed over the phone or via email.
- Approvals will also generally take less than 24 hours so you won’t need to wait weeks before coverage begin.
Main Disadvantages of a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
The main disadvantages of a guaranteed issue life insurance policy will include:
Guaranteed issue life insurance policies aren’t going to offer an enormous amount of life insurance coverage. In fact, most guaranteed issue life insurance policies are going to only offer approximately $25,000 dollars in coverage. So, if $25,000 dollars in coverage isn’t going to be enough for you, a guaranteed issue life insurance policy may not be the right option for you.
Cost. It’s important to understand that dollar per dollar, guaranteed life insurance policies are generally going to be much more expensive than other more traditional term or whole life insurance policies.
Now this doesn’t mean that your monthly premium bills are going to be enormous, it just means that the amount that you pay for $25,000 dollars in coverage may be the same as what someone may be paying for $250,000 dollars in coverage simply because they can qualify for a “traditional” type of life insurance policy.
The reason for this is simple: life insurance prices are usually based on a person’s health and likelihood to die prematurely. The healthier you are, the less expensive your policy will typically be.
Third main disadvantage.
Guaranteed issue life insurance policies are going to have a graded death benefit clause built into them.
Graded Death Benefit Defined.
A Graded death benefit clause is a clause written with a guaranteed issue life insurance policy that will state that in order for your policy to cover “natural” causes of death such as cancer, heart disease, stroke or diabetes, you must first stay “outlive” a preset waiting period, which is known as a graded death policy.
This “waiting period” will vary but will typically last between 2-3 years depending on the insurance carrier. Now “accidental” causes of death such as slip and fall, motor vehicle accidents or natural disasters will immediately be covered, it’s only “natural” causes of death that will have a waiting period.
Now you may be asking yourself, “Why do guaranteed issue life insurance policies have graded death benefit clauses associated with them?
And the answer is because a guaranteed issue life insurance policy isn’t going to require a medical exam or ask any health-related questions. Which means that insurance company simply aren’t going to have any idea how healthy or “unhealthy” you are.
For this reason, they use a graded death benefit as a way of “weeding” out those applicants who may be seriously ill or days or weeks away from passing away!
For more information about graded death benefits and guaranteed issue life insurance policies we would advise you to give us a call or visit our article Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policies – Pros and Cons – .
Now we know…
That we’ve covered a lot of information here in the article and the last thing that we expect is for you to suddenly become an expert on all of this, we just hope that you’ll understand that even with a pre-existing condition like amyloid disease, you may potentially have options, you’re just going to need to speak with an agency that knows where to look!
So, what are you waiting for? Give us a call today and see what we can do for you!
You may also be interested in reading JustBuryMe’s Best Final Expense and Burial Insurance Companies.