Life insurance rates are in direct proportion to the risk you pose to the carrier. The higher the risk, that more you’ll pay for it and vice versa. The lower the risk, the lower the price.
Cardiomyopathy affects one in every 500 people in the US and can have a bearing in obtaining life insurance depending on your age, severity, and medication type and usage. In this post, I will go over the questions and prices you could receive if you are suffering from cardiomyopathy and seeking to get life insurance.
What Is Cardiomyopathy?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the name for diseases of the heart muscle. In most cases, the heart muscle becomes rigid or thick, which prevents the heart from pumping blood efficiently and maintaining electrical rhythm.
In some rare instances, the heart muscle is replaced with scar tissue. As the heart becomes weaker, other conditions may develop such as arrhythmia, heart valve problems, or heart failure.
What Are the Insurance Companies Looking for When Insuring Individuals with Cardiomyopathy?
Each pre-existing condition entails a different set of questions one should be ready to explain. Because each health risk has a different effect on your mortality, the carrier uses different criteria to estimate your prices. For instance, having high blood pressure is a very different condition from diabetes. Each medical impairment calls for distinctive rates.
If you have Cardiomyopathy and are looking for life insurance, you will need to answer the following questions:
1. Date of First Diagnosis
As with all high-risk individuals, the date of the first diagnosis, along with age, is of primary interest to the underwriter. The longer you have had the condition, the better rates you could expect. With HCM, you could expect to be declined coverage if you are under the age of 30 years old.
2. What Symptoms Have You Experienced?
This is another question the underwriter uses to gauge the risk you pose to the life insurance company. Let’s start with the good news first: in those cases with bothersome shortness of breath or palpitations which medication can help, you will be offered coverage as long as other impairments such as smoking, being overweight, or diabetes aren’t present.
If, however, you experience chest pain, have a history of congestive heart failure, or even have a family history of cardiac death, you will be declined for coverage and may need to opt for guaranteed issue life insurance.
3. Has an Echocardiogram Been Done?
An echocardiogram (echo) is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to look at your heart’s structure. The examination can reveal the size and shape of the heart and thickness and movement of the walls. If you have had such a test, the underwriter will want to review it further to see if there are any abnormalities.
Here is what the underwriter will be looking for: A valuable measurement taken from the echocardiogram is the septal-to-left ventricular posterior wall ratio.
If the ratio is over 1.3, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is present. As long as the wall’s size is under 1.7 cm, you have a chance to obtain coverage. If, however, the size is wider than 1.7 cm, you will most likely be declined coverage.
4. Are You on Any Medications
This is another obvious question and one that can be an instant declined or an indication of a less severe condition which can be useful for both you and the insurance company. Medication usage and type can reveal more about the severity of cardiomyopathy.
There are a few medications for those who suffer from cardiomyopathy, such as enzyme inhibitors which help with blood flow through widening or dilating a blood vessel, receptor blockers to help relax blood vessels, or diuretics to help with excess fluid by encouraging the production of urine.
Whichever medication you use, the underwriter is looking for control of the ailment without any complications. If your cardiologist decides to keep changing prescriptions or you are not taking them as prescribed, your application will be declined.
Note: Taking any antiarrhythmic medications, such as digoxin or amiodarone, to treat abnormal heart rhythms resulting from irregular electrical activity of the heart will be a decline.
5. Has Other Treatment Been Given?
There are many other approaches to treat cardiomyopathy besides prescriptions. If you have had any surgical procedures such as a pacemaker, ventricular assist device (VAD), or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), you will not be offered traditional coverage and may need to opt for guaranteed issue life insurance. Cardiomyopathy is a severe condition and adding extra unknown variables such surgeries just increases risk the insurance carrier isn’t interested in taking.
What Other Questions Will the Underwriter Ask?
Truth be told, the life insurance underwriting process is a daunting one, which is why you should never attempt to do it by yourself. That said, below are a few more questions you will be required to answer.
- Current age
- State of residence
- Height and weight
- Income and liabilities
- High-risk hobbies (if any)
- Current and past health history
- Family history
- Foreign travel
- Smoking habits
- Alcohol habits
- Driving history
- Criminal history
- Prescription usage
Here Are Some of the Conditions That Will Get You Declined
You might choose to apply by yourself or work with a broker who advises you to apply to every company under the sun and see who comes up with the best rate (which is a horrible idea). All kidding aside, if you have the following medical issues, avoid applying for coverage because your application will be denied.
As a broker, I would rather present all the facts upfront instead of using the snake oil salesmen approach to get you to call us or get you to apply just to find out, eight weeks down the road, that you were declined.
Here are some, but not all, of the conditions that will get your application denied:
- Under the age of 30
- Had a surgical treatment such as a pacemaker
- A family history of sudden cardiac death
- Any history of arrhythmia or syncope
- Septal or posterior wall over 2.1 cm
- Any history of congestive heart failure
What Rate Class Can I Qualify for If I Have Cardiomyopathy?
This is the most critical question you may have, and I hate to disappoint you, but it depends. As noted above, cardiomyopathy isn’t the only condition which the underwriter will look into. Your age the other health risks and the treatment you are currently on for cardiomyopathy are some of the concerns.
However, I’ll leave you with a starting point. If cardiomyopathy is your only condition and there are no treatments other than anti-hypertensive medication and no symptoms, you may qualify a table rating based on your age at the time of application.
- Age 30–39: Table G (200% higher than standard)
- Age 40–49: Table E (125% higher than standard)
- Age 50–59: Table D (100% higher than standard)
- Age 60 and over: Table C (75% higher than standard)
Life Insurance with Cardiomyopathy Sample Monthly Rates
40-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
40-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
50-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
50-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
60-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
60-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
It seems like we can all solve a problem we face after a Google search. Anytime we need information on how to do things ourselves, we turn into our beloved computer and type the keyword we seek an answer to.
However, when it comes to shopping for life insurance with a history of cardiomyopathy, you will need the help of a trustworthy broker, (which, by the way, costs you nothing).
You will know up front, before applying, whether your policy can be issued and the approximate rates you can get. We work with more than 50 carriers and promise to help you choose the best company for your situation.