A medical history that includes a stroke can complicate your life insurance application process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- About 800,000 strokes occur in the US every year.
- One person dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, making this the fifth leading cause of death in our country.
- Out of the annual deaths from strokes, men represent 40% of the deaths and women 60%.
- About 25% of strokes happen to people that have previously had a stroke.
- Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability.
For these reasons, getting life insurance for stroke patients can be more expensive or even unavailable in a worst-case scenario.
What is a Stroke and How does it Affect Your Health?
Technically referred to as a cerebrovascular accident, or a CVA for short, a stroke is an interruption in your brain’s blood supply. When the arteries connected to your brain become blocked, blood vessels can either clot or rupture, and a stroke can occur. When this happens, the oxygen supply to your brain is interrupted, and brain cells can begin to deteriorate. This can lead to various long-term complications and even death.
According to the CDC, early signs of stroke include sudden:
- Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg (especially if it’s only on one side of your body).
- Trouble walking or seeing.
- A severe headache.
- Confusion, or difficulty speaking or understanding someone else talking.
- Early detection of a stroke is crucial to surviving it, can improve your chances of recovery, and can lessen the long-term effects of the stroke.
Degree of Severity of a Stroke
If your stroke was classified as a mini stroke and it has been at least six months since it happened, your chances of approval are much higher. Additionally, if you can show that you have made healthy lifestyle changes and have no neurological damage, this further increases the likelihood that your premium rate will be lower.
If your stroke were classified as a full stroke, you would have to wait at least 12 months before you will be able to be approved for a policy. The insurance company uses this 12-month waiting period to help them determine if your stroke was a one-time event or not. They will also want to evaluate if you have any neurological deficits and the treatment regimen you are following. Similar to a mini-stroke, they will also look at your family history, blood pressure, weight and height, overall health status, and even your driving history and personal hobbies. If you have had more than one stroke, there is a high possibility that your application will be declined.
The Medical Evaluation
Most life insurance carriers require applicants to have a medical evaluation, which includes a blood exam. This exam can reveal aspects of your health that may put you at a higher risk of having a stroke. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and being overweight all increase your risk for having a stroke and will be reviewed during your medical evaluation.
The Underwriting Process
Each insurance company will look at stroke patients differently, and underwriting will depend heavily on the details of the complications involved in the stroke. The insurance company will want to know how long ago your last stroke episode was and how old you were. The longer it has been since your last stroke event, the more favorable it is in the eyes of the insurance company.
Regardless, the insurance company will want to evaluate the type and severity of your stroke(s), how many times it has happened, if you have any neurological deficits, and the treatment regimen you are following. They will also look at your family history, overall health status, and even your driving history and personal hobbies. Additionally, tobacco use and alcohol consumption can increase your risk for a stroke, and the insurance company will ask you about these habits as well.
Most life insurance companies are looking for signs that it has been at least 12 months since your last stroke, that you have no tobacco use and low alcohol consumption, healthy dietary habits, and get regular exercise. Further, they also want to see that you have good medical follow-through, which includes following your doctor’s recommendations about taking any prescribed medication consistently and having any recommended follow-up studies (EKG, MRI, CT, or Ultrasound) or appointments. Finding life insurance for stroke patients calls for a seasoned broker.
How your Agent Can Help
Life insurance for stroke patients is reviewed case-by-case. The main thing to keep in mind is that all insurance carriers will look at your application differently, however, you should still apply. The rates that you are quoted may vary from company to company because they all have a different underwriting procedure.
The important thing is to discuss this concern with your insurance broker so that he or she can help you decide which companies would best receive your application and get the best rate for your policy. Information that is helpful to your agent and for your application includes:
- Date of your last stroke.
- The number of strokes you have had.
- The name, quantity, and frequency of medications you are currently taking.
- Date of your most recent follow-up studies (EKG, MRI, CT, or Ultrasound).
- A full description of any residual effects you still experience from the stroke.
The more information and facts you provide to your insurance broker, the more he or she will be able to assist you. If you are seeking life insurance for stroke patients, it is very important to use a broker like myself that has the knowledge and experience to be able to assist you.