People buy insurance in case something bad happens to them. That means that when an insurer sells you a policy, they’re taking on that risk on your behalf. When it comes to life insurance, they’re taking on the risk of you dying while you’re insured – which is why your health plays a big part when taking out a policy. Looking at your personal and family health history will help insurers decide whether or not they should insure you, and how much you should pay to be covered.
If you’ve got a heart condition – i.e. you’ve got angina or you’ve had a heart attack in the past – insurers will definitely take this into account when considering your application. This process is called ‘underwriting’. Some life insurance applications will be accepted after online underwriting, but for someone with a heart condition or heart disease, it’s likely the application would be looked at more closely by a (human) underwriter.
Depending on the extent of your underlying heart condition, your age, and how frequent your symptoms are, you might find it more difficult or more expensive to get covered with life insurance. This is because it could affect how likely you are to die during your policy term.
Can you buy life insurance if you’ve got a heart condition?
You can always apply for life insurance, even if you’ve got a heart condition – though the success of your application will vary from insurer to insurer based on the extent of your condition. Whoever applies will always have to answer questions about their health and lifestyle, including questions about their:
- Personal health history
- Family health history
- Height and weight (BMI)
- Smoking status
Having a heart condition could affect whether or not the insurer accepts your application, but you can always apply and, more often than not, buy cover. Getting help from an adviser can really help in this situation, as they’ll quickly be able to filter out the insurers most likely to accept your application, and who offer the best terms for you and your circumstances.
What will insurers need to know about your heart condition?
If you’ve ever been diagnosed with a heart condition, it’s likely you’ll be required to provide the following during the underwriting process:
- How old you were when diagnosed
- How frequently you experience symptoms
- What treatment you’re taking
- Whether you experience pain in your calves when walking
- Whether you’re making any lifestyle changes to manage your condition
- Whether your heart condition has caused any related health conditions
How will your heart condition affect your life insurance application?
Typically, there are a few possible outcomes when you apply for life insurance but disclose an underlying heart condition like angina or a heart attack. These include:
- Your application being accepted but with a ‘loading’ on the price (i.e. your rates will be between 50% and 150% higher than they would be for someone who hasn’t been diagnosed with a heart condition)
- Your application being accepted but with an exclusion in the policy conditions (i.e. relating to your specific diagnosis)
- Your application being declined (this happens if the insurer thinks your heart condition means you’ll always be too high risk to insure)
In general, it’s safe to assume that:
- Your life insurance application is likely to be declined if your heart condition was diagnosed at a young age
- Your life insurance application is likely to be declined if, in addition to your heart condition, you also have another condition like diabetes or emphysema, other heart problems like cardiomyopathy or atrial fibrillation, or you’ve had a stroke
- Your life insurance application is likely to be declined if you’ve ever had a heart attack
Why it’s important to disclose your heart condition
When applying for life insurance, it’s extremely important to answer all the health questions honestly. If you don’t disclose that you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition or heart disease, even if you haven’t experienced symptoms for a long time, you risk invalidating your policy and it not paying out in the future, when you need it to.
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- You might be able to buy life insurance if you’ve got a heart condition – but it might be more expensive or more difficult to get covered
- The success of your application will depend on the extent of your condition
- You’ll be required to provide details of your heart conditions during the underwriting process
- Depending on the extent of your condition, your application might be accepted with a loading on the price; accepted with an exclusion regarding your condition; or declined
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This post has been written by Anorak's life insurance experts as guidance. Anorak also provides regulated advice online and over the phone.