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Getting Life Insurance in Ireland with Cardiomyopathy


how cardiomyopathy affects life insurance

As you may already know, cardiomyopathies are a group of disorders of the heart muscle in which the heart can no longer receive or pump blood effectively throughout the body.

They can be caused by other diseases or idiopathic (unknown cause).

The risks associated with cardiomyopathy can include fainting, breathlessness, fatigue, angina, and most importantly from an insurer’s point of view, sudden death.

In this article I’m going to try to answer some of the questions that are running through your head like:

  1. Can you get life insurance if you have cardiomyopathy?
  2. What do you need to do to apply?
  3. What information will the insurer need?
  4. Which insurer is best?
  5. Will I be covered for everything?
  6. How long will it take?
  7. How much will it cost?

Where better to start than at number 1:

1. Can you get life insurance with cardiomyopathy?

You’ll be relieved to hear that the answer is yes, you can get life insurance with cardiomyopathy but it’s not straightforward.

And you will have to pay more for your cover than someone in perfect health.

How much more you will have to pay is called the life insurance loading and I won’t know how much this is until the insurer reviews your medical report.

If you’re under 40, it’s going to be way more difficult than if you’re now in your 40s. Most of the insurers will not offer cover to applicants before they are 40 but we have a couple of insurers who think outside the box and may consider an application before you hit 40.

Unfortunately none of the insurers can offer cover if you have had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) fitted.

2. What do you need to do to apply?

First things, first, contact a specialist life insurance broker who knows what he’s doing and can steer you in the right direction. Do not apply through your bank, do not apply direct to an insurance company as they are likely to decline. This will impact your chances of getting cover as you’ll have to fess up about this decline in all subsequent applications. Underwriters are already uber cautious when it come to cardiomyopathy, you don’t want to present your application having already been declined.

If you’d like me to help, please complete this questionnaire.

Once the insurer receives your form, they’ll write to your GP for a life insurance medical report.

3. What information will the insurer need?

HCM is diagnosed based on medical history (your symptoms and family history), a physical exam, and echocardiogram results. Additional tests may include blood tests, electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, exercise stress test, cardiac catheterization, CT scan, and MRI.

The echocardiogram is the most important, if you have a copy of this, I’ll be able to tell you if it’s worthwhile making a full application or whether the insurers will decline you.

4. Which insurer is best?

That’s where I come in.

Before I recommend an insurer, I will speak to all 6 so I know which one is most likely to offer you cover at the best price in the least amount of hassle.

I don’t just apply to the cheapest and hope for the best.

If I don’t think I can get you cover, I won’t waste your time.

5. Will I be covered for everything?

Yes, if you get cover, you will be covered for death due to any illness. The insurer won’t exclude death due to a heart disorder.

6. How long will it take?

This depends on your GP.

The insurers are very quick to make a decision once they have your medical report but it can take weeks for your GP to complete and return the report. If you decide to apply through us, we’ll keep an eye on it every step of the way and do all we can to speed the process up. On average, I would say it takes 2 weeks from the date we receive the application to the date the insurer makes a decision. If your GP is on the ball, the process can be quicker.

7. How much will it cost?

It’s another “it depends” answer I’m afraid.

The two main factors that affect the cost of life insurance with cardiomyopathy are:

  1. Type of cardiomyopathy
  2. Severity of cardiomyopathy

Types of cardiomyopathy

There are three main types of inherited cardiomyopathy:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

Another type of cardiomyopathy, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can be caused by extreme stress. This type is not passed on through families and often disappears in time.

Other, specialised types of cardiomyopathy include:

  • restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM)
  • left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC)
  • peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM).

Severity of cardiomyopathy

Some people who have cardiomyopathy never have signs or symptoms. Others don’t have signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

As cardiomyopathy worsens and the heart weakens, signs and symptoms of heart failure usually occur. These signs and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing, especially with physical exertion
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck

Other signs and symptoms may include dizziness; light-headedness; fainting during physical activity; arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats); chest pain, especially after physical exertion or heavy meals; and heart murmurs. (Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds heard during a heartbeat.)

At best with mild, asymptomatic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, your premium will be double what someone in perfect health will pay.

If you’re showing symptoms of cardiomyopathy then it’s like to be a decline.

Over to you…

It’s tricky but not impossible to get life insurance with cardiomyopathy as long as you apply to the most sympathetic insurer.

If you’d like some help choosing the best insurer for you, please get in touch by completing this questionnaire or if prefer, call me on 05793 20836.

Try not to worry, I’ve arranged some policies for our clients with cardiomyopathy, but I have seen a lot of declines too unfortunately –  if cover is at all possible, I will get it for you.


cardiomyopathy review
Nick McGowan | making life insurance easier

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