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Heart Conditions & Life Insurance

heart condtions and life insurance

If your heart is healthy, you can fire ahead and buy life insurance, mortgage protection and income protection in a jiffy.

However, if you have a heart condition, things are not always that simple.

Not all heart conditions will prevent you from being insured, and not all insurers underwrite heart issues in the same way.

That’s why it’s important to understand what you should and shouldn’t do when purchasing life insurance if you have a heart defect.

You don’t have to read the whole article if you understand the following two points:

  1. Don’t apply to the first insurer who flutters their eyelashes at you
  2. Use a specialist broker who knows what they’re doing

This article will run through the Ten Most Common Heart Issues we see and how the insurance underwriters generally view these conditions.

I bolded generally as the insurers can take widely different approaches depending on the specifics of your heart condition.

Heart Conditions Affecting Life Insurance

1. How do Heart Murmurs Affect Life Insurance?

A heart murmur is a common sound heard between heartbeats. It results from the turbulent flow of blood through the heart and its valves. It is often (but not always) a sign of disease. Murmurs may be harmless (innocent) or abnormal.

An innocent heart murmur will not affect your life insurance, income protection or serious illness cover.

However, an abnormal heart murmur can be more serious, so the possibility of getting cover will depend on the exact type of valve problem present:

Hole in the Heart

Holes in the heart are classified according to their severity:

  • Trivial: Normal exercise capacity and normal echocardiogram.
  • Mild: Normal exercise capacity with mild abnormalities on echocardiogram.
  • Moderate: Moderate limitation of exercise capacity with abnormalities on echocardiogram.
  • Severe: Severe limitation of exercise capacity with significant abnormalities on echocardiogram.

Life insurance and mortgage protection will be possible for trivial, mild and moderate.

Serious illness cover should be possible for trivial and mild with an exclusion for heart surgery.

Income protection may also be possible for mild and trivial.

2. Is Arrhythmia a Problem for Mortgage Protection?

Your heart beats too slowly, too quickly or irregularly.

Too slow = bradycardia

Too fast = tachycardia

The most common type of arrhythmia we see is called atrial fibrillation = irregular and fast heartbeat. Atrial flutter is similar.

Atrial fibrillation may be either paroxysmal (intermittent) or constant.

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation occurs with no underlying heart disease. Acute alcohol intake or heart disease, e.g. hypertension, atrial septal defect and cardiomyopathy, can cause it, and beta-blockers are the usual treatment.

If paroxysmal, fully investigated, with no underlying heart disease, then you can get ALL the insurances.

If constant, the insurers will need to know the underlying cause before making a decision.

3. What are Mitral Disorders or Heart Valve Disease?

  • Mitral Valve Prolapse – Floppy Valve
  • Mitral Valve Regurgitation – Leaky Valve
  • Mitral Stenosis – Blocked Valve

Generally, mortgage protection cover is possible for mild and moderate mitral valve disorders.

However, if you have had mitral valve surgery, you are likely to have suffered significant damage to the valve. Cover will still be possible, but there will likely be a postponement period of 12 months post-surgery.

4. Cardiomyopathy

We have discussed cardiomyopathy in detail here:

Getting Life Insurance in Ireland with Cardiomyopathy

5. Inflammation of Heart Muscle (Myocarditis)

Unlike cardiomyopathy, you can treat the cause of myocarditis.

Once treated and cleared with no permanent structural damage to the heart, some insurers will offer the normal price for life insurance, serious illness cover and income protection.

6. Heart Attacks

Previously discussed here:

Life Assurance After a Heart Attack

7. Transposition of the Great Arteries

I’m afraid that one of the most serious congenital defects of the heart, and none of the insurers can offer cover for this condition.

8. Tetralogy of Fallot

A congenital (from birth) heart defect. If fixed early enough, cover can be possible, but it’s not straightforward.

9. Stents

Discussed in detail here:

Life Insurance with a Stent Fitted

10. Can You Get Life Cover with a Pacemaker or ICD

Although not a condition, we get many inquiries from people with pacemakers and ICD wondering whether they are insurable.

In a normal, healthy heart, the heart’s natural pacemaker is a small mass of specialised tissue. It sets the rhythm of contraction and relaxation by sending out an electrical impulse, leading to an effective heartbeat and pumping of the blood around the body. An artificial pacemaker is a device that uses electrical impulses to reproduce or regulate the normal rhythms of the heart.

The insurers will postpone cover for 3 to 6 months from the insertion of the pacemaker.

If the pacemaker is related to a heart block, then life cover should be possible.

However, for all other issues, the insurers will need to investigate the underlying reason for the pacemaker.

Unfortunately, if you have cardiomyopathy and an ICD, the insurers will not be able to offer you cover.

Conclusion

The heart is a complicated organ, even without any illness or disease involved. You can get life insurance if you have a history of heart problems, but a few specific conditions will prevent you from being insured.

Over to you:

If you’re concerned about a heart issue affecting your application, please get in touch by completing this questionnaire.

We specialise in helping people like you get cover at the best price in the least amount of hassle.

And our clients rave about us 🙂

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Talk soon

Nick

Medical Issues & Life Insurance
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