Do you have an enlarged heart? Do you need life insurance?
Applying for life insurance with an enlarged heart is not difficult. However, once your doctor diagnoses you with left ventricular hypertrophy (or LVH), you may feel as if it’s impossible to get affordable life insurance.
If you were denied life insurance in the past, a diagnosis of an LVH might increase your stress further. It is true, heart conditions such as LVH do have an impact on life insurance eligibility and the rates you will pay.
Good news though:
The point of this article is to help you understand LVH life insurance approvals and what is important to life insurance companies. If you want to know how to get the best rates on life insurance with cardiomegaly, read on!
Life Insurance and Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
One of the most important aspects of applying for life insurance involves where you apply. Like other forms of insurance, life insurance underwriters are all about risk. Even though LVH may not represent a serious or life-threatening condition compared to other heart problems, it can still lead to more serious issues including heart failure.
So, even if you had no serious health problems as a result of your enlarged heart up to this point, insurance companies may still view your case as a higher risk than someone without a heart condition.
These risks may point to the reason why insurance companies denied your application for life insurance in the past. If you applied for coverage from one company and then gave up, you may just need to dig a little deeper.
Luckily, some life insurance companies specialize in more “high-risk” applicants, including individuals with left ventricular hypertrophy and other heart conditions.
You need an expert for life insurance and cardiomegaly
In order to ensure your approval, as well as the best rating and premiums, apply with an independent agent who specializes in cases such as yours. Independent agents put your application to more than one company and have many life insurance options.
We know which companies have a higher acceptance rate for people with heart conditions, and pre-applying with several of these companies gives you the best rates. Even better, you have the ability to choose which company best suits your individual needs.
Knowledge is your key to lower rates
The life insurance application process is quite complex, especially for anyone with LVH or other heart conditions.
The more you know about what factors determine eligibility for life insurance, the better your case becomes when you try to improve your qualifications.
Live a healthy lifestyle, apply when you are young and use our underwriting experts. Other than that, one of the most important things you can do is to provide as much information as possible. Since life insurance is all about risk, life insurance companies require a mountain of information to assess these risks.
Providing test results and other medical documentation holds the key to your own approval and the rating you receive.
Even if it seems as though the facts hurt your chances, you should still provide as much information as possible. Insurance companies view any gaps negatively and may request additional medical examinations.
Understanding what goes into the decision-making process for life insurance with an enlarged heart helps you to improve your chances of getting an approval at the lowest rates.
Once you know how left ventricular hypertrophy relates to life insurance and understand the approval process, you might get an even better policy than you originally thought. While you might have some factors out your control, you can still do many things to help your chances.
A Bit About Enlarged Heart or Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
While “enlarged heart” often describes a number of conditions where someone has a larger heart than normal, left ventricular hypertrophy is a very specific type of condition in which the side of the heart responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood becomes thicker and larger than normal.
This enlargement can have a number of different causes, but LVH usually results from high blood pressure and other conditions where the heart works harder to pump.
When the workload of the heart increases and you force it to work harder, the walls of the heart’s main pumping chamber (the left ventricle) become thick and enlarged (hypertrophy). As these walls of the heart thicken, this condition can cause the chamber itself to grow larger while the heart begins to lose elasticity.
Check out the CT scan below showing an enlarged left ventricular wall:
The patient in the CT scan above certainly had cardiomegaly with a LV wall of 1.8+ cm.
Since this heart could not properly expand and retract as normal, it may not pump with the full force the body needs.
Usual symptoms of LVH, cardiomegaly or enlarged heart
An enlarged heart alone may not cause symptoms, and many people could go for years without even knowing they have the condition. These are the most common symptoms that lead to diagnosis:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- dizziness, or
- a more rapid heartbeat.
Factors that Influence Life Insurance with LVH
Many people mistakenly believe that because an enlarged heart alone does not threaten their lives, the condition has little effect on life insurance eligibility. This is not the case.
While cardiomegaly may not directly lead to the death of the individual, it can trigger a more serious condition.
What works in your favor is that there are a large number of Americans with LVH, so life insurance companies won’t leave this large pool of potential customers uninsured.
Each insurance company may use slightly different requirements, but some of the following questions represent the crucial areas you must document to get an approval.
When were you diagnosed with LVH?
Generally speaking, the older you were when you received the diagnosis the better. Insurance companies may see individuals diagnosed at a young age as a higher risk for serious heart problems later in life.
What was the cause of your LVH?
There are three main types of left ventricular hypertrophy, and doctors diagnose these types based on the cause of the condition.
Comes from hypertension or high blood pressure. This represents the most common form of LVH, and you can manage it medication and lifestyle changes. If you have this type of enlarged heart, you might have to show that the condition improved over the past six month to qualify for Standard ratings.
AKA Athlete’s Heart occurs after intense exercise that causes the heart to work harder. This is temporary and may not affect life insurance approval if this type of enlarged heart goes away for some time and does not return.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (or HCM, or HOCM) represents a rare genetic disease that could require surgery. Individuals with HOCM may only receive Substandard or Table ratings.
Recent Echocardiogram and CT results
Doctors detect LVH through a CT scan or an electrocardiogram. After measuring the thickness of the left ventricular wall (see scan above), the next measurement takes the size of the heart versus the size of the total rib cage.
This is called the cardio-thoracic ratio or CTR.
Underwriters are looking for a CTR of less than 0.5. For our unlucky patient above, his CTR was closer to 0.7, another indicator of cardiomegaly.
After a diagnosis of LVH or enlarged heart, an echocardiogram will show the extent of the damage. Underwriters want proof that the left side of your heart is still pumping strong.
They are looking specifically at the ejection fraction, or EF.
Have you ever had surgery or will you need surgery to treat the condition?
If your LVH required or will require surgery, insurance companies usually want a period of at least six months to pass after the procedure to determine your eligibility.
Do you have any additional risk factors for heart disease?
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, obesity and other additional risk factors might negatively impact your chances of getting life insurance.
Do you have a family history of heart disease?
If any close relatives died of heart disease, especially at a young age, these factors negatively impact your odds.
Has your condition improved with medication and/or lifestyle changes?
If you successfully took steps to improve your health, such as quitting smoking, improving your diet, exercising and taking medication as instructed, you can significantly improve your ratings.
Getting the Best Approvals for Life Insurance with LVH
While life insurance with LVH may seem impossible, it is not. Even with an enlarged heart, you still have a strong possibility of obtaining life insurance at an affordable rate if you take the right steps.
To improve your chances of approval, the most important thing you can do is to live a healthy lifestyle. Life insurance companies always look favorably on customers who eat well, exercise and enjoy a high quality of life.
After that, where you apply is an important factor in getting affordable life insurance with left ventricular hypertrophy.
Not every life insurance company will give you the same health class for your heart condition, and if you don’t know the companies who underwrite LVH in a good light, you will pay thousands more than you have to.
Worse yet, you could be denied.
What do you do? Use our underwriting experts, because we work with heart conditions like yours every day.
Life insurance with cardiomegaly – probable health classes
Every case in unique. However, here is what you can expect if you have an enlarged heart.
Standard Plus – Preferred – Preferred Plus
Unlikely, however it is possible. Maybe 10% of our applicants with an enlarged heart fit into these health classes and it takes a lot of evidence to prove it.
If you are an athlete in a cardiovascular sport (i.e. Michael Phelps), then Athlete’s Heart could be the cause of the enlarged heart. This is very rare. For most people, LVH comes with other symptoms that shut the door on the best health classes.
This is likely since an enlarged heart does not cause death directly. If there are other risk factors like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, they must be under control. Echocardiograms within 2 years showing an EF of 55%+ and an active lifestyle will help place the case with a standard health class.
You can use the free, instant quote tool to price out standard quotes on this page.
This is the most likely outcome with many LVH cases, however there are some great programs still available.
There is great news: Life insurance is still affordable even when rates are substandard.
If you have major hypertrophy, a high cardio thoracic ratio, very thick left ventricular walls (more than 1.6 cm) or multiple cardiovascular risk factors, you need to give us a call.
Left ventricular hypertrophy life insurance: Case Study
Gene qualified for substandard rates, however he still found life insurance protection he could afford. The $100,000 he purchased was more than enough to take care of his final expenses if he died tomorrow.
A+ rated company for Gene W., quoted in Feb 2017
|10 Yr Term||20 Yr Term||
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