How your Medications affect your Life Insurance [The Guide]

If your doctor diagnoses you with a heart condition, chances are they will prescribe medication as a part of your treatment plan. Many patients will take these medications for the rest of their life, and those people still desire the family protection that life insurance provides.

You may wonder:

Hey, do my heart medications affect my life insurance application?

The answer to that question is yes, however maybe not in the way you would think. Cardiac medications do not approve nor deny a life insurance application on their own. They provide clues to your health and are a part of a holistic look at how you are managing your heart conditions.

In this article, we will tackle the main medications for any heart problem, and then dissect them step by step as to how they affect your rates for life insurance.

Prefer to skip to the good stuff? Just fill out a quote form below to get in touch with our underwriting experts. They will do all of the hard work regarding your medications for you.  

Best part? There is no charge to you for this service.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

How do Life Insurance Companies get Information About My Prescriptions In the First Place?

When you apply for life insurance, you give permission to those life insurance companies to seek out information on your behalf. They use third-party services (the largest of which is Script Check) to compile your prescription history from the pharmacies that you use.

There is not a “life insurance prescription database” so to speak. However, there is a lot of data available from chain pharmacies, large HMOs, and hospitals themselves.

Underwriters usually look at a five-year prescription history. However, if your policy amount is over $1,000,000 they may compile longer histories. Then, they compare that information to the medical information bureau to complete your personal file.

Why do Life Insurance Companies Care About My Medications?

Life insurance is based on risk. Life insurance companies want to see that you are taking the steps necessary to live a long healthy life. Your prescription history goes along with the medical questions on your application to paint a picture of your health.

The prescription check shows how often those prescriptions are refilled. This indicates whether you are following the doctors’ orders or not.  Dosage changes also signal whether a heart condition is getting better or if it is getting more problematic.

The prescription information is not taken in a vacuum though. It is considered along with the application. Why you were prescribed the medication is the most important factor, because many of the medications on this list treat more than one condition.

Beta Blockers treat high-blood pressure while reducing strain on the heart. So, they could be prescribed for hypertension and atrial fibrillation. These are two completely different conditions to an underwriter.

When you were prescribed the medication is also important because many drugs are prescribed only after a heart attack. After recovery, then they are discontinued.

Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly prescribed medications to treat heart conditions.

We will go category by category and explain what they mean for life insurance underwriting.

Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners)

  • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
  • Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
  • Apixaban (Eliquis)
  • Heparin (various)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

What These Medications Do

Anticoagulants prevent your blood from forming clots. Many people call them blood thinners, but they do not actually thin the consistency of your blood. Also, they do not dissolve existing blood clots. These medicines are also used to treat vascular (blood vessel) and pulmonary (lung) conditions.

Why are Anticoagulants Prescribed?

  • To keep blood clots from forming in your blood vessels
  • To prevent existing clots from becoming larger and causing more serious conditions
  • In prevention of a first stroke or a recurrent stroke

What other conditions are treated?

  • Blood Clots
  • Stroke
  • Recurrent Stroke

When are Anticoagulants Prescribed?

Watch out for side-effects. If these are visible while you are taking these medications, do not hesitate to inform your doctor.

How do Blood Thinners Affect Life Insurance Rates?

Your average door-to-door insurance agent might pack up his bags when you mention some of the medications of the anticoagulant variety. However, most of these medications can still be approved by most life insurance companies with minimal issue.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Possibly

Best Case: Preferred, depending on condition.

Worst Case Scenario: Moderate Substandard rates, your case will be postponed, or if you pick the wrong carrier it could be declined.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

  • Benazepril (Lotensin)
  • Captopril (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Fosinopril (Monopril)
  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Moexipril (Univasc)
  • Perindopril (Aceon)
  • Quinapril (Accupril)
  • Ramipril (Altace)
  • Trandolapril (Mavik)

What These Medications Do

Angiotensin is a hormone made by your body to maintain blood pressure and fluid balance. ACE Inhibitors expand your blood vessels and reduce blood flow resistance by decreasing your body’s levels of angiotensin II.

This allows your blood to flow more freely in your veins and arteries, helping your heart pump blood with less effort and more efficiency.

Why are ACE Inhibitors Prescribed?

To treat or improve cardiovascular condition symptoms such as high blood pressure or heart failure

Conditions Treated by This Medication:

Time Frame for Prescribing ACE Inhibitors

How do ACE Inhibitors Affect Life Insurance Rates?

We work with ACE Inhibitors every day since these medications are used to treat high blood pressure. They are some of the easiest drugs to work with on a life insurance application and are very familiar to underwriters.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Probably. It’s quite common.

Best Case: Preferred, depending on condition, your age, duration of treatment and the insurance company.

Worst Case Scenario: If treating congestive heart failure? Moderate Substandard rates, your case will be postponed, or if you pick the wrong carrier it could be declined.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

  • Candesartan (Atacand)
  • Eprosartan (Teveten)
  • Irbesartan (Avapro)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Telmisartan (Micardis)
  • Valsartan (Diovan)

What do ARB Medications do?

Instead of reducing angiotensin II levels, ARBs actually prevent the chemical angiotensin II from affecting the heart and blood vessels. This blocking process prevents blood pressure from rising and keeps the blood vessels enlarged.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

Treatment or improvement of cardiovascular condition symptoms such as high blood pressure or heart failure.  Also prescribed if you tried ACE Inhibitors and they caused an uncomfortable cough.

Conditions Treated by ARB Medications:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney Disease

Time Frame for Prescribing These Drugs:

  • Following a heart attack or cardiac surgery
  • Upon receiving a high blood pressure diagnosis

How do Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) affect Life Insurance Rates?

ARB Medications often come across our desk because of their use in hypertension. Where the rate class falls depends on the condition, and with ARBs high blood pressure is easier to approve than heart failure.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Probably. Losartin is something we see in almost every person over the age of 50 and some of them get a no-exam policy.

Best Case: Preferred, depending on condition, your age, duration of treatment and the insurance company.

Worst Case Scenario: If treating heart failure? Moderate Substandard rates, your case will be postponed, or if you pick the wrong carrier it could be declined.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Beta Blockers

  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Betaxolol (Kerlone)
  • Bisoprolol/hydrochlorothiazide (Ziac)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Carvedilol (Coreg, Coreg CR)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Sotalol (Betapace)

What do Beta Blockers do?

Beta blockers slow your heart rate and cardiac output, lowering your blood pressure and reducing the force of each heartbeat.  They work by stopping the hormone adrenaline and they can work on both your heart and your blood vessels.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

  • Reduction of overall blood pressure
  • To treat cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat patterns) and angina (chest pain)
  • Preventing future heart attacks for patients who have already suffered a heart attack in the past.
  • If more mild medication-like diuretics-are ineffective.

Conditions Treated by Beta Blockers

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Heart attack
  • Chest Pain (Angina)
  • Migraines
  • Overactive Thyroids

When do Doctors Prescribe Beta Blockers?

How do Beta Blockers affect Life Insurance Rates?

Beta Blockers are the second line of defense when treating high blood pressure, so they are sometimes rated higher than other medications, especially when they are used with diuretics (next section). Where the rate class ends up depends on the condition treated and recent blood pressure readings.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Sometimes. Metoprolol or Atenolol only? Possibly.

Best Case: Standard or Standard Plus.

Worst Case Scenario: If combined with other medications for high blood pressure, moderate substandard rates, your case will be postponed, or if you pick the wrong carrier it could be declined.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Diuretics (Water Pills)

  • Amiloride (Midamor)
  • Bumetanide (Bumex)
  • Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
  • Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Hydro-chlorothiazide (Esidrix, Hydrodiuril)
  • Indapamide (Lozol)
  • Spironolactone (Aldactone)
  • Torsemide (Demadex)

How do Diuretics Work?

Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluids and sodium via urination. They also reduce strain on the heart and decrease buildup of fluid in the lungs and other areas of the body like the legs and ankles.  By removing this excess salt diuretics are effectively lowering the volume of blood in the body, and different diuretics remove fluid at different rates.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Diuretics

  • To lower blood pressure
  • To reduce edema (swelling) caused by excess fluid buildup in the body

Conditions Treated

  • High blood pressure
  • Fluid swelling, often in the legs or ankles
  • Excess blood calcium or potassium
  • Glaucoma
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy

Keep in mind to watch out for side-effects while taking these medications. It is best to ask your doctor for other viable options.

Time Frame for Prescribing Diuretics

Immediately Upon diagnosis of high blood pressure, high sodium levels in the bloodstream or upon diagnosis of swelling, and sometimes as a preventative of the above.

How do Diuretics affect Life Insurance Rates?

We rarely see a diuretic prescribed alone. Doctors combine these diuretics with other front line medications to treat high blood pressure, however we also see them in treatment of more serious conditions like congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy.

Will it affect your life insurance rates? Yes, though how much so really depends on what is being treated.

Sometimes diuretics and water pill combos have a significant affect on life insurance rates.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Sometimes. If this is the only medication you have, we have seen no-exam policies approved. However, it doesn’t happen often because we usually see these medications in other combinations for other serious conditions.

Best Case: Standard

Worst Case Scenario: If combined with other medications for CHF or cardiomyopathy, moderate substandard rates, your case will be postponed, or if you pick the wrong carrier it could be declined.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Cholesterol Lowering Medications (Statins)

These are medications generally prescribed to lower a patient’s blood cholesterol levels. Persons with high LDL (bad) cholesterol testing at 70-189 mg/dL over the age of 40 are more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack within the next decade.

Your doctor may prescribe these medications to lower your LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of developing a heart condition or CAD later in life. If you have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications to help prevent future heart attacks or recurrent strokes.

Three Most common Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

  • Statins: Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Nicotinic Acids: Lovastatin (Advicor)
  • Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors: Ezetimibe/Simvastatin (Vytorin)

How do Cholesterol Lowering Medications Work?

The most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications are statins, which are the most effective at lowering LDL numbers in the majority of patients. Statins directly affect the liver, intestines, and vascular system, so doctors are careful to monitor how these bodily systems function while you are taking statin drugs.

Doctors only prescribe Nicotine acids and cholesterol absorption inhibitors for patients who aren’t responding to statins, or who suffer from severe and serious side effects as a result of statin therapy

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

To lower elevated LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.

Conditions Treated by Statins and other Cholesterol Medications

These prescriptions are pretty specific to their treatment of cholesterol.  However, recent studies show they reduce inflammation throughout the body, so their use may expand to other illnesses.  They are also being researched and may have a future role in reducing certain types of cancer.

Time Frame: How soon will a doctor prescribe statins?

Upon diagnosis of an LDL cholesterol level over 100, your doctor is usually reaching for the script pad.

So how do statins and cholesterol medications affect life insurance rates?

Cholesterol medications of the statin variety are very common and should not concern you when you apply for life insurance.  They are rarely a factor in the life insurance underwriter’s decision.

Regularly taking your medication however, is a huge factor in the underwriter’s decision. So if you have been prescribed cholesterol medications, take them like clockwork.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Yes!

Best Case: Preferred rates

Worst Case Scenario: Standard to moderate substandard rates, and this usually has to do with other conditions unrelated to the cholesterol medications (like height / weight, or obstructive sleep apnea).

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Antiplatelet Agents (APA) and Dual Antiplatelet Therapy Drugs (DAPT)

  • Aspirin
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Dipyridamole
  • Prasugrel (Effient)
  • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
  • Ticagrelor (Brilinta)

What do antiplatelet agents do?

APAs and DAPTs keep blood from forming clots by preventing platelets in your blood from bonding with each other.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

What are the Conditions Treated by APAs and DAPTs

Time Frame for Prescribing Antiplatelet Medications

  • Immediately After a heart attack
  • If you are showing signs of arteriosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”)
  • When your veins and arteries are beginning to accumulate plaque
  • As part of an extended treatment plan after a heart attack or cardiac surgery to treat or correct a cardiac condition.
  • After angioplasty and up to 12 months after stent placement

How do Blood Thinners Affect your Life Insurance Rates?

Antiplatelet medications and DAPTs will have a significant impact on your life insurance application due to the heart conditions they represent.

They factor in the life insurance underwriter’s decision, specifically the length of time you have been on the medication and how regularly you have been taking it.

Aspirin therapy is usually not a consideration in the rating of a life insurance policy, so if that is your only concern then you can rest easy.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? Sometimes, though unlikely.

Best Case: Preferred rates if on Aspirin therapy only.

Worst Case Scenario: Moderate substandard rates, and the case could be declined if there was no patient / doctor followup or if conditions are unresolved.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Digoxin and Cardiac Glycosides

  • Digox
  • Lanoxin
  • Digitalis Preparations

What does Digoxin Do?

Digoxin comes from the leaves of the digitalis plant or Foxglove.  Digoxin increases the force of each contraction your heart makes by increasing your heart muscles’ calcium level. This can be extremely useful in the event of heart failure or treating irregular heartbeats.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Lanoxin

  • To relieve symptoms of heart failure when a patient is not responding to treatment using diuretics or ACE inhibitors
  • To slow particular types of arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation (though this treatment option is falling out of favor)

Conditions Treated by Digoxin

Time Frame for Prescribing These Drugs

  • In the event of heart failure
  • Upon diagnosis of certain types of arrhythmia

How Will Digoxin Affect your Life Insurance Rates?

Digoxin will significantly impact a life insurance application due to the heart failure, CHF or cardiomyopathy it is often used to treat. This is serious medication used to treat serious issues, so depending on the dosage and duration, your options may be limited.

Lanoxin is only used for cardiac arrhythmia after other drug regimens have failed. This suggests a worsening condition, so as long as other evidence points to a stable condition (like a positive echocardiogram), life insurance polices are available.

Regularly taking the medication is a factor in a positive decision. So if you have been prescribed Lanoxin, take it like clockwork.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? This is unlikely.

Best Case: Mild Substandard Rates.

Worst Case Scenario: Moderate substandard rates, and the case could be declined. The strength of the left side of the heart and the condition being treated plays a big part here.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

Nitrates, Nitroglycerin (Vasodilators)

  • Isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil)
  • Nesiritide (Natrecor)
  • Hydralazine (Apresoline)
  • Nitrates
  • Minoxidil
  • Nitro-Dur
  • Nitrolingual

What Do Vasodilators Do?

Vasodilators relax the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels and increase your heart’s blood and oxygen supply.  This reduces strain on your heart and allows blood to flow freely through the circulatory system.

Vasodilators come in pill form, chewable tablet form, spray form, and a topical cream.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Nitrates or Nitroglycerin

  • To relieve short or long-term symptoms of angina (chest pain)
  • Treatment of very high blood pressure (in the case of minoxidil)

Conditions Treated by Nitrates or Nitroglycerin

  • Angina
  • Stage 2 hypertension or severe high blood pressure that does not respond to ACE inhibitors

Time Frame for Prescribing These Drugs

  • Upon diagnosis of moderate to severe angina
  • After high blood pressure therapy has failed using ACE Inhibitors / ARBs and other multi-drug regimens

Will Nitro or Nitroglycerin Affect your Life Insurance Rates?

YES. Nitrates will significantly impact a life insurance application due to the angina, recent heart surgery or severe high blood pressure they are used to treat. Either one or two things are going on: you may have uncontrolled chest pain, which means there’s an unknown cause. The life insurance companies cannot take a case with an unknown cause because there is no way to price the risk.

The other possibility for a nitro Rx is a recent heart surgery of some sort. In this case, you only use the pills “in case of emergency” and sometimes the prescriptions are filled but unused.

Recent nitroglycerin use for heart problems will usually result in postponement until you can establish 6-12 months of stability. This is because of the underlying condition, not necessarily the prescription.

If nitro was prescribed recently for stents or a bypass, these cases can usually be approved after the waiting period is over. Long term nitroglycerin use is a more difficult life insurance case to approve though because it suggests cardiomyopathy, left ventricular hypertrophy or congestive heart failure.

Call us directly for a customized life insurance quote if you have been using nitro for more than 2 years.

Can you qualify for life insurance without the medical exam? This is unlikely, however it does depend on how long you have been prescribed the medication.

Best Case: Mild Substandard Rates.

Worst Case Scenario: Moderate substandard rates, and the case could be declined.

HLI Get Instant Quotes

These heart medications usually breeze through underwriting

Anticoagulants, blood thinners, cholesterol medications, statins, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta blockers, and aspirin do not affect most life insurance applications in a negative way.  Millions of citizens are taking these prescriptions daily and a life insurance underwriter is unlikely to pause.

Will this be a slam dunk case like a healthy 20-year old on no medications?  No.  It will take some work. However, you already knew that.  Rest assured that if anything hangs up an application, it will not be of the pharmaceutical variety.

These heart medications usually slow down a life insurance application

Antiplatelet agents other than aspirin, diuretics used in combination with other mediccations, digoxin, lanoxin, nitrates, nitroglycerin or any uncommon medications tend to raise an eyebrow from the underwriters.

How do we counter this?  We use full upfront documentation ahead of time, a strong cover letter, and a strong argument about your case management.

We argue with proof, using your echocardiograms, chest CT scans and angiograms over time, showing progress on your case due to proper maintenance.

The Final Word on Heart Prescriptions and Life Insurance

Prescription drugs are just one piece of the puzzle, just one gear turning in your healthy machine. The absolutely, positively most important thing you can do is to see your doctor regularly and take the prescriptions you have been prescribed.

We have life insurance approvals at great rates, even for clients who have been through some scary heart attacks because they followed their doctors’ orders.

If you want a surefire way to deny your life insurance application, avoid your doctor and stop taking your medicine.

The ostrich who sticks its “head in the sand” is asking for serious complications, a shorter life span, less time with their family and very little chance at quality life insurance rates.

How to get the best rates for life insurance while taking prescription medication

  1. Fill out the quote form.  When picking a health class, click “Standard.”
  2. Gather your prescription medications and have the bottles handy.
  3. Prepare a timeline for your heart condition.
    1. When did you start feeling symptoms of heart trouble?  We don’t need an exact date here, but what month/year?
    2. At what point did you go to the doctor?
    3. What were the diagnosis and outcome?
    4. Did you see a specialist or have a heart procedure?  Who did you see?  When?
    5. Have you made any lifestyle changes since the diagnosis?
  4. Get our underwriting experts involved.  Seriously.  There is no reason to go it alone here, we have the expertise to guarantee the best outcomes in the life insurance industry.
  5. Get our underwriting experts involved.  We literally do this every single day.
  6. Get our underwriting experts involved.  Without a strong argument for case management, you could be declined.
  7. Get our underwriting experts involved and rest easy knowing you have a specialist in your corner who understands your heart disease.

We fight for your case.

We show the medications are working and the future is positive, your risk is managed, and the life insurance company would be lucky to call you a client.

It’s not some magical secret, it’s just a little more effort and knowledge than the normal insurance agent can provide.

That’s how we get you the absolute best value on your life insurance!

Once again, we FIGHT for your case. You need to do your part in this battle too.

Do this.  Do this for your family.  Take the first step now, for today is a gift. You are as young as you will ever be right this very moment, and no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Just fill our our simple quote form and let’s get to work.

HLI Get Instant Quotes