Carotid Artery Disease and Life Insurance [Tips for Quick Approval]


Carotid artery stenosis or carotid atherosclerosis life insurance approvals are easy to get once you know the facts.  It’s all about stroke risk, and often times your outlying medical history will be a bigger concern to life insurance underwriters than the carotid artery disease.

The key to this and any other life insurance approval with cardiovascular conditions is to work with someone who is familiar with carotid stenosis like us.

Based on your test results, we can place you with the life insurance company who views you most favorably.  Making this informed decision will save you thousands on your life insurance premiums, so get your free quote today.

Here is a handy guide to this article, feel free to head directly to the section you need.


Carotid artery disease is often called the silent killer.  It can come (seemingly) out of nowhere with no symptoms and lead to a stroke or mini stroke / TIA.

Your carotid arteries lie on both sides of your neck.  Whenever you see a doctor on one of those emergency room TV dramas check someone’s pulse around the neck, they checking via the carotid artery.

The internal carotid carries blood brimming with oxygen to the brain, and the external carotid keeps your cheeks rosy red.  With age these arteries harden and become lined with fatty deposits or plaque.

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The fatty deposits partially block the blood flow, the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and then the patient suffers a stroke.  So the big deal with carotid stenosis is this stroke risk, and it could cause a stroke in three ways:

  • By plaque busting free from the carotid artery wall and blocking a smaller artery in the brain
  • Fatty deposits just building and building on top of each other until they choke off the artery, and
  • Stopping the blood flow with a blood clot crammed into an artery lined with plaque.

Common treatments depend on the percentage of blockage.  Medications like plavix are often the first step. The next treatment is an operation called a carotid endarterectomy (CEA) where the artery is cut open and the waxy plaque is removed.

Sometimes this surgery is a preventative measure if a significant block is discovered.  However, it does have a higher risk of death for patients already suffering with Afib, and in these cases the doctor may opt for a stent or just stick to medication.


Here are the key components to getting the best life insurance rates with carotid stenosis.  These are the considerations that an underwriter will be looking at:

What is the underlying cause of the carotid artery stenosis?

Usually the cause is atherosclerosis, and this is a red flag for an underwriter.  However some sort of head or vertebral trauma could also cause the artery blockage.  In these rare cases, the trauma pulls a flap of the artery wall away decreasing blood flow to the brain.

When were you diagnosed with carotid artery disease?

Those diagnosed at a younger age are a higher risk if the CAD is due to plaque in the artery.

Are there other cardiovascular risk factors?

What else is going on in your cardiovascular system?  Do you have high blood pressure (in this case, greater than 140/90?)  Are you diabetic or pre-diabetic?  How are your triglycerides, do you have high cholesterol?  Do you smoke?

How bad is the stenosis based on tests?

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Usually the % of blockage on a carotid imaging study is presented as a wide range.  Underwriters will look at the severity of carotid stenosis based on the sonogram and blood flow estimates, and less than 50% stenosis is ideal.

What is your Carotid Stenosis Treatment and Followup?

What are your medications? With carotid stenosis doctors usually prescribe aggressive anti platelet therapy, using medications like aggrenox, plavix or aspirin.

Have you ever had surgery, a carotid endartectomy (CEA), a carotid artery stent or been hospitalized because of your carotid arteries?

From the time of the diagnosis, if the stenosis was greater than 50% then you should have annual ultrasounds until the carotid stenosis is stable.

Do you have symptoms associated with carotid artery disease?

Symptoms indicate a loss of blood flow to the brain and this is when most people find out they have a blockage of their carotid artery.  Usually vision gets a little blurry, legs/arms tingle a bit.  This is most common, however sometimes an abnormal sound (called a carotid buit) is detected by a doctor’s stethoscope with no symptoms at all.

This asymptomatic carotid artery disease is easier to underwrite with a better health class.



YES! You can get approved for life insurance with carotid artery stenosis!

Mild carotid artery disease with no symptoms, no stroke or TIA history and proper management can usually qualify for standard life insurance rates.

Julie’s Life Insurance Results

Let’s take a look at an actual case, Julie.  59 years old female, height and weight are within normal parameters.  Five years ago her doctor found a carotid bruit during a routine physical and ordered a carotid ultrasound.  Results of the ultrasound showed 25% blockage of her left carotid artery and a 30% – 50% blockage of her right carotid artery.  She has elevated cholesterol she controls using simvastatin (Zocor) according to her doctor.

Term Life Insurance$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
Monthly Rate$67.85$131.00$246.56

Since Julie has her cholesterol under control and no symptoms from her carotid artery disease, she qualified for standard rates in this case.  Her costs for a 10 year term policy were:

Jason’s Life Insurance Results

Let’s look at another example, Jason.  55 year old male, went to the ER 3 years ago with acute onset of left arm weakness.  His symptoms lasted just over an hour.

Other risk factors include a history of high blood pressure for which he is on treatment, BP readings of 155/ 90 and tobacco use.  CT and echocardiogram were both normal.

On examination, his doctor heard a bruit on his right carotid.  Carotid ultrasound suggested less than 50% stenosis on either carotid artery.

Jason had additional risk factors like HBP and smoking, and his carotid disease was symptomatic.  We received offers from life insurance companies at table 6 (bad) to table 3, and placed him with a great carrier while he focused to quit smoking.

Term Life Insurance$100,000$250,000$500,000
Monthly Rate$159.38$360.13$654.29

In Jason’s case, we are waiting two years and then using Review and Reduce to lower his future life insurance premiums after he quits smoking.


Yes you can get approved for life insurance with carotid artery stenosis!  In the right cases you can expect normal standard life insurance rates.

The other risk factors are usually more important than the carotid artery disease itself.  Complications like high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis elsewhere increase your risk for stroke and therefore your life insurance premiums.  When these other conditions are present, expect a substandard or table rating.

Your best course of action is to follow your doctor’s guidelines for treatment, quit smoking, and watch your diet and exercise.

We know the life insurance companies that will give you the best health class and lowest rates with your carotid stenosis.  Don’t do this alone.

Get one of our underwriting experts involved in the beginning and we will give you the power of choice.