Life Insurance and Heart Valve Issues – What are the Options?

HEART VALVE SURGERY LIFE INSURANCE – TOO RISKY TO APPROVE?

Life insurance after heart valve surgery, will it be approved?  Mitral valve repair, mitral valve replacement, aortic valve repair or replacement: how does this affect life insurance?

These questions will be top of mind after you endure heart valve surgery and we will tackle them in this article.

While any past or present heart condition will cloud the process, YES you can qualify for affordable life insurance after heart valve surgery.

One very important factor is who you apply for life insurance after heart valve surgery. Be very, very careful here.

Agents unfamiliar with these heart conditions may waste your time — or worse — your policy will be declined outright. If you are approved through a rookie agent, it may be at a terrible rating with a very high premium.

HERE’S THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE INSURANCE AND HEART VALVE PROBLEMS

There are some life insurance companies that specialize in these types of “high risk” cases. They won’t advertise their underwriting guidelines on TV, however.  We work with them every day, and your best chances for great rates will be with these companies.

So if you are looking for the best life insurance companies for heart valve issues, you are in the right place.

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

FOR HEART VALVE LIFE INSURANCE APPROVALS – WORK WITH EXPERTS

You will want to apply with an independent underwriting expert who specializes in heart conditions. This will give you a higher likelihood of being approved affordably.

When you apply with only one insurance company (like your home/auto insurance company), you are limited to whatever their underwriting guidelines are.  Either you fit them, or you are denied, and trust me: their underwriting is notoriously strict.

On the other hand, an independent expert will preview your application to multiple companies, increasing your chances of being approved at the best rates.  This process is easy and it gives you the ability to choose which policy is right for your family.

The best thing you can do to improve your approval chances is to live a healthy lifestyle.  Follow your doctor’s plan.  Exercise, stay away from tobacco and alcohol; Eat right.

After that, heart valve surgery cases require additional work and documentation, so have your cardiologist’s phone number close at hand.

This article is designed to help you understand life insurance and heart valve surgery and how they relate to each other.

It should give you a better idea of what life insurers look for when reviewing the application of a person after heart valve surgery and what you can do to improve your chances of getting affordable life insurance.

HEART VALVE SURGERY AND LIFE INSURANCE

The type of valve replacement surgery performed and the valve that was operated on does not matter that much in terms of life insurance. The main thing that life insurers will want to know is:

Did the surgery work?  Was it a success?

You will be able to receive better ratings with test results showing the heart valve surgery success (and no complications).

There are other questions that influence your approval and health class.

When was your heart valve surgery performed?

Insurance companies will require anywhere from six months to one year to pass before they will consider your life insurance application.

The actual time will depend upon the individual insurer’s requirements, but most will want a year to see how effective the surgery was and whether or not there are complications.

Was the heart valve repaired or replaced?

Heart valves that were repaired will qualify for better rates than those that are replaced.

Usually, if the heart valve was replaced, the next question is: prosthetic valve (mechanical) or bio-prosthetic (tissue)?

QUESTIONS ANSWERED!

The type of heart valve used in replacement surgery – mechanical or organic tissue -is not a big concern to life insurance companies.

Though the bio-prosthetic valve might be replaced in 10 – 15 years, the mechanical valve will need blood-thinning medication. The rating for both of these concerns would be about the same. Since both have their risks, it’s a “wash” to the life insurance companies.

How old were you when the valve was replaced?

Generally speaking, having heart valve surgery at a younger age is a bad sign for insurance companies. For instance, a person with aortic valve replacement at age 39 might be denied life insurance. If they were approved, it would be at higher substandard rates.

An approval is easier if the same person had their AVR at age 50 or older.  This policy would receive mild substandard rates.

Do you have any other health risk factors or heart disease?

If you have diabetes, obesity, use tobacco or have similar risk factors, it could result in a denial.  Do you exercise regularly and watch your diet?

If so, that will help your case tremendously.

What Medications are you taking after heart valve surgery?

Blood thinners (warfarin, heparin) are par for the course with a mechanical valve.  Are you taking any other medications?  Any pills for hypertension? Any beta-blockers for Afib or another cardiac arrhythmia?

Usually, prescriptions after heart valve surgery do not result in a higher rating.  So do what your doctor tells you to do!

GET YOUR LIFE INSURANCE APPROVED WITH HEART VALVE PROBLEMS

After heart valve surgery, what kind of rates can you expect?  What health class will the underwriters approve?

The most successful applications will need the following:

  • A recent echocardiogram (within 2 years), or an echocardiogram within 1 year if your bioprosthetic valve is 10+ years old.
  • Normal left ventricle size and reasonable left ventricle ejection fraction (EF%)
  • Limited to no valve regurgitation or backflow
  • Limited to no changes in the structure of the heart, most notably the thickness of the walls and the atrial chamber.

Above is an echocardiogram of the aortic valve. All of the yellows is regurgitation or backflow across the valve. – courtesy of AAFP

Preferred Plus / Preferred Rates

Heart valve surgery of any kind is a very serious and significant risk for life insurance companies.  Preferred and Preferred Plus rates are not possible with this condition.

Standard / Standard Plus Rates

Some companies will approve standard rates, however, it is only for the healthiest of applicants and only for permanent products (not term).

For term insurance, standard rates are not likely, though it may be possible in the future.  I can only speculate, however, the ideal candidate would have a pulmonary or tricuspid valve repair after age 50 or 60.  They would have cardiologist testing and imaging with an ejection fraction of 60% or greater and LVEF stability over 5 years.

To be clear: I have never seen a term life insurance case placed at standard rates or better after heart valve surgery of any kind.

However, underwriting guidelines are always changing.  At the same time, life expectancy for heart valve surgeries keeps going up and people are living longer. Therefore, I believe standard rates for heart valve term life insurance approvals may be in our future.

Substandard Life Insurance Rates

Most heart valve repair and replacement clients will find life insurance at a substandard health class.

QUESTIONS ANSWERED!

Term or Permanent Life Insurance is still affordable, even at substandard rates.

Most people overestimate the cost of life insurance by 213%, so finding the right policy can be much more affordable than you think.

Mild Substandard Table Ratings

This is usually the best-case scenario.  These rates apply for aortic and mitral valve repairs with high ejection fraction and little if any regurgitation.  These clients have great exercise stress test results and very stable EF history.  Everything in their profile indicates a successful repair. Applicants are also older, usually over the age of 50.

Moderate Substandard Table Ratings

These clients have more moderate regurgitation.  They have surgery at a younger age (25 – 50) or they have additional heart problems like hypertrophy, Afib or other arrhythmias.  We see higher table ratings for mechanical valve replacement patients taking blood thinners too.

With the replacement of multiple valves, or in the case of severe underlying heart conditions, sometimes traditional life insurance is not available.

If this is your case, please call us so that we can give you a personal quote.

BEST RATE TIP!

Preferred, Standard or Substandard?  The health class is not the whole story.

One “A+” rated life insurance company will actually
charge you less at a higher rate class VS another life insurance company at a lower rate class. It’s True!

This is why it pays to work with an underwriting expert.  We can quote multiple companies and different possible health classes instantly.

RUN YOUR OWN ONLINE LIFE INSURANCE QUOTES

For 99% of applicants with heart valve surgery, instant online quotes will be inaccurate everywhere you look.  It is important to work with an underwriting expert.

Our quoting engine is updated constantly and it is very robust.  However, with heart valve surgery there are too many variables for a simple quoting tool.  You are an individual, your surgery was unique, and your life insurance case will be unique as well.

To get an idea, fill out the quote form and chose “Standard” to get started.

If you have very mild regurgitation, no complications and you were age 50+ for your surgery, add about 50% to the standard rates.  If your regurgitation is higher, you are under the age of 50, or you have other complications, add 100% to the standard rates.

This will give you a ballpark range to start a conversation.

ACTUAL RATES ON LIFE INSURANCE AFTER HEART VALVE SURGERY

CASE STUDY!

Scott was 54 years old. He had aortic valve repair three years ago. He was on some medication after the surgery, however his doctor only prescribes a low dose aspirin regimen now.

There were two echocardiograms since the surgery, and they show minimal regurgitation.  He has no other heart conditions, no family history of cardiac disease and he exercises regularly.

Scott was leaving his job to start his own business.  He had life insurance through work his entire adult life.  However, it is usually very expensive to convert group (work) life insurance coverage to an individual policy.  His options for life insurance were out of his budget range.

We needed a bunch of information from his cardiologist.  Once we had that information, however, Scott qualified for life insurance at slightly substandard rates.  He found a policy that he could afford.

Term Life Insurance Level for 20 Years$100,000$250,000$500,000
Monthly Rate$90.82$184.62$352.40

A+ rated company for Scott R., quoted on 04/18/2019

WHY DOES THIS MATTER FOR YOU?

You want to protect your loved ones and provide for them after you die. This is personal, I get it.  There are heart conditions on both sides of my family, so this is personal to me too.

Everyone at Heart Life Insurance is here to help.  It doesn’t cost you a dime to work with our underwriting experts and your privacy is guaranteed.  It’s the law.

Sure, you can go get life insurance yourself, be my guest. You could also do brain surgery yourself, however, in both instances, it makes more sense to work with an expert. Don’t you agree?

You are as young as you will ever be today.  Now that you know you can qualify for life insurance protection, what is stopping you?

Start with the simple quote form, and let’s get to work!