Can you get great term life insurance after a mini stroke? What’s the deal with life insurance after a transient ischemic attack or TIA? What do we need to underwrite a TIA life insurance approval?
In this article we will explore transient ischemic attacks, mini strokes and other cerebrovascular events and how they relate to life insurance. We will show you what a life insurance underwriter is likely to ask, and give you some realistic rates you can expect.
Clients come to us with these and other concerns every day. As they get older, having life insurance is a necessity so they don’t leave behind a legacy of debt to their family. At the same time, they need an affordable worthwhile policy that protects their interests.
To learn more about TIA and life insurance, read on. If you want to get the process started with our underwriting experts, just fill out the quote form below and select “standard” for your health class.
Transient Ischemic Attacks and Life Insurance
As with any medical condition, not all strokes are the same.
TIAs occur when the blood flow to the brain becomes restricted or blocked for a short period of time. A temporary blood clot or an atherosclerotic plaque is the usual culprit. They are are typically minor (smaller than 5mm) and resolve within 24 hours.
The brain, body and nervous system show the effects of this blockage through various symptoms like:
- lack of coordination, suddenly “clumsy”
- weakness or numbness, usually on one side of your body
- sudden, splitting headache
- difficulty understanding others and mental “fogginess” in speech recognition
Most patients experience symptoms for the length of the blockage, however there is rarely any permanent damage from TIAs. This is important for life insurance because your medical records will contain observations noted by your doctors rather than test results as the basis for a TIA diagnosis.
Other Symptoms of TIA
- high cholesterol levels
- diabetes mellitus
- carotid artery blockages
- sedentary lifestyle
- high-cholesterol diets
- alcohol dependency
Risk Factors for Transient Ischemic Attack
Doctors know that someone who had a TIA has a greater chance to experience a full stroke in the future. That’s why this is a serious consideration for an underwriter. The good news is that the risk for a full stroke after TIA seems to be on the decline.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA) Diagnosis
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Treatment
Mini stroke Versus Full Stroke
In the past, insurance companies did not make distinctions between a TIA and a full stroke, otherwise known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA). There was one set of underwriting guidelines for all cerebrovascular blockages, no matter how severe and no matter their duration. Now companies differentiate between the two.
Though a transient ischemic attack could be a precursor to a full stroke, doctors and life insurance companies consider TIAs less serious than full strokes. Therefore, life insurance after a TIA is easier to approve.
Underwriting Life Insurance after a Mini Stroke
To discover what goes into underwriting a life insurance policy for someone who suffered from a mini stroke, let’s look at the underwriting guidelines from a major, “A+ rated” life insurance company:
Remember – these are general guidelines. Every life insurance company is different, and your situation or approval could be better.
Let’s dig into these guidelines in more detail:
What was the cause of the TIA?
If the TIA was caused by plaque in the arteries or high blood pressure, the underwriting outcome is different than if the cause was a one time event. For individuals over the age of 55 where the cause is unknown, underwriters just assume it was due to atherosclerotic plaque.
A transient ischemic attack caused by singular event, an accident, or some trauma is less likely to recur. Therefore it is rated better by a life insurance company.
Being older is better in this case, and if you were under the age of 45 with a transient ischemic attack you will pay higher rates for life insurance.
If you are younger, and the cause of the TIA was not related to high blood pressure or atherosclerosis, we could apply for individual consideration with supporting test evidence. This only applies if we can prove the TIA was a one time occurrence due to something like an adverse drug reaction.
All else being equal, a younger applicant with a TIA is classified in lower health class than an older applicant.
Date of Diagnosis
The risk of a full stroke after a TIA is at its highest hours and days after the blockage. Then that risk diminishes over the following months and years with proper treatment.
Therefore, most life insurance companies will approve mini stroke survivors after six months, and improve their health class 1 year after the event. The best health classes possible are for survivors 5 and 10 years removed from the TIA.
Residual Neurological Damage
Another factor that underwriters examine is if the stroke caused any significant, long-term harm. That is usually not the case with a TIA, but it does happen. If there are some residual side effects (even if they are relatively mild), your premiums may be higher.
Number of episodes
An isolated TIA incident will receive a better health class than multiple or recurrent TIAs.
Treatment and Medications for TIA
According to the smart folks at Harvard, treating a mini-stroke within 24 hours can reduce the chances of having a full stroke by up to 80 percent. Underwriters of your policy will pay attention to that kind of information.
Your treatment will vary with your age and the severity of your TIA. What’s most important from an underwriting perspective is that you are adhering to the treatment plan and visiting your doctor regularly.
Life insurance companies will verify this information through attending physician’s statements (APS) and pharmacy reports. The best health classes are awarded to those who see their doctors on a regular basis and take their prescribed medications.
Smoking is already a liability for most life insurance companies. Due to the increases in blood pressure and toxins caused by smoking, it doubles the risk of stroke. The link between smoking and higher mortality is clear, so life insurance companies will charge much higher rates because of it.
Certain companies may provide lower nonsmoker rates to certain tobacco classes, like smokeless tobacco and the occasional cigar. However, even this usage needs to be disclosed on the application. Life insurance underwriters will detect tobacco usage through the blood test.
If you are using smokeless tobacco, e cigarettes or smoking the occasional cigar and had a TIA, contact our underwriting experts directly. We may be able to qualify for non-smoker rates.
Things like high cholesterol and high blood pressure increase the risk of another TIA or stroke. So underwriters will pay special attention to those results on your blood work.
Other than that, any recent test related to cerebrovascular or cardiovascular health can help your approval process. When it comes to a TIA, underwriters are most interested in an MRI, carotid artery ultrasound, or stress echocardiogram.
Recent tests are very helpful for your approval as they are a sure sign you are keeping up with your treatment. With good test results we can make a case for a better health class.
The benefits of exercise are far-reaching. Maintaining a healthy activity level after a stroke will help your chances of approval.
The underwriters are not looking for you to run a marathon. More importantly, they want to see if you have you returned to work after the TIA. Is your life “back to normal” so to speak?
Do you have any other health or heart conditions?
If there are other health considerations, like diabetes, valve disorders, coronary artery disease or atrial fibrillation, their combination will result in a lower health class and higher life insurance rates.
Life Insurance after TIA – Likely Health Class
Two things determine your rates in life insurance. Your age (which we cannot do anything about), and your health class (which we can do something about!)
What health class can you expect after a mini stroke?
Preferred Plus / Preferred
Unlikely, however preferred is possible if there is a remote history of TIA five years or more in the past and the applicant is over age 70. Concurrent tests, like a carotid ultrasound or MRI show no significant blockages or stenosis, height and weight are within range and the applicant’s health is great otherwise.
Standard / Standard Plus
This is possible one year or longer after a single TIA for applicants over the age of 55.
Also possible for transient ischemic attacks attributed to something other than cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
For instance, an adverse drug interaction as long as you’re not on the medication any longer, would qualify for standard rates. If you experienced singular trauma, or a blood clot from abnormalities in the heart valve they too would qualify as standard one year removed.
“Cryptogenic TIA” – or an event for which the cause is undetermined – can sometimes qualify for standard life insurance rates one year removed as well.
Younger applicants less than 45 years old will usually qualify substandard. If you are over 45 but it has been less than a year since diagnosis of a single TIA, you might qualify substandard as well.
Recurrent TIA or multiple TIA will also qualify for substandard rates, and a combination of other diseases (like diabetes, atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease) will bump the rates down to substandard.
Application Denied or Postponed
If you recently had surgery for TIA, or your attack was less than six months ago contact us. Most life insurance companies will postpone your application for life insurance until the condition stabilizes.
Be upfront and communicative with your underwriting expert. We have to answer the application questions fully and honestly so the life insurance company gets a comprehensive view of your condition. Any false statements on the application – or omissions – are immediate grounds for denying the policy.
It’s far better to be open and honest, because a “known” risk can be insured. An “unknown” risk will be denied.
Actual Rates on Life Insurance for TIA survivors
Vivian experienced a TIA more than 5 years ago. She has followed her doctor’s orders and is very active. This would qualify Vivian for standard rates on life insurance, and even standard plus at some life insurers.
Benefit Amount $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
Monthly Payment $65.62 $145.16 $278.59
Now it is Your Turn
Do you need more life insurance after a mini-stroke? We can help.
This article was composed to dispel many of the myths out there regarding life insurance approvals with TIA. They are not as difficult as you think, and the costs are lower than you imagine.
We work with this condition and many other cardiovascular problems every single day, so use our experience. We know the life insurance companies that give the best rates to TIA patients, and we have developed special relationships with their underwriters to make the process an easy one for you.
All it takes is a minute to fill out a quote, then we get to work saving you time and money. The online quotes are free and the valuable expertise is free; however, the peace of mind is priceless.
Take this step today and you are on your way to sleeping better tonight.
Now is your time. Seize it, and let’s get started right now.