Life Insurance After TIA or a Mini Stroke [Insider’s Guide to Approval]

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.

Questions Answered
Yes, you can get affordable life insurance after a mini stroke.

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.

 

life insurance with tia life insurance with mini stroke life insurance after tia life insurance transient ischemic attack

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

Dysphasia

People suffering from TIA may experience a temporary inability to speak. With dysphasia, the patients might have difficulty in uttering, understanding and recalling words. Sometimes Dysphasia is the only observable symptom of TIA.
 
The difficulty in speaking is primarily caused by a blood clot. This is found in the dominant brain hemisphere.
 
Sometimes, this inability to speak can be accompanied with Dysarthria. This is another disorder that is caused by the inability of the patient to move muscles on the face. The muscles surrounding the mouth, the face and the respiratory system can be too weak to move.
 
Amaurosis Fugax
 
If you’re suffering from ministroke, you might experience a temporary blindness in one eye.
 
Also termed as transient monocular blindness (TMB), Amaurosis fugax is another symptom.
One eye of the sufferer becomes suddenly dimmed or blurry.
The eyesight turns grayish and may last for seconds or minutes during the attack. These people are very sensitive to bright light and might not be able to see or read anything on white pages.
 
Other Probable Causes of Ministroke
 
  • hypertension
  • high cholesterol levels
  • diabetes mellitus
  • atherosclerosis
  • carotid artery blockages
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • high-cholesterol diets
  • smoking
  • alcohol dependency

Risk Factors for Transient Ischemic Attack

If you have hypertension, you are most prone to ministroke.
Hypertension has the ability to damage the inner walls of your arteries. This can cause plaque buildup called atherosclerosis.
 
Atherosclerosis can cause blockages in your arteries, making blood and oxygen flow difficult.
 
Watch out for fatty diets and alcohol. Also, keep in mind to closely monitor your blood pressure and track its fluctuations.
If you suddenly feel dizziness, vertigo, blurry vision, speech difficulty, and headache- be sure to check your blood pressure.
Call for help as this might lead to serious complications.

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

 
In order for your doctor to find out if you are having a ministroke, you’ll need to go through series of tests.
Monitoring your glucose levels, blood pressure and homocysteine levels are the first steps. Listening to your heartbeat to find a whooshing sound points out if you have atherosclerosis.
 
You’ll also be asked to take MRI scans, ECGs, CT scans, Echocardiography and Arteriography. These are all to determine if there are any blockages on your arteries, so to avoid the attack of major strokes.
 

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Treatment

 
Angioplasty
 
A catheter is introduced through the femoral artery.
Your surgeon will insert a stent. This is a balloon-like device to open up clogged arteries, promoting blood flow. This small wire tube lets your blood flow freely through your brain.
 
Carotid Endarterectomy
 
If you’re suffering from a carotid artery disease, you might have heard of this procedure. Plaque, a substance composed of fat and cholesterol builds up on your passages. This substance blocks blood flow.
 
Carotid endarterectomy is done to get rid of the plaque. This surgery helps in preventing the occurrence of TIA and major stroke

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:

life insurance after mini stroke life insurance after tia transient ischemic attack life insurance life insurance for stroke survivors underwriting

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.

Age

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

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.

Test Results

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.

Activity Level

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?

Transient ischemic attacks do not happen in a vacuum.  They usually occur with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some form of atherosclerosis.

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.

Substandard

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.

Questions Answered
Do you think your life insurance will be too expensive because of your health issues?  

Most people over estimate the cost of life insurance by 300%!

Here is the real story:  Life insurance is still very affordable, even at substandard rates.

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

Case Study
Take the case of Vivian K., 60 years old, generally healthy.  Five years ago she experienced a sudden faintness, confusion, pain on the back of her left arm and trouble speaking.  She was rushed to the hospital, however one hour later she was feeling fine.  The symptoms disappeared.

An MRI was inconclusive, and a carotid ultrasound showed low grade stenosis. An exercise stress test was also normal.  Her doctor diagnosed a transient ischemic attack and prescribed aspirin and simvastatin to control cholesterol.

Vivian stays active playing tennis twice a week.  She is still working and volunteering with her church. Based on the recommendation of her doctor, she preformed a stress echocardiogram within the last year and all results were normal.

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.

We love to hear from you. Let's learn together: