Life Insurance after a Heart Attack

By | March 21, 2023

Can you get life insurance after a heart attack? In most cases, the answer is yes. Your current state of health will affect the kind of policy you should apply for, as well as what you can expect to pay. If it’s been 3-6 months since your heart attack, we can help you find the best option for your budget based on your recovery so far.

Timeline: Getting Life Insurance after a Heart Attack

As we mentioned above, it’s usually best to wait a few months to apply for life insurance after a heart attack. In many cases, insurers won’t consider your application unless it’s been at least 3-6 months.

Man clutching his heart

If you apply before this time is up, chances are you’ll either be declined or postponed. If the insurer declines your application, that means they will not offer you coverage at all. If the insurer postpones your application, that means they’ll put it on hold for a further period of time to see how your recovery progresses.

You’re probably anxious to get coverage in place, but by waiting those 3-6 months, you stand a better chance of getting coverage at a fair price.

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Two Types of Coverage to Choose From

When you’re looking for life insurance after a heart attack, you need to decide which type of coverage to apply for. There are two options: fully underwritten life insurance and no exam life insurance.

  • With fully underwritten policies, the insurer will look at your health history and medical records to set the price of your coverage.
  • With no exam policies, the insurer will not look at your health history and medical records. Instead, they’ll ask you a few questions and assign you a rate based on your answers.
Woman looking at an x-ray of her heart with her doctor

The right choice for you depends on your budget and your current state of health.

  • Is your health severely impaired? If so, no exam coverage is probably your best bet. As long as you haven’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness or reside in a nursing home, you’ll qualify for a no exam policy. As a trade-off, this type of coverage costs more than a fully underwritten policy.
  • Have you recovered successfully? If so, you may be able to save money and afford more coverage with traditional underwriting.

We’ll go over both options below.

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Option #1: Fully Underwritten Life Insurance

To get fully underwritten life insurance, two things need to happen:

  • You will have to take a medical exam. The examiner will measure your height and weight, as well as take a blood and urine sample. If you choose this option, come back and check out our medical exam tips here.
  • The insurance company underwriter will take a detailed look at your health history, family health history, and medical records. They need this information to figure out how big a risk it would be to insure you.
Stethoscope resting on a printout of an echocardiogram

The advantage to this process? The more the insurance company knows about you, the better they can assess the risk of insuring you. And the better they can do that, the greater the possibility that you could save money. They don’t have to guess at how healthy (or unhealthy) you are, or what kind of recovery you’ve made since your heart attack.

However, when you’re shopping for life insurance after a heart attack, keep in mind there are no clear-cut answers in terms of what it will cost. That’s because your health history is unique – not all heart attacks have the same causes or severity.

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Underwriting for Life Insurance after a Heart Attack

Here are the kinds of things an underwriter will be looking for:

  • How old were you when you had the heart attack? For life insurance purposes, the older, the better. To an underwriter, a heart attack in your 30s or 40s may indicate more serious health problems that pose higher risk and lead to higher prices, if they offer coverage at all.
  • How long has it been since the heart attack? Has it been at least six months? Have you had time to recover and show improvement in your condition?
  • How severe was the heart attack? How many vessels were damaged? The more severe the blockage that led to the attack, the harder (and more expensive) it will be to get covered.
  • What kind of follow-up care have you received? Underwriters will want to see recent test results that show improvement.
  • Are you taking any medication? If it’s been at least six months since your heart attack, do you still require blood thinners?
  • What lifestyle changes have you made since your heart attack? If you’ve lost weight, quit smoking, or created healthy habits like eating better and exercising, you’re more likely to be approved.
  • Do you have any other medical conditions that could affect your heart health? If you have other conditions, like diabetes or COPD, that complicates the picture of your health and will affect your ability to get coverage.

Based on the answers to these questions, the underwriter will assign you a “risk class.” All pricing is based on these risk classes.

Photo of a stethoscope and chest x-rays

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Option #2: No Exam Life Insurance

If you’re not in good health, the fastest route to life insurance after a heart attack is a no-exam policy.

No exam policies do not require a medical exam. Instead, you just have to answer a brief medical questionnaire.

Every insurer has their own questionnaire, but they usually ask basic questions about whether you reside in a nursing home and whether you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

As long as you can answer no to these questions, you can be approved for coverage.

These policies are also called “guaranteed issue” or “final expense” policies. They don’t have large face amounts – up to $100,000 – but they are easier to get.

There is one caveat to be aware of. Many policies have a multi-year exclusion period ranging from 1-5 years. If you were to pass away for health-related reasons during that exclusion period, your beneficiary would not receive the full death benefit. Depending on how the insurer set up the policy, they would either get a percentage of the full death benefit, or the money you paid in premiums back plus interest.

Making a Choice

Some insurers are more experienced with post-heart-attack underwriting. If you call us, we can help point you in the right direction. This is one of those times where working with an independent agent – like one of ours – can help save you time, stress, and money.

Want us to guide you through the process of getting life insurance after a heart attack? Give us a call. We’ll help you find the best coverage possible based on your unique medical history and situation.

Call us today at (800) 521-7873!

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