The life insurance approval process is funny sometimes. It’s not always simple and straightforward.
Case in point: artificial heart valves.
Though the medical conditions require an artificial heart valve can immediately disqualify you from coverage, those with an artificial heart valve can often actually qualify for the some types of coverage!
Of course, this qualification comes at a cost. Just because you qualify for coverage with an artificial heart valve, don’t expect you won’t pay a high premium.
The reason those with an artificial heart valve sometimes qualify for traditional coverage is because the condition which requires the device has been taken care of.
In other words, the risk of the pre-existing condition has been mitigated. Sure, you’re still at a greater risk of developing future heart problems, but some life insurance companies consider this risk “acceptable.”
Below we look more at artificial heart valves and how one affects your life insurance eligibility.
What is an Artificial Heart Valve (And Why Does It Impact Life Insurance)?
A defective heart valve is a serious medical condition which can result in death.
Open heart surgery is required to remove the defective heart valve to replace it with an artificial heart valve.
An artificial heart valve is simply a man-made version of the heart valve nature provides you with. There are several different versions but they all work in mostly the same way.
They work to preserve the normal function of the heart. They ensure the heart continues functioning normally without issues.
It should be noted the heart has four valves. Usually only one of these valves is replaced by an artificial version at a time.
Most operations to install an artificial heart valve resolve the problem which warranted the operation, enabling the person to live a healthily and happily for a normal lifespan.
Why Do You Need an Artificial Heart Valve?
There are countless reasons why someone might need an operation to install an artificial heart valve.
Almost all of them boil down to a problem with the natural heart valve. Most of these problems stem from damage to the heart valve caused by valvular heart disease.
Valvular heart disease itself has several causes.
Chief among them are congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, and previous heart attacks. Aging is another risk factor for developing a disease which affects the heart valve.
Remember the specific reason you required an artificial heart valve plays a major role in the level of coverage you’ll receive from a life insurance company.
Types of Artificial Heart Valves
Artificial heart valves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and forms.
These can be broken down into two main types:
There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Of course, the specific type of heart valve that’s best for you depends largely on the cause of your heart valve disease. Your doctor will look at the particulars of your condition to decide which of the two is best for you.
The main advantage of a mechanical valve is it lasts for a long time, up to 25 years. The disadvantage is you must take blood-thinning medication for the rest of your life.
Heart valve replacement generally comes with few complications.
The main factor to note is certain antibiotics can cause infection.
That’s why it’s so important to be open and upfront about your artificial heart valve whenever working with a doctor or dentist. This will prevent the wrong antibiotic from being administered.
Questions You’ll Be Asked When Applying
You can expect to answer a boatload of questions during your life insurance application.
Many of these questions will relate directly to your artificial heart valve, but will also target your overall health, family medical history, and your lifestyle.
Simply put, the goal of the questions asked during your application is to give the life insurance underwriters the tools they need to assess your overall risk as a client.
The fact is, life insurance companies don’t want to insure those who pose too great a risk level to their companies.
The underwriting process is also what decides how much you’ll pay for your life insurance coverage if you qualify.
Your level of risk directly correlates to the rate you’ll pay.
All of this said, you can prepare to answer questions on the following topics during your life insurance application:
- Health – Do you have any other health conditions?
- Diet and Exercise – What is your weight and BMI? Do you eat healthy and exercise regularly?
- Lifestyle – Do you smoke or drink? Do you engage in high-risk activities or hobbies, or work a dangerous job?
- Cause of Replacement – What necessitated your artificial heart valve? What symptoms did you experience from the condition and how severe were they?
- Complications – Did your heart valve replacement go smoothly? Did you experience any complications?
- Prognosis – What is your outlook like for your artificial heart valve and the condition which necessitated it?
Remember, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg as far as your life insurance application goes.
Those with an artificial heart valve should also expect to answer questions relating to which valve was replaced, who diagnosed the condition (a general practitioner or cardiologist), and the last time you’ve had a heart stress test performed.
You’ll notice most questions will emphasize the cause of the artificial heart valve rather than the artificial heart valve itself.
That’s because the pre-existing, underlying condition which warranted the replacement is the most important factor when analyzing your overall health risk.
The Application and Approval Process
Like all traditional life insurance applications, applying for life insurance with an artificial heart valve includes exam.
You must submit a current medical exam to the life insurance provider along with your completed application. The exam is used to verify the information you’ve provided.
The entire underwriting process which determines your eligibility generally lasts for between 4 and 6 weeks. You’ll receive a response at the end of this period of time. (This does not include any extra time for testing or receiving documents from cardiologists, specialists, etc.)
Your response will include whether you’ve been accepted.
If you have, it will also include the rate which you’ll be required to pay.
Your Life Insurance Options
If you are otherwise healthy and you can prove your artificial heart valve is operating smoothly, you can expect to qualify for traditional coverage.
But it will come at a cost.
You’ll likely be categorized into one of the highest risk classes on the life insurance rating table.
This means you’ll pay the highest premiums.
Though it’s definitely a bummer, it’s important to note even qualifying for life insurance after experiencing a condition that necessitated open heart surgery is a major success.
Those who do not qualify for traditional coverage have several life insurance alternatives, like a guaranteed issue policy, which they can explore.
Get Covered With an Artificial Heart Valve Now
Don’t just go with the first life insurance provider who offers you coverage.
Do your research, spend some time on the project, and apply with several life insurance companies who interest you.
Doing this will enable you to compare the rates you’re offered so you can truly find the best life insurance with an artificial heart valve.