Since atrial fibrillation, or AFib, increases your risk of developing a more serious health condition, life insurance companies will definitely consider you to be a higher-risk applicant. This does not mean you will not be approved for coverage, though.
If you’re planning to apply for life insurance with AFib, you should be prepared for the application process and know what to expect.
Below, we give you all the information you need to help you prepare for your application so you get the best outcome possible.
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The first step of finding life insurance when you have a high-risk condition begins by understanding why your condition is a concern for insurance companies. Here’s an overview of AFib and how it relates to life insurance.
Atrial fibrillation is an instance in which the atria, the upper chambers of the heart, shake or quiver rapidly, without coordination. When this happens, it can result in the person having heart palpitations or being short of breath.
According to the American Heart Association, about 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation, and 15-20% of stroke patients have AFib. Most people with the condition do not think it is very serious, but the effects can be quite severe, and even deadly.
The overall effect of an AFib occurrence is that the heart is not able to pump blood properly through the body. When organs in the body do not receive enough blood, they lack sufficient oxygen.
This can result in the following symptoms:
- Fainting or Passing Out
- Having a Stroke
The causes of atrial fibrillation vary from person to person, but common causes include:
There are different types of atrial fibrillation, which means there are also different life insurance standards and guidelines for coverage.
If you have Lone Atrial Fibrillation, this means you have had only one episode of AFib, which was likely caused by stress or another less serious health condition.
You would be considered the lowest risk in terms of insurance underwriting and have the best chance of getting traditional coverage with a lower premium.
If you have Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, which is characterized by recurring, short-term irregular heart function, your AFib case will be considered high risk, but being able to obtain traditional life insurance coverage is still likely.
Individuals with Persistent Atrial Fibrillation, which is characterized by frequent, long-lasting irregular heart beats, usually have the condition due to another underlying health problem. They also have a greater risk of AFib causing other health problems.
Finally, someone is diagnosed with Permanent Atrial Fibrillation when their irregular heart beats do not subside. This type of AFib is considered chronic, which is a definite red flag to an insurance company.
The cause of this chronic illness is usually a serious heart condition. It is most difficult to receive traditional life insurance coverage for this type of AFib.
There are surgical treatments and pacemakers which can stop you from having irregular heartbeats. While these treatments may be a good option for your overall health, they also throw a red flag to a life insurance company.
Any type of heart condition is going to require a lot of explanation when you apply for life insurance coverage.
Your overall medical history will be reviewed, and your current age and overall health will play a big part in getting approved for a policy.
Applicants who are age 50 or older are expected to have some health complications, whereas a younger person is expected to be in better health, all things being equal.
In addition to a standard medical exam, you can expect a life insurance underwriter to ask:
- When you had your first instance of atrial fibrillation
- What type of AFibyou were diagnosed with
- What treatments you received
- When you had your last AFib occurrence
- If you have made any lifestyle changes to reduce occurrences of AFib
- What other health conditions you have
- When you had your last cardiac evaluation or electrocardiogram
An underwriter will want to know the names of your doctors and specialists, and will require copies of your most recent test results to identify how frequent and serious your atrial fibrillation is.
People who smoke always receive different health class ratings and more expensive premiums than non-smokers. In the case of someone with a heart condition, this is especially true. Even if you have only had a single occurrence or few occurrences of atrial fibrillation, and you smoke, you will have trouble securing an affordable life insurance policy.
If you have Lone or Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, do not smoke, and are in otherwise excellent or very good health, it is likely you will get a Preferred or Standard Plus health class rating. This is most likely your best possible outcome, since a Preferred Plus rating is not usually assigned to someone with any type of heart condition.
If you have either of the above two types of AFib and you also have another serious health condition, or you are very young and have had several instances of AFib, you may only receive a Standard health class rating.
Your premiums under a Standard rating will be more expensive than someone who is in excellent health, but could decrease in the future if you remain in good health and do not have an AFib occurrence for more than 12 months.
If you have Persistent Atrial Fibrillation, you’re likely to get a Sub-Standard health class rating, whether you’re in very good health or just average health. Your policy premiums will be the least affordable, but exactly how expensive they will be is determined by your overall health and how you and your doctor are treating your condition.
Permanent Atrial Fibrillation applicants are likely to receive a decline when they apply for life insurance, but a good agent can help you determine this ahead of time, and explore your policy options.
Life insurance for all types of atrial fibrillation is tricky, but usually not impossible.
Yes, life insurance companies are cautious about any type of heart condition, but since there are many different types of AFib, no two applicants are alike.
We strongly recommend you work with a skilled life insurance agent who knows their way around the industry, so they can help you with your specific needs.
Independent agents work with many different insurance companies, and know how they view certain health conditions, like AFib.
They can help you prepare your application so you have the best chance of being accepted and getting the lowest rate.