There’s no denying that applying for life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition is difficult.
Life insurance companies tend to categorize those with a pre-existing condition, especially one that is severe, as a greater risk than an otherwise healthy individual.
That’s why those with severe health conditions often pay higher premiums for the same life insurance coverage. Sometimes they’re denied coverage altogether.
Yet not all pre-existing medical conditions are treated the same.
If you have one, it’s important to research how that specific ailment affects your risk and life insurance eligibility.
Below we take an in-depth look at endocarditis, how life insurance companies rate this medical problem, and the types of coverage you’re most likely to receive.
Why Does Endocarditis Affect Your Life Insurance Rating?
Endocarditis, also known as inflammation of the heart valve, is a relatively rare medical condition that affects the inner lining of the heart (or the endocardium).
The health condition presents itself when this inner lining becomes infected. The infection then causes inflammation, usually in the heart valve itself.
Endocarditis carries with it a variety of symptoms.
Chief among these are:
- flu-like symptoms
- night sweats
- fatigue, and
- aching muscles
Other symptoms that those with endocarditis commonly experience include:
- swelling, especially in the feet and hands
- chest pain while breathing, and
- shortness of breath
Yet another symptom to look out for is a heart murmur.
A new heart murmur can be a sign of endocarditis. A pre-existing heart murmur that changes is also a sign.
Less common symptoms of endocarditis include
- unexplained weight loss
- blood in the urine, and
- tenderness in the spleen
Like any medical problem, early diagnosis is pivotal to proper treatment. Visit a doctor as soon as you begin experiencing these problems.
Not only does seeking treatment early help minimize the symptoms, but it also prevents endocarditis from developing into a potentially fatal disease by destroying your heart valve and spreading into other parts of the body.
Early diagnosis and early treatment also greatly increases your chances that life insurance companies will offer you traditional coverage.
Who Gets Endocarditis?
Endocarditis is caused by germs or bacteria entering your bloodstream.
The immune system is usually able to destroy these germs and bacteria before they make it into your bloodstream.
Even when the germs or bacteria gets past the immune system before they can be destroyed, chances are still slim that they’ll cause an infection in your heart. Most of the time they’ll pass through your heart without causing a problem.
However, in rare cases, germs or bacteria that do get into the bloodstream can attach to the inner lining of your heart and cause the infection known as endocarditis.
The most common risk factors are medical conditions like gum disease and sexually transmitted diseases that increase the likelihood of bacteria entering your body.
Catheters, needles for tattooing, illegal drug use via needles or syringes, and certain dental procedures can also give germs and bacteria the entry they need to make their way into your bloodstream.
Of course, just because you get a catheter or a tattoo, that doesn’t mean you’ll develop endocarditis.
It’s just that these activities are ways in which germs or bacteria can more easily enter the body.
Those who do develop endocarditis usually have a pre-existing problem with their heart. These include diseased or damaged heart valves.
When the heart valves are diseased or damaged, the lining on their surface is more rough than normal, giving germs and bacteria a place to cling on to.
That’s why healthy individuals are at a much lower risk of developing endocarditis than those with a heart problem.
Still though, endocarditis can occur in healthy individuals, although its much rarer.
Treatment for Endocarditis
Antibiotics and sometimes surgery are the most common treatments for endocarditis.
Both treatment methods usually have positive results at effectively treating endocarditis, especially when treatment starts in the early stages of the problem.
There are also several preventative measures you should take if you’re at risk for endocarditis (such as a family history or past heart problems).
First and foremost, know the signs of endocarditis and visit the doctor for a checkup as soon as you first begin to notice them.
Preventative antibiotics are another option for those at the greatest risk for developing endocarditis, such as those with heart disease or damaged heart valves.
Questions You’ll Be Asked On The Application
The life insurance application process, whether you have endocarditis or not, consists primarily of answering several questions.
These questions primarily relate to your general health, any medical conditions you have, and your overall lifestyle, but also look at your family health history.
The goal of these questions is to give the underwriters at the life insurance company the information they need to accurately assess your risk to the company.
If you have endocarditis, you can expect to answer questions on subjects that include your:
- How is your overall health aside from your endocarditis?
- When were you diagnosed?
- At what stage?
- What were your symptoms?
- What treatments have you received?
- What is your prognosis?
- What caused your endocarditis?
- Did you have pre-existing problems with your heart or heart valve?
Of particular interest to underwriters is the cause of your endocarditis. They’ll want to know exactly what caused the infection in the first place.
The reason for this is that most life insurance providers judge heart problems as high risk, since they often lead to other problems in the future or at least mean other issues are present.
The Application and Approval Process
Applying for life insurance with endocarditis is simple.
All that it takes is filling out the application (by answering questions such as those outlined above), sending in a current medical exam, and waiting.
If you apply for traditional coverage, the approval process lasts between 4 and 6 weeks. That’s the time it takes for the underwriters to review your application to assess your risk.
You’ll receive a response at the end of this time.
If you’re approved for coverage, your response will also include the rate you must pay as well as any additional premiums.
Another option is a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. It doesn’t require a medical exam and approval is usually much quicker.
The downside is that coverage is greatly limited and the rates you pay are generally much higher.
The state of your endocarditis has everything to do with whether or not you qualify for life insurance.
Your chances of qualifying for traditional coverage skyrocket if your endocarditis was diagnosed early, treated right away, and resulted in no long-lasting damage.
If that’s not the case with your endocarditis, you probably won’t qualify for traditional coverage since life insurance providers judge heart-related issues so harshly.
Of course, you still might be able to qualify for life insurance alternatives, such as a guaranteed issue policy.
Take Your Time, Get Covered
Finding life insurance with endocarditis isn’t going to be a walk in the park.
Like other heart-related medical issues, life insurance underwriters judge endocarditis quite harshly. They are hesitant to offer coverage to those with such a high-risk condition.
Of course, qualifying for traditional coverage isn’t impossible. If your endocarditis was diagnosed and treated early on, you might qualify.
But still, you should expect to pay higher premiums than you would without the condition.
Your best bet to find the best life insurance with endocarditis is to start your research now, apply to several different life insurance companies, and weigh all the options available to you.