Having a heart murmur, or a previous diagnosis of a heart murmur, can lead to a lot of puzzling questions. One nagging question is whether or not you can get life insurance with a heart murmur.
Thankfully, the answer is yes.
Although heart murmurs can be indicative of a serious health condition, some murmurs are not cause for alarm.
Knowing how to answer questions about your heart murmur can help you to receive excellent life insurance coverage at very competitive rates.
We can help you understand what life insurance companies look for with regard to heart murmurs, how you can prepare for the application process, and what you can do to get the best rates.
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A heart murmur creates a distinctive sound during a heartbeat. A doctor using a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat through your chest is listening for very specific sounds which indicate the blood is flowing through your heart valves normally.
A swishing or whooshing sound instead of the normal sounds of a heartbeat lets the doctor know the blood is not flowing through the heart valve correctly. The abnormal sound is called a murmur.
Since a properly beating heart is at the center of good health and low risk of death, it is easy to understand why life insurance companies take heart murmurs seriously.
According to the American Heart Association, heart murmurs in adults may be caused by:
- Valve calcification (or valve blockage)
- Heart disease
- Abnormal valve structure
- Artificial heart valves
- Endocarditis (a bacterial infection in the bloodstream affecting the heart valve)
- Rheumatic fever
Some heart murmurs are not considered serious at all, though. These are called innocent or functional murmurs, and are common in children. These types of murmurs generally resolve on their own by adulthood.
Another type of murmur, not associated with valve disease, may be temporarily brought on by anemia, hyperthyroidism, or exercise, and are common in pregnant women.
Heart murmurs themselves are not preventable, but some of their causes can be. Tests will need to be administered to determine specifics about the murmur, like how long it lasts, location within the heart, and how loud it is.
If your heart murmur is not innocent or functional, your doctor will determine a treatment plan for the condition causing the murmur.
There is no hiding a heart murmur. If your heart murmur is consistent or recurring, you can expect the doctor performing your life insurance medical exam will hear it. Disclose the murmur right up front when requesting a quote or completing an application.
Even if you are in good overall health and maintain a healthy lifestyle, a life insurance company will take any history of a heart murmur very seriously.
You can expect the company to ask for specific information like:
- When you were first diagnosed with a heart murmur
- What follow-up tests were conducted after the murmur was heard
- What the diagnosis was
- What steps you and your doctor took to treat any condition related to the murmur
- When your last test (cardiogram, x-ray, etc.) in relation to the murmur was
- Whether you have a family history of heart disease
Plan to provide the life insurance company with copies of your test results, and any other medical records that can help shed light on your heart health. Life insurance companies will take this information and determine the long-term prognosis of your heart condition and your overall health.
To offset any concerns the life insurance company will have about your heart murmur, you should be proactive.
Take the following steps to ensure the best possible medical evaluation:
- See both your primary care doctor and cardiologist regularly
- Adhere to your doctors’ treatment plans or advice regarding any and all health conditions
- Maintain updated medical records, including records from specialists
- Reduce other health risks, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or tobacco use
Life insurance underwriters want to see you are trying to control your heart murmur or the related health condition. They also want to see you are taking care not to tax your heart unnecessarily by keeping your blood pressure under control and getting moderate exercise, both of which contribute to heart health.
If you have an innocent heart murmur, or a murmur which is not the result of another health condition, you can expect to receive a Standard Plus or Preferred health class rating. You will pay lower premiums than the other health classes.
If you have a heart murmur which is a result of a heart valve-related disease or another underlying health condition, but you are treating the condition and are otherwise healthy, you can expect to receive a Standard rating, at best. But this is still a very average result.
Also remember, health class ratings are different for smokers and their premiums are higher.
If you have experienced recent cardiac complications or hospitalization for a heart-related condition, you will likely be classified as a heart patient, which has varying classifications and premium amounts.
It is highly recommended you work with an experienced insurance agent in this case.
A heart murmur doesn’t necessarily make you a high risk liability for life insurance. Many life insurance companies will insure individuals with heart murmurs, even if the murmur is caused by a serious health condition.
You can increase your chances of approval by controlling your condition, as well as maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
You can even lower your premiums over time by continuing doctor-monitored treatment for your heart murmur, and keeping other health conditions under control.
Every life insurance company is different, and assigns ratings and premiums in its own way.
We can help you find a company who will review your medical history in the best light and will provide you with an affordable policy.