If you have a pacemaker, or are planning to get one soon, one question you might be wondering is “how does a pacemaker affect my life insurance eligibility?”
Like most other medical conditions, finding life insurance with a pacemaker is certainly more difficult than if you’re in perfect health.
Yet it’s far from impossible.
Thanks to the rise in the number of people with pacemakers, and the fact they’re safer than ever before, most life insurance companies now accept clients with pacemakers, although you might pay a slightly higher premium.
Finding More Affordable Life Insurance with a Pacemaker
More than 3 million people around the world have a pacemaker. And the number is quickly growing with nearly 600,000 new pacemakers implanted every year.
The technologies behind pacemakers and the methods of implantation are now so effective and safe a pacemaker doesn’t take away from your quality of life.
The vast majority of people with a pacemaker can live the same type of lifestyle as before. If you’re free of other medical conditions, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to qualify for traditional life insurance coverage.
Most of those who receive a pacemaker implantation are over the age of 60. The most common reason to need such a device is for the treatment of a slow heart rate (also known as bradycardia).
Simply put, a slow heart rate means vital organs (especially the brain) don’t get enough blood to function properly. Related symptoms include dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, and fatigue. A slow heart rate can even lead to death in the most serious cases.
Luckily, regular doctor visits can help nip the condition in the bud. Detect bradycardia early, before the symptoms become severe, and a pacemaker can be installed to preemptively treat the heart condition.
Other medical conditions often treated by a pacemaker include congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic arrhythmia, syncope, and cardiomyopathy.
Certain medical conditions, like tachyarrhythmia caused by emotional stress or excessive alcohol consumption are also sometimes treated by the temporary use of a pacemaker. However, most conditions require permanent use of a pacemaker.
The Application Process
The life insurance application process is more difficult with a pacemaker. It’s of utmost importance to be honest about your condition every step of the way. Working with a skilled independent life insurance agent makes the process much easier.
The first step is providing a detailed account of your medical history. Traditional life insurance companies require you to back this up with a medical exam. The point of this is to assess your overall health and life expectancy.
A number of questions will be asked to help assess your overall health. The goal of these questions is to find clients who will likely live a long and healthy life. It’s just too risky for a traditional life insurance company to insure patients with medical conditions which lower life expectancy.
Be prepared to answer questions on the following topics during the life insurance application process:
Overall Health – How is your health aside from the conditions requiring you to get a pacemaker? A life insurance company all but requires clients be in decent overall health.
Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to receiving traditional coverage. You must prove you eat well, exercise regularly, and refrain from smoking to receive the best rates.
Condition History – What is the exact condition which required you to get a pacemaker implant? When were you diagnosed with the condition? What symptoms did you experience? Do you still experience any of these symptoms?
Pacemaker History – When did you get the pacemaker? How effective has it been at treating your medical condition?
When it comes to life insurance with a heart monitor or tool of any kind, timing is one of the most important factors. The life insurance company wants to know you’ve had the pacemaker long enough to prove it has helped treat your medical condition.
Most life insurance companies require you have your pacemaker for at least 6 months before approval. The longer you’ve had it without experiencing any symptoms related to your heart condition, the more likely you’ll be approved.
For this reason, it’s smart to apply for life insurance several times. If you’re denied for traditional coverage initially, there’s a good chance you’ll qualify at a later date if you can prove your pacemaker now allows you to live a normal and healthy life.
Common Results On Approval
The results you can expect vary greatly. The coverage you receive (and whether you actually receive it or not) depends on several factors.
Most of those with a pacemaker, especially if you’re free of other health conditions, will qualify for traditional life insurance. However, it’s always smart to target those companies who are accustomed to insuring clients with pacemakers.
Target the right company and you should be able to receive a Standard rating. Your pacemaker must have been implanted at least 6 months ago and your heart rate must now be normal to receive this rating.
Even those with minor abnormalities, like electrolyte imbalances, should still receive a Mild Substandard rating with a pacemaker. Only those who have received a pacemaker implant in the last 6 months will be declined.
You have two choices when declined from traditional coverage. If you were declined because you’ve had your pacemaker for less than 6 months, we recommend waiting and reapplying again. If you were declined for another reason, our best advice is to seek alternative life insurance, such as a graded death benefit policy.
What to Do Next
Start looking for high risk life insurance companies who have a history of insuring clients with pacemakers right away.
Send these companies all of the documentation related to your pacemaker (and the condition which warrants it) with your application. Of utmost importance is documenting your prescribed recovery program. Highlight everything you’re doing to maintain better health including an improved diet and regular exercise.
Finally, working with an experienced independent insurance agent always helps. We know which companies are most likely to offer you coverage and what you can do to improve your chances of receiving quality life insurance coverage with a pacemaker.