Because of the possible long-lasting effects of a stroke, it’s understandable people who have suffered one would have questions and concerns about the future, including whether or not they can purchase life insurance.
Life insurance after a stroke is definitely more complicated than life insurance for someone in good health, but it is not completely out of the question.
Life insurance companies will not automatically deny your application if you are in otherwise good health post-stroke.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know to apply for life insurance after a stroke—and get approved.
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The best place to start in your search for life insurance is to understand just what a stroke is and why it can be an obstacle to getting life insurance.
Stroke occurs when blood flow to a portion of the brain has been obstructed or blocked, depriving brain cells of oxygen and nutrients, and causing those brain cells to die.
The same blood flow problems can occur without causing permanent damage; this is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or ministroke.
The brain controls many bodily functions, so when a portion of the brain dies, the results can be deadly. According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
Every 40 seconds in America, someone has a stroke. Individuals who have had a stroke are at high risk to have additional strokes. Women are also at a higher risk for strokes; women have double the amount of strokes than men every year.
Other people who are at high risk for stroke are those who:
- Are age 55 or older
- Are of African-American descent
- Have a family history of stroke
- Have High Blood Pressure or Cholesterol
- Have Diabetes
- Smoke or have smoked cigarettes or other tobacco products
- Have a form of artery or Heart Disease
- Are Obese
Complications related to a stroke depend on the location of brain cell loss, so every stroke patient is affected differently.
The most common stroke complications include:
- Paralysis of one side of the body
- Speech/language impairments
- Vision problems
- Slow, cautious behavior
- Quick, inquisitive behavior
- Memory loss
Additional health conditions some stroke sufferers experience include seizures, muscle stiffness, and chronic fatigue. These conditions can make it difficult for stroke sufferers to maintain their independence, leading many to suffer emotional stress, anxiety, and depression.
Such emotional instability could be a major cause for concern for life insurance companies.
Like many major health conditions, preventing a stroke is possible, and goes hand-in-hand with living a healthy lifestyle.
You can help prevent a stroke from occurring by:
- Eating healthy and limiting sodium intake
- Exercising at least 30 minutes every day
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Maintaining an active social life
- Quitting smoking (if applicable)
While you can help to prevent stroke from occurring by staying in good overall health, you cannot stop a stroke in progress.
Afterward, your doctor will do a physical and neurological exam, and may take blood or order scans or imaging to see your brain function. Your doctor will then determine the underlying cause of the stroke and treat the resulting complications.
All of this data is extremely important when you apply for life insurance coverage.
Since stroke is a condition affecting millions of Americans, and people who have had one stroke are prone to additional strokes, life insurance underwriters take a history of stroke very seriously.
In addition to your standard medical examination, an underwriter will likely ask the following questions:
- How old were you when you had your stroke?
- How much time has passed since your last stroke?
- What treatment did you receive?
- Are you still receiving treatment or taking any medications?
- What health or lifestyle changes have you made since your stroke?
- Do you have a family history of stroke?
- How often do you see your doctor or neurologist?
People who have strokes when they are younger will raise red flags for underwriters, so they should be in excellent health when they apply for life insurance. Expect your height, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels to be assessed.
Life insurance companies want to see a stroke sufferer is making their health a top priority, so being under the care of a doctor, and showing you are properly following a treatment plan, is of the utmost importance during the application process.
Since stroke affects everyone differently, and causes different long-term complications, life insurance underwriters look at each application on a case-by-case basis.
If you had a stroke after age 55, but are in otherwise good health and see your doctor regularly for check-ups, you can expect to receive a Standard health rating. You will pay base premiums, or those of a person in average health.
Individuals who had strokes before the age of 50, and can prove they are healthy, active, and a non-smoker, may receive a Standard or Mild Sub-Standard rating. This could mean a small increase in premiums from the base rate.
If you had a stroke after age 55 and you have other serious health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, you should expect to receive a Sub-Standard rating, including higher premiums. If you keep your health conditions under control and follow a doctor-recommended treatment plan, you may qualify for lower premiums in the future.
If you have had multiple strokes, are obese, or have more than one serious health condition, your application may be declined. In this case, you should work with an experienced life insurance agent to determine your options.
Just as life after stroke is complicated but doable, so is getting life insurance. Navigating the waters may be tricky, but working with an independent insurance agent can help you find your way.
Knowing how to approach the application process for life insurance after having a stroke is made simpler when you work with an experienced agent.
They know what life insurance companies look for and ask about, and can help you prepare the best application possible.
They will review your medical history and recommend life insurance companies that will consider you a lower risk.
Theycan even help you apply, draft a clear cover letter, and work with the underwriters on your behalf to get the kind of coverage you and your family deserve.
There may be unknowns about the future after a stroke, but you don’t have to let another day go by without knowing about life insurance.