How Underwriters Look At Heart Blocks

Jeff Root Jeff Root Posted in Heart
Last updated on April 1, 2019

If you’ll recall from an earlier article, your heart functions due to electrical impulses, which tell it when to contract. These impulses begin at the sino-atrial (SA) node, and are conducted to other areas of the heart in specifically timed intervals. 

When these passages are blocked or are interrupted, heartbeat abnormalities occur. Not only can these seriously impact your heart’s ability to function, but you may find that they impact your life insurance coverage as well.  These are called heart blocks, or bundle branch blocks (BBB), and roughly 1% of the population is affected.

Heart Blocks 

The abnormalities can occur in a variety of different ways. In some instances, the left and right ventricles of the heart may not pump at the same time and in others, ventricular contractions  occur at a slower rate than atrial contractions, or ventricular contractions may be missed altogether.

No matter the type, all bundle branch blocks appear as abnormalities on an EKG. The majority of these cases require no treatment; however, you may have to have a pacemaker installed if you experience blackouts or fainting spells.

There are several causes of BBB including:

  • Coronary artery disease, with accounts for 50% of cases
  • Hypertension
  • Tumors
  • Fibrosis, or scarring of conduction fibers
  • Trauma
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Congenital lesions

Bundle branch blocks can also occur with no additional abnormalities, making them interesting diseases to underwrite for life insurance coverage.

What To Know About BBB and Life Insurance

The first thing to know about how your bundle branch blocks will impact your life insurance is to gather as much information as possible about the cause of your bundle branch block.

Bundle branch block, like many heart diseases, are not underwritten on their own; rather, underwriters will carefully evaluate the underlying cause of the BBB when assessing an applicant’s risk.

In fact, it’s normal for many individuals with this condition to be rated “standard” and an occasional “Preferred” is not entirely uncommon. The stability of your condition as well as your age will also be factored in when assessing your risk.

The more information you can provide your agent about your condition, the better, but here is what we specifically will need to accurately assess your risk:

  • The type of Bundle Branch Block with which you have been diagnosed.
  • How long your bundle branch block has been present.
  • Your most recent ECG results. For this, it’s best to have the results from a few different tests on hand, so that agents can look at your doctor’s notes and see if any significant changes have occurred.
  • A detailed list of your symptoms, including: the presence of any chest pain, high blood pressure, valvular heart disease or congenital heart disease.
  • A list of any cardiac studies you may have undergone, including stress tests.
  • As always, it is important to provide your agent with a list of any medications you may be taking – both to treat your BBB and any taken for additional reasons.

Because BBB is rated based on the underlying cause, all ratings are not created equal. For example, if you have blockages of the fibers that conduct impulses to the left heart chamber, you can expect a lower rating because of the importance of the left ventricles. If you’ll recall: the left ventricle receives oxygenated blood and is responsible for pushing the blood into the aorta, which then circulates the oxygenated blood into the rest of the body.

Let’s take a look at some of the ratings associated with bundle branch blocks. It is important to keep in mind that these ratings are based on recently diagnosed conditions

Standard Ratings

If you are diagnosed at the age of 39 or younger, these types of BBB will likely earn you a “Standard” risk rating:

  • Incomplete right bundle branch block (IRBBB)
  • Left anterior hemiblock (incomplete) (LAHB)
  • Left posterior hemiblock (incomplete) (LPHB)

If you have been diagnosed at the age of 40 or over the following will most likely earn you a “Standard” risk rating:

  • Incomplete right bundle branch block (IRBBB)
  • Complete right bundle branch block (CRBBB)
  • Left anterior hemiblock (incomplete) (LAHB)
  • Left posterior hemiblock (incomplete) (LPHB)

Age plays an important factor in assessing your risk with BBB, as the younger you are the more likely your condition may be to deteriorate over time.

Table Ratings

A few types of bundle branch blocks pose higher risks, depending on your age, and will immediately mean you have to pay a flat extra for your coverage.

If you were diagnosed at age 39 or younger, these include:

  • Complete right bundle branch block (CRBBB)
  • Complete left bundle branch block (CLBBB)
  • Complete right bundle branch block with left hemiblock, also known as a Bifascicular block

Should you have been diagnosed at age 40 or older, you will be given a table rating if you have the following:

  • Complete left bundle branch block (CLBBB)
  • Complete right bundle branch block with left hemiblock, also known as a Bifascicular block

If any of the above situations apply to you, we encourage you to reach out to us today to see how we can help you find affordable life insurance for your condition.

Finding Life Insurance with BBB is Easy

As easy as calling the number below, in fact!

If there is one thing we can do for our clients, it to let them know that there is rarely a situation in which they cannot find a life insurance policy to suit their needs and budget. Having an expert on your side helps, particularly if you have a heart condition.

We cannot tell you how many individuals we speak to on a regular basis who have been led to believe that they will be declined for life insurance based on their bundle branch block diagnosis. Or worse: they have been lead astray by the high costs of Guaranteed (No Exam) Life Insurance.

Let us help end the misconception that a bundle branch block diagnosis means you cannot find affordable life insurance coverage. Give us a call today!

Any questions?  Feel free to email me at krystn@noel-insurance.com, fill out the quote form on the side or call 877-817-2583

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