Jeff is a well-known speaker and expert in life insurance and financial planning. He has been featured and quoted in Nerdwallet, Bloomberg, Forbes, U.S. News & Money, USA Today, and other leading finance websites. He is a licensed life insurance agent and has helped over 3000 people secure life insurance. He is licensed in all 50 states & DC. Jeff has spoken at top insurance conferen...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 11, 2020

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Before we discuss today’s heart health topic any further, we want to address something for those of you who read our blog.

The common notion is that any heart disease will prevent you from obtaining life insurance. This simply isn’t true.

We write these posts to educate you on what it is that agents and life insurance companies look for when assessing your risk. And “risk” is a relative term.

Can You Get Life Insurance With Cardiomyopathy?

For most companies, the risk is assessed on a scale. A heart defect or disease may be a risk, but when it is combined with your overall picture of health, your doctor’s prognosis, your hobbies and your career (yes, those count, too!) your overall risk will be more accurately assessed.

We don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but taking care of yourself and lowering your risk is important.

Your life insurance policy promises to protect your family and your loved ones after you’re gone. If you were to pass away, how would your spouse or partner be able to pay for your funeral expenses? Your mortgage? Any debts you leave behind?

Your life insurance policy is your financial safety net, helping your loved ones through an already difficult time. At the same time, your premiums should not be so high that you cannot enjoy your life while you are living.

This is why it is important to be proactive and to protect your health.

Now, we understand that you cannot protect yourself from every possible health problem out there, which is why we wanted to take the time to educate you on a variety of health risks and how you can expect them to impact your life insurance premiums.

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What is Cardiomyopathy?

The heart issue we will be covering today is cardiomyopathy, which refers to a group of heart muscle diseases.

Unlike other diseases of the heart, cardiomyopathy has no one identifiable cause, rather, several diseases or risk factors are thought to be the cause including alcoholism, collagen diseases, muscular dystrophy, hemochromatosis or Friederich’s ataxia.

It used to be that individuals with cardiomyopathy were uninsurable; however, recent studies reveal that the disease is more common than originally thought. In fact, according to research done by the Texas Heart Institute Information Center, roughly 500,000 Americans suffer from cardiomyopathy.

This condition is classified into two broad categories: hypertrophic or dilated.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy refers to abnormal enlargement of the left ventricle. This causes blockage when the heart contracts and frequently leads to chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fainting spells, and breathlessness.

Dilated cardiomyopathy often leads to congestive heart failure, as one or both ventricles are stretched out, reducing the primary heart chamber’s ability to contract.

Underwriting Cardiomyopathy

If you are looking for life insurance with cardiomyopathy, your agent will want to know the following:

  • The date of your first diagnosis
  • What symptoms, if any, did you or do you experience due to your cardiomyopathy? Your agent may also want to know how frequently these symptoms occur.
  • What medications are your currently taking, both related and non-related to your cardiomyopathy?
  • The results of your most recent EKG
  • What treatment was recommended for your cardiomyopathy? Have you undergone heart surgery, do you have a pacemaker or have you undergone any defibrillator procedures?
  • Do you have a history of tobacco use or alcohol use?

It is important to be as detailed as possible when telling your agent about your cardiomyopathy.

The conditions that lead to your cardiomyopathy will be taken heavily into consideration when underwriting your risk.

Related Posts:
How Epilepsy Impacts Your Risk
Finding Coverage with Congestive Heart Failure

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What Type of Cardiomyopathy Do You Have?

For example, those with alcoholic cardiomyopathy, or cardiomyopathy caused by excessive alcohol consumption, are more likely to be declined than those who are older with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and few symptoms (although these individuals will be given moderate table ratings).

In fact, the severity of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is generally viewed in four categories:

  1. The age at which you were diagnosed. Generally speaking, the younger an individual is at the time of diagnosis, the worse the prognosis will be
  2. The presence of fainting spells; if present, your prognosis is poorer. These fainting spells are sometimes referred to as syncope.
  3. Any shortness of breath experienced at the time of diagnosis.
  4. A family history of cardiomyopathy or a history of sudden, unexplained death.

Something to note here is that age will play in your favor when classifying your risk, provided there is little-to-no family history, your most recent EKG and symptoms are stable, and if there is no presence of obstructed blood flow.

However, this is for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and these individuals can expect anywhere from a “standard” rating to a table rating, with a flat extra added.

For those with currently diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy experience high mortality rates and, therefore, declines. This is particularly true of those who have congestive cardiomyopathy, myocardial fibrosis or degeneration, or myocarditis.

This does not mean that there are not options for you, it simply means patients will be required in searching for the right policy. Additionally, if you have a past history of dilated cardiomyopathy, you will have to undergo a postponement period of roughly two years, after which your rates will be assessed on an individual basis.

If you have undergone surgery for your cardiomyopathy you will most likely, as will any major surgery, require a waiting period. If this applies to you, we encourage you to give us a call so that we can help you find coverage options to protect you during your waiting period.

Just as it is important to take care of your health, it is important to find an agent who will help you manage your life insurance.

All companies view risk differently, so you should be working with an agent who can help you find a company that has experience insuring individuals with your condition.