Heart disease is a red flag for a life insurance underwriter because a massive heart attack can be sudden and deadly. But an underwriter's concern doesn't begin and end with "the big one."
"Heart disease is not one condition; it's a conglomerate of many conditions," explains Goldstein. "Each condition has to be looked at separately."
Because the severity and progression of heart disease can be difficult to document, underwriters typically take a second look at the applicant's family tree for guidance.
"Generally, this is associated with immediate family members -- father, mother, sister, brother -- who may have developed heart disease or had a stroke," says Bloom. In addition, a 40-year-old man may be asked to undergo an electrocardiogram prior to becoming insured.
Will heart disease keep you out of the preferred risk class?
"In general, coronary artery disease in a 40-year-old would usually be looked at carefully and could be something that is rated (not preferred)," says Goldstein. "If the heart has significant damage to it so that it is not pumping effectively, it could actually be a situation that is not insurable."