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If you have high blood pressure, you may be wondering if you can still get life insurance. The answer is yes, but your rates may be higher than someone with normal blood pressure. This is because high blood pressure can lead to health complications like heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. However, there are still many life insurers who will provide coverage for those with high blood pressure. And if you have other factors in your favor, like good overall health, you may be able to get a policy with rates comparable to someone without high blood pressure. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of life insurance available to those with high blood pressure, how rates are determined and what you can do to get the best rate possible.
High blood pressure and life insurance
The Center for Disease Control indicates that almost one-half of all adults in the United States (45%) suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension). Living with high blood pressure significantly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, which makes those with this condition a greater risk to insure. However, as long as you’re managing your condition with medication and diet, you will likely be able to find life insurance coverage.
High blood pressure factors that impact life insurance
Although each case is unique, there are certain patterns which are evident in the ways in which life insurance companies deal with different types of high blood pressure conditions. These consistencies can help people with high blood pressure better predict and prepare for questions about their underlying health conditions in the application process.
- Blood pressure ranges: Important new medical guidelines issued by the American College of Cardiology in 2017 dramatically reduced the definition of high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80. In life insurance underwriting, the closer your blood pressure is to the 120/80 range, the less you’ll likely pay for coverage.
- Influence of age: Older insurance applicants – those in their 50s and 60s or above – may see more leniency in rates associated with higher blood pressure numbers. Many life insurers will issue regular policies to this group even if their blood pressures are elevated. Keep in mind that, the older you are, the more you will pay for life insurance in general, though.
- General health matters: Life insurance companies will consider high blood pressure in the broader context of your overall health. Lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet and weight will be assessed, and good results can mitigate against the risk of your high blood pressure. Non-smoking, in particular, will generally be a very significant factor in determining risk.
Life insurance companies are typically looking for any positive reasons to write a policy. Before applying, take the time to list in detail all of your healthy habits and positive medical conditions.
Types of life insurance for those with high blood pressure
For the most part, those with high blood pressure — particularly when coupled with otherwise good health — can purchase the same policies as others. The primary difference between a high-blood-pressure policyholder and one with normal readings would be reflected in the rates.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance, with the insured person covered for the duration of their entire life. The policy provides a guaranteed death benefit and builds cash value over time. This policy type is more expensive than term insurance due to the permanency of the policy and anticipated payout, and may be even more costly for a person with high blood pressure. For the assurance of financial protections throughout your lifetime, however, the cost may be worth it for your circumstances.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is not permanent, but rather covers an insured for a defined period (typically between 10 and 30 years), usually during the period of life when the need for financial protection for dependents is highest. Term life may be a good option for those with high blood pressure when the primary goal is to leave some fixed amount for loved ones to cover unexpected funeral expenses or outstanding debts like student loans. As with other life insurance policies, premiums may be higher depending upon the severity of the insured’s blood pressure readings.
Final expense insurance
Final expense insurance is a limited scope policy and, as the name suggests, is designed to assist surviving families with funeral and burial costs, or other bills. Since no medical exam is required, this type of insurance may be the only alternative for some people, particularly if they are not already insured and are on the more elevated end of the high-blood-pressure spectrum or have coexisting medical diagnoses. One aspect to consider is that the typical final expense policy has much lower limits than other policies, usually between $5,000 and $25,000, and is comparably more expensive for the amount of coverage than other policy types.
Frequently asked questions
Depending on your circumstances and requirements a number of life insurance companies may be best for you. As an initial assessment, it can be helpful to look at companies with a long and stable financial record, a good selection of policies and pricing and a good customer service reputation. While you may want to get a few quotes to see how much you’ll pay for life insurance, premiums may not vary so much between companies as they will depend on your age and state of health. These are the main factors in determining your premium.
Life insurance companies typically require you to complete a medical exam during the application process to provide the insurer with a more accurate assessment of your risk to insure. During the medical exam, you’ll likely be asked for your contact information and for medical information such as any pre-existing medical conditions, recent treatments or medications that you take regularly. Generally, during these exams, a healthcare professional will record health information such as your height, weight and blood pressure, and may also analyze your urine and blood for health issues or drug use. The better these variables are, the likelier you are to receive a lower premium for your coverage.
If your blood pressure is well-controlled, you should be able to get affordable life insurance coverage. Your chance of getting the most affordable rates will increase if your condition is being treated and you are otherwise generally healthy. However, even if you have not received treatment or your treatment plan is not effective, you should still be able to get life insurance. It is likely that you will have to take a medical exam to qualify for the most affordable rates, but if you prefer not to take a medical exam, you may want to consider guaranteed issue life insurance, which is more expensive but does not require a medical exam.
If you want to keep your life insurance after your term policy expires, there are three basic choices. You can:
- Extend the current term policy. If you remain healthy, you could qualify for an extension of your policy without the need for a medical exam. This is called a guaranteed renewal policy and usually can only be renewed for one more year. Keep in mind that you would have needed to select a term policy that includes this option when you originally purchased the policy.
- Convert the term policy to a permanent policy. If your term policy has a conversion clause, you could convert your coverage to a permanent policy. If you have some health issues, it could be easier to convert your term policy than apply for a new permanent policy. Typically, these types of conversion riders need to be activated well before the end of your term policy, so be sure to check with your insurance agent to be sure you don’t miss the deadline.
- Get a different life insurance policy. You could apply for a new term or permanent policy. If you are in your 40s and 50s, your premiums may be higher than before. But if you have taken care of your health, you could still qualify for decent rates.