A stroke is a profound event that impacts not only your life but the lives of your family and loved ones around you. If you or a family member have suffered a stroke, you realize that the long and complex road to recovery offers no guarantees. One of the issues that may be on your mind is whether or not you can get life insurance after a stroke – the good news is that it is still possible to get a policy, but there are factors that can affect one’s eligibility.
What are the options for life insurance after a stroke?
Getting approved for life insurance following a stroke is still possible, although it may be more complicated. You can expect to pay higher premiums, as strokes are major medical events that have both short- and long-term implications.
The company that underwrites your policy will have a lot of questions for you, and you may find that they no longer feel it prudent to provide coverage. If you discover that a traditional life insurance policy is no longer available to you, rest assured that there are other options.
No medical life insurance is the broad name given to life insurance that doesn’t require one to undergo a physical exam. Coverage may cap out at a certain amount for non-accidental death, but the amount provided will cover funeral expenses and help with outstanding debt. No medical life insurance typically costs more than standard insurance, and you might need to be of a certain age to apply for it.
Guaranteed life insurance is offered by many insurance providers. As the name suggests, you will be guaranteed to get coverage regardless of your health history. This coverage may only insure you to a lesser amount than a traditional policy, typically to a maximum of $25,000 to $50,000. Generally, your premiums will remain the same over time as long as you continue making payments on schedule.
Simplified life insurance doesn’t require you to undergo a physical examination by a doctor, but you might have to answer a health questionnaire. The questions asked will be specific to your health, and it’s important that you be honest when answering as misinformation may result in a terminated policy. You can purchase simplified life insurance as either a whole life or term life policy.
TIP: If you’re looking for life insurance following a stroke, it’s a good idea to apply for simplified options first. If you apply for traditional insurance first and are declined, you may be disqualified from a simplified policy.
How to protect yourself if you’re at risk of a stroke
Strokes occur when blood flow to any portion of the brain is blocked. Because the brain will have restricted access to oxygen and nutrients, some cells will die. Damage to the brain from this loss of cells can be a Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) which leads to permanent damage, or it can be temporary, a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). CVA’s are also known as full strokes, while TIA’s are sometimes referred to as mini-strokes.
If one or more of the following applies to you, you have a higher chance of experiencing a stroke:
- You have a family history of strokes
- You are overweight
- You suffer from artery or heart disease
- You are diabetic
- You have high cholesterol
- You have high blood pressure
- You are over 55 years of age
If you are at risk of a stroke, a change in lifestyle can help reduce your risk. Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and regular exercise are some of the ways that can help.
If you have not suffered a stroke, but are at risk, you might consider critical illness insurance. This insurance covers you if you receive a critical illness diagnosis while under the policy, meaning that you will receive the benefit should an incident occur. Critical illness insurance can often be obtained as a rider to term life insurance or permanent life insurance policies, so be sure to inquire about your options when shopping around for life insurance quotes.
How does a stroke impact your life insurance rate?
If you’ve suffered a stroke, you will have to pay higher premiums on your insurance. According to the American Stroke Association, about one in four people who have suffered one stroke will have another. This is one of the reasons that insurance providers will consider you a greater insurable risk.
The amount your premium will increase depends on a multitude of factors, but one of the key determinants is the type of stroke you suffered.
Suffering a mini-stroke (TIA) will increase your insurance premiums but not to the same extent as a full stroke (CVA). And after the mini-stroke, you probably won’t qualify for conventional insurance policies in the first few months following the incident. With a full stroke, you may need to wait even longer before you qualify for conventional coverage, and you can expect a far more substantial increase in your rate.
Keep in mind that there are numerous factors such as your age and health that impact the price of your life insurance after a stroke. It is advised that you compare insurance quotes and speak to a certified insurance broker to receive accurate information about your situation.
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How important is the length of time between the stroke and your life insurance application?
The first year following your stroke is the most critical period of time. If you’ve had a stroke, your chances of having a second within the first year are 15 times greater than for the common population. Because of this, insurers are less likely to issue conventional life insurance policies to stroke survivors within the first year, and some may even deny potential customers for another two to three years. The more time that elapses, the greater your chances of getting approved – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should wait around without any coverage in place.
The importance of age at the time of your having a stroke
The younger you are at the time of having a stroke, the higher your insurance premiums will be. This is because you’re at a higher risk of suffering another stroke in your lifetime, as well as possibly having additional medical complications. Keep in mind that in most other cases, however, older age will increase the cost of your life insurance.
If you suffer a stroke at a young age, changes to your lifestyle can help lower the chances of experiencing an additional stroke – the Heart & Stroke Foundation is a great resource, offering tips on how you can reduce your risks. Not only can a healthy lifestyle help minimize the likelihood of a stroke, but it can also help with getting better insurance rates.
Questions your insurer may ask you when applying for life insurance
Your insurer will have specific questions for you when applying for life insurance following a stroke. The insurance company will want to know some general information, such as your age at the time of the stroke, how many occurrences there have been, the date of your first and subsequent strokes and what your diagnosis was (i.e. mini-stroke or a full stroke).
Additionally, you can expect to be asked very specific questions about your stroke and your medical history – some possible questions include:
- How was your stroke diagnosed and what studies were performed?
- Is there a family history of strokes?
- If you experienced a full stroke, what was the type of stroke (i.e. hemorrhagic, ischemic or atherosclerosis)?
- What were your symptoms at the time of the stroke, and were there any lasting symptoms afterward?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- Do you have any other heart-related medical diagnoses?
- Do you or have you used tobacco products and with what frequency?
It’s important to be open and honest with insurance providers. As stated above, misinforming an insurance company can result in denied or cancelled insurance policies.
The bottom line
If you’ve suffered a stroke or are considered to be at risk, you are still eligible to get a life insurance policy. Be sure to speak with an insurance broker or advisor to determine what options are available to you, and compare life insurance quotes so that you know you’re getting the most affordable coverage on the market.