Defibrillators are electronic chips (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator-ICD) inserted in the body to regulate the beating of the heart. They are used in patients with heart conditions that affect their rhythm in pumping blood. These conditions include ventricular fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmia, and pulse-less ventricular tachycardia.
Unfortunately, a lot of seniors suffer from these medical conditions. Living with a defibrillator is a challenging task, and with it comes an even taxing mission of acquiring a life insurance policy.
Difficulty of Securing Life Insurance for Seniors with Defibrillator
Most insurance companies offer policies by weighing the possibilities of risks occurring. Many of them consider clients with defibrillators as too high a risk, and so they decline to provide them with life insurance.
However, it is still possible to get yourself a suitable policy by merely following a series of steps that are further discussed in this article.
The Medical Information Bureau and Multiple Applications
One of the common mistakes a lot of seniors with defibrillators do is sending out multiple applications to insurance agencies hoping to land one by luck. This act only hurts your chances of getting life insurance.
Every time your life insurance application fails, the Medical Information Bureau gets and keeps a record of it. This bureau ensures that insurance companies get an accurate record of your medical history and conditions since they serve as clearance houses for the insurers.
Having multiple declines will be interpreted negatively by other insurance companies that you will go to in the future. They will see you as a high-risk client and decline to offer you a policy.
So how can you secure yourself a life insurance contract if you live with a defibrillator? That’s entirely possible, as outlined in the next section.
How to Get Yourself a Policy?
First up what you ought to know is that always go for the insurer who offer particular risk insurance policies. Applying in insurance firms that don’t deal with ‘specialized risk’ is almost always a waste of time. This is because the majority of them will decline to offer you a policy and your chances are slim.
Such insurance companies will also formally submit details of their decline of your application to the medical information bureau. This will lower your score with them, and when other insurance companies see that, they will also reject to offer you a policy.
You can always search for the right insurer to take you up by yourself, but the most recommended way is through the use of an agent.
When working with an agent, make sure he/she is well experienced in the field. Seasoned agents will know the underwriting methods of various companies and also insurance firms that deal with specific defibrillator cases.
The agent will gather information on the packages offered by the specialized risk insurers and inform you on the best ones. Besides that, they will also pitch your case to the companies and try to get the lowest rates for you.
If you are wondering about what kind of insurance you might get, here are a few examples.
You can apply for term insurance which tends to have lower premiums, but once the contract expires, you will have to get another one.
For whole life insurance policies, seniors with defibrillators have the chance of qualifying for the following:
- Modified Benefit life insurance
- The Graded Benefit cover
- The Substandard life insurance policy.
How to Avoid the MIB and Minimize the Risk?
There are a few tactics that you can use to lessen your risk of a bad score with the medical information bureau. The intention is to minimize the number of formal applications you submit to the insurance companies. If there are no legal applications, then there will be no declines or similar information provided to the bureau.
One method you can use while shopping for your insurance company is by making open calls. All you have to is make a list of prospective insurance companies and call them to enquire about their special risk policies.
You can also visit the companies and speak directly with their agents without making any formal applications.
Another alternative that you can use is a trial application. The underwriters of the company then review the application and respond with information on the health classification that they will grant a policy.
Typical Questions Asked
Before getting an insurance policy, as is the norm, you will undergo underwriting, more so because you are a high-risk client. During the underwriting, you will be asked various questions depending on what your insurer wants to know about your health condition.
Discussed below are some of the usual questions to expect.
a) Your age, gender and heart condition
As always, age is a primary factor used by insurance companies in calculating the premiums you are going to pay. The older you are, the more you will pay. Your age will also be used to assess your health status based on when you developed your heart condition.
Gender is factored in because of how men and women have different mortality rates. And of course, you will be expected to give the full details of your heart condition and its cause.
b) When was your ICD implanted?
The insurance firm will want to know if you have had your defibrillator for 6-12 months or longer. The duration you’ve had it will also determine whether the insurance company puts you on a waiting period.
c) Why was your ICD implanted?
This question is one of the most significant determinants used to evaluate your level of risk to the insurance company. Every person had a defibrillator implanted for different reasons which mostly encompasses the type of medical condition that led to the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator implant.
The information is further used in calculating your premiums if you get approved for the policy.
d) Complications that arose from your ICD implant
Any insurance company will assess your medical history after the implant to see if any related complications came from it. This will include issues such as blood clots, malfunction of your defibrillator implant, among others.
Potential clients who have their ICDs longer (1 year or more) – and with minimal complications- have higher chances of getting a life insurance policy.
e) Have you experienced other heart conditions since the implant?
The difference in this question from the one above is that it focuses on the heart. This will feature inquiries about other heart conditions that could have manifested since the implant.
Additionally, you will also be expected to provide any details if your original heart condition grew worse after the implant.
f) What kind of medication are you taking?
There are some types of drugs that are considered red flags by insurance companies. They will, therefore, want to know about the kind of medication you are on currently to determine whether to grant you a life insurance policy.
g) Do you smoke?
Smoking or the use of tobacco products is a huge red flag for insurance companies. If you continued using tobacco even after the diagnosis of your heart condition, your underwriting score would be affected.
Smoking causes further damage to your condition and is also known for resulting in other chronic conditions. Such health conditions include hypertension, obesity, and other cardiovascular diseases you didn’t have before.
A lot of people get tempted to provide inaccurate information to secure themselves a life insurance policy. Lying or submitting incorrect or incomplete data will only harm your cause in the long run.
Therefore, ensure that all the details you provide are accurate and truthful.
How to Increase the Chances of Getting Approval?
With the odds working against you, you are going to need every ace up your sleeve to even the ground. This means employing all the possible methods that will appeal to your chances of finding an insurer willing to offer you a life policy.
Here are a few tips you might want to consider.
a) Working with an agent
An agent is one of the best approaches you can use that will give you your best chance of finding life insurance for someone with your condition. Finding an agent to help you is no difficult task. Some well-seasoned agents work single-handed and specialize in helping such clients.
Another option is to seek out an agency composed of agents who offer similar services. These agencies can easily be found online with the nature of their services outlined on their pages.
Agents are an excellent choice because their experience combined with their resources, and contacts substantially optimize your chances.
b) Perfecting your timing
As mentioned earlier, most insurance companies prefer working with clients who pose minimal risks. Seniors who have had ICD implants recently (usually 3-6 months) are more likely to be put on waiting period upon application.
Insurance companies do that to wait and see if any complications will arise from the implant. The best time to start applying would be after at least a year since you will have a higher chance of approval.
c) Improving your health
Different insurance companies use different methods to calculate the premiums you will pay as a client living with a defibrillator. The state of your health primarily influences these premiums.
Making healthier lifestyle choices increases your chances of securing a term life insurance with cheaper premiums tremendously. During the underwriting of a basic insurance policy, you will be asked questions that comb your lifestyle thoroughly.
Clients who show characteristics such as being overweight, smoking, among others, reduce their chances drastically.
Exercising, eating balanced diets, taking your medication correctly, attending all your doctor’s appointments, and quitting smoking or drinking bears terrific results on your health. The better your health is, the more the likelihood of landing a term life insurance policy.
If the traditional insurance companies refuse to offer you a life policy under basic underwriting, there are other alternatives that you can consider. These alternatives include guaranteed life insurance companies and specialized insurance companies.
Guaranteed Life Insurance Companies
This recourse should be considered as a last resort. Just as the name suggests, these companies offer policies that guarantee your life insurance. On most occasions, they ask basic questions, and you will not need to undergo a medical examination.
The companies will there have minimal information about your health and any medical problems that could emerge in the future.
However, there is a catch. Due to the nature of their contracts, they charge high premiums. If you can afford to pay for them, then you will secure yourself a life insurance policy.
Another disadvantage of these is that they come with minimal death benefits compared to the premiums paid. Nonetheless, the benefits vary across policyholders based on several factors.
Specialized Insurance Companies
There are insurance companies that specialize in dealing with clients who suffer from chronic conditions such as heart problems. These insurance providers assess the clients applying for the insurance and decide whether or not they are of high risk.
The upside of these insurance firms is that they give you a better chance of securing a life insurance package. More so if you are taking good care of your health.
You can shop through various insurance companies to find out one that sounds fitting based on your desires. Otherwise, you can use an agent or agency firms that help people with defibrillators find the best insurer with the most affordable policy.
Nevertheless, if you are lucky to find an insurer who accepts you, expect stringent measures and requirements from them. They will expect you to provide up-to-date documentation of your medical progress within the term of your insurance contract.
And remember to provide truthful information all the way so that the insurance companies can make accurate assessments. Doing so will help them decide on the best policy to offer to you.