UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems. These health problems make you a higher risk applicant. A greater risk applicant means higher life insurance premiums.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t get approved for the best rating class with the lowest premium possible. How? You first need to understand how life insurance companies handle applicants with high blood pressure. What do they look for? How can you prepare? What is the likely outcome?
Read on to find the answers and get started with your term life insurance application.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is called hypertension. The condition itself usually has no symptoms. You can have hypertension for years without knowing it. It can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you’re feeling fine. If your blood pressure is too high, treatment may help prevent damage to your body’s organs.
Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. You most often will see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure range is less than 120/ less than 80. Anything between 120-139 /80-89 is considered pre-hypertension. Numbers above 140-159 /90-99 is considered high.
High Blood Pressure Statistics
As of 2016, the following numbers show the significance of high blood pressure:
- About 75 Million adults in the United States has high blood pressure. That’s 1 of every 3 adults.
- Another 75 million adults have prehypertension.
- Only 54% of those with high blood pressure have their high blood pressure controlled.
- High blood pressure was listed as a primary or contributing cause of death for 414,000 Americans in 2014.
- High blood pressure cost the United States $48.6 billion each year in health care services, medications and missed days of work.
The Impact on Your Life Insurance Policy
When you apply for a life insurance policy, you will have to take a medical exam. During this exam, you will be asked questions about your family history, lifestyle, and smoking and alcohol usage. The person administering the exam will measure your height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure.
If you have had high blood pressure in the past, don’t panic. Keep in mind that many people respond well to medications that help lower their blood pressure. If you have successfully lowered your levels, your past levels should have little effect on your life insurance costs.
What Life Insurance Companies Look For
Life insurance companies are concerned that those with high blood pressure are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. A medical history of regular physician checkups is important to the company.
The life insurance company will be looking specifically at:
- How long you have had high blood pressure
- The degree of control as illustrated by medical records, height/weight and lab test results
- Any other medical conditions present
- Whether you are a tobacco user
How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application
There are important measures you can take to prepare yourself before applying for term life insurance. Doing so will help your chances of getting approved for the best rating class possible. Use the following tips to put yourself in the best position to win:
- Visit your doctor as often as recommended.
- Follow your doctor’s advice regarding medication and treatment.
- Make sure your medical records are updated regularly. This is crucial! The life insurance company will rate your application poorly if it is unable to determine your level of control.
- Get any other complications under control. For example, if you also have high cholesterol, make sure it is being treated as well!
What our Experience has Shown
We’ve helped thousands of people apply for term life insurance, and many of those people had high blood pressure. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
- Premiums are generally lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their blood pressure down with medication
- Premiums are generally higher for those who do not follow up with a doctor regularly.
- We recommend getting a policy in force first at a premium rate you can afford. You can then focus on improving the rating class through better control or lab results.
Real Examples from Real Customers
Linda applied for term life insurance when she was 52 years old.
- Diagnosed at age 50
- Blood pressure controlled with medication, diet and exercise
- Outcome: Approved at a Preferred rating class
- Premium: $185 annually
Not So Good Outcome:
Edward applied for term life insurance when he was 55 years old.
- Diagnosed at age 54
- Takes medication, but inconsistent
- Follow up visits show levels up and down
- Outcome: Approved at a Standard rating class
- Premium: $479 annually
Jerry applied for term life insurance when he was 46 years old.
- Never diagnosed with high blood pressure
- Has not seen a doctor in over 10 years
- Paramedical exam results: 170/200 mmHg
- Outcome: Declined
What This All Means to You
The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have high blood pressure is — yes, you can qualify for coverage! The bad news is the approval, and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective. However, if you follow the advice we’ve provided and, more importantly, discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, you can have a positive outcome.
And remember, if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in force and work on improving the rating class through better control and lab results.