How to Get Term Life Insurance With a Heart Murmur

Getting term life insurance with a heart murmur might cause your rates to be higher, but not always. Life insurance companies want to ensure that those with heart murmurs are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. A medical history with regular physician checkups is important. Premiums are lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their blood pressure down with medication. Get free quotes for life insurance with a heart murmur with our free comparison tool below.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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A heart murmur is the sound of blood flowing through an abnormal valve or a hole in the wall between the chambers of the heart. It is not the heart murmur itself that is significant. The concern is the underlying condition. Some conditions causing heart murmurs have no effect on mortality. Others have serious consequences. Conditions causing heart murmurs may be treated surgically, by repair or replacement of a valve, or closure of a septal defect.

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 heart murmurs. 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 Does a Heart Murmur Mean?

A heart murmur is a sound heard during a heartbeat. While most heart murmurs are harmless and do not require any medical treatment, there are some types of heart murmurs that will require follow-up with your physician. For many people with heart murmurs, they never experience any problems and may have only learned they had a heart murmur after a routine heart check with a stethoscope.

Functional heart murmurs are also called innocent heart murmurs and are the least concern to life insurance underwriters. Some types of functional heart murmurs are Physiologic heart murmurs, cardio – respiratory heart murmurs, and aortic sclerosis heart murmurs. As long as there are no additional underlying heart problems, we have some life insurance companies that will consider you for life insurance coverage without charging you additional money. Organic heart murmurs are caused by heart disease or are congenital heart problems. Some types of organic heart murmurs are:

  • Aortic Insufficiency
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Bicuspid Aortic Valve problems
  • Mitral Insufficiency
  • Mitral Stenosis
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse
  • Pulmonary Insufficiency
  • Pulmonary Stenosis

Heart Murmur Statistics

As of 2011, the following numbers show the significance of heart murmurs:

  • About 25,000 babies are born each year with heart defects, such as holes in heart walls or misshapen heart valves. Many congenital heart defects can be corrected by surgery.
  • Twice as many women have heart murmurs than men.
  • Every 34 seconds a person in the United States dies from heart disease.

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. It is during this process that a heart murmur is typically found.

What Life Insurance Companies Look For

Life insurance companies are concerned that those with heart murmurs 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:

  • When you were diagnosed with a heart murmur
  • What your diagnosis was
  • What steps you have taken since your diagnosis
  • 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 regularly updated. 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 blood pressure, 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 heart murmurs. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

  • Premiums are lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their blood pressure down with medication
  • Premiums are 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

Good Outcome:

Dale applied for term life insurance when he was 52 years old.

  • Diagnosed with a functional heart murmur at age 52
  • No other additional underlying heart problems found
  • Non smoker
  • Outcome: Approved at a Preferred rating class
  • Premium: $176 annually

Not So Good Outcome:

Lillian applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.

  • Diagnosed with organic heart murmur at age 46
  • Murmur due to trivial Aortic Stenosis
  • No other additional underlying health problems
  • Non Smoker
  • Outcome: Approved at a Standard Table 2 rating class
  • Premium: $1,006 annually

Poor Outcome

Andrew applied for term life insurance when he was 51 years old.

  • Diagnosed with organic heart murmur at age 50
  • Murmur due to moderate Aortic Stenosis
  • Treated with valvotomy surgery at age 50
  • Outcome: Declined until more time has passed between surgery and approval

What This All Means to You

The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have a heart murmur 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.

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