Burial Insurance with a Pacemaker. Here are the facts.
According to HealthDay, a website that reports on the wellness of Americans, more than 500,000 people currently have pacemakers that have been implanted to regulate their heartbeat.
Fortunately for these individuals, obtaining life insurance with a pacemaker is somewhat challenging but altogether very possible.
What is a Pacemaker and what does it Do?
A pacemaker is an electronic device that when implanted under the skin near the heart, is used to regulate an abnormal heartbeat of the patient. This heartbeat regulation is known in medical terms as cardiac resynchronization therapy.
These electronic devices, also known as a CRT device, are typically the size of a half-dollar and implanted by a surgeon. Their purpose is to resolve an irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmia and also other irregular heartbeat issues.
In many people, an irregular heart rate can occur as a result of a variety of medical conditions that cause the heart to be rapidly or too slow
Although more frequently occurring in the elderly, irregular heartbeat can occur at virtually any age. There are, however, some common conditions that require implantation of a pacemaker (CRT):
- Bradycardia – this is when the heart is beating too slowly
- Atrial Fibrillation – a quivering of the atria
- Irregular heartbeat that results from a heart attack or other heart event
- Abnormality of the heart
- Various medications the patient is taking
When implanted in the patient, the CRT helps the heart to function properly and maintain a heart rate of 60 to 90 beats per minute. This rate is considered an efficient function in a resting adult.
If a patient’s heart is working slower or faster than the optimum speed, an insufficient amount of blood is flowing through the body and will result in the following conditions:
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath and labored breathing
- Dizziness and Fainting
How a Pacemaker Works
An implanted pacemaker performs three essential functions:
- It acts as a pulse generator which means that the pacemaker consists of a battery where the electronics regulate the rated of electrical pulses that are sent to the heart.
- The CRT has electrodes that are attached to the chamber(s) of the heart and deliver an electrical pulse that regulates the heart rate at an optimum rate.
- The CRT monitors and then records all of the heart’s electrical activities.
The newer pacemakers are advanced enough to even monitor the body’s temperature and rate of breathing. Pacemakers can be installed permanently or temporarily depending on the health of the patient.
Burial Insurance Rates for People with a Pacemaker
It’s important to note that having a pacemaker does not necessarily impact your insurance rates; rather, it’s the health condition that requires the pacemaker that will impact your rate.
Patients who have a non-threatening health condition will typically be approved at a better rate than those who have a more severe life-threatening condition.
In fact, after your overall health condition has been reviewed and appraised, you may not be offered an insurance policy at all.
In these cases, there are alternative life insurance products your independent agent can offer.
Information Required by Your Underwriter
Combined with the many health questions that will be on the life insurance application, it is likely that your underwriter will have additional questions as well.
- When was your pacemaker implanted and what were your symptoms?
- What is the medical reason for your doctor to order the CRT, heart blockage due to coronary artery disease, heart blockage, chronic atrial fibrillation, or other cause?
- Do you currently have any other form of heart disease?
- Have you experienced any ongoing symptoms since your CRT was implanted?
- What medications were prescribed by your cardiologist?
- Do you have any other relevant health conditions?
The good news is that companies that offer Burial Insurance with a Pacemaker will not require you to undergo a medical exam. They will handle the medical underwriting by ordering a MIB report, Prescription Drug report, and in some cases, a supplemental medical questionnaire is added to the insurance application.
How to Find Burial Insurance with a Pacemaker
Your first step in finding affordable life insurance when you have a pacemaker is to contact an independent life insurance agent who specializes in high-risk insurance cases and represents multiple carriers that can offer an affordable solution.
Your independent agent will step in as your advocate to help you navigate the life insurance marketplace and find a highly-rated insurance carrier willing to consider applicants with conditions similar to yours.
While providing the most affordable rates, they will help you through the underwriting process and help you calculate the amount of burial insurance you’ll need to financially protect your loved ones.
An independent insurance professional will put your individual case and needs first and foremost, and the needs of the insurance companies secondary.
Since an independent insurance agent represents many insurance carriers, they will typically have a defined list of companies that are more willing to offer a policy to applicants with a pacemaker.
Alternatives if You Are Declined
If, after a complete review of your medical records, the underwriter is unwilling to offer a standard burial insurance policy (level benefit plan), your independent agent will likely recommend a company that offers a graded-benefit or guaranteed issue burial insurance plan.
Graded Benefit Burial Insurance
Graded Benefit Final Expense or Burial Insurance was designed to accommodate applicants who do not medically qualify for a Level Benefit plan which has the lowest rates and first-day coverage.
In return for accepting a high-risk applicant, the insurance company will pay a graded death benefit if the insured dies within the first 2-years of coverage from natural causes.
When this happens, the company will typically pay 30% of the full death benefit if death occurs in the first year, 70% if death occurs in the 2nd year, and then 100% thereafter.
The graded death benefit only applies to death from natural causes. Accidental deaths are not subject to the graded benefit rule.
Guaranteed Issue Burial Insurance
The guaranteed issue burial insurance plan was designed for applicants who cannot medically qualify for a level benefit or graded benefit plan.
A guaranteed issue life insurance policy does not require health information or a medical exam. The company will simply issue your insurance policy without consideration of your health issues, past or present.
The company will, however, have a waiting period of two or three years where they will not pay the full death benefit if you should die of natural causes.
Instead, the company will pay your beneficiary an amount equal to the total premiums you have paid, and in many cases, they will typically add 5 or 10 percent to that amount.
If, however, you die from an accident during the waiting period, the insurer will pay the full death benefit from day one.
It’s also important to note that guaranteed issue burial insurance plans typically cap the death benefit at about $25,000, depending on the insurance company.
Although you have to deal with more expensive rates and a waiting period for coverage, a guaranteed issue policy is a better alternative than going without any life insurance at all.
The Bottom Line
Many applicants for life burial insurance present with medical issues that may or may not affect whether they’ll receive the lowest rates with first-day coverage or be offered an alternative plan.
Either way, LJM Life Insurance has considerable resources and expertise to make sure our prospective clients can easily purchase affordable burial insurance with pre-existing conditions.