This article is a guide for anyone who has been diagnosed with high blood pressure to effectively navigate the life insurance marketplace. It aims to highlight potential pitfalls and the ways to avoid them with some inside industry knowledge. Getting life insurance with high blood pressure is by no means out of the question. But it is very worthwhile understanding more about how insurers react to the condition before you begin the process. If you have been diagnosed with raised blood pressure and are;
Why is high blood pressure taken into consideration by life insurance providers? Consistently high blood pressure can cause the vessels to become damaged in the form of weakening and narrowing or to rupture or leak. These conditions as well as the potential for high blood pressure to cause blood clots can lead to stroke. Similarly, over time, prolonged periods of high blood pressure can affect organs in the body. Notably the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys can all be seriously damaged.
These effects can lead to life threatening conditions as well as stroke as already mentioned. Heart attack or failure, kidney failure and blindness are common. Other organs in the body can also succumb to the negative influence of high blood pressure. It is for these reasons that applications for high blood pressure life insurance go into detailed questions around the subject. This helps the insurer to make a fair and informed decision when offering cover and can dictate the price.
It’s thought that nearly a third of the population of adults in the UK live with high blood pressure. That equates to around £16 million people. Out of that number, roughly a third of people are unaware they have the condition as it is largely symptom free. But there are a shocking 62,000 deaths each year in the UK attributed to inadequate blood pressure control. With this number of individuals being affected, high blood pressure and life insurance cases are a common occurrence. High blood pressure for life insurance purposes would be considered readings consistently above 140/90mmHg.
Because of the frequency involving high blood pressure and life insurance applicants, insurers have built into their application’s specific questions on the topic. So therefore, any mainstream insurer in the UK you approach would ask a set of detailed questions about high blood pressure. They do this for several reasons. The first being to get a thorough understanding of an applicant’s circumstances. The insurer is gauging the severity of high blood pressure on the individual. The answers to the questions also help the insurer to accurately evaluate the ‘risk’ that somebody represents in insurance terms. The ‘risk’ being quite simply, how likely it is that that person will die during the term of insurance.
Once the current state of health and the risk have been established, the application questions will then determine if insurance can be offered and ultimately at what price.
It’s important to make sure you have your most recent blood pressure reading before you approach a broker or insurer. Some insurers specify this needs to have been performed by a medical professional. Others simply ask for the most recent reading. Either way, if you don’t have the information to hand it’s not essential but well worth taking a little time to get it.
Some insurers will add more to the premium if you don’t include your reading in the application. This is known in the industry as a ‘loading’. It’s simply not worth paying the extra if you don’t need to. Similarly, if your chosen insurer is one who asks for a medical professional reading, it will most probably need to have been in the last 6-12 months. If it falls outside of this timescale then again, an automatic loading may apply. We generally suggest a quick trip to your surgery to get an up to date reading prior to completing a questionnaire to avoid this scenario.
If your most recent reading was higher than normal, then it may be worth a second check. If you use a reading which is higher than it normally is, then you will be assessed as if that is the case all the time. For example, if your readings tend to come in around 130/80 and you get a reading of 150/100, it’s a distinct possibility the cost of the cover will go up. Blood pressure can rise for all sorts of reasons. Missed the bus on the way to the surgery? Had a near miss in the car on the way there. Kids playing up before school? There is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure the odds are in your favour prior to going ahead with a policy.
We know life insurance with high blood pressure customers are paying more for their cover than is necessary for the reasons above. All too often, the person on the other end of the phone is keener on completing the sale rather than explaining how a small delay can equate to a saving. Life insurance with high blood pressure does not automatically mean a loading to the standard premium. And if you have been told this, then it’s time to look again at your existing policy or gather in some more quotes before you commit.
Top Tips before you start or commit;
It may well be the case that you have other medical conditions to disclose as part of a life insurance high blood pressure application. Some conditions will not be taken into consideration in conjunction with your high blood pressure. For example, a slipped disc and high blood pressure have no connection. But there are other lifestyle habits and medical conditions where most, if not all insurers will take a holistic view on your personal circumstances. Examples will include if you are a smoker or if you have diabetes. Higher BMI scores will also potentially have an effect. Although, typically this is less problematic the older the applicant is.
There are some conditions that when disclosed within a life insurance high blood pressure application will almost certainly require further medical evidence. This in layman’s terms is a report from your GP. For example, if you have suffered with any heart conditions, urine abnormalities or associated eye problems, there is often a request for a GP report. Particularly high cholesterol can also often trigger the need for a medical report. This just means that the insurer would like to get a full understanding of your medical situation. Although it will delay the decision it does not mean that the answer will probably be a no. As the insurers themselves pay the cost of the reports, they don’t request them unless there is a realistic chance of being able to offer cover.
Family history is also very often taken into consideration. Again, this can depend on the age of the person at time of application. Family history asks about very close relatives only including parents, brothers and sisters. Emphasis will be given to family history of heart conditions, strokes and diabetes. If there is more than one instance of one or more of these conditions, there is a strong chance of a premium loading (sometimes also called a ‘rating’).
Insurers will often ask questions specifically about life insurance high blood pressure medication. To support this, they will ask more general questions about how diligently you are in maintaining control of the condition. For example, insurers often ask if you regularly keep up with follow up or routine check-ups with you GP. As well as if you comply with the treatment prescribed for high blood pressure. If you do not attend follow ups or decide to stop your mediation without your doctor’s approval, this will have a negative impact on an application. This is because the insurer will assume you do not take your wellbeing as seriously as they would like. In short, you will pose a greater risk to them. Perhaps to greater risk to offer insurance cover.
Many insurers have stopped asking about specific medications and dosages as they did in the past. Instead they focus more on the number of different medications you have been prescribed. Also, they will ask if your medication has changed. The last 6 months is a typical timescale they will take into consideration. If your dosage has reduced in that time because your doctor as recommended it, then that is typically viewed as a positive thing. If, however, your medication dosage has increased to improve control then there is the likelihood it will cause a postponement. A postponement is when an insurer defers giving a decision on an application until a future date. In this example, it would likely be for 6 months to wait and see if the new medication regime works more affectively.
This scenario may also be true if changes to combinations of medicines are prescribed by your GP or if you are referred to a specialist clinic. Both situations imply that the ideal solution to improve and maintain control of your blood pressure is yet to be confirmed. Wherever there is a question mark over the future control of any medical condition, insurers will postpone cover as a precaution.
Many insurers now ask about your doctor’s comments during your last meeting and how effective you agreed your high blood pressure treatment is. For example, an insurer may ask if your doctor described your condition as “well maintained”. It’s common to be asked how regularly you have been advised to go back for check-ups. They’ll also ask when the last time was you went for a check- up. This is all to assist the insurer in gauging your commitment to effective maintenance. An example would be if you have been told to visit your GP every 6 months, but you’ve not been in a year. In this case, the answers combined would be a negative. If you have been asked to attend every 6 months and went last month, then thumbs up.
The key here is identifying what exactly has been the cause of the negative outcome and what exactly the outcome actually was. Denied life insurance high blood pressure situations typically fall into two categories. In essence, there are two different kinds of ‘no’ from insurers. There is an actual ‘no’ e.g. “thank you for your enquiry, but regrettably on this occasion….. And a ‘not now but come back in the future and it might be yes’ - ‘no’. The latter being a postponement as described above.
When an insurer feels they can’t decide now. Normally, because of some outstanding issues that they need resolved before they can assess a person’s circumstances. An example being, a customer changed their medication last week to try and better improve their high blood pressure control. The case would be postponed normally for 6 months. And assessed again then to see if a judgment can be made on how well the medication is working.
A decline means an insurer leaves no wriggle room. They have decided on balance that the persons circumstances pose’s too greater risk and have decided they cannot cover them. At this point, don’t hang up or walk away. It may be a mistake. Ask for a copy of the application questions or request that the adviser you are talking to goes through the answers you have given once more. People make mistakes. A wrong digit, date and reading could be the difference. So, always ask to check over the answers before you move on. If after that, the consensus is that this particular insurer has declined your application, again don’t despair. Not all insurers are the same in the way they assess applications. Tolerance levels vary from insurer to insurer. So where one insurer might decline a reading of 180/110, you could find that another would rate the policy premium but still offer the cover.
It’s at stages such as this where having someone knowledgeable and motivated can be so beneficial.
Call centre staff are often targeted on volumes. If you fall outside of a parameter, you might just seem like more work and it’s easier just to move on to the next potential sale. Lack of knowledge can also be an issue. If your adviser or broker scratches their head like they are out of ideas, then maybe they are not the right person to get you the cover you want.
Using a broker that has experience in dealing with high blood pressure cases daily can and most probably will make a difference. Unfortunately, that does not guarantee everyone will walk away with life insurance cover. Not everyone will be eligible. But a knowledgeable broker will be able to tell you if you have no options remaining. As well as give you guidance as to when that might change, for example with a change in your circumstances. Quite often, the benefit of a specialist is in the way they understand the insurers and their underwriting tolerances and philosophies. In short, once they understand you and your personal circumstances, they can tell you which providers will accept you and at what price.
Top tips if you’ve been declined cover:
What you see on the internet from the big aggregator companies with annoying TV adverts as well as the insurers themselves are standard prices. Life insurance quotes with high blood pressure will not be accurate until you have completed an application. Known as a ‘Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire’. This needs completion before there is any offer of insurance and has the potential to affect the price.
Similarly, if an insurer asks for further medical evidences, the price is not guaranteed until they are complete. The insurer assesses the information and will then offer insurance terms at which point the price will be certain. Additional medical evidence can be in the form of a GP repost as discussed above. And, a nurse medical, which is a basic physical assessment right up to a full medical examination. The latter is rare and usually only requested with larger sums of cover. More recently, insurers have used a method know as ‘tele interview’. This is simply a call direct from the insurer to you to find out a bit more information.
It’s important to be sure if the life insurance quotes with high blood pressure figures are an accurate estimate taking into consideration your circumstances. Or, if they are just an ‘off the shelf’ price with little or no consideration given to your medical situation. Once again this is where a specialist broker can be of benefit. They will ask you most of the questions you’d be asked as part of a health and lifestyle questionnaire before they talk figures. They may even go away and compile further research. In doing so they will be able to give you an accurate guide to what the price of your life insurance will be given your circumstances. It may well be that the price will be a standard one. But if cases where a rating will most probably apply, it’s is always better to know roughly what that may be. Rather than getting a nasty surprise at the end of the process.
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Hopefully this piece has been able to answer many of your questions about getting life insurance with high blood pressure. If not, we are always here to help and happy to give you any further guidance you may require. Let’s summarise the main points again. High blood pressure is a common condition. UK life insurance providers all have the facilities and processes in place to deal with these sets of circumstances. Before you arrange your insurance, make sure you are prepared. Have to hand your most recent readings and get one done if you need to.
Make sure you have significant dates of things like diagnoses or changes of treatments. And give yourself a fighting chance. If you get a reading that is higher than normal. Have another go.
Don’t take the first offer that comes your way. And don’t be convinced that just because you are getting life insurance with high blood pressure you automatically need to pay more. There are lazy, commission hungry, target stressed, uninformed insurance operatives out there. Don’t allow them to cost you more than is necessary.
If you do have to take an increase in premiums because of how things are today, you can always change in the future. There are no tie in periods with life insurance products. So, it never costs you anything to change from one product to another or at any time. A good broker will schedule in regular timescales to review your circumstances and see if there are opportunities to save money.
You may go from a policy that was rated then to a policy that is on standard pricing now. Specialists can be very useful. Use them to do the donkey work for you. Yes, of course you are free to work your way around all the insurers yourself. But it takes a lot of time and it isn’t any cheaper than the prices you get using a broker. And how can you be sure you got the best price or the most comprehensive deal? A good broker will take their time to talk with you first. To find out what it is you wish to achieve. And to ask all the questions necessary to give you an accurate description of your choices. It gives you the option of a one stop shop. Should save you a lot of time as well as potentially money. And is the best chance of finding a solution to your needs.
It could well all be about timing. As we talked about above, insurers like to see continuity in your circumstances sometimes before they will offer life insurance. Getting life insurance with high blood pressure that has recently been diagnosed being a prime example. Similarly, changes in medication types, combinations or increased doses will mean waiting it out until the impact of the changes can be assessed.
Turned down? Don’t panic. Find out why. And not a wishy washy, ‘it’s because of your high blood pressure’ why. The exact reason and in detail. Make sure it’s not an admin mistake. That means checking everything down to your date of birth has been input correctly. A high reading for someone that appears to be under 30 years old on an application could be declined. If that person is actually 50 and their DOB was input incorrectly, they could be covered by now. If you conclude the insurer has turned you down from an assessment of your accurate circumstances, find a specialist and ask them to explain your other options.
Of course, there will always be scenarios that fall outside of what is discussed here. Typically, that is the case when there is a need to also take into consideration other medical conditions on top of high blood pressure. That aside, the above has hopefully given you ample knowledge of the do’s, don’ts, why’s and how’s to get the best deal possible.
That means you can nominate somebody to look after the money if you die and there’s a payout before you want the intended recipient to get the money. A common example is parents who want to have the payout go to a child only once the child turns 18 or 21. Putting a policy into trust also ensures that the payout goes to your intended recipient and can’t be seized by creditors if you have any debts when you die. There may also be tax benefits to putting a policy into trust.