Life insurance exams, at least for those of us over 50 and especially over 60, usually require an ekg. While most come back normal, it isn’t uncommon for a company to decline or postpone the life insurance application because of an abnormal ekg. The whole subject of an abnormal ekg is about as succinct as if you were told you had abnormal labs, but didn’t provide any further detail. Was your HDL too low, your glucose too high or were you positive for hepatitis?
In most cases companies will decline or postpone a life insurance application involving an abnormal ekg, pending and assuming that you will go get a full cardiac workup, to give them a better idea if the abnormality is something that they can accept the risk on. The other way it is handled is that they will approve the policy at a very high rate, again assuming that if you want a reasonable rate on your life insurance you will find a cardiologist to get to the bottom of their finding. If they do make an offer, unless it is a complete budget buster, we suggest you put some amount in force and then get whatever cardiac workup is recommended by your doctor. Sometimes the first step is simply to do a new ekg with a medical grade 12 lead unit versus the portable 6 lead unit used by insurance examiners. While a 12 lead ekg is theoretically a redundant 6 lead, the portable units are subject to more wear, tear and user error. I’m not saying anything bad about the nurses and paramedics that perform the exams, but the truth is they aren’t often provided cardiology equivalent equipment and over the years I’ve had several examiners show up with faulty equipment. It’s not their fault. Like all of us we work with the tools we’re provided.
Having said that, most companies will postpone approval or decline a life insurance application if there is an abnormal ekg and recommend that you get a cardiac workup. The abnormality can be completely innocuous or the tip of severe iceberg. Either way it makes sense for the company to know more before completing underwriting. They will generally accept whatever workup or testing your physician is comfortable with, whether that is an echocardiogram or a stress test. They’re just looking for the answer to whether there is anything that presents a life insurance risk going on with your heart.
If you’ve been declined for life insurance due to an abnormal ekg, know that there are companies who will just decline you and ask you to go elsewhere. Anything abnormal is not in their life insurance risk bucket. But there are life insurance companies who will look at the whole picture and give you a fair shake. If you have questions or feel you have been unfairly declined or rated due to an ekg, call or email us. We can help.
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