13 November 2012 0 Comments

High Blood Pressure And Life Insurance Premiums

High Blood Pressure (hypertension) affects between 10% and 20% of the adult population of the United States.  Uncontrolled hypertension forces the heart to work harder and possibly enlarge leading to cardiovascular disease, so it’s an important consideration in the pricing of life insurance.  Blood pressure readings are measured as the heart contracts (Systolic, or top number) and as the heart relaxes (Diastolic, or lower number).  A typical BP reading might be 124/76.  A reading of more than 140/90 in those under age 50 and more than 150/95 in those age 50 and older might result in an extra premium being charged.

If you expect to qualify for an insurance company’s lowest premiums (Preferred Best) you might have to come in at no more than 130/75 at the younger ages and no more than 140/85 at the older ages.  Each insurance company sets its own criteria, so it’s important to deal with an agent who has access to more than one company and can direct your application to the company most likely to produce the lowest premiums.

Hypertension is often controlled by weight loss, dietary modification, cessation of smoking and medications.   If you are taking medication, many insurance companies will automatically disqualify you from the Preferred Best classification.  In fact, of 22 companies I surveyed, only 5 would offer their Preferred Best premiums if medication was required to maintain acceptable BP readings and they would want to see that control maintained for 1 to 2 years.

If the history of hypertension is the result of known causes such as kidney disease, adrenal gland disorder or aorta coarctation, then the underlying problem must be considered and the BP is viewed as an element of that problem.

HBP is often made worse by smoking, obesity, stress, alcohol consumption and sometimes birth control.  It’s important to have a good night’s sleep prior to your life insurance medical exam and to avoid alcohol consumption.  If you are taking birth control pills make sure the examiner includes this information in the application.  If your first BP reading is high ask the examiner to take another reading later in the exam after you have had a chance to settle down.  Leave plenty of time to get to your exam so you’re at ease when the cuff is placed on your arm.  Before they start pumping air into the cuff, take a couple of good deep breaths, let them out, close your eyes and think of a day at the beach.

Remember, even if your BP is exceptionally bad—or good—at the time of your insurance exam, the company will likely obtain your medical records and take an average of several of your recent readings.  Get the best price you can, but don’t go without important protection.  If your BP control improves with time, you can always request that the company lower your premium, or apply to another company.

Next, it’s on to cholesterol as a premium indicator for life insurance.

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