Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure: The Definitive Guide

What You Need To Know & Tips to Save

Updated: August 2021

Life insurance companies look at a number of different things when determining the rate that you will pay for a policy. High blood pressure is one of these critical factors.

Below we’re going to show you exactly what you should know if you are looking for life insurance with high blood pressure.

Our best advice is this: not all companies have the same rating system for high blood pressure or high risk clients, so compare different life insurance companies to get the best rates.

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Does High Blood Pressure Mean High Life Insurance Rates?
Why is High Blood Pressure a Risk Factor for Life Insurance?
What Underwriters Will Ask About Your High Blood Pressure
The 3 Best Life Insurance Companies for High Blood Pressure
How Companies Determine Your Health Class with High Blood Pressure
Myths About Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure
Tips for Improving Life Insurance Rates with High Blood Pressure

Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure

Does High Blood Pressure Mean High Life Insurance Rates?

Can you get great life insurance with high blood pressure?

Thankfully, yes!

Life insurance companies have been measuring hypertension for over 100 years and they have designed products for this condition.

High blood pressure is one of many health and wellness components that is taken into consideration by carriers to determine eligibility, rating class, and cost of premiums for the policyholder.

Interestingly enough, there are many misconceptions about high blood pressure and its effect on life insurance policies and rates.

Most people with high blood pressure can still get very affordable rates. However, if you have other pre-existing conditions, they will likely affect your rates as well.

Why is High Blood Pressure a Risk Factor for Life Insurance?

There are various reasons that life insurance companies choose to look at high blood pressure as a rating factor.

Some of the reasons that insurance companies include as reasons for including high blood pressure as a risk factor include:

  • High blood pressure can contribute to both heart disease and cause hardening of the arteries.
  • High blood pressure can affect your eyesight by hardening blood vessels that will have a detrimental effect on your eyesight.
  • Over time, hardening of the arteries can be a contributing factor in a stroke.
  • High blood pressure has a detrimental effect on the circulation in your kidneys.

Facts About High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a fairly common issue. Here are some important facts about high blood pressure in the U.S.

  1. High blood pressure is called hypertension and is likely to present with few physical symptoms.
  2. Once the high blood pressure is diagnosed, simple treatment options can prevent the disease from doing damage to many vital organs such as the heart.
  3. Blood pressure is measured by two numbers, separated by a “/” – the first number is the systolic pressure (blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood) followed by the diastolic pressure (blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats).
  4. A normal blood pressure range is less than 120 / and less than 80.
  5. Blood pressure falling between 120-139/ 80-89 is considered pre-hypertension, and numbers above 140-159/ 90-99 are considered high.

High Blood Pressure Statistics for the United States

  1. About 110 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure. This statistic translates to 1 out of 2 Americans over the age of 20.
  2. Another 75 million adults have pre-hypertension.
  3. Only 54% of those with high blood pressure have their condition controlled.
  4. High blood pressure was reported as a primary or contributing cause of death for 414,000 Americans in 2014.
  5. High blood pressure costs the United States $48.6 billion each year in medical care services, medications and treatments, and missed days of work.

What Underwriters Will Ask About Your High Blood Pressure

Measuring high blood pressure for life insurance

Every life insurance company is different, however, usually, you will see the same or very similar questions regarding hypertension.

Your underwriting expert should be asking these questions, and you should be ready to answer them.

When Were You Diagnosed with Hypertension?

We see clients with high blood pressure more and more the older they get. It’s a very common condition as we age. So there is allowance with life insurance companies for higher blood pressure at higher ages.

However, having higher blood pressure at a younger age is a warning sign that may lead to higher rates.

What Were Your Most Recent Blood Pressure Readings?

Underwriters will usually want to observe the last two years of blood pressure readings because they are trying to establish a trend. Is your blood pressure going in the right direction?

Likewise, looking at a few readings will help them tell if there was an errant test result in there that should be ignored. If there is a proven history of low blood pressure, one bad test will not ruin your chances at a great rate.

What Medications are You Currently Taking?

Life insurance underwriters will often use automated underwriting to partially assess your file for risk. Part of this is a check of your prescriptions so an accurate recording of your medications and their purposes is crucial.

What can affect your rates in this instance are medications that indicate additional conditions, like Metformin for diabetes or Atenolol for atrial fibrillation.

An increasing blood pressure prescription would prompt additional questions because it could indicate uncontrollable hypertension.

Do You Have Any Other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease?

There are other things that lead to coronary artery disease and heart failure besides high blood pressure. Things like diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and negative cardiac testing will all be considered as additional risk factors.

Do You Have a Family History of Heart Disease & Hypertension?

Our health is partially genetic, so for applicants under the age of 60, underwriters will want to know about your family’s history as well.

  • Did you have a close relative die of heart disease at an early age?
  • Do you have a history of high blood pressure in your siblings?

If yes, then you might pay a higher rate.

Questions for People with Very High Blood Pressure

If your systolic pressure is consistently over 150 or your diastolic pressure is consistently over 90, underwriters will want to know if there is any damage or change to your heart muscle itself. They will be looking for an echocardiogram or stress echocardiogram.

Two measurements are important to consider.

First is the ejection fraction or left ventricle ejection fraction. This measures the volume of blood pumped out of the left side of your heart with every beat. It’s communicated as a percentage between 30% and 70% and the higher, the better.

Second, on a stress echo is the METS, or “metabolic equivalents of task”. Here, underwriters are looking for readings higher than 10 to indicate your heart can handle the normal strain of physical exercise.

The 3 Best Life Insurance Companies for High Blood Pressure

Every situation is different. Below are several companies that we’ve found to provide good coverage and rates for those with high blood pressure.

Speak to one of our experts to find the best policy for you, as there may be another company with better rates depending on your situation.

How Companies Determine Your Health Class with High Blood Pressure

Every company is different, however, we will give you a general outline of what health class you might be able to qualify for below.

  • Preferred Plus: to qualify, you must have a reading of 140/90 or under without medication
  • Preferred: to qualify, you must have a reading of 140/90 or under with medication
    • or 150/90 without medication
  • Regular: to qualify, you must have a reading of 150/90 with medication
    • or 155/95 if age is between 41-60
    • or 160/95 if age is 61 or older

Preferred or Preferred Plus Health Class

This health class is reserved for the healthiest of the healthy and it is not likely that you will get preferred rates with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure does not exist in a vacuum, it often comes with other conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol or a few extra pounds. It’s the combinations of these conditions that tack on additional risk, and this usually prevents people from qualifying for the best health classes.

The exception is if you are older and controlling without medication.

Standard or Standard Plus Health Class

This is a likely outcome with high blood pressure.

As we mentioned before, there are so many people suffering from high blood pressure that it is the ‘new normal,’ especially after the age of 50. Standard rates are very likely, even with a combination of some other minor health factors.

Substandard Health Class

This is likely with high blood pressure combined with other more serious risk factors, such as coronary artery disease, depression or cardiac arrhythmias. This is also likely if you have high blood pressure and continue to smoke, or if your BP readings are higher than 150/95.

Most applicants over-estimate the cost of life insurance by 300%. Many are pleasantly surprised by how affordable it can be, even with rates a little higher than standard.

Myths About Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a condition with several unique characteristics that all contribute to widespread myths in regard to obtaining life insurance. Among the more common of these misconceptions are:

Myth #1: Taking Medication for High Blood Pressure will Disqualify me for Great Rates

False. Life insurance companies, your family and your doctor all want you to live a long and healthy life. Think about it, if everyone was dying early, the life insurance companies would all be out of business!

In reality, if you take medication for high blood pressure, it can have an effect on your rates, but having your high blood pressure under control will have an even bigger effect. Life insurance companies are far more likely to be concerned with how an individual with high blood pressure is taking the steps necessary to control the disease.

Myth #2: I Can’t Get a Good Life Insurance Policy with High Blood Pressure

False. If half of America is suffering from high blood pressure then the life insurance companies have this risk covered and they are able to deal with it effectively. You still can qualify for the best life insurance coverage, and types of policies out there, even with high blood pressure.

Myth #3: I’ll Get Better Rates if I Don’t Mention My Blood Pressure & Apply for a ‘No-Exam’ Policy.

False. Well, maybe false.

How about, it depends?

Your best bet is to work with an independent agent who has access to a variety of plans and companies. If you qualify for a no exam policy and it makes sense to your timeline and budget, then go for it!

You must realize two things, however:

  1. It is always a bad idea to lie on your application. There is no fooling a life insurance company. They will pull a pharmacy check and your relevant insurance history (also known as MIB). So if you have high blood pressure, don’t hide it.
  2. Second, some of those “No-Exam” policies can be 25% – 35% higher than a comparable policy with an exam. Whether that difference matters to your budget is a conversation for your family and your independent agent.

Tips for Improving Life Insurance Rates with High Blood Pressure

Having high blood pressure does not mean that you will definitely pay higher rates because insurance companies also look at several different factors.

By taking care of other factors that you can control, you will save on life insurance.

  1. Exercise regularly to keep yourself healthy.
  2. Eat healthy to try improving your blood pressure.
  3. Don’t smoke. This will always increase your rates.
  4. Go to the doctor regularly. See what your doctor says you can do to become healthier.
  5. Compare multiple companies. Companies will view your situation differently, so first, figure out what type of policy you need. Then, get quotes from multiple carriers to see who has the best rates for you.

These tips will help companies view you in a more positive way, and lower your rates. Especially, if you are applying for life insurance as a senior, which could already be higher than normal ratings.

Currently, there is no cure for high blood pressure. However, it can be controlled, and its threat to your overall health can be reduced.

Regular visits to your primary care doctor, adjustments and improvements to your diet, taking medication when needed, and adjustments to physical activity and exercise are all paramount to securing the best possible rates on life insurance with high blood pressure.