Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition that causes an irregular and often abnormal heart rhythm. According to the NHS, it affects around 1.4 million people in the UK. A heart that is functioning normally generates electrical signals, which help to regulate your heartbeat to a normal rhythm, between 60 and 100 beats per minute. For anyone diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregularly fast and can be considerably higher than 100 beats per minute.
According to the British Heart Foundation, many individuals affected by AF aren’t aware they have the condition. For those aged 65 and over, the risk of being diagnosed with AF increases significantly, with 7 out of 100 in this demographic estimated to have the condition.
One of the biggest risks of AF is that you are 5 times more likely to have a stroke, as the irregular rhythm can cause blood to pool in the heart. This blood, more often than not, can form into clots, which can then be carried to the brain, potentially causing a stroke.
Other conditions which can increase the chances of developing AF are:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Lung cancers, chest infections and pneumonia
- Alcohol or drug misuse/abuse
Atrial Fibrillation and Life Insurance
This condition is taken very seriously by insurers, and generally, in most cases, an insurer will request a general practitioner’s report once informed about the condition.
As every insurer will take a different view on the condition, it is imperative, if using an adviser, that your adviser has access to a wide range for insurers to ensure you get the best possible premium.
The insurer will consider various things when assessing eligibility for life insurance if you have AF, including your overall health and any other potential conditions you may have that could affect or increase the risks associated with AF.
What information are insurers looking for here?
- When was it diagnosed and was there an underlying cause? – If there is no underlying cause, many insurers will decline all cover immediately.
- Are you on anti-coagulant medication? E.g., Warfarin – if you are on Warfarin, not only will you be charged a premium for having AF, many insurers will also charge an additional premium for being on Warfarin.
- What other medications have been prescribed as a result of having AF?
- Have you been cardioverted electrically or via medication? If so, on how many occasions?
- Do you have normal kidney function? Some insurers will ask for your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) – The GFR will have to be 60 or above, otherwise, an insurer will decline cover.
- How often do you have episodes of AF?
- Does it affect your activities on a day-to-day basis?
- Do you have other medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.?
Our client, Mr S, came to us as he was concerned that the size of his existing life insurance cover was too limiting. He had recently been diagnosed with AF and, since taking out the cover, he had gotten married, had two children, and taken out a mortgage to purchase the family home, so now it was more important than ever that his life insurance policy provided adequate cover.
After an assessment, we established that his existing policy would provide sufficient cover for the mortgage. However, our client also wanted to ensure that, should he pass away, his family would be left with a legacy and an income until the date of his youngest child’s 25th birthday.
After enquiring on behalf of Mr S, we found that a few providers would decline him based solely on the fact that there was no underlying cause found for his AF. The other issue we had was that Mr S had been cardioverted 3 times, which is unusual, and generally, most providers would decline cover as a result of this.
After researching the whole market, we had found the best rate was between two providers, both providing a best-case scenario. Provider One was charging 100% on top of the standard premium and Provider Two was charging 82.5% on top of the standard premium. However, as the standard premium for Provider One was far cheaper, it meant that, although there was a higher charge for AF, overall, it would be more cost-effective.
Through our experience, we also knew that the head underwriter at Provider One was a cardiologist, meaning that would be our best chance of an accurate final premium after underwriting.
After a medical review and various reports were provided, we were able to secure Mr S cover at the rate we quoted him prior to the underwriting taking place – an overall fantastic result for Mr S.
Another important factor to note is, had Mr S gone online and picked the cheapest or even second cheapest provider, he would have been declined cover due to no underlying cause found for the atrial fibrillation. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with AF or any other medical conditions, it is always worth seeking a specialist protection adviser to support you in finding the right policy, as their knowledge and expertise will not only save you time, but could also save you a considerable amount of money.
Please note: These plans have no cash in value at any time and will cease at the end of the term. If premiums are not maintained, then cover will lapse. These plans have no cash in value at any time and will cease at the end of the term. If premiums are not maintained, then cover will lapse.