As you come to terms with your heart valve replacement, one of the things you may be thinking about is the impact on your family long term. So it makes sense to put plans in place to take care of the people who are most important to you. Reassessing what you need and getting a new policy in place are natural steps for many people, so here’s what you need to know about getting life insurance after heart valve replacement surgery…

Specialist policies exist

The first thing to point out is that having a new heart valve doesn’t mean that you suddenly need to start resigning yourself to a shorter life expectancy. Now that your reality has changed, getting life insurance is more complex – but it’s doable. Yes, you’ll may no longer be able to access the best rates, but some life insurance companies specialise in this kind of policy and it needn’t be prohibitively expensive. You just need to be ready to answer lots of questions, some of them going back a long way. For instance, you’ll need to provide information such as:

  • The background to your surgery

Insurers will want to find out why you needed to have the surgery – for example, have you had a heart defect from birth or did problems arise much later in life? Your age at the time of surgery is also relevant.

The amount of time since surgery

Some insurers will want a year to have passed since surgery because of the complexity of the operation – if there are no complications at that point, they may be able to provide you with a fully underwritten policy. You’ll need to show that medical test results proved that the operation and recovery have been a success to get better ratings.

  • How you’ve approached your recovery

Any evidence you can offer regarding your commitment to your recovery programme is likely to help in demonstrating you’re a ‘good bet’ – the fitter and more active you are, the more money you’ll save on policy premiums. With that in mind, stick closely to your doctor’s rehabilitation recommendations by eating healthily, exercising and steering clear of smoking and limiting alcohol.

  • Your choice of heart valve

If you’ve opted for a mechanical heart valve rather than a tissue one, you’ll need to take blood thinner for the rest of your life. The risks associated with this will be looked at very carefully by insurers, as will any co-existing conditions such as diabetes, weight problems or high blood pressure, as well as unhealthy habits like smoking.

Using a specialist independent underwriting expert can help

You could save yourself a lot of time and effort by going through someone who is used to making the kind of policy you need happen. They will run your application through lots of different options, so you should be able to find the best deal. You may well find this less stressful than managing the whole process yourself. Websites with insurance quote calculators might provide a useful route into beginning your application, but bear in mind that these are designed to give you a quick ballpark figure – once you begin your application in earnest, there will be many more questions.

Getting started

When you’re ready to get going on your quest for a new policy, make sure that you have all the information you’re likely to need at the ready. Ideally, that will include a letter from your doctor outlining your medical situation, a recent echocardiogram, up-to-date readings regarding your left ventricle size and ejection fraction (EF), plus evidence that there’s been no change to the structure of the heart and that there’s no valve regurgitation or backflow.

If you need to find out about travel insurance after heart valve replacement surgery, check out our article about planning a holiday after heart valve replacement