Life Insurance After a Transient Ischemic Attack

If you have suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA, you may wonder if you can still qualify for life insurance and how this might affect the rates you can expect to pay. You may also have questions about why an insurance company would be concerned about your TIA and what sort of specific information they might require from you.
By Kris K.
Updated Oct 18, 2021
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If you have suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA, you may wonder if you can still qualify for life insurance and how this might affect the rates you can expect to pay. You may also have questions about why an insurance company would be concerned about your TIA and what sort of specific information they might require from you. To gain a better understanding of what to expect, it would be helpful first to understand some of the underlying issues.

What Is a Transient Ischemic Attack?

A TIA, which can also sometimes be referred to as a "mini stroke," happens when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily disrupted. This is generally caused by a blood clot that blocks or partially obstructs blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain. This lack of sufficient oxygen can lead to symptoms like paralysis in parts of your face or body, weakness in your arms and legs, slurred or garbled speech, and difficulty understanding others. A TIA is typically shorter in duration than a stroke, and usually with less severe symptoms and fewer lasting effects.

Risk Factors for Transient Ischemic Attack

Several factors may contribute to the risk of experiencing a Transient Ischemic Attack. While many of them can be avoided, some, such as getting older, cannot. The risk of suffering a TIA increases after the age of 55 in both men and women, though men have a greater chance of experiencing one. If there is a history of stroke or TIA in your family, this can also predispose you to be at higher risk. High blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and heart disease are also factors, as are high blood cholesterol levels, obesity, smoking, and drug or alcohol abuse.

High stress levels, prolonged feelings of anger or hostility, and depressive symptoms are also associated with a significantly increased risk of TIA or stroke in adults after middle age. Dehydration may also play a role, as this can exacerbate any underlying medical conditions. Studies have also shown a connection between dehydration and a person's ability to recover from the effects of a TIA.

Decreasing Your Risk of TIA

There are lifestyle choices that can greatly reduce your risk of Transient Ischemic Attack or stroke. These include:

  • Not smoking

  • Drinking less alcohol or cutting it out entirely

  • Abstaining from illicit drug use

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI

  • Limiting cholesterol and fat in the diet

  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables

  • Limiting sodium intake

  • Staying sufficiently hydrated

  • Getting regular exercise

Will I Still Qualify for Life Insurance?

In most cases, individuals who have suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack can successfully apply for life insurance. However, there will be a waiting period and insurance companies will have certain requirements that you will have to satisfy. Typically, most insurance companies will not insure someone within six months of a TIA because they are at greater risk of experiencing another incident or larger stroke during this period.

It's important to note that some insurance providers will not insure someone after a TIA at all, even at increased premium rates. Though you may have to seek a policy with an insurance company you haven't worked with before, there are insurance providers who will cover someone after a TIA. The coverage will generally be more expensive, so It's a good idea to compare policies and shop around for the best possible rates.

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Seeking Life Insurance After a TIA

Although TIAs are relatively common, leave no lasting damage, and initial symptoms typically disappear within 24 hours, insurance companies will have some questions and concerns if you have had one. There are several reasons for this. Having suffered a TIA places you at greater risk of suffering a larger stroke in the future. A TIA can also indicate other serious medical conditions or an unhealthy lifestyle, and insurance providers will want to know the details of your TIA and associated medical history before deciding the kind of coverage they can offer.

Questions Insurance Companies Will Have

In order to provide you with an appropriate life insurance policy, insurance companies will want to know the details of your TIA. They will typically ask if this was your first TIA, how long ago it occurred, and they will want to know specific information about the kind of treatment you received, who provided it, and how long it took you to recover.

They will also want to know how your TIA was initially diagnosed and whether you've seen a specialist for treatment and additional diagnosis. They may ask if you are still experiencing any symptoms, what those symptoms are, and for how long they have persisted. They will have questions about other pre-existing medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, or heart problems.

You can also expect insurance companies to want to know if you have a family history of stroke, heart disease, or diabetes, and if anyone in your immediate family has ever suffered from a heart attack, TIA, or stroke. They will inquire about your current prescription medication regimen, whether you smoke or drink, and ask about your height and weight.

How Your Insurance Will Be Affected

Though almost everyone who has suffered a TIA will be able to get life insurance six months to a year after the event, they can expect to have to settle for a rated policy. A rated policy, which can sometimes be called a rate up policy, is one with a higher premium rate than typical policies. This higher rate is charged by the insurance company to individuals they classify as being at a higher-than-standard risk. The amount of this increased rate will differ depending on your specific circumstances, which will determine the kind of rate that will be available to you.

The rating an insurance company will give you depends on the specific details of your TIA event, recovery, family history, and overall health will also be determined by the insurance company's underwriting standards. Though rated policies may differ slightly from one company to the next, each company will typically have four or five types of rated policies.

Types of Rated Policies

Preferred Plus: This is the most desirable type of rated policy. It can sometimes also be called "Preferred Best" and is intended only for people in perfect health with no adverse events or conditions in their family medical history. Because of these requirements, it is unavailable to people who have suffered a TIA.

Preferred: This rate is generally granted to people who are in near-perfect health and with a family medical history that is free of any major illnesses. It is very unlikely that someone who has had a TIA will qualify for this kind of policy, but it is possible in rare cases.

Standard Plus: This kind of policy can sometimes be called "Select," and it is unlikely that someone who has experienced a TIA will be given this rating. It may be a possibility, but only if you are in excellent health and meet other criteria determined by the insurance company.

Standard: This is generally the best possible rating for applicants who have suffered a TIA. To qualify, your TIA must have occurred at least six years prior, you must have no other major health issues, and your family medical history will have to be free of certain limiting conditions.

Substandard: This rating will generally be available to you one year after, but within six years, of your TIA. Sometimes called "Table Rating," this may be available to you within six months of a TIA if you are in very good health and experience no lasting symptoms or resulting damage from your TIA.

Life (and Life Insurance) After a TIA

Most people recover quickly and completely after a Transient Ischemic Attack, and for many, this will be a one-time occurrence. Many people—including doctors—view a TIA event as a warning that can help to prevent more serious problems through positive lifestyle changes and medication. There is every reason to believe that you will be able to live a normal life after suffering a TIA. Although you may have to pay a bit more for it, you will almost certainly qualify for life insurance coverage and can enjoy the peace of mind that it provides.