Life Insurance and Blood Pressure

Life Insurance and High Blood Pressure: Background
Getting Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure for Life Insurance Exam
Can You Be Denied Life Insurance for High Blood Pressure?
Does High Blood Pressure Increase Life Insurance?
Life Insurance Rates with High Blood Pressure
What Life Insurance Types Can You Get with High Blood Pressure?
What is the Best Life Insurance for People with High Blood Pressure in Canada?

Life Insurance and Blood Pressure: Background

In Canada, about one in four adults suffers from high blood pressure, aka hypertension. If left untreated, hypertension can damage the heart and lead to angina and heart disease. There are various degrees of hypertension, as explained in the chart below.

(Top number)
(Bottom number)
Stage 1 Hypertension130-13980-89
Stage 2 Hypertension>140>90

As this is a prevalent problem in Canada, how does it affect life insurance? Let’s take a closer look at high blood pressure and life insurance.

Getting Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure

It is possible to get life insurance when you have high blood pressure. However, it will depend on the severity of your condition. Those who have successfully treated their hypertension with medication and/or diet and exercise may qualify for more competitive rates with traditional life Insurance.

However, those with high blood pressure, especially if it has remained elevated for some time or has gone untreated, risk being declined. No Medical Life Insurance is an alternative option for them. Those that fall in between, such as stage 1 hypertension, may have some success with a simplified issue life insurance policy. Those that are facing a decline for a traditional policy can apply for guaranteed issue life insurance. Note, however, that guaranteed issue is quite expensive, comes with a low coverage cap and does not pay out for any death other than an accident during the first two policy years.

In addition to a medical exam for a traditional policy, the type of policy you obtain will depend on a number of health-related factors. Some questions during the application process may ask about your:

  • Diet
  • Age
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Stress management
  • Medication
  • Blood pressure reading – current and history
  • Treatment compliance
  • Smoking
  • Co-existing conditions such as obesity or stroke

Note that simplified issue policies come with a list of questions but no medical exam. Guaranteed Life insurance policies have no medical exam and no questionnaire.

Blood Pressure for Life Insurance Exam

For any traditional application policy (a policy that is not simplified or guaranteed issue) you will be asked to take a medical exam. The results of the exam will influence an acceptance or denial. If your application is accepted, good exam results can get you a very favourable rate. However, you may also receive a rating. This is higher than the lowest possible rate (based on your health) but can still be cheaper than simplified issue rates.

The exam will take place in your home (a paramedical examiner visits) or in a medical office – the underwriter will let you know where to go or what to expect. During the course of about half an hour, samples of blood and urine are typically collected. Your height, weight, pulse and blood pressure are measured. Sometimes an ECG (i.e. electrocardiogram) is done.

Your blood pressure will be taken three times and the average of these readings is applied as per their company’s guidelines.

Can You be Denied Life Insurance for High Blood Pressure?

Yes. You can be denied life insurance if you have high blood pressure, but it is rare to be denied solely on a blood pressure reading. Typically, there will be other risk factors present in addition to high blood pressure if you are denied.

If declined, follow up medical treatment and changes in lifestyle may lead to approval around six months later. Check with the underwriter to see how early they will reconsider.

If you are not offered a traditional life insurance policy, you may be offered the company’s simplified issue or guaranteed issue policy. You will pay more for less coverage, especially with guaranteed issue, but it is still far better than not having insurance at all.

Does High Blood Pressure Increase Life Insurance?

Yes, blood pressure has an effect on life insurance rates. The premiums (standard or rated) depend on how long you have had high blood pressure and your ability to control it. Your diet and lifestyle also play a role. Blood pressure above 130/80 is considered high by most insurance companies.

Another reason why high blood pressure affects life insurance is because it is an indicator of other, or future, health problems (heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, for example). The higher the risk to insure you, the higher your rates.

Life Insurance Rates with High Blood Pressure

Below is an overview of how some Canadian life insurers treat high blood pressure in their underwriting process.

Insurer AStandard ratesSubstandard rates
(i.e. increased rates)
Insurer BDepends on the severity and control. If treated, well controlled and has regular follow-ups with attending physician, rates can usually be standardPossible high rating (i.e. more expensive rates)Decline
Insurer CIn most cases can be offered standard rates if well-controlled and compliant with medication.Possible high rating (i.e. more expensive rates) Decline

What Life Insurance Types Can You Get with High Blood Pressure?

This chart shows what types of insurance are available to applicants with high blood pressure.

Insurance TypeMedical ExamDetailed Medical QuestionnaireShort QuestionnaireCoverage LimitsImportant to Know
1. Traditional, Medically
Underwritten Life Insurance with PREFERRED RATES
Yes Yes No $5,000,000+Not available, can not apply
2. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance with STANDARD RATES Yes Yes No $5,000,000+Possible for mild cases.
3. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance WITHOUT A MEDICAL EXAMNo Yes No $5,000,000+Not possible in most cases
4. Traditional, Medically Underwritten RATED Life Insurance Yes Yes No $5,000,000+Yes, the most likely scenario for people with hypertension stage 1
5. Simplified Issue Life Insurance No No Yes $1,000,000Yes, most applicants can typically qualify for this insurance. Questionnaires will vary across providers.
6. Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance No No No $25,000Yes, you can always qualify for this one.

We suggest working with a life insurance broker to find the right plan for your particular situation. A broker shops the market on your behalf and can preview application forms. Your broker will then match you with the policy in your budget that is most likely to have a successful outcome

What is the Best Life Insurance for People with High Blood Pressure in Canada?

Canada Protection Plan, SSQ Life InsuranceEmpire LifeCanada LifeAssumption Life  and other Canadian life insurance companies provide life insurance for people with high blood pressure. Work with a broker that will compare rates and determine if you should apply for a traditional, simplified or guaranteed issue policy. Our experienced life insurance brokers are happy to help. Simply complete the quote request on the right side of your screen

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