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Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure: The Ultimate Guide in Canada

Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure, The Ultimate Guide in Canada
Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure, The Ultimate Guide in Canada

Navigating life insurance with high blood pressure can seem complicated. However, with proper management, you can get affordable coverage in Canada.

This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know about getting life insurance with hypertension.

You’ll learn:

  • Key stats on high blood pressure in Canada
  • Understanding blood pressure readings
  • Health risks of uncontrolled hypertension
  • How insurers assess high blood pressure clients
  • Impact of high blood pressure on life insurance premiums
  • Available policy types and options
  • Qualifying for coverage with mild, moderate, and severe hypertension
  • Proven strategies to get the best rates
  • Comparing insurer approvals and prices
  • Working with a broker to optimize your policy
  • Ten takeaways for securing affordable coverage
  • Frequently asked questions

Let’s start with an overview of high blood pressure in Canada.

High Blood Pressure Statistics and Risks in Canada

Prevalence of High Blood Pressure in Canada

Over 6 million Canadian adults have high blood pressure, representing 19% of the population aged 20 and over.

High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for premature death worldwide. In Canada, hypertension contributes to more than 13,000 deaths per year.

Source: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/health-information-catalogue/en-get-your-blood-pressure-under-control-v21-web.ashx?la=en&hash=20493566724F3F87387717A720D49F60521C1CF2#:~:text=Blood%20pressure%20statistics&text=Increased%20blood%20pressure%20is%20the,death%20in%20countries%20like%20Canada.&text=Six%20million%20Canadian%20adults%20have,19%25%20of%20the%20adult%20population.&text=Of%20Canadians%20with%20high%20blood,are%20unaware%20of%20their%20condition.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg):

  • Systolic – The pressure exerted on arteries when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic – The pressure between heartbeats when the heart rests.

According to Heart & Stroke, the ranges are:

Blood Pressure CategorySystolic (mmHg)Diastolic (mmHg)
NormalLess than 120and less than 80
Elevated120-129and less than 80
Stage 1 Hypertension130-139or 80-89
Stage 2 Hypertension140 or higheror 90 or higher
Hypertensive CrisisHigher than 180Higher than 120
Source: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings

The higher the blood pressure, the greater the strain on the heart. Prolonged hypertension causes damage to blood vessels and vital organs.

Health Complications of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure

If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to:

Heart Conditions

  • Coronary artery disease – reduced blood flow to the heart.
  • Enlarged left ventricle – the heart has to work harder to pump blood .
  • Heart failure – the weakened heart struggles to pump blood effectively .
  • Heart attack – death of heart muscle tissue .

Brain Conditions

  • Stroke-disrupted blood supply causes brain cell death.
  • Dementia – cognitive decline from damaged blood vessels.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) – brief interruption of blood to the brain.

Eye Damage

  • Retinopathy – blood vessel damage in the retina.
  • Choroidopathy – fluid accumulation under the retina.
  • Optic neuropathy – disrupted blood flow to the optic nerve.

Kidney Disease

  • Chronic kidney disease – gradual loss of kidney function.
  • Renal failure – the kidneys stop working entirely.
  • Renal artery aneurysm – bulging of an artery to the kidney.

The takeaway? Managing high blood pressure is critical.

Next, let’s look at how life insurance companies assess clients with hypertension.

How Insurers Evaluate Life Insurance Applicants with High Blood Pressure in Canada

How Insurers Evaluate Life Insurance Applicants with High Blood Pressure in Canada
How Insurers Evaluate Life Insurance Applicants with High Blood Pressure in Canada

Insurance companies evaluate dozens of factors when assessing applicants for life insurance with high blood pressure. Here are 7 of the primary considerations:

Blood Pressure Readings

Insurers look closely at your systolic and diastolic numbers. The higher your blood pressure, the higher your premiums will be. For example, someone with stage 1 hypertension will pay more than someone with elevated blood pressure. However, even applicants with stage 2 hypertension can get life insurance if it is well-controlled.

Date of Diagnosis

When you are first diagnosed, it impacts your rates. If you’ve had hypertension since a young age, your premiums will be higher than those diagnosed later in life. However, if your previously elevated blood pressure has normalized through treatment, you can still get favourable rates.

Medications and Adherence

Insurers want to know if you are controlling your blood pressure through medications. They will ask which drugs you take and how compliant you are with your regimen. Sticking to your prescribed treatment helps secure better premiums.

Lifestyle Factors

Your diet, exercise, stress, alcohol use, and other lifestyle factors are examined. A healthy lifestyle aids in blood pressure management, and making positive changes can significantly reduce your rates.

Co-existing Conditions

Other health issues like obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol increase mortality risk. Controlling these co-conditions helps offset the impact of hypertension.

Family History

If there is a strong family history of high blood pressure or heart disease, it elevates your risk profile. However, maintaining good health can help overcome genetic predispositions.

Age and Smoking Status

Younger applicants with hypertension are seen as higher risk. Smokers also pay substantially more, significantly, if they have elevated blood pressure.

Now, let’s examine how hypertension impacts your life insurance premiums.

How High Blood Pressure Influences Life Insurance Rates in Canada

High blood pressure is directly correlated with reduced life expectancy. Therefore, it increases your premiums.

According to one global study, hypertensive men have a 5.1-year lower life expectancy. For women, it reduces lifespan by 4.9 years on average [12].

The longer you’ve had uncontrolled high blood pressure, the more it will raise your rates. However, proper treatment and lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the impact.

Here are five factors that determine your premiums for life insurance with high blood pressure [13]:

1. Severity

The higher your blood pressure, the higher your rates. Stage 2 hypertension leads to higher premiums than prehypertension or stage 1.

2. Duration

Someone diagnosed at age 40 pays more than someone diagnosed at 60. The longer you’ve had hypertension, the costlier the insurance.

3. Control

Well-controlled blood pressure results in lower premiums. Following your medication regimen and doctor’s advice is critical.

4. Age

High blood pressure has a greater impact on younger applicants. It’s less of a concern in older applicants.

5. Additional Conditions

Co-conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol further increase premiums. Maintaining overall health helps counter the impact of hypertension.

Available Policy Types of Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure in Canada

Canadians can access various types of policies for life insurance with high blood pressure. Here are your main options:

Term Life Insurance with high blood pressure

Term life insurance with high blood pressure covers a set period, typically 10 to 30 years. It pays a death benefit if you pass away during the term.

  • Pros: Affordable, large coverage amounts available
  • Cons: Coverage expires after the term ends

Term life requires a medical exam. Well-controlled hypertension may qualify you for preferred rates. More severe cases can get rated policies for slightly higher premiums.

Read more: What is Term life insurance

Permanent Life Insurance with high blood pressure

Permanent life insurance with high blood pressure provides lifelong coverage. Types include whole, universal, and guaranteed life. A portion of premiums goes toward building cash value.

  • Pros: Lifelong coverage, accumulates cash value
  • Cons: More expensive than term insurance

Rating levels for permanent policies depend on the severity of your hypertension. Milder cases may get standard rates.

Read more: What is permanent life insurance

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance with high blood pressure

Guaranteed issue life insurance with high blood pressure has no health questions. Approval is guaranteed regardless of health status.

  • Pros: Available even with severe health conditions
  • Cons: Low coverage amount (max $25,000), expensive

This offers a limited amount of coverage if you have severe hypertension and are declined for other insurance.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance with high blood pressure

A simplified issue life insurance with high blood pressure only requires answering a few health questions. The underwriting requirements are minimal.

  • Pros: Quick approval process and affordable premiums
  • Cons: Lower coverage amount than fully underwritten policies

For milder cases of high blood pressure, a simplified issue offers an expedited path to approval with limited medical questions.

Accidental Death Insurance with high blood pressure

Accidental death insurance pays out if you die from an accident. High blood pressure is not a factor.

  • Pros: No medical required, guaranteed approval
  • Cons: Only covers accidental death, lower benefit amount

This provides a limited form of protection not affected by medical conditions.

Let’s look at qualifying for coverage with mild, moderate, and severe hypertension.

Read more: Guaranteed Death Benefit Life Insurance

Qualifying for Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure at Different Levels of Severity

Qualifying for Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure at Different Levels of Severity
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
Qualifying for Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure at Different Levels of Severity

Securing life insurance with high blood pressure largely depends on the severity of your condition. Here is an overview of getting coverage with mild, moderate, and severe high blood pressure:

Life Insurance Eligibility with Mild (Stage 1) Hypertension

Over half of Canadians with high blood pressure fall into the stage 1 range of 130-139/80-89 mmHg . The good news is that most insurers offer standard or lightly rated policies to stage 1 hypertensive clients, especially if blood pressure is well-managed through medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.

Typical outcomes at stage 1 include:

  • Preferred or standard rates on term life insurance
  • Class 1 ratings (minimally higher premiums) on permanent coverage
  • Standard rates on simplified issue policies

Mildly elevated blood pressure minimally impacts life insurance eligibility if adequately controlled.

Life Insurance Eligibility with Moderate (Stage 2) Hypertension

Approximately 20% of Canadians have stage 2 hypertension (≥140/90 mmHg). Securing coverage is more challenging at this level but still very feasible.

Typical outcomes at stage 2 include:

  • Class 2-4 ratings on term and permanent coverage
  • Potentially higher premiums for simplified issue
  • Possible decline for preferred term, but standard still possible
  • More difficulty securing more significant coverage amounts

The key is to demonstrate that your hypertension is well-managed through medical treatment and lifestyle improvements. Avoiding other major health conditions also helps.

Life Insurance Eligibility with Severe (Stage 3) Hypertension

Stage 3 hypertension involves exceptionally high blood pressure of 180+/120+ mmHg. At this severe level, eligibility for traditional life insurance diminishes. However, you still have options:

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance up to $25,000/$50,000
  • Possible ratings on simplified issue policies
  • Accidental death insurance with no health limitations
  • Re-applying after improving control of blood pressure

Once blood pressure lowers to a less hazardous level through aggressive treatment, you can re-apply for fully underwritten coverage after 3-6 months.

Now, look at proven strategies to get the best rates possible.

7 Strategies to Get Affordable Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure in Canada

Use these insider tips from our life insurance experts to minimize the impact of hypertension on your policy rates:

Get Quotes From at Least 5 Providers

Each insurer assesses high blood pressure differently. Cast a wide net and compare rates. A broker can quickly shop your case.

Optimize Treatment and Lifestyle

Get your blood pressure into a well-controlled state. Follow your doctor’s medication and treatment advice closely.

Lower Other Health Risks

Improving co-conditions like obesity and diabetes can help offset high blood pressure. Make positive lifestyle changes.

Apply with Older Insurers

Companies with long track records and experience may assess hypertension more favourably.

Be Compliant and Show Stability

Provide data demonstrating stable, well-managed blood pressure over time. Consistency is key.

Wait, if Recently Spiked

If your reading was recently elevated, wait a few months before applying to showcase improvement.

Work with a Specialized Broker

A broker that deals with higher-risk cases can get you the best deal. Avoid applying directly through a company.

How Canada’s Top Life Insurance Companies Rate High Blood Pressure

How Canada's Top Life Insurance Companies Rate High Blood Pressure
How Canada’s Top Life Insurance Companies Rate High Blood Pressure

Life insurance companies use different guidelines when underwriting applicants with hypertension. Here is an overview of how top providers assess high blood pressure, along with sample rating classes:

InsurerUp to 129/84 mmHg130-139/85-89 mmHg140-159/90-99 mmHg160-179/100-109 mmHg180+/110+ mmHg
Sun LifePreferred PlusPreferredStandard PlusTable 2-4Decline
Canada LifePreferredStandardStandard PlusTable 1-3Table 4-6
SSQElitePreferredStandard PlusTable 2-4Table 5-8
Empire LifePreferredStandardStandard PlusTable 2-4Decline
RBCPreferred PlusPreferredStandard PlusTable 2-4Decline
iA FinancialElite PlusElitePreferredTable 2-4Decline

Typical rate classes include:

  • Preferred or Elite – Best rates for ideal health
  • Standard – Average rates for good health
  • Standard Plus – Slightly higher rates than standard
  • Table 2-4 – Elevated rates compared to standard
  • Table 5-8 – Significantly higher rates

As shown, even applicants with stage 2 hypertension can obtain coverage from top insurers if blood pressure is well-controlled. Milder cases often secure preferred or standard rates.

To gain more insight into how different illnesses influence life insurance eligibility and premiums for applicants with pre-existing conditions in Canada, read these informative resources:

Partnering with an Independent Broker for the Best Rates

The benefits of working with an independent broker specializing in life insurance with high blood pressure cases include:

1. Application Pre-Screening

They can review your situation and provide preliminary guidance on what policies you’ll qualify for. This avoids wasted applications.

2. Policy Optimization

Brokers have expertise in matching clients to the ideal policy based on health profiles and goals.

3. Quotes from Multiple Insurers

They quickly compare quotes from Canada’s top insurers to find you the best rate.

4. Case Advocacy

Independent brokers directly advocate for you during underwriting to achieve the most favourable outcome.

5. Ongoing Policy Management

They become a trusted partner for the life of your policy and can advise on changes.

Take the guesswork out of the process and connect with a specialized high-blood pressure broker.

10 Must-Know Takeaways for Getting Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure

Securing affordable life insurance with high blood pressure is very achievable by following these best practices:

1. Work Closely with Your Doctor

Follow your doctor’s medication and treatment advice consistently to control your blood pressure.

2. Make Lifestyle Improvements

Exercise regularly, improve your diet, lose weight, and limit alcohol to control symptoms naturally.

3. Compare Quotes from Several Insurers

Each company assesses hypertension differently. Cast a wide net for the best rates.

4. Apply with Older, Established Insurers

Longstanding companies may evaluate hypertension more favourably.

5. Partner with a Broker

Specialist brokers simplify the process and advocate for you with insurers.

6. Wait If Recently Spiked

Delay applications until blood pressure improves if you have had a recent spike.

7. Submit Detailed Medical Records

Provide data demonstrating stability through medication adherence and lifestyle management.

8. Consider Simplified Issue

For milder cases, a simplified issue means a more straightforward underwriting process.

9. Get a Detailed Pre-Screening

Have a broker do an initial assessment to avoid wasting applications.

10. Don’t Give Up

If declined, implement a treatment plan and re-apply in 6 months.

Take control of your health starting today to secure affordable life insurance with hypertension.

Frequently Asked Questions about Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure in Canada

What blood pressure levels are considered too high for life insurance with high blood pressure?

Insurers generally start to get concerned about anything above 130/80 mmHg. However, up to stage 1 hypertension (130-139/80-89) can often still qualify for standard rates if well controlled. Once you reach stage 2 (140+/90+), it starts to substantially impact eligibility and pricing.

Can I get a preferred no-medical exam life insurance with high blood pressure?

No, preferred rates on no medical exam life insurance are not available with a hypertension diagnosis. These policies involve minimal underwriting so you will be rated higher than with a fully underwritten policy that includes a medical exam.

Does high blood pressure affect term life insurance more than permanent insurance?

High blood pressure can impact eligibility and rates for all types of life insurance. However, permanent policies like Whole Life tend to involve stricter underwriting, which means hypertension is more likely to bump your premiums.

How long after being diagnosed with high blood pressure can I get life insurance with high blood pressure?

There is no defined waiting period. However, it's best to wait until your blood pressure has stabilized for 12+ months on treatment before applying. Newly diagnosed cases often get higher rates until controlled.

Does gestational hypertension affect life insurance with high blood pressure rates after pregnancy?

If you had hypertension during pregnancy but your blood pressure returned to normal levels afterwards, then it will not impact your life insurance application later on. Isolated gestational hypertension is not a rating factor.

What sports are too high a risk of high blood pressure for life insurance with high blood pressure?

Avoid extreme sports like mountain climbing or MMA fighting, which spike blood pressure. Lower-intensity sports like walking, swimming, cycling, and golf are recommended for managing hypertension through exercise.

Will my life insurance with high blood pressure cover future complications relating to high blood pressure?

No, life insurance only pays out the death benefit amount if you pass away during the term. It does not provide any health or illness coverage for hypertension complications before death.

How often should I have my blood pressure checked when applying for life insurance with high blood pressure?

Get readings over a period of 2-3 months showing your blood pressure is stabilized through medication and lifestyle changes. More consistent data helps secure better rates.

Is a stress test required for life insurance with high blood pressure?

Sometimes, especially if you also have other heart disease risk factors. A stress test assesses the heart's performance under exertion. Passing it helps offset concerns about your hypertension.

Does medical marijuana interact with high blood pressure medications for life insurance with high blood pressure?

Yes, medical marijuana can interact with common blood pressure medications and affect hypertension control. Disclose any marijuana use as it may impact your eligibility.

Can uncontrolled hypertension alone cause life insurance with high blood pressure denial?

Rarely will it result in an outright denial as long as you don't have additional major health issues. Severely elevated blood pressure will lead to higher ratings or postponement until it improves.

How long do I have to wait to reapply after being declined for life insurance with high blood pressure due to hypertension?

Typically, 3-6 months after implementing medication and lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure. Get your doctor's input on when it's reasonable to reapply.

Does using cocaine increase the risk of hypertension for life insurance with high blood pressure?

Yes, cocaine use constricts blood vessels and is linked to acute spikes in blood pressure. Cocaine use must be disclosed and can significantly reduce eligibility for coverage.

Does high blood pressure exclude you from the two or 3-year suicide clause on life insurance with high blood pressure?

No, the standard suicide exclusion still applies for deaths by suicide within the first 2 or 3 years. High blood pressure alone does not exempt you from this temporal life insurance clause.

The Takeaway

While hypertension can influence your life insurance eligibility, most Canadians can still get affordable coverage by partnering with the right provider and managing their condition.

Use this guide as a roadmap to securing the optimal life insurance with high blood pressure. You can also contact one of our specialized high blood pressure brokers anytime to discuss your options.

Visit Lifebuzz at www.lifebuzz.ca for more tips on navigating life insurance with high blood pressure.

Article Sources

[2] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868

[4] https://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/what-is-stroke#

[5] https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/managing-the-risk-of-dementia/reduce-your-risk-of-dementia/high-blood-pressure

[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/stroke/signs-symptoms-tia-mini-stroke

[7 https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/retinopathy#causes

[8] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868

[9] https://kidney.ca/Kidney-Health/Newly-Diagnosed/Risk-Factors/High-Blood-Pressure-Kidney-Disease#

[10] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20369048

[11] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/renal-artery-stenosis

[12] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.189100

[13] https://www.policygenius.com/life-insurance/high-blood-pressure/

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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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