UPDATED: Jul 25, 2011

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Daniel WalkerUPDATED: Jul 25, 2011Fact Checked

A pacemaker is an electronic device placed in the heart to regulate its rhythm. Pacemakers are used to treat several conditions, including arrhythmia, which means an irregular heartbeat, and brachycardia, which is a slow heartbeat. The pacemaker controls the heart’s rhythm, allowing the heart to work properly and keeping the person healthy.

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If you are applying for life insurance and have a pacemaker, several things will have to be considered before the life insurance company will agree to grant you a policy. A pacemaker will not automatically exclude you from getting a policy, but it may well change the type of insurance you can get and how much it will cost.

Life Insurance is all about Risk

All life insurance companies use statistical probability to determine if a person is a good risk for life insurance. The company wants to sell life insurance to someone who is healthy and will live long enough to pay the premiums to make the final payout feasible. If the company feels someone is unhealthy or may not live long enough to pay up the policy, they will naturally be reluctant to sell that person insurance, or they will want a much higher premium for doing so. Because of this, there are several things that life insurance companies consider to assess risk when issuing a policy to someone with a pacemaker.

Why do you need a Pacemaker?

First, pacemakers are used to treat a variety of diseases that affect the heart’s rate. Some of these diseases are temporary in nature, and the pacemaker may be removed after some period of time. Others are permanent, and the person wearing the pacemaker will have to have one for the rest of his or her life. Obviously, those with temporary heart conditions will be much more likely to have the life insurance company approve their application than someone with a serious, permanent heart condition. In fact, temporary health issues may not affect the granting or pricing of a life insurance policy at all, but chronic issues are almost sure to have an effect on approval and price.

Also, a person who is otherwise extremely healthy but suffers from arrhythmia or brachycardia, perhaps as the result of a congenital deformity or problem, may find it easier to get life insurance, even with a pacemaker, than someone who suffers from other serious health problems. Older patients who are receiving a pacemaker after a cardiac event are less likely to be approved for life insurance, or may have to settle for a smaller face value or pay higher premiums for the same coverage.

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Another thing to examine is the terms of the policy, which may specify certain restrictions. For example, many insurance companies are reluctant to insure a candidate who has just has a pacemaker. This limitation may extend for six months after the placement of the device. After the six-month period, most insurance companies are more willing to issue policies. This is because problems associated with pacemakers often surface within the first six months of placement; by waiting till this period expires, the company feels more secure that the person will not experience major health issues.

You can expect to give the life insurance company a great deal of information about your health and pacemaker. It is important for them to know exactly what condition you suffer from, why the pacemaker was necessary, what medications you take, and even activities in which you engage. The company is making an investment in your future, in their view, so they need all the information necessary to make a good decision. You may even have to assure the company that you are on a healthy medication or exercise regimen, and agree not to engage in dangerous activity or stop taking your medication without a doctor’s approval. Obviously, the company does not know if you do this, but if you die suddenly, there may be an investigation by the company, and benefits could be denied if you do not comply with the terms of the policy.

People with pacemakers, like people with serious illnesses, simply have more to do when acquiring life insurance than young, healthy people. This is another good reason to plan for your life insurance needs early. When you are young and healthy, it is easy to get a good policy for a low price. By keeping those premiums current, you are making an investment in your own future, so that if you do later become ill, you do not have to worry about finding a life insurance policy at a price you can afford.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent Daniel Walker