Getting life insurance after a Stroke
(Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko)
Having a stroke is incredibly difficult for the person and for their loved ones. Personally I’ve seen the effects of a major stroke through a very close friends parent which was a shock to say the least. In this case it was difficult to watch someone who was otherwise fit, strong and healthy to suddenly lose almost everything.
A stroke can vary from mild to moderate symptoms which will have relatively little impact on life, to severe with massive ongoing consequences. People who’ve had a stroke or someone close to them, will understand the difficulties. In this blog we explain how having a stroke can impact life insurance mainly, and travel insurance.
Why we’re able to provide this information
iam|INSURED is a passionate team of experts with over 20 year’s experience helping people with medical conditions to get life insurance. We’ve helped thousands of people to protect their families, homes and businesses regardless of their health. It’s our mission to drive for fair treatment for all of our customers and to help them get the best results.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a medical occurrence in the brain and the affects can be devastating to a person. Essentially the blood flow to your brain is obstructed because of a blood clot or broken blood vessel. Similarly to a heart attack, the lack of oxygen-rich blood can cause tissue to die.
When brain cells start dying because of loss of blood flowing, parts of the brain cause certain areas of the body to change. Most common symptoms which are also shown on television include, loss of speech, change in facial expression and inability to move. These adverts shown on TV are to help raise awareness for spotting early symptoms to help reduce further damage.
History of strokes and why is it called a stroke?
Medical experts and professionals are now aware of the causes of a stroke which wasn’t always the case. A stroke was first identified over 2,400 years ago by a gentleman called Hippocrates (also known as ‘the father of medicine’). Originally a stroke was called ‘apoplexy’ which is Greek meaning “struck down by violence”.
In the 1600’s a doctor called Jacob Wepfer then made a discovery which was that disruptions in the blood supply to the brain caused deaths from apoplexy. In a proportion of these cases there was high levels of bleeding in the brain, whereas in others arteries were blocked.
Decades later, medical sciences made further developments regarding the causes, treatment and symptoms of apoplexy. One of the major advances was dividing apoplexy in to various categories based on the causes. Following this, apoplexy then became known as a stroke and cerebalvascular accident (CVA).
What are the types of Stroke?
It is now known that there are three different types of strokes which have different causes called:
- Ischaemic stroke is where there is a cutting off of blood supply to the brain due to a blockage. This is the most common variation accounting for approximately 85% of cases
- Haemorrhagic stroke will be caused by bleeding around the brain or in the brain
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) which is also known as a ‘mini-stroke’, because the symptoms are similar but don’t last as long. The reason for this is because the blockage is only temporary.
What are the signs and symptoms of having a stroke?
You might have seen adverts on TV about what to do if someone is having a stroke and how to spot the signs. The reason for this is so people can react quicker to reduce long lasting damage. Adverts by major stroke charities and associations created ‘FAST’ which stands for:
- FACE – one of the most visible signs of someone experiencing a stroke is facial changes. This includes the face dropping on one side, unable to smile and mouth or eyes dropping
- ARMS – if someone is having a stroke then they will be unable to lift both arms and keep them elevated
- SPEECH – a person having a stroke will have slurred or incoherent speech so will be very difficult to understand. The person may not even be able to speak at all in some cases as well as find it difficult to understand you
- TIME – Finally it’s time to contact the emergency services so call 999
What causes someone to have a stroke?
The organs in the body need two things to survive which are oxygen and nutrients that are provided by blood. The brain is one of the most important organs and if blood is restricted or stopped then it causes cells to die. This can ultimately cause brain injury, long term disability or even death.
The two main causes for someone having a stroke are:
- Blood supply stopping which is due to a blood clot
- Weakened blood vesselsthat supply blood to the brain burst
The other type of stroke which is known as a TIA (transient ischemic attack) is a temporary blockage. This is commonly known as a mini stroke because of the shorter period of time that symptoms last for.
Someone who has had a TIA should seek immediate medical attention as this can be a warning. People who have had a mini stroke will be at a higher risk of having a full stroke in the future.
There are also other conditions which will increase the risk of having a stroke, these include:
- Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heartbeats)
- Diabetes (Type 2 mostly)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Raised cholesterol
Is it possible to recover after having a stroke?
Every stroke is different and it effects people in different ways, which can vary from a minor attack to severe.
It is possible for someone to experience a stroke and recover to a reasonably good level. A minor stroke can even be more or less undetectable with very minor symptoms that only last for a short period of time.
Severe strokes can clearly cause more damage which can be long lasting or in some cases lead to death. Roughly 1 in every 8 stroke patients will not survive having a stroke and will pass away within 30 days.
Stroke statistics (UK)
According to the recent 2018 ‘state of the nation’ report produced by the leading Stroke charity, The Stroke Association:
- Over 100,000 strokes per year (1 every 5 minutes)
- 1.2 million survivors in the UK (stroke patients)
- World wide someone has stroke every 2 seconds
- Stroke is currently the 4th biggest killer in the UK
- Over 400 children have a stroke per year
- 1 in 3 stroke survivors get depression
- Approximately 65% of stroke survivors will have a disability
- People under 65 are 2 to 3 times more likely to be out of employment for eight years after having a stroke
- Stroke costs approximately £26 billion each year
*Stroke Association ‘State of the Nation’ report 2018 (references)
Can I get life insurance if I’ve had a Stroke?
Stroke is one of the most common medical conditions in the UK. People applying for life insurance after having a stroke are also high numbers. You can get cover in most cases where the symptoms are fairly mild to moderate and not much long lasting damage.
This can depend on how quickly your stroke was detected and how quickly you received treatment. Also it can depend on how severe the stroke was in terms of the level of the attack. In most cases where someone is applying for life cover after a stroke, insurers will want to view a medical report. This report can be obtained from your GP and will be requested and paid for by the insurance company, not you.
If your stroke was mild or a TIA (mini-stroke) then you should find insurance terms are positive. You should also find in more severe cases that cover will still be available for the vast majority of people.
The questions you will generally be asked about a stroke on a life insurance application will include:
- Was your stroke caused by any of these? Blood disorder, high blood pressure, head injury, hole in the heart, migraines or other
- How many times have you suffered from a stroke?
- Have you been diagnosed with heart attack, atrial fibrillation, heart valve problems, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or chronic kidney disease?
- When did you have a stroke?
There are also some products which will offer cover if you have been declined by the standard insurers. If you’ve been declined life insurance before because you’ve had a stroke then it’s still worth asking us.
Has Coronavirus (COVID-19) made a difference to getting life insurance after a stroke?
The recent situation with the coronavirus pandemic has caused some changes to insurance underwriting. It is fair to say that the virus caused additional issues when applying for life insurance, especially for people with existing conditions. Some conditions which could be considered higher risk saw greater restrictions than others.
There were some extra questions which were added to most life insurance applications relating to Coronavirus:
- Have you been told to self-isolate?
- Are you experiencing any symptoms of Coronavirus?
- Have you been exposed to the risk of contracting COVID-19?
- Do you know someone with Coronavirus who you have been in contact with?
This situation was unprecedented in the global insurance market so re-insurers reacted quickly. This was mainly to avoid an increase in claims which would make cover less affordable in the future.
Some of the restrictions we saw for people with medical conditions such as stroke were:
- Lower underwriting limits (higher risks not accepted or postponed)
- Restrictions to levels of cover available
Which are the best life insurance companies for someone who’s had a stroke?
There are several major insurance providers in the UK, including Aegon, Aviva, AIG, Legal & General and Zurich. All of these companies have their own underwriting philosophy which can also change regularly. It can be tricky to find the best company if you’ve had a stroke without the help of an expert.
There are also lots of different levels of severity of stroke with different symptoms, damage and treatments. Each insurance company has their own strengths when it comes to underwriting so the right one for you could be any of these companies.
You should also know that if you’ve been declined by one or several insurance companies in the past, then that isn’t the end of the road. There are lots of companies to choose from as well as some more specialist providers for certain circumstances.
Is it possible to get critical illness cover if I’ve had a stroke?
Stroke is one of the most common medical conditions claimed for on critical illness cover. People who have experienced a stroke in some cases can still get this type of policy. This depends on the type of stroke and in mild cases where the stroke has caused no lasting damage.
A critical illness cover policy for someone who’s had a stroke generally won’t include cover for another stroke. There are policies which can be cheaper that will offer this type of cover with anything relating to stroke excluded.
Can someone who’s had a stroke get income protection?
If you’ve had a stroke and are able to go back to work then you might want to consider income protection. It’s possible to get this type of cover after you’ve had a stroke and there are some unique products available just for you.
There are lots of cover options with income protection which can be confusing. If you’ve had a stroke then it can make it even more confusing in some cases to find the right cover. Some policies will even offer cover for related conditions or symptoms so it’s important to get the full picture of what’s available.
Income protection can be affordable if the right cover options are selected. There’s lots of choice and options with this type of policy so make sure that you get all your facts before choosing.
How much is travel insurance if I’ve had a stroke?
Travel insurance after you’ve had a stroke can sometimes seem daunting and confusing. There are lots of different companies advertising travel insurance and lots of options available. It’s important to remember that some companies are more capable to help you and better equipped in terms of experience.
It’s very important to make sure that you disclose your medical history when applying for travel insurance. If you’ve had a stroke then you’ll be asked questions about your condition and your current health.
You should also be aware that you may need to provide some evidence before you travel as proof that you are fit to fly. If you fail to disclose facts about your medical history then you might not be covered which could be expensive if you need treatment abroad.
What potential issues are there for someone who’s had a stroke needing life insurance?
Even though cover is generally available for someone who’s had a stroke, it’s important to know everything. As a company, we don’t like to focus on the negatives but there are a few things to be aware of. Some of the possible issues are:
- Multiple strokes can cause insurance underwriters to be more cautious when considering your application. There are many instances where a person can suffer multiple attacks which is classed as higher risk
- Reason for the stroke can play a part in whether or not you would be restricted in terms of your options for cover in the future
- Further medical conditionsmay also have an impact on your application for life insurance due to the related risks. There are certain conditions which may be classed as higher risk such as heart attack, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease
We regularly speak to customer who have had problems applying for cover in the past, especially with conditions like stroke. It’s not the end of the road and we’re very often able to get cover in this situation.
Stroke awareness events
World Stroke Day is a global event usually held towards the end of October to help raise awareness through all of the leading global stroke organisations.
Stroke Awareness Month is an event held in the UK in May which is run by the charity, The Stroke Association.
Stroke charities and support for people after a stroke (UK)
Helpline: 0303 3033 100
Address: Life After Stroke Centre, Church Lane, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, B61 8RA
Helpline: 0345 1307172
Address: 9 Canon Harnett Court, Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes, MK12 5NF
Headway (The Brain Injury Association)
Helpline: 0808 800 2244
Address: Bradbury House, 190 Bagnall Road, Old Basford, Nottingham, NG6 8SF
NHS Choices (Stroke)
If you’ve had a stroke and need help or information about life insurance or travel insurance then please call us on 01244 732895. We’re here to help and we’ve helped thousands of people like you over the past 20 years.