In reviewing my last post concerning some of the changes in underwriting of life insurance that occurred in 2008, I found some parallels between that and some of the most significant medical breakthroughs of the year. Could it be that underwriters are doing their homework?

From the discovery that BMI is not always a true indicator of the percentage of body fat and therefore not a good measure of diabetes risk, to the discovery that eating foods that contain “resistant starch” as a way to help fight obesity and bolster weight loss, medical researchers are, year by year, getting a better handle on how we can get a better handle on our health.

A clearer picture of treatment for type 2 diabetes came from one of the largest studies done so far. Critical in the findings is early detection through risk factor education. Discovered early and treated aggressively, type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to have to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Studies showed that combining treatment for diabetes with treatment for cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure gave better results than treating diabetes alone.

Breakthroughs in the detection and treatment of colon and breast cancer will likely prove to be a boost to 5 year survival rates. While not a guarantee of any immediate impact on life insurance underwriting, these are the types of things that help pick apart the “one size fits all” underwriting of the past. Simply put, it is becoming harder and harder to justify the same mortality assumption for someone who has done all the right things relating to early detection and proper treatment of cancer with someone who hasn’t.

Bottom line. Life insurance underwriting is constantly evolving and while the best rates out there will never be available for everyone, with the right independent agent using the right companies, a fair shake is a more likely outcome than ever.