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Proof that underwriting guidelines are 1. Not etched in stone like the 10 commandments and 2. Aren’t consistent from company to company, is shown in how type 1 diabetes is underwritten, particularly adult onset type 1.

Type 1 diabetes has long been the unloved stepchild of the life insurance business, with the majority of companies not even willing to review it no matter how favorable the prognosis and control. That’s changing recently and along with some interest in adults with juvenile onset type 1, there are definitely doors opening for better approvals going forward.

The underwriting issue for type 1 has always been the collateral damage that can happen especially when the disease is not aggressively monitored and controlled, or when it is simply a very hard to control case such as brittle diabetes.

The longer a person has the disease the more likely they are to develop related health complications including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. The flip side to that is that the more committed a person is to daily monitoring, quarterly checkups and maintaining an A1c below 7, the less likely those complications become.

It is the presence of control and the absence of complications that bode well for an underwriter’s view of the mortality risk involved. Here’s a short list of what an underwriter would like to see in a type 1 diabetic applicant.

1. If adult onset, more than a year since diagnosis and A1c’s consistently below 7.
2. If juvenile onset, current age above 30 and A1c’s consistently below 7 (last 5 years).
3. No hospitalization for diabetic emergencies or diabetes related complications.
4. Compliance with doctor recommended testing, both at home and quarterly blood workups.
5. No onset of diabetes related complications.

If you meet these criteria, even if you have been declined for life insurance, you should try again. The decline was very likely due to the wrong agent picking the wrong company. This generally happens when an agent doesn’t know what it takes to get an approval so they don’t ask the right questions, compounded by them not shopping it to multiple companies to see who’s really on board.

Just an fyi. I have been shopping for years for companies that will write small policies on children with type 1 diabetes and still haven’t found anyone. Not a week goes by that I don’t joust with an underwriter over this issue.

Bottom line. Type 1 diabetes is still not an easy placement in a lot of cases, but hopefully knowing what underwriters are looking for will help people from getting discouraged too quickly. Far too many take a decline by one company as the direction of the entire industry.