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I’ve spent significant time in my career in life insurance explaining to clients and potential clients the difference between what an underwriter says and what their doctor has told them. They are often two starkly different opinions and it creates confusion when your doctor says you have the heart of a 30 year old (preferred plus, right?) and the underwriter reviews that doctors records and approves you at standard rates.

Two immediate misconceptions come from that occurrence. First and foremost there is a perception that the underwriter is a moron who obviously knows nothing about heart issues, someone who took the job because the grease at MacDonalds was causing acne. The other half of the miscue is that people are offended by a standard rate, not thinking of it as an average rate, but 3 rate classes worse than they really want. Hey, I’m right there with you on wanting the best rate available and I certainly don’t have anything going on physically in my life that should keep me from living far too long, but I don’t get preferred plus rates. WHY ME! Because I’m average.

This last few weeks (maybe a harbinger of 2013) seems to have been chock full of people who want to argue that underwriters are stupid. “They obviously don’t know anything about mitral valve prolapse or epilepsy or melanoma or mountain climbing or peeing into the wind.” “They obviously think I’m about to die or something.”  I shop every case before I quote it so I know the client is getting the best possible deal and it also defers their anger to the underwriters instead of me. Personally I would get tired of being wrong all the time, but such is the life of an underwriter.

This may come as no surprise but I get this backlash a lot more from guys that I do women. It’s kind of funny because us guys are the worst in the world at listening to our doctors, but apparently more than ready to pick and choose little bits of fighting material that came from them. We just need to hang up our ego and understand that if you’re using a good impaired risk life insurance agent who has access to the right companies, and they say you are a standard risk, that quote is far better than if you use the wrong agent who uses the wrong company. Especially when we are over 50 life insurance underwriting is a little more complex simply because we’ve had a lot more years to build up medical history. That doesn’t mean that even if you’re over 50 or 60 or 70, even 80 you can’t still get the best life insurance rate available. But it does mean you are exceptional for your age.

Just a quick example and I think you’ll see the point. I recently had a 60 year old man call wanting life insurance. He had just recently been diagnosed with a seizure disorder after several “spells” and then a full blown seizure. He was put on anti seizure medication and his doctor told him that with late onset epilepsy patients rarely have a recurrence once they are on medication. I shopped it and quoted him the best rates I found and you could tell that he wasn’t happy about not getting better rates. He told me the only way he could die from it is if he forgot to take his medication and suffered a seizure while landing a 747. I guess he didn’t remember there are co pilots in the big ones. See the way he used the doctor’s rarely comment to blow things out of proportion.

Bottom line. I know it’s not easy figuring out if your agent is on the ball and that he or she represents the right pod of companies, but to start with an assumption that you deserve really good rates when you wouldn’t know a mortality risk if it bit you in the rear is a little is a little pious. The underwriters I work with and their medical directors (doctors) are really pretty savvy at what they do. They want your business and aren’t going to quote or approve something at a rate higher than you deserve. If you have any questions or believe you may have run into a situation where a second underwriting opinion is warranted, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.