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Other than writing across the top of your life insurance application, “Please decline this application”, I can’t think of a surer way to get declined than to decide to blow off your doctor’s advice and substitute your own without ever discussing this with the doctor.

This is known in the industry as “non compliance” and is a straight route to a decline. Do not pass go, etc. It is actually a fairly common issue. I was interviewing a woman with MS a few days ago and when I asked what treatment she was on she said none. I asked if she had been treated at any point and she said that she had, but didn’t like the side effects of the medication so she quit taking it.

I asked if she quit taking the medication with the concurrence of her doctor and she said that she hadn’t discussed it with him and had never gone back….and had never started seeing a new neurologist. So she was going on two years without any followup or treatment based on her own good advice to herself.

Now, I’m not discounting the fact that the side effects might have been just too much, and she may have lost confidence in the doctor, but from a life insurance underwriting perspective what they want to see is a situation where she would either work with her neurologist to change medications, or if the relationship was simply not working, seek, in a timely manner, a new neurologist to take over her case.

In the absence of either of those an underwriter truly feels that they have a loose cannon on their hands and that while they can accurately make mortality assumptions based on her MS and treatment, they can’t assess what impact she will have on her own mortality.

Again, the problem is pretty common. Heart patients are asked to follow up for a stress test in a year and never do. I had one client who had colon cancer, had part of his colon removed and in spite of the oncologist’s recommendation for annual colonoscopies, he hadn’t been back to any kind of doctor in 14 years.

Bottom line. It’s OK to disagree with your doctor and to ask them to change your treatment for whatever reason, and it’s OK to change doctors if you feel you aren’t being heard, but underwriters have a decline stamp waiting for you if you simply ignore doctor’s recommendations and go your own way.