A common theme I run into because of the large number of physician life insurance clients I have is the lack of records they have. To a ridiculous end it would be like asking your Mom to produce records for all of the medical care she gave you growing up.

With physicians treating physicians and often physicians treating their spouses there is a tendency to treat what comes up on an informal basis and the followup is also informal. There are no records. This can be a little problematic when applying for life insurance if you answer yes to a health question and then have little or no information available.

I’ve worked successfully with physicians when the issues are things like minor mood disorders and by their profession they demonstrate the stability that is the cornerstone of successful mood disorder life insurance underwriting. Whether it is self treated or treated by a co-physician in a clinic or a friend who is a doctor, the case can usually be made that the situation wasn’t at a point where outside help was needed.

Today though I am working on a variation of that theme that has a few wrinkles in it. While bipolar disorder can be mild enough to be considered a minor mood disorder, it would be highly likely that a bipolar physician would also seek treatment from a psychiatrist. So, while there may not be many medical records there should be substantial history of the disorder and treatment in the psychiatrist’s records. But what happens when the psychiatrist has bipolar disorder and has been self treating for a number of years?

When I shopped just such a case recently there were a number of companies that just said “not interested” if the proposed insured is self treating or unless they are willing to get an independent evaluation from another psychiatrist, one that was not a friend or colleague. From an underwriters view, and I don’t mean this flippantly, but can a person with bipolar disorder be stable and objective enough to manage their own treatment?

I believe the answer is yes. Although it might not be the most prudent plan of action, in the case I’m working on I believe it’s acceptable and working very well. A problem comes up when this type of situation hits the desk of an underwriter who just can’t imagine, and again please forgive if this seems flippant, a crazy person managing their own treatment. What it comes down to is finding an underwriter that can look at the CEO’s, physicians, dentists, attorneys, and yes, psychiatrists who are fully functioning, even highly functioning, stable, rational people.

We are now well into the underwriting process and, as occasionally happens, the case was shoveled on to the desk of an underwriter who was not involved in the trial quote. This underwriter wants to decline the client because of self treatment.

Bottom line. I’ve often talked about the power of a trial quote preceding an application and I hope within a few days to be able to report on how this all shook out in our favor. The self treatment was disclosed in the trial and the word decline was not in the response.

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