Just when you think you can count on the life insurance underwriting guidelines, Glaxo SmithKline’s Avandia, becomes a curve ball that no one is sure how to handle.

Two US Senators released a confidential study that insinuates a strong link between Avandia and the occurrence of heart attacks.

While I’m not going to weigh in on the facts as the feds and the drug companies flail away on this one, I do want to bring up the kind of quandary this throws into life insurance underwriting and type 2 diabetes. Let’s say, for instance, that a person is shopping for life insurance. They have everything going for them. Late onset diabetes at age 55. A1c’s that are always 6.5 or under. No other risk factors like obesity or heart disease.

This person is going to get standard, possibly standard plus rates. But, from an underwriting standpoint, what if they way they’ve achieved the great control they have is with Avandia. What if they’ve controlled their diabetes but are at a greater risk of a heart attack due to the drug they are taking.

Well, the good news for the person wanting insurance, at least for now is that life insurance underwriters try to base most of their decisions on mortality studies. While I have heard some pretty big numbers being thrown around as far as the heart attack related deaths being attributed to Avandia, no measurable mortality risk has been attributed to the use of the drug.

Having said that, you can bet if there is a ban on Avandia, all bets will be off from an underwriting point of view.

Bottom line. Fortunately, life insurance underwriting is not real prone to knee jerk reactions to studies. For now at least, Avanida use, given good control, would get the same treatment as any other drug used for type 2 diabetes.