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I feel like a myth buster today. I was speaking with a woman today who made it very clear that she didn’t want to apply for life insurance if there was a chance she would be declined. Here reason is that life insurance applications ask if you’ve ever been rated or declined for life insurance before, and a logical person would assume that the question, if answered in the affirmative, would simply lead to another decline.

So let’s bust that myth. Yes, they do ask the question as part of their information gathering process, but if the decline was due to a difference in the underwriting guidelines between the new company and the declining company, there will likely be a different outcome. To further insulate you from that question, the new company you are applying with will look at you based on the merits of your exam with them, your medical records as interpreted by them and how all of that information fits within their underwriting guidelines.

There are plenty of companies out there who ask us agents to bring rated and declined cases to them for a fresh look. The truth is that there is an ocean of difference in how health issues are perceived from company to company, and sometimes there are fairly significant differences from one underwriter to the next within a company. A decline is not a black ball in the life insurance business.

Those of us who have staked our territory in the impaired risk business (anyone who doesn’t have a perfect health history) have studied long and hard to know what to do with your decline. We don’t get paid unless we succeed, so we aren’t going to fluff you up and provide quotes we don’t honestly believe we can come through with.

We also make our customers work harder than the average agent. If you’ve been declined, it will be a team effort that turns that around. We may ask you to get us a copy of your last stress test if you have heart disease or another heart problem like arrhythmia. We might ask you to get a copy of your pathology report if you’ve had cancer. Any agent that understands diabetes will ask for your last set of labs if you’ve been declined.

We want to succeed and being armed with all the information available is the best way to do it.

Bottom line. A decline is not an industry statement. It is the opinion of one underwriter and medical director in one company. Don’t hide because of past declines and don’t fear being declined. A decline may be just what it takes to get you headed in the right direction. I would be remiss if I didn’t throw my stander disclaimer out there. Don’t take your decline to your local auto and homeowners agent unless you are fond of rejection. You need to enlist an independent agent and they should be able to explain to you exactly how they will succeed where others have failed.