It’s been one of those weeks that will drive me to repeating myself. I know I just smacked doctors over the head a few days ago about how they don’t quite explain all the relevant details to their patients. That really puts the patient in a awkward position when it comes to purchasing life insurance.

Let me explain in a little more detail how that works. Say a person wants to buy life insurance and they have had a 3 vessel bypass surgery in their past. No heart attack. Just had chest pains. The bypass got things back in order and the doctor let the person know that it was no big deal and as long as he watches everything going ahead, well, no problem……on followup stress tests the doctor reiterates, no problem.

So, 6 years after this little run in with heart disease the person applies for insurance and tells his agent about the bypass and passes on his interpretation of what the doctor told him. It was minor blockage (no big deal) in 3 vessels. No heart attack. No problems on subsequent stress tests. When asked if he can get a copy of the most recent stress test, he complies and the agent sends the narrative summation of the cardiac incident off to the underwriters along with the most recent stress test. When asked for a medical report of the original incident, well, the client really doesn’t want to go to that much trouble.

This is a common way to shop a case. Underwriters review what you send and give their opinion of what rate class to quote with the caveat, “subject to full exam and medical underwriting”. The quotes go out to the client with the same caveat. Subject to medical underwriting is another way of saying, as long as what you said matches up with your medical records.

So the application and exam are completed and medical records are ordered. When the records get to the underwriter he notes that the records indicate that the blockage wasn’t minor. 85% in one vessel and 95%+ in the other two. Severe coronary artery disease. While he didn’t have a heart attack, there are some other issues with the heart that are significant enough to be in the records, but either not significant enough to discuss with the patient, or forgotten by the patient. The rate goes up. The picture has changed.

When that news is delivered to the life insurance client they generally explode. They feel like they divulged everything just as it happened, and in most cases they probably do divulge everything just as it was told to them or just as well as they can remember. But that doesn’t make the two stories match any better.

It is at this point that the agent or the company are declared inept and the messenger is shot. I always offer to review their records for the discrepancy, but very few people take us up on that. The assumption is that if we couldn’t get it right the first time, then we must not know what we’re doing.

Bottom line. When an agent asks for more information before he quotes, supply it. It may be more work up front for you, but it will yield results in a more accurate life insurance quote and approval.