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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had forwarded a post to three life insurance companies, Prudential, Banner Life and American General Life. The gist of the post was that it seemed to me and several of my colleagues that there had been a serious shift in mood disorder life insurance underwriting over the past few years.

When I just tried asking about it I ran into complete denial that anything had changed, but the evidence, the trial quotes and approvals (and declines) we were seeing didn’t add up to nothing has changed. So I asked a good friend, Rich Fuller of Special Risk Services to poke and prod at a Banner Life meeting he was planning to attend and see if he could get anything more forthcoming. You may remember I talked about him coming back from that meeting having been told that Banner had changed their stance due to an increased number of suicide death claims. When I asked further questions from Banner underwriting I was never answered. The information that Rich had uncovered had come from their actuarial department. Anyway, there was never an answer to the question of whether they had an actual actuarial link between well controlled depression, anxiety and bipolar life insurance and the increase in suicide claims. It was my contention that if there was an increase in suicide claims it more likely came from the general insured population and not necessarily those treated for mood disorders.

But, Banner and Prudential did answer with their underwriting stance on mood disorders, so even if we can’t agree that they’ve changed, we at least have a pretty clear idea where they are now. Prudential made it pretty clear that their normal stance on well controlled mood disorders, especially bipolar would be at their standard table 2 rate, but, depending on the facts of the case it could go as good as preferred best. That’s the same 300+% range that I had mentioned when I reached out to them, a range that is a little hard to work with when you throw in the variable of underwriting interpretation between different underwriters.

Banner was a little more clear. Per their medical director, “Per the Underwriting Basic Classes section of the LGA manual, for anxiety/depression with one episode, treatment of no more than one year, recovered, no current medication, can be as good as preferred plus. For current anxiety/depression, on one drug, well controlled, can be as good as preferred. For depression on more than one medication as good as standard plus. 

American General is still considering the questions.

Bottom line. I sort of know a little more than before about where these stalwarts of mood disorder life insurance stand today, but not enough that I feel confident with their trial quotes. In the interim there are other companies back filling the void left by these guys as they continue to waffle. And just for the record, since none of the companies has said anything to the contrary I will assume that there is absolutely no connection between well controlled mood disorders and anything, thus far unproven, rise in suicide death claims. If you have any questions or think you’ve gotten a bit of a raw deal on your application with a mood disorder, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.