When a life insurance agent presents something to a life insurance customer as a fact, customers generally believe it to be a fact and make their future plans accordingly. The believe life insurance agents are honest and knowledgeable and depend on their advice and guidance. I’ve often talked about clients in a position of responsibility and what that means to them in reference to life insurance. Today I want to ruffle the feathers of the life insurance agents who don’t take their position of responsibility seriously.
I had a client contact me yesterday who is a prostate cancer survivor and had been told by multiple agents that he need not even apply for life insurance until he was 5 years out from the treatment. In my mind one of the greatest services a life insurance agent can do is, if they can’t help a client through their company or portfolio, help the client to find what they need now.
There are a lot of companies out there who won’t consider an approval on any cancer other than basal cell carcinoma until a person is 5 years out from treatment, probably somewhere near 99% of them, but the other 1% are companies that make a living understanding and approving impaired risk life insurance. The agents for the 99% should make it their job, their responsibility to know who the other companies are and either get appointed with them or refer clients that they can’t help to them. Telling a perfectly insurable client that they can’t the life insurance they need until 5 years after their prostate cancer is greedy (If I can’t have the sale I don’t want anyone to!) or just plain undereducated ignorance about the business they are in. You have to know what your competition can do and be willing to send your client there if you can’t help them. It isn’t all about you and your sale.
So this man is four years out from his cancer diagnosis and it was a Gleason grade 6, stage 1 cancer that was treated with brachytherapy (radioactive seed implant). He was insurable at standard plus rates a year later, 3 years ago, since his PSA was below .5. There are even a few companies who now would underwrite that sooner than a year out but we won’t go there since that underwriting wasn’t available back then. He has gone without life insurance because ignorant life insurance agents told him he wasn’t insurable. What if this man had died of a heart attack? He would have died without insurance because several agents wrongly told him he couldn’t get it. And I believe in a situation like that the widow would have been justified to sue the agent for payment of the death benefit out of their errors and omissions insurance.
If I can’t get someone an offer on traditional life insurance after shopping (rare occurrence) it I tell them two things, 1. Don’t take my word for it. Some agent may have access to a company I haven’t heard of and 2. Consider looking into guaranteed issue life insurance. It’s not a pretty answer, but it is an answer.
There are times when current underwriting really isn’t going to make life insurance available for 5 years. In those cases I offer to shop it every year until we get the coverage they need. The good companies aren’t stagnant in their underwriting. Just as we’ve seen over the past several years, health issues that used to lead to declines are now covered at standard rates and cancers that used to be postponed for 5 years after treatment can now get coverage immediately upon completion of successful treatment. Telling someone to wait five years and not checking every year is lazy and stupid.
Bottom line. If all companies had the same underwriting manual then you could go to one company or agent and get your answer, but it’s just not that way. There are literally things that one company will decline while another will give a person their best rate class. It isn’t a level playing field out there and if you’ve had health issues, or even if you haven’t had health problems but want to ensure you get the best rate possible, you need to find a good independent agent that knows how to use that field to your advantage. If you have any questions or have been told you aren’t insurable by an agent who only represents one company, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.