For as long as I’ve been writing about and helping people get a fair shake on life insurance with mood disorders, among those requirements for the best rates has been stability. Mood disorders that aren’t well controlled can ruin careers and marriages. Lack of control can make the everyday world, the same one we all wake up to, nerve racking all the way to impossible. Stability as I’ve used it over the years when talking about mood disorders doesn’t mean that everything is stable as long as you don’t leave home or answer the phone or the door, or lose your email password.
Of course stability is in the mind of the person living it so at times it’s hard to quantify or qualify what stability is with each person I work with. I do my best to define stability when we talk about it initially, but sometimes it’s tough to get all the details. If I have doubts about us being on the same page or if the client has applied with a company I am familiar with and been declined, I’ll ask to review the records before I shop it. Everything goes a lot smoother when the facts in my trial request match up with the records.
I have been working on a case where a bipolar life insurance client had definitely been through a period of instability, but everything stayed glued together and he said that he had been stable for the last five years. He is bipolar and prior to that didn’t have any big issues but did have occasional hypomanic episodes and was changing medications a lot trying to find a combination that would slow down and hopefully stop the episodes altogether. He had applied and been declined by State Farm, but knowing State Farm’s stance on mood disorders I didn’t see that as a red flag.
We shopped it and got a very fair tentative offer so he applied and underwriting only took a few weeks because his psych summary came through quickly. It was approved at a higher rate and when I talked with the underwriter to see what was different in the records compared to our quote request, it really came down to the definition of stability. In this case stability in the client’s mind was that point when he could feel episodes coming and be proactive about it so they were minimized in intensity. He was still changing medications quite a bit, still looking for the right combination. He would occasionally change up what he was taking without talking to his psychiatrist just to see if it worked better. He was still calling his doctor when he felt an episode coming on and getting an emergency prescription to thwart the episode.
Parts of his life, his marriage and work, were very stable, but his bipolar treatment was still a bit of a roller coaster, not horrible, but not a smooth ride either. The life insurance approval was very reasonable given the information in his records and he will be accepting the offer. It helps when you can help a client really understand the reason for the change.
Bottom line. I do my best to avoid surprises in the wrong direction, but once in a while they happen. Most of the time I read the email to clients (including those specifically seeking life insurance rates for people with bipolar disorder) before sending them to underwriters, kind of a proof reading if you will. It’s not an exact science, but most of our cases are approved at the rate we applied for. If you have any questions or have been rated or declined and don’t feel like your agent did his due diligence with facts before the application, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.