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I’ve talked in the past about how some companies will come on like they want to be the industry leader in a niche, only to fall of the radar completely a year or two later. The supposition on my part is that they either hired a new chief underwriter who put a squash on the underwriting, or their actuaries wanted to balance out their portfolio by adding some business from that particular risk pool. Once they reached their quota they simply changed the guidelines.

ING Reliastar has done a pronounced retreat from the mood disorder business in the last few months. While we have plenty of good companies to fill that parking place, it’s always odd to see an industry leader suddenly turn and run away from perfectly good business. In discussions with their underwriters before I started using ING for bipolar and other mood disorder underwriting they seemed to be in total agreement with the guidelines I have posted so many times on this blog. While these guidelines focus on bipolar, they are spot on for depression, anxiety, etc.

1. Someone who has not been hospitalized for bipolar disorder other than for diagnosis?
2. Someone who has not attempted suicide or had bouts with suicidal ideations? (Ideations become less relevant with time)
3. Someone who is compliant with their treatment, both medications and regular followups?
4. Someone who is leading a stable family life or social life?
5. Someone who is exhibiting a stable work life?
6. Someone who is not on disability for bipolar and does not have issues with drinking or drugs? If there’s a problem here, then the answers to 3, 4 and 5 are no.
7. Better approvals come if you are not on anti psychotic drugs.
8. There is some flexibility in all of these criteria with the passage of time well controlled.

Given these criteria it was fairly common on minor mood disorders such as well controlled situational depression or anxiety, for ING to offer preferred plus in the absence of any other issues. For well controlled bipolar 2 they were generally a good bet for a standard offer. Just in the last few months that has shifted to standard on the minor mood disorders and rated to decline on bipolar disorder. They have effectively taken themselves out of the market. Interesting to note they have back off from their aggressive stance on type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea also.

The other thing that may have occurred is a change in their business model. It is apparent from the way the big online agencies are quoting these days that ING must be cutting them some pretty tasty bonus contracts. I noted the other day the quotes that Zander Insurance had given a husband and wife with ING. The quotes made no sense at all because on hers ING bumped her to standard due to a minor mood disorder. She is now applying after a trial quote at preferred plus through me with another company. You could almost write that off to the fact that ING has been strong with mood stuff in the past, but even at preferred plus which was what Zander quoted, ING was not even in the top 10 available rates for either of them. Zander was quoting ING instead of companies that would have saved them hundreds a year.

I guess that’s why I don’t have any super fat contracts with any of the carriers. I’ve never won a cruise either, but I’m good with that since taking a cruise with a few hundred other life insurance agents kind of tugs at my gag reflex. I never quote even the second best rate based on my compensation. I shop every case and always go with the lowest premium unless there is some product unfriendly issue that I don’t recommend going with. I used to have friends in the business who told me I was nuts for leaving 10%-20% commission on the table in order to give a client the lowest available rate. They never understood my two fold logic. 1. It’s the right thing to do and 2. The agent that ends up in 2nd place doesn’t make any money at all.

Bottom line. Anyway, the bad news is that ING has fallen from grace, making the move from quality to quantity. The good news is that there are still plenty of companies that have a very reasonable stance on mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and ADD, as well as a positive stance on well controlled bipolar disorder. If you have any questions or need a different look at your insurance after being bit by ING or any other mood disorder unfriendly company, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.