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Declined anything is a personal hit kind of feeling. I remember once being declined for a credit card. I think I may be the only guy in the country that has ever been declined for a credit card. It kind of hurt my feelings. They offered it and then they declined it. What’s with that?

Being declined for life insurance carries a sting and also some fear. The natural (and logical) assumption is that if an insurance is declining to cover me, they must know something about my imminent death that I don’t. Think about it! They aren’t just going to make the price really high, super ridiculously high. They just plain don’t even want the business on their books. They are so sure they are going to have to pay out a death benefit to my beneficiary that they just aren’t going to put their company at risk.

Has my doctor been lying to me? I know I’ve got a few health issues but the doctor says they’re nothing to worry about. I wonder if he means they’re “nothing to worry about” because it doesn’t do any good to worry when you’ll be dead shortly anyway? How do I break this news to my wife? Should I see a specialist? OMG! I’m too sick for anyone to even bet on my life.

Am I wrong? I’ve been through this conversation with more clients than I can count. They really don’t get it. Why were they declined? So the first thing I have to do is explain that there are insurance companies out there who are not particularly comfortable with risk. Take companies like State Farm, Farmers or Farm Bureau. They’ll insure your home even though it’s right smack in the middle of tornado alley and they’ll all pony up and rebuild entire towns that get flattened, but if you have bipolar disorder they won’t sell you $100,000 worth of life insurance. They don’t care if you’ve never had a manic episode, or if you’ve never had a suicidal thought or never been hospitalized or had any lost time. They don’t care if you’ve had the same job 20 years and the same wife for 30 years. You have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and according to their book, you’re toast. They’ll insure your house but not the lunatic inside of it. They’ll insure your car, your boat, your dirt bike and your snow mobile, but you’re too crazy for insurance on your life.

I’m not sure how accurate it is but I’ve been told there are something like 2000 companies in the US licensed to sell life insurance. I’m not talking about agents or agencies, but actual insurance companies. However many there are I can tell you with a great degree of certainty that there are only maybe 5 that would consider the risk I just described at standard or better rates. That’s approved, issued and put in force, for real life insurance. There are probably another 15 that would approve and issue policies at higher prices, rated policies.

Someday when I have a month off I might just apply with every company I can find and tell them I have bipolar disorder. It would be fun to post all of the decline letters on this website so people can understand just how pathetic the underwriting is at 99% of the life insurance companies in business today.

I really didn’t mean to get off on just bipolar disorder, but since I did I will share how to know if you can get approved. The criteria I’ve used to get everyone from CEO’s to homemakers approved are as follows.

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.

The truth is that 99% of the companies are just as bad at diabetes or heart disease or epilepsy. It’s too much risk for them or, really, just too much work for them. It means they would have to actually look at medical records and consider the difference between well controlled and not controlled. It means they would have to underwrite instead of pulling out the decline rubber stamp.

Bottom line. Declined is not the end of the line. The truth is declined is often a very good place to start over again with the right agent who will use the right company and get you approved. If you have any questions or have been declined and are stumped, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.