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As I come to grips with the fact that I am going to have to switch from Windows XP to Windows 7 and from Outlook Express to Outlook, I am a bit stressed. To bring you up to speed on the kind of stress I am going through, I wrote this post this morning. Because I am often distracted with real world things like talking to clients about life insurance, WordPress has an auto save feature. In Windows XP it saved every three minutes. When I finished this post this morning in Windows 7 and published it didn’t save anything and I lost nearly 900 words. Argh!

Probably the only reason my computer is still uninjured and I am rewriting this is because I take Prozac. I think about 90% of our country is on some type of mood stabilizing staple like Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin or alcohol (studies say 25% not counting alcohol). I first took Prozac almost 20 years ago when I was going through a particularly challenging time in my life. It didn’t make me happy all the time, but it did take some of the stomach loss drops out of the roller coaster that was me back then. I took it for a few years and quit. I just recently started again when it occurred to me that I wasn’t dealing with things particularly well, things that really shouldn’t have been that tough.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that either you are being treated for a minor mood disorder or you know someone that is (whether you know it or not). It’s not a bad thing. We live in a stressful world. And it’s not a bad thing if you do better by taking some minor mood medication to take some of the bumps out of your life. It sure beats drinking as a coping mechanism. And that kind of gets to the real point of this whole thing. Why are life insurance underwriters, the majority of whom are probably on some type of mood disorder treatment (including alcohol this time), beating up on people who are doing exactly what the situation calls for. They have a small problem and they are keeping it from becoming a big one.

Let’s put this in context. Most life insurance companies and their underwriters will approve someone for life insurance that is taking one of the minor mood disorder drugs to help with mild anxiety, depression or ADD, at a standard rate class. I’m not talking about people who are chronically depressed and frozen in their tracks from it. I’m talking about you and me. I’m talking about physicians, attorneys and CEO’s and mothers who are dealing with raising children in today’s world. I remember when I was growing up, if I stressed my Mom out, she showed me the door and told me not to come back until dinner time. Today a child could go through technology withdrawal and die if you did that.

Life insurance companies routinely approve someone being treated for high cholesterol at preferred plus rates. No big deal if it’s well controlled. Recently a lot of companies started treating well controlled high blood pressure the same way. You have a problem. You take medicine that controls it. No big deal! So why do underwriters go bonkers if you have situational depression and take Zoloft for it? I may step on a few toes with this, but it’s called lazy underwriting. If a person is treated for cholesterol and they have a total cholesterol of 168 on the insurance exam and a ratio of 4.0, the underwriter can declare it well controlled and give their best rate class. A person that is treated for blood pressure whose reading is 115/75 on the exam meets the same threshold.

But if you are treated for ADD, depression, anxiety or even bipolar disorder, even though you have everything controlled well enough that there is zero mortality risk from it, there is no lab result or exam reading that can prove that. Here’s where the lazy part comes in. An underwriter, in order to justify giving you the best rate class or at least a better rate class than the industry average, has to read your records and find where your doctor declares you healthy and well controlled. I’m not saying that it’s an easy thing to do, but rate classes are supposed to reflect mortality risk, not how easy the underwriting is.

Bottom line. There are underwriters out there that just don’t care and from them you can expect a standard rate at best just for being an average American. Then there are underwriters out there who dig for ways to get you the best possible rate class they can justify. Needless to say, when I shop a case, those are the underwriters I’m looking for. If you have any questions or if you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly because of some minor mood disorder or even well controlled bipolar disorder, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.