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Abnormal ekg’s make up a significant percentage of of the reason for postpones and declines on life insurance applications. Often it’s news to the applicant and just as often it’s something that their doctor may have told them about a long time ago and told them it wasn’t anything to worry about. After all, “It’s not like I had a heart attack or something”.

A critical thing to keep in mind is that how two companies handle an abnormal ekg can be as different as night and day. On plenty of occasions I have shopped “abnormals” that led to a decline with one company and was able to get it approved standard and occasionally better with another company. Certainly on more than one occasion we have been able to disprove the abnormality when a client is willing to get an independent ekg from their own doctor. While a person would hope that all ekg’s are created equal, an ekg done in a doctor’s office, generally a 12 lead ekg is often more reliable and different than a 6 lead ekg done by a paramedical person while you’re lying on your living room floor.

So, is your doctor wrong when they know you have an abnormality but they tell you it’s nothing to worry about? The truth is they’re probably right on the money because they know you, your health history, your lifestyle and if the abnormality is fairly benign, whether it has changed over the years.

So, is the underwriter wrong? Probably not based on the information they have and their company’s underwriting philosophy. He is probably following the guidelines. Therein lies the rub in this situation. Both are doing their job correctly but they seem to have adversarial opinions. The real truth is that the opinions aren’t adversarial because they’re not offering an opinion on the same thing. One opinion is about you alone and how you’re doing and the other opinion is about you pooled together with say, all the other people who have a right bundle branch block and what their overall mortality experience is compared to people without that abnormality.

Bottom line. Since you will likely never get the two sides to see eye to eye on the subject, when faced with an abnormal ekg, armed with a copy from the insurance exam and preferably an second go round with your own doctor, enlist an independent agent who can shop as many companies as it takes to get a rate that works for you.