It’s barely been a month since one of our highest rated carriers announced huge breakthroughs on cancer life insurance underwriting. With some cancers they did away with the one year waiting period post treatment, instead opting for a more aggressive approval suimmediately upon completion of successful treatment. They also opened the door for approvals of prostate cancer watchful waiting.

I remarked when I broke that news that I was surprised it has taken insurance companies so long to get it. Cancer is being detected earlier and treatment is more successful. Lower stage and grade breast and prostate cancers are hardly the mortality risk they were even 10 years ago and most life insurance companies are still using guidelines that would have been more appropriate 30 years ago.

I just got some more breakthrough news today from another highly rated name brand life insurance company. Obviously there is going to be some much over due competition for those areas where cancer underwriting has been abusive for some time now, completely ignoring the amazingly improved survival rates. While not as aggressive as last month’s announcement, for people who have been paying too much for life insurance due to a history of cancer, there’s some good news.

Preferred rates may be available for a history of low stage and grade melanoma, papillary or mixeed carcinoma of the thyroid, testicular seminoma, carcinoma in situ of the cervix and carcinoma in situ of the colon. While these rates aren’t available immediately after treatment or even one year after treatment, 10 years out from successful treatment can open the preferred door. That may still seem a little oppressive, but believe it or not, this is a generous change from what you will find with most companies. Just a few asterisks with this opening. You have to be a non smoker, treatment had to be surgical only, and you need be over 50 currently.

They also came on a bit stronger in one area of prostate cancer, offering a standard rate on a Gleason grade 8 five years out from successful treatment. They are also willing to offer preferred rates on early stage (Ta) bladder cancer. My Dad died of bladder cancer and if it weren’t for his ignorant family doctor, they might have caught his when it was still an early stage. The same doctor almost killed my Mom by over medicating her. Sorry, off in the wrong direction.

They aren’t the first company to go there, but they are offering as good as preferred plus for mild sleep apnea (AHI less than 20, 02 sat>85%) and up to best class on sleep apnea with effective CPAP treatment and demonstrated compliance. Have I said compliance and control a million times over the years?

I’ve written in the past about the horror of underwriting pitfalls that awaits those who get electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) calcium test scores. Touted as a non-invasive way to determine arterial blockage, the one downside is that they seem to be wrong a lot. They do this scan and then assign you a cardiac risk factor putting you in a percentage of the likelihood of CAD, 0% being just that and 100% meaning you should ask someone else to call the ambulance lest the weight of lifting the phone should blow your ticker. Insurance companies have used levels as low as 30% to decline clients even when they’ve had a cardiac workup that disagrees. Now we have a company that will offer up to the best rate class from 0%-74%, preferred or standard plus rates from there up to 89% with a normal imaging stress test and favorable risk factors and as good as standard with the same criteria. Take that you calcium score witch doctors. They do say that they still consider a cardiac catheterization to be the gold standard for ruling out high calcium scores. So much for non-invasive.

They’ve finally joined so many of my mood disorder giants by offering best class for mild depression, although they capped the good news there. They’ve got a ways to go to get ADHD, anxiety disorders, OCD and bipolar disorder down to standard or better.

Because of the high retention limit of the company they are willing to take on life insurance of entertainers, professional athletes and high profile individuals. Most of these celebrities used Lloyds of London. in the past at higher than normal prices. No longer necessary.

Bottom line. Things are moving in the life insurance industry and they are moving in the right direction. I expect by the end of this year we will have seen major changes in most areas of underwriting, again, not reflecting some great compassion by the companies, but rather a reality check on some very outdated underwriting. If you have questions about anything I’ve touch on or would like to see if you can improve your current life insurance situation, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.