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While I generally agree with most family history guidelines that life insurance underwriters use, there are times when common sense simply has to override the guidelines. After all, they are called underwriting guidelines, not rules.

I’ve had to defend family history underwriting on plenty of cases. Probably the biggest bone of contention is when a parent has died of lung cancer or heart disease, and they were obese smokers and the person applying for insurance is a healthy, fit, non smoker. It stretches everyone’s imagination to figure out the true relevance of that connection and why the healthy, fit, non smoker should have to pay more.

But underwriters will make and defend the case that plenty of people smoke heavily all their lives and don’t have heart attacks, so who is to say that the father didn’t have a genetic predisposition to heart disease? Who is to say that those genes weren’t passed along and even though the lifestyles are different, the healthy son has a genetic predispostion to heart disease just like dear old dad.

Having said that, I am jousting with an underwriter right now, with a company generally known for putting common sense in the equation, who wants to whack a client two rate classes because his sister died at age 20 of breast cancer. He is a healthy 54 year old male. There is no defensible potential genetic link.

Now that I have beat the company up, it’s my turn. I got caught doing the very thing that should never be done in this business. I should have never assumed that common sense would prevail. I didn’t get an underwriter to agree to it ahead of the application.

Bottom line. I can salvage all of this and get an approval at the best rate class, but lesson learned. Common sense should have told me don’t count on common sense. Shame on me this time.