I won’t go so far as to say that you have to have a life insurance agent with a mood disorder, but when it comes to successful underwriting of anxiety or depression life insurance applications need to be handled correctly. An agent’s understanding of the challenges you face with your particular disorder can mean the difference between getting a good rate or a bad one, an approval or a decline.

I’m going to go out on a limb and just tell it like it is. Many of us have a right to our disorder and to hold it against us as a mortality issue in the absence of psychotic breaks is absurd. If someone close to me is terminally ill or has died, situational depression is a perfectly normal response. If I’ve been employed for the last 30 years but haven’t been able to find a job in the last 3 years, depression seems like a logical response.

If I’m the CEO of a company that has been beat to death by the economy and I am having to lay people off, doesn’t a little anxiety seem appropriate? If I’ve been practicing medicine in Salida, CO for 13 years and move to Denver to take a job in a trauma center, not having anxiety would just be weird.

I’m not talking about sulking in the closet, suicidal depression or freaking out anxiety. I’m talking about the normal response to some of the bad deals that life hands out. The fact that we seek out medical help with these things is a good thing and shouldn’t be held against us when we apply for life insurance. It’s no different than taking medication for cholesterol or high blood pressure. It means we recognize a problem and don’t want it to get worse.

Getting a client the best possible rate is kind of like one of those fancy meals, in reverse. It’s all about the presentation, and done correctly, the lower cost. There are far too many agents out there that don’t get this part of the equation and as long as their clients don’t get it either, they don’t care. They take the application, send it to the company that pays them the most, get it approved at a standard or worse rate, tell the client that’s as good as it gets, and go spend their commission. Presentation before and during the application process could have turned that approval from standard to preferred or preferred plus.

Presentation before an anxiety life insurance application means understanding the disorder and being able to ask the questions that the underwriter will want answers to. It means not being shy about asking what kind of problems your client has faced because of their mood disorder. Let me see if I can paint a picture of the two directions this can go. The first way is the client answers yes to whether they’ve been treated for a mental or nervous disorder. In the explanation space on the application the agent simply puts “treated for depression 5 years with Zoloft”. That will garner a standard approval from most companies.

Now, what if before the application the agent sends an email to 10 or 20 companies that are good with impairments saying, “Proposed insured has been treated for situational depression off and on for the past 5 years taking Zoloft as needed. Most treatment periods have been during financially tight times or when he has had to work extra hours due to the loss of an employee. He has never been hospitalized, never had any lost time or suicidal thoughts due to depression. He has a stable family life having been married 27 years with 2 grown children. He is compliant with followup and treatment. He is compliant with followup and treatment. Please provide a tentative assessment for $500,000 term.”

With this presentation you receive underwriting opinions based on what has been said. I can guarantee you that presented in this manner you would receive at least 3 or 4 tentative preferred quotes and possibly 1 or 2 preferred plus quotes. These are in writing (email) and have the underwriter name so that the second part of the presentation, the application goes right back to the person who originally assessed the risk, with a copy of their email response and a few letters from, for instance, his wife and pastor speaking to his stability. The approval will almost always be the same as the advance underwriting opinion unless something not discussed shows up in the medical records.

Bottom line. My practice has come to the point of shopping virtually all impairments in this manner. Whether it’s a mood disorder, cancer or even just a history of elevated cholesterol, the way to the best rate possible is all about understanding the issue and understanding how the underwriter will react.