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Non compliance, not following doctor’s orders, is a choice we all come face to face with whenever we leave the doctor’s office. Whether it is a recommended followup or additional testing, prescribed medication that needs to be taken as prescribed to be effective, or followup appointments to see how you’re doing, insurance underwriters take your attitude and compliance into account.

Am I saying that you have to take everything your doctor recommends as the final word? No, but if you don’t seek a second opinion that negates the original recommendation, your doctor’s recommendation is seen as an order by the underwriter. Generally non compliance is handled by the underwriter postponing approval until the recommended issue is taken care of.

Since this is an all too common occurrence, let me share with you some real life scenarios and how they worked out. An overweight client of mine was approved at a higher rate than expected because he discovered on his labs that his A1c was high. After visiting his doctor he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and medication was prescribed. He decided that rather than follow the recommended treatment he would just cut out some of the ice cream and see how things went. After a few months he fell off that wagon and never went back to the doctor. He died of a heart attack almost exactly a year after he decided to ignore his doctor.

This is a good example about how much life insurance companies really do want to pay their claims. He died during the contestability period and they knew he was diagnosed type 2 diabetes and they knew he was supposed to be on medication and because they pulled his pharmacy records they know he never took the medication. But the fact that they approved him trumped all of that. Now, had they postponed him until his diabetes was diagnosed and controlled, he would have never had life insurance in force.

I am working with a client that has a whole book full of medical issues. He was approved for a highly rated policy not too long after all of these things were diagnosed (after one health scare his wife insisted he get a complete workup). Recently we shopped it and it looked like we might be able to get a better rate, but when we acquired the records it became clear that he had chosen to ignore his doctor’s orders for followup testing for several issues. He says he doesn’t think all the followup is necessary. He’s never looked for a second opinion and he is now being told by this insurance company that could nearly cut his rate in half that if he doesn’t comply with the testing he will be declined.

Another form of non compliance is changing the way you use your medication. This usually takes the form of changing, let say, from the once a day prescription for high blood pressure to taking the medication whenever you feel like your blood pressure is high. Or taking your medication for bipolar disorder that should be taken twice daily, to taking it when you start feeling manic.

Some people just quit taking medication because they don’t like the side effects or they don’t feel like they need it anymore without ever talking to their doctor about it. Both are valid reasons for not taking the medication, but the reason for the medication is still there and having a physician change the medication, or give their blessing to discontinuing, is absolutely essential.

Bottom line. From a life insurance underwriting standpoint you are better off not going to a doctor than you going to one and ignoring them.