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I’ve always said that a life insurance decline is really not a bad place to start. Obviously it’s more fun to get approved at the best rate the first time around, but most of my clients come to me because they have health issues. They call or email because they have been declined life insurance and really don’t understand why. They have been denied what they need and they want it fixed.

Why is a decline a good place to start? Well, as my grandfather used to say, “It scares all the rats out of the woodpile”. And it does. If you apply and get declined the life insurance company has reviewed your labs and medical history and why they declined you, while maybe not valid at another insurance company, is very clear to them.

Decline notices or letters aren’t always as detailed as we would like, but generally your agent should be able to fill in the gaps by calling the underwriter. A typical decline letter might say, “declined to abnormal ekg” or “declined due to abnormal lab results“. If the company did the ekg they will send you a copy of it to have reviewed by your doctor. If the ekg they are referring to was already in your medical records they will refer to “the abnormal ekg in Dr Smith’s records”. If your lab work showed an abnormality the company will also supply a copy of the labs.

This is good stuff. As an agent when you are declined due to something like labs or an ekg and have a copy, I can turn right around and send that information out to 20 other companies and know within a few days who would approve it and at what rate class it would be approved. If the information is in medical records it will take a little foot work, but it is well worth your time to go get the pertinent information out of your records.

This can get a little cumbersome if the company says the decline was due to confidential information in your medical records. What I generally recommend in that case is that you get a copy of your medical records (personally I think everyone should keep a copy of their own anyway). With proper authorizations signed you can have an independent agent like myself review the records and determine what the egregious confidential information was. That’s a bit of work, but again, all the rats are out and the case can be shopped with accurate information.

Why am I so confident about a decline being a good place to start? I know of at least a dozen other agents who, like myself, have built a large block of business turning declines into approvals. I won’t say there are no legitimate declines, because let’s face it, there are people that present far too large a risk for an insurance company to consider. But that’s not the majority of declines. Most people who can’t get insurance honestly don’t apply. The majority of declines are because the wrong agent took a case to the wrong company. It wasn’t shopped and the application was a crap shoot. Every day people are declined for depression, bipolar disorder, diabetes, heart disease, skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, epilepsy, sleep apnea and obesity because their application wasn’t shopped and ended up with the wrong company.

Bottom line. Most declines are because agents are lazy and don’t want to make sure they have it right the first time.