I have been detailing an ongoing discussion between myself and ING Reliastar chief underwriter Diane Gill concerning a client who she claimed, due to his cholesterol of 253 and cholesterol ratio of 5.13, did not meet their criteria for their preferred rate class.

I got a phone call from Mrs Gill’s designated hit man late this evening to let me know that she is sticking to her contention that because ING’s pricing is so competitive in the preferred rate category that they simply couldn’t make the exception.

I will be the first to admit that when I think the case is strong enough, I will ask for an exception to stated underwriting guidelines. In this case there was no exception requested and none needed. This client clearly qualified for preferred and for reasons I will probably never know (although I have a theory), they wouldn’t approve it.

Life insurance companies are not bound by law to approve anything even if it meets their underwriting guidelines. They are allowed that discriminatory discretion in order to manage their business model. They can go along approving people, for instance, with treated high blood pressure, at their best rate and decide that starting today all applications approved from this point forward get their second best rate.

They can, and I’ve seen this many times, also decide to jump in bed with someone like Selectquote or Intelliquote, an agency that can promise them say 100,000 applications a year, and make concessions to get that large chunk of business. One of the things that isn’t uncommon in those arrangements is that the agency will agree to accept all underwriting decisions without question. Not exactly in the client’s best interest, but it certainly expedites the process. The company will agree in turn to expedite the agency’s underwriting.

Bottom line. Whether I am being singled out or whether I am just the victim of a random act of stupidity, it is the client who gets the bad deal. The thing that sticks in my mind is that ING never disagreed that my client qualified for preferred. They just chose not to give it to him. They have the right to do that, but why is a fair question.