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I ran into a client over a year ago who presented me with one of those life insurance scenarios that brings out the gag reflex in even the best of underwriters, one of “those issues” that has been an automatic decline since life insurance was invented, an implanted defibrillator. The hard line no exceptions underwriting logic is that if a person has to have a defibrillator permanently cocked and loaded inside them to restart their faulty heart and you never know how well the defibrillator will work when it’s needed, well, that spells risk with a capital D that rhymes with decline. The other side of the argument has always been that the risk is less with a defibrillator than without one and the life insurance underwriting conundrum is that several conditions that would make a person a candidate for an ICD can be approved for life insurance unless there is an ICD implanted.

I know how this works. As soon as I write that we got this client approved, even though his was a very unique situation, everyone with a defibrillator will contact me. DON’T!!!! Unless you are almost an identical twin to this client we have nothing new to offer. So here’s the deal. My 50 year old client wasn’t told he needed a defibrillator. He chose to have one because his brother died of sudden cardiac arrest in his early 30’s. While his brother’s death was never linked to mitral valve prolapse, he did have it. In fact everyone on his mother’s side of the family has mitral valve prolapse. This hasn’t led to a long string of premature deaths and in fact his grandmother who died at age 69 of a heart attack (before they even differentiated sudden cardiac arrest) was the only other family member to have died from anything cardiac related.

The client comes from a large family and he, his still living brother, his sister and a ton of cousins all have MVP. So, why did he get a defibrillator? No one else in the family did that. It wasn’t recommended by his cardiologist. He and his deceased brother were very close, family men, business partners and my client asked his cardiologist, for the sake of his family and family owned business that he was now the CEO of, how he could make sure the same thing didn’t happen to him. While it wasn’t pushed, the cardiologist did concur that an ICD in place could have stopped the same event that his brother died from. So, after a great deal of soul searching, prayer and family discussions he got his ICD.

He’s on his second battery. They last longer than most cars only requiring replacement every 10 years. He has never been defibrillated and his cardiologist still insists that there would be no risk from removing it. So with that scenario we shopped for life insurance, a key man policy that as CEO, his board of directors wanted in place. I had shopped cases with ICD’s before, ICD’s that had never gone off, but were prescribed as needed and had been roundly laughed at by all the companies I approached. I knew that was a possibility with this case but the fact that he voluntarily asked for the ICD completely as preventive medicine gave me some hope even though he had been declined by a formidable list of life insurance companies already.

Long story short we worked through all of the details with three companies. One of those finally decided to step down because of his family history. Two other companies finally said they would approve it when he completed an unrelated test that he was scheduled for. Once the test was done one company wanted to start over with a new app and exam because the case was getting old, almost a year, but the other company approved and issued the policy today.

Bottom line. I would be remiss to note that during this long, drawn out process to get traditional long term life insurance in force, Petersen International helped me get a policy through Houston Casualty Company for this CEO. Petersen represents HCC and Lloyds of London and they’ve helped out in a lot of cases where business life insurance is needed and needed now, but I know it’s going to take several months, or a year or two to get a traditional policy in place. If you have any questions or feel like your life insurance agent hasn’t explored all the possibilities for approval, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.