My vote for the biggest rub in life insurance underwriting is weight. Easily the most disgruntled life insurance client is when they are told that their insurance is going to cost more because they guessed their weight wrong, or they weren’t really 6’2, but 6’1 1/2 (which examiners round down, not up).

Insurance companies have build charts and they really do stick to them, especially when it comes to giving the coveted preferred plus rates. A good independent agent might be able to get an underwriter to forgive a pound or two if all other risk factors are good. Generally speaking though, if you don’t fit into the height and weight it takes for a certain rate class, well, that’s life. More weight. Less height. More money!!!

OK, let’s talk about how to work the system. Find out what your REAL height and weight are before you talk to an independent agent and don’t fudge. Don’t round yourself 1/2″ up. Tell the agent exactly how tall you are. Don’t round your weight off to the nearest 10 pounds. Tell them exactly what you weigh and when you checked it last. Tell them if it historically fluctuates and if it’s not big deal to shed a few pounds before the exam.

I swear if you asked 100 people what their weight is, 95 of them would come back with a round number like 170#, 180#, 200#, 250#, etc. 5 will provide a number that seems like they must know, like 193#. 2-3 of them actually will know what they weigh. This is particularly pronounced when people have let their weight get out of control. The higher their weight goes, the less they really check and the more likely they are to be off on their guess. When it comes to those who fit into the obesity category, it is not uncommon for their estimate to be off by 25# to 50#.

The impact on life insurance rates can be dramatic. There are companies out there with reasonably liberal build charts. This is why an independent agent is so important. He will steer you to the right company and away from the wrong company. If you are off 15#, it may well be that you would have been better off going to a different company.

Bottom line. Garbage in, garbage out. Your agent can only provide quotes that are as accurate as the information you provide.