An extremely common cause for the derailment of a life insurance application is an elevated liver function test (LFT) on the life insurance labs. This can result in an unexpected (and unwanted) butt kicking when you had no idea that there was anything going on.

To make matters worse, that butt kicking may not have any medical science or mortality studies to back it up. It is just the way it’s been done forever. 10 years ago I sold a lot of insurance for a company called Federal Kemper (you old folks might remember the commercial with the Kemper Calvary!!??) Well, Kemper had an opinion about one of the LFT’s. If you had a DUI ever in your life and your GGTP was elevated at all, say 66 (0-65 being normal), you were automatically declined. I had a case where the DUI offense was 30 years prior. Still an auto decline.

GGTP is a liver function test that is not commonly used by physicians but is almost always used by insurance companies. Most underwriters say they like to GGTP because it is a non specific test, showing positive when there is any kind of irritation of the liver. Other underwriters like those at Kemper didn’t make any apologies for the fact that they thought anyone with an elevated GGTP was a lush. To them, the only reason for the elevation was alcohol abuse.

The other two LFT’s used commonly by doctors and insurance companies alike are the AST and ALT. By far the majority of companies out there will postpone, if not decline, an application in the presence of elevated liver functions. A postpone would be to give you time to get a complete workup to determine why the liver function was elevated. A decline would be, well, to get rid of you.

The problem with this blanket rush to judgment or even overt concern in the face of elevated liver functions from an underwriting standpoint is that while an underwriter can certainly look at the result and say that something may be abnormal, they have no idea what, to what extent, or even if the results are accurate. They most certainly can’t pin any kind of an accurate mortality risk to the results. Liver functions change rapidly and can be very different two weeks from now than they are today in the absence of something like a disease that is consistently and constantly stressing the liver.

The good news is a leading company that has written guidelines that allow clients to get past the initial knee jerk decline. Just an idea how far this company has separated itself is the fact that they won’t even rate a client with a single LFT elevation within certain limits. In other words, if just one of the three LFT’s is elevated you could still get preferred plus rates. Their guidelines would allow no rating if the GGTP is 4 times normal or lower, the ALT is 4 times normal or lower or the AST is 5 times normal or lower.

Their guidelines also allow best rates if two or more liver functions are elevated but not more than 2 times normal. For the millions each year that are declined, postponed or highly rated for these same kinds of results, this is great news.

Bottom line. You can say it a million times but sometimes it just keeps begging constant repeating. Not all companies treat all underwriting the same. What you car insurance company offers on life insurance has no bearing on what you can find through a knowledgeable independent agent.