It would interesting to understand the psychology of an average life insurance agent. I know that there are plenty of truly lazy agents out there who, it appears, have a template that your life insurance application needs to fit into. If it doesn’t fit they either won’t take it on or they will let it fail just to get it off their plate.

These are the agents who consider things like asking all the health questions to be too much work. Isn’t it easier just to ask a client if they have any health problems? Gosh, if the client doesn’t consider it a problem then why would an insurance company? I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been going through health questions and I am asked, “Why do you need to know that? The other agents I’ve talked to didn’t ask all of those questions”. Some get downright indignant when a yes answer leads to even more in depth questions. When I ask them to get me more information from their doctors, even though it’s in their best interest, they bristle again because other agents don’t ask them to do all that.

I had a client apply recently who had been approved at a standard rate by USAA because of a relatively mild, well controlled mood disorder. Nothing shocking there. We went through all of the health questions and there wasn’t anything else. She applied through a new company that had given her a tentative quote of preferred plus. We were both shocked when that application was approved at standard as well, not because of the mood disorder, but because of an “elevated A1c in her medical records”.

She hadn’t said anything about diabetes and when I questioned her she honestly didn’t know what an A1c was and told me that her doctor had never discussed her A1c or diabetes with her. We reviewed the records together and found on one set of labs about a year old where her A1c was 6.1. Also in the records was a note from her doctor telling her that her blood sugar seemed to be running a little high and that she should work at some diet changes and possibly lose a little weight. She did those things and the reason the insurance company didn’t get an A1c on their labs is that the test isn’t normally done if the glucose is within normal limits. Hers was 77 on the exam.

I asked the underwriter to consider the fact that there weren’t any other indications in her records of elevated glucose or A1c’s and that she had in fact lost 15 pounds since that recommendation was made. The underwriter dug in her feet and wouldn’t change the decision. It is at this point that I am convinced most agents would just say standard is as good as it gets and give up the battle for their client. I asked the underwriter if we provided a normal A1c at no cost to the insurance company if she would reconsider and we were given the go ahead. A week later she was approved at preferred plus, saving her over $1000 a year.

Whenever I run into a health issue that I’m not familiar with I study the health issue and find out what’s normal and what’s not, what is expected with good control and what to expect if it isn’t well controlled. I find out the different options for treatment. I look into the medications and if there are family history connections. I don’t submit a request for quotes until I understand what it is the underwriter is going to be looking for and I’m sure we are presenting the information not just accurately, but completely.

I have connections in the medical fields that help me to understand, for instance, exactly what a cancer pathology report is saying. Is a high grade lymphoma always a bad thing? Cancer 101 would say that high grade anything isn’t good. Turns out that with non Hodgkins lymphoma, a high grade can certainly kill you, but if successfully treated it has very close to a 0% chance of recurrence.

I have people that will review cardiac workups for me and give me the bad news and any good news that balances the report out. I have underwriters that I can bounce cases off of who will tell me what to look for in order to get the best possible consideration. That’s why I’ve been so successful with bipolar disorder.

Bottom line. I don’t work for nearly as many clients as I could. If it wasn’t my goal to make sure everyone who works with me is treated fairly and gets everything I can bring to their application to make it succeed I could handle a lot more clients.

Sounds like I’m pretty proud of myself, but pride gets in the way of learning and growing. Let’s just say that I am a much better agent than I used to be and expect to continue in that direction. It’s what my clients deserve. If you have any questions or think I’m wrong and need my bubble burst, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.

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