Eligibility and Underwriting

Looking under the microscope of insurability factors.

5 Reasons Why You Should Disclose Your Prior Drug Use on Your Life Insurance Application

28108832021_13765ce10c_nLife insurance is probably the most comprehensively underwritten financial product in the marketplace. Everything from current health, to family medical history, to criminal record, is covered – with various lifestyle and health factors in between.

Many people are not comfortable disclosing personal information in these areas. Maybe they had a tough time battling depression. Perhaps they feel ashamed about a criminal conviction back in the day. Some are reluctant to talk about income, or prior financial issues.

Recreational drug use is a common sensitive topic. This is true for a variety of reasons, including concerns about illegality and social stigma. While I understand the hesitation to talk about it, I am here to report that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by giving thorough and accurate answers to this and every other question on your application.

Here are five reasons why I believe this to be true, based on my 25 years selling the product:

1. If you don’t admit to usage, you are committing insurance fraud.

Your application contains verbiage very similar to this:

Any person who knowingly with intent to defraud any insurance company or other person, files an application for insurance or statement of claim containing any materially false information or conceals for the purpose of misleading, information concerning any fact material thereto commits a fraudulent insurance act, which may be a crime and may subject such person to criminal and civil penalties according to state law.

So if you did smoke pot or do coke back in the day, but deny doing so on the app, that is a materially false answer. So what can happen? The claim can be contested.

Your policy will contain verbiage very similar to this:

This policy shall be incontestable after it has been in force during the lifetime of the life insured for two years from the issue date, except for… fraud in the procurement of this policy, when permitted by applicable law in the state where this policy was delivered or issued for delivery…

I have always understood this to mean that if the company finds you lied about drug use, for example, then they could contest the claim even if the cause of death was not related to drugs. Why risk depriving your beneficiary of their money?

2. It probably won’t affect the rate anyway.

Your recreational activity 10, 15, or 20 years ago or more, does not necessarily affect your mortality now. Today, you are older and wiser, and engaging in activities that are better for your health. Underwriters understand that. Unless they have reason to believe you are at risk for going back to your old ways, odds are they will not hold your past against you pricewise.

Even if your drug use was more recent, it could affect your eligibility for a policy only temporarily. In the worst case, maybe an offer would be postponed. Perhaps additional premium would be assessed on a short-term basis. In both of these cases, your eligibility for coverage could be reassessed year after year until a carrier is found who would make a decent offer. Good deals that are not available now could be available later.

In some cases, current drug use would not preclude an offer now. For example, people who use marijuana can qualify for low rates, including non-smoker pricing in certain situations.

3. Going through full disclosure builds the confidence of underwriters.

Life insurance as a business. Like every good business deal, it has to be a win-win for all parties concerned. The consumer needs a policy that gets the job done. The company needs a paying customer. The broker needs to earn a commission once the sale is finalized.

Nobody wins when applications are declined for incomplete or contradictory data. If information emerges in underwriting that conflicts with other disclosures, then the deal can be off, and all parties involved will have wasted precious time and money.

Full disclosure in the prequalification stage of the purchase is essential for avoiding this problem. Once an underwriter sees that you have provided thorough and accurate answers on the “minor” stuff, like drug use long stopped, they are confident underwriting won’t uncover major inconsistencies that could kill the deal. They are much more likely to put their best rate on the table from day one and stick to it. You have established credibility with them.

4. It is a private matter.

Privacy protection regulations keep your application information within the strict confines of the insurance company and its affiliates. These laws are taken very seriously. You can see this with all the authorizations you have to sign for even those parties involved to have access to your application and underwriting file.

This means that nobody else gets to see your answers to the personal questions. Not your spouse, not your children. Not your business partner or employees. Not the bank who needs the life insurance to cover your business loan, or the investor who needs you covered as a key person.

It also means that the life insurance company is not going to report you to law enforcement agencies for having done something illegal back in the day. Go ahead and ask a criminal attorney if he’s worried about that happening. I don’t think so.

5. There is no stigma.

I understand that in the greater social environment, recreational drug use is considered “bad.” I recall being in “health” class in junior high school in the 60s. I think the instructor took great relish in forecasting doom if you smoked pot. First it would be marijuana, then you would move on to heroin, and finally you would end up in jail – or dead. Today, guys like that are still waging the “war on drugs” and trying to pack the prisons full of drug users.

Putting the politics aside, the fact of the matter is that many extremely successful and wealthy people have used recreational drugs. For some, it was a phase; with others, it became an addiction that needed treatment. Some still use them.

Since drug use can in some way impair health and functioning, it is valid for a life insurance company to determine how it may be impacting your mortality. With the proper direction from your broker, this assessment could and should be done fairly, and with the upmost respect and sensitivity. Find a broker you can trust, and you will be in good hands.

Please feel free to comment, or to contact me directly with a specific question. If you need a quote now, or a second opinion on a quote you have received, the best thing to do is to call me toll-free at (866) 633-1818. Or email me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. I also encourage you to download my free Life Insurance Guide – see the above tab. Many people have found it to be extremely educational.

“Compare term life insurance rates at no cost from top rated companies in seconds.”
https://www.insurenowdirect.com/stevenkobrin/Default.aspx

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What To Do When Your Term Insurance Renewal Rate Spikes

TermInsurance

There’s a good chance that when you first purchased a term insurance policy, you were focused on finding a low-cost insurance policy. You were just starting a family, buying a house, and stretching your money thin due to other financial demands. So, you purchased a low-cost 15-year term policy. Now, it’s 15 years later, you still need life insurance, and you still have financial demands, but now your policy’s renewal premium is significantly higher than when you first purchased.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an uncommon situation. There are a number of reasons why your policy’s premium amount increases. The biggest reason is age. On average, a premium amount increases between 8% and 10% for every year of age. Every life insurance carrier has underwriting requirements that usually include health tests, and the older you are the more tests that are required.

Beyond age, the policy carrier may also be concerned about its reserves or the availability of credit. One insurance company was facing insolvency, and to avoid declaring bankruptcy, they realized they needed to reduce future liabilities. This meant they needed to eliminate a number of their policies. The best way to do this was to increase policy premiums in order to encourage some policyholders to cancel. Although the court ultimately ruled against the insurance company, this still remains the thought process for some companies.

If your term insurance premium has significantly increased when it comes time to renew, you do have options. Start by getting pre-qualified for life insurance to see your other options and what other policies for which you are eligible. This typically involves a complete medical exam and, depending on your age, the type of policy, and the amount of coverage, a carrier could request additional tests, such as treadmill test or EKG. You may discover that based on your age, health, and other factors that your premium renewal rate is on par with other quotes, or you may find you can obtain a different policy for much less.

As you shop around for different policies, consider a permanent life policy to avoid having to go through this ordeal again. Many term insurance policies can be converted or exchanged for a permanent life policy, including Whole Life and Universal Life, with no additional underwriting required. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you obtain another policy before cancelling your current one.

As I stated earlier, the unfortunate truth about term insurance is that the premium can significantly increase when it comes time to renew. If you are currently considering term insurance, consider your needs beyond the policy limits, whether it’s 10 or 30 years. You may discover permanent life is a better option for your needs. If you already have a term policy that is approaching its renewal date, start looking into alternative policies now so you can be prepared and know your options.

If you have questions about term insurance or would like a second opinion on a life insurance quote you have received, please call me (866) 633-1818 or send me an email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. I also encourage you to download my free Life Insurance Guide, which you can see in the above tab.

“Compare term life insurance rates at no cost from top rated companies in seconds.”
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About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high-net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Life Insurance for the Walking Wounded: People With PTSD

ptsd-e1383860925532People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are among the walking wounded. They have been through a lot. They are survivors. In my work helping them to purchase life insurance, I have developed an affection and admiration for many.

When you find out what these folks have been through, it makes you cringe. Some have experienced horrible abuse, sexual and otherwise – at home. At school. In a place of worship. In prison.

Some have survived horrible accidents – plane crashes. Car crashes.

Some have been traumatized simply through trying to help others survive terrible events. I have met a number of first responders to the Twin Towers on 911 who were greatly affected by the ordeal.

And then you have the many returning warriors. Veterans who served their country in battle and came home battered and bruised, both inside and out.

I know life insurance underwriters who want to help these people. They want to make offers. What will give them a comfort level taking on the risk, and at a reasonable price? Here are a few of their primary concerns:

Diagnosis and treatment

People with PTSD can have all kinds of symptoms. Their emotions can be so out of wack. They can experience great rage, but also severe depression. Trouble sleeping.

They can have numerous psychological and neurological problems. Nightmares. Flashbacks. They can jump at the drop of a hat. It’s as if you can take the man or woman out of the battle, but you can’t take the battle out of the man or woman.

Medically, there can be many conditions. There can be complications with many organs. Bad stomachs. Headaches. The stress level they have experienced can overburden their system.

In all these cases, an underwriter wants to be sure the potential applicant has reached out for help. Has received the proper medical attention. Has identified the problem and been prescribed a course of treatment. And is compliant with that prescription.

Support system

I have found that people with PTSD can attempt to treat themselves before seeking professional help. They can try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. In a way, I guess they are trying to escape, and to numb the pain. Who can blame them?

But the drugs and alcohol just create additional problems. We all know that. An underwriter will pay special attention to any drug or alcohol history, to make sure it is indeed history. A major factor in the potential applicant’s favor will be participation in a support group. Strong family backing and communal involvement also help.

Functionality

Sadly, people with PTSD can have a really tough time managing their relationships, both personal and professional. Marriages get severely strained. As do relationships with kids. And parents.

Jobs can be hard to keep. Careers can be difficult to restart. If the potential applicant has managed to find stability at home and also at work, these are big plusses from an underwriting point of view. They also mean that odds are against the potential applicant taking drastic action, like contemplating suicide.

Let’s help these folks!

I like to help anybody and everybody buy life insurance. Every man and woman deserves a shot at the coverage they need at the price they can afford. And as a professional salesperson, I have to be respectful and sensitive to the unique circumstances of each and every client. Sometimes, though, the plight of a particular people strikes you really deep. Folks with PTSD affect me that way. They have really been through a lot, and I really try hard to help them.

Along these lines, I want to direct you to a fantastic story about a Ukrainian teenager who helps the veterans of her country deal with their PTSD. Her remarkable efforts have been reported by Nolan Petersen of the Daily Signal. Reading it will make your day.

Please feel free to comment, or to contact me directly with a specific question.

If you need a quote now, or a second opinion on a quote you have received, the best thing to do is to call me toll-free at (866) 633-1818. Or email me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

I also encourage you to download my free Life Insurance Guide – see the above tab. Many people have found it to be extremely ed

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Are You a Preferred Risk?

download (3)Life insurance underwriting can be kind of mysterious. Lurking behind the risk assessment lie underwriting classes. You have preferred, and standard, and so on.

Does everyone get preferred? Can everyone get preferred? This question was asked recently on Quora.

Here is my answer.

Please feel free to comment, or to contact me directly with a specific question.

If you need a quote now, or a second opinion on a quote you have received, the best thing to do is to call me toll-free at (866) 633-1818. Or email me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

I also encourage you to download my free Life Insurance Guide – see the above tab. Many people have found it to be extremely educational.

 

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

I’m Healthy Now! Should I Reshop My Life Insurance?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAjCAAAAJGJkNzFhNGU3LTgwYTktNDU0ZC05MzkwLTAyMGM4ZTE0NGZhZQYes, you should. You have nothing to lose!

I get asked this question a lot by clients who originally bought life insurance when they were dealing with a serious illness. Hepatitis. Diabetes. Heart disease. Recent cancer.

But that was ten or fifteen years ago. Now you have successfully completed treatment! Or you have modified your lifestyle for the better. You are stable. Your labs are good. Your physician has made all kinds of nice comments about you in your medical file 🙂

You are healthy! Would it be possible to reduce the cost of your coverage? Let’s give it a shot!

First I will try to get us into a price ballpark. This way we can determine what savings just might be available. If those numbers look good, then we can go through full prequalification.

All this takes place before you submit a formal application, of course. We don’t want to raise false hope or waste anyone’s time.

If it looks like we can get a better a deal, then by all means you go through underwriting. It goes without saying that you do not drop your current policy until the new one is in place. We DO NOT want a lapse in coverage.

And rest assured: your attempt to get better pricing from another company will in no way violate your contract with the current carrier. As long as you keep paying that premium, they are stuck with you 🙂

Here is the bottom line: since you are now healthy, you may very well qualify for a lower life insurance rate. Prequalification is a short and sweet way to find out. Take advantage of it!

“Compare term life insurance rates at no cost from top rated companies in seconds.”
https://www.insurenowdirect.com/stevenkobrin/Default.aspx

Thanks for dropping in!

Please feel free to comment, or to contact me directly with a specific question.

If you need a quote now, or a second opinion on a quote you have received, the best thing to do is to call me toll-free at (866) 633-1818. Or email me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

I also encourage you to download my free Life Insurance Guide – see the above tab. Many people have found it to be extremely educational.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Continuous Underwriting Continued

life-insurance-17-terminosI was just featured in an article by Cyril Tuohy on InsuranceNewsNet, “Health Data Leads to Floating Premiums in Some Life Policies.”

My opinion was solicited in an analysis of “continuous underwriting.” Here is one quote:

“If you make it convenient for a person to stay with you, there’s less temptation to shop it out but if I’m a consumer I wouldn’t want to prevent the convenience of getting a better deal elsewhere,” Kobrin said.

(Read the full article)

Continuous underwriting remains a hot topic in the industry. I addressed it in two prior blog posts:

http://planrisklive.com/power-to-the-policyholder/

http://planrisklive.com/its-5am-does-your-insurer-know-where-you-are/

There’s a lot to think about here. What do you think are the pros of continuous underwriting? How about the downside?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Breast Cancer: A Life Insurance Deal…Maker?

Some people have a tough time getting life insurance.

This is especially true of people with a cancer history.

Women with a history of breast cancer can sometimes feel it’s almost impossible to get a policy.

But the good news is that it could be easier than you think…

Breast cancer can actually be a deal-maker, not a deal-breaker!

Reason to be Optimistic

Financial writer Barbara Marquand does a solid job of addressing this issue for NerdWallet.

Here is one of her key points:

“Don’t despair if you get turned down for coverage by one company. The underwriting process varies among insurers, which is why it’s so important to get quotes from different carriers….don’t be afraid to apply for life insurance.”

I can tell you from first-hand experience that there is hope for people who have a history of breast cancer to buy life insurance.

This is important because breast cancer is unfortunately very common.

Many of us know someone personally who has had to treat it.

These folks need life insurance as much as anybody else – perhaps more so.

Get Prequalified Correctly

It is certainly true that a broker who knows how to handle the risk factor, and what questions to ask, will be able to get you good rates.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Prequalification is essential. It is possible to identify the company, product, and price before you apply. Your broker should be able to effectively pre-underwrite you to confirm that going through formal underwriting will be worthwhile. You do not want to use underwriting to get a quote because that could waste your time, and also produce an unnecessary flag on your record of insurance applications.
  • If you are not eligible for coverage now, you may be at a future point. Your broker should be able to tell you what circumstances prevented you from qualifying for a policy now, and what those circumstances need to be in order to qualify in the future.
  • Application problems in the past don’t have to affect the future. Many people are declined or rated for coverage unnecessarily. They had applied with the wrong company, or were not effectively prequalified. If your broker can successfully account for these misdirected efforts, then they do not have to affect your eligibility for coverage going forward.

Your Insurability Must be Managed Closely

Managing insurability is part and parcel of financial planning.

Many times it takes specialized expertise to help a client become eligible for coverage.

The services of a life insurance specialist are key to the planning process.

How about you? Have you – or someone you know – tried to buy life insurance with a cancer history, especially breast cancer? How did it work out?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How Climbers & Divers Can Save Money

dreamstime_xs_30093945Greedy life insurance companies are NOT out to rip you blind.

Men and women who enjoy adventurous hobbies like scuba diving and rock-climbing do NOT have to pay an arm and a leg for coverage.

As a matter of fact, the rates charged can be surprisingly reasonable.

I know this contradicts everything you have been taught about big, bad insurance companies.

Bear with me as I give you the rest of the story.

Risk Less, Pay Less?

Writer Aubrey Cohen does a great job of explaining how people with adventurous hobbies are assessed for life insurance rates in Nerdwallet.

He asks the all-important question:

What happens when you retire from that activity?

When you bought life insurance, perhaps you had to pay more because you engaged in a dangerous hobby you’ve since given up. Or perhaps you’ve quit smoking in the years since you purchased your policy. Now that you’ve stopped, how can you get your insurance company to lower your premiums?

His inquiry gives us a good opportunity to explain further how premiums are set for “higher-risk” applicants, with regards to both lifestyle and also medical condition.

Here’s the big news:

Life insurance companies will be reasonable when assessing the level of risk you represent.

If you pose a lower risk, they will lower the rate.

Surprise!

How to Drop Your Premium

Nobody wants to overpay for anything, let alone life insurance.

If your lifestyle or medical condition changes so you could be eligible for a lower cost, there is a procedure available for you to do so.

Take heart!

You can save money when budgeting for your life insurance.

And – here’s the clincher – it is not true that completely dropping a risky habit/hobby is the best/only way to get better rates.

  • Very reasonable rates can be available for people who still enjoy the hobby. Life insurance companies specialize in the risks they underwrite. Some are strong for cardiac cases, others for diabetes cases, others are strong for rock climbers, while still others are strong for scuba divers. As a matter of fact, an underwriter with a very clear understanding of the hobby may not assess much comparatively extra premium at all.
  • Waiting periods are not always necessary for a rate reduction. If the broker provides proper perspective on the lifestyle change, an underwriter may provide a lower rate immediately. For example, if an avid rock climber retires due to a new child, the right underwriter may completely understand that he or she really doesn’t want to climb any more and put his family at risk. The rate reduction could be immediate.
  • Many companies will wait just 12 months after smoking cessation to allow for non-smoker rates. This would be proven by a written statement on the application, as well as a negative test for nicotine in a urine sample. It should also be noted that some companies actually specialize in smokers (this includes both tobacco and marijuana.) Depending on the amount used and frequency, non-smoker rates may actually be available!

How to Find a Good Rate

The life insurance industry is full of specialization and subspecialization.

The job of the broker is to find the underwriter who is the best match for a particular client.

A thorough prequalification process will accomplish this and give the client confidence that the rate quoted is the most competitive available, and also one at which he or she will be approved.

What do you think? Are you surprised that life insurance could be affordable for people with higher risks?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Drug Policy and Life Insurance

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-medical-marijuana-image24146929President Obama may be taking a less punitive approach in his drug policy.

Jacob Sullum reports in Reason.com that halfway into his last term, the president is apparently reconsidering the aggressive role the federal government has been playing in the war on drugs thus far.

Sullum mentions a number of options, including clemency, that are being reviewed. Yet, he feels that the most noteworthy potential change in policy deals with the balance of power in our country:

If none of those things happens, Obama’s most significant drug policy accomplishment may be letting states go their own way on marijuana legalization. Even if our next president is a Republican drug warrior, he will have a hard time reversing that decision, especially given the GOP’s lip service to federalism.

The possibility of using executive clemency to free thousands or even hundreds of incarcerated drug offenders would certainly create controversy.

I am sure hard-liners would be concerned about a possible weakening of deterrence from drug-related misdeeds. Soft-liners would mention the eased burden on our criminal justice system.

Speaking as a life insurance salesman, I would talk about the potential for more clients!

People in jail find it virtually impossible to get coverage. People out of jail can get great rates. (Whether or not they are on probation or parole would, of course, be a consideration.)

I also think that leniency for drug use at the federal level would result in more lenient underwriting on people that do use recreational drugs. The illegality of marijuana, etc., often poses an obstacle in qualifying for a policy.

Needless to say, any deleterious health impact drug use has would pose additional difficulty.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Why Do People Lie About Their Smoking?

It is well-known that insurance applications ask about the smoking of tobacco. Here is an example:

1 Do you use tobacco in any form? 2 If yes, what type of product(s) have you used? 2a Cigarette? 2b Cigar ? 2c Pipe? 2d Smokeless? 3 Are you currently using a nicotine delivery system? 4 Has the proposed insured used nicotine in the past 12 months?

It is also well known that smokers can pay twice the price (or more!) as non-smokers. Clearly, there is a big financial incentive to get non-smoker rates.

So do people lie about their smoking when they apply for life insurance? Take a guess.

The answer is yes, many do. A recent study James Palmier, MD, of Quest Diagnostics shows that not only do people lie, but most of the lying takes place within specific groups of people: males below age 30 and above age 60, who reside in certain states, and who purchase face amounts of $500,000 and higher.

Why is that? Here is one explanation provided by Dr. Palmier:

A possible reason behind these findings (other than overt misrepresentation) may be that young adults self-identification as users remains ambivalent, while in old ages, embarrassment from non-compliance with medical orders to abandon the nicotine habit mounts.

So younger people aren’t quite sure if they consider themselves smokers – even if they do smoke – and older people don’t want to admit it because their doctor had told them to stop.

Can all this misrepresentation effect the rates for life insurance? Dr. Palmier says yes, indeed, it can:

While the majority of biochemically confirmed tobacco users accurately report their status (self-reporting sensitivity is 80.7%), the remaining large minority of false-negative self-reporting cases would be more than sufficient to undermine the pricing assumptions of most life insurance products if accepted as truthful by underwriters.

It’s pretty simple: underwriters are basing rates on what they believe to be truthful disclosures by applicants. Unfortunately, so many smokers are not being truthful that these assumptions are thus being undermined. So what would happen then? Very possibly a huge rate increase when your term policy renews, as well as a huge increase in new business rates for new applicants.

They say that the truth hurts, but in this case, the untruth can hurt more. What do you think about this situation?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Who Should Decide What New Drugs You Take?

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is very serious. It is virtually a diagnosis of terminal illness. As such, life insurance underwriters typically do not make offers. A few guaranteed-issue products that are good for burial money could be available in some states. In other instances, the patient might be eligible for a group term product with no underwriting. That is about it for life insurance options.

It is one of those diseases that has caught our attention because of its namesake, Lou Gehrig. It is the subject of continuous scientific inquiry to come up with treatments that can prolong survival, and maybe even cure it.

The federal government asserts control over what new medications enter the marketplace. They have their reasons for allowing and not allowing drugs into our hands. It unfortunately cannot be said that every decision they make is in the best interest of the public. Isn’t it in the nature of a bureaucracy to cover itself whenever possible?

Such a mentality could deprive people of treatments that can make them better. They could live longer, they could live healthier – and they could buy life insurance. If you have a good, sound reason to believe a drug would help you, should the government stop you from buying it?

Walter E Williams is a professor of economics and a political commentator. He writes about the FDA holding up clinical trials that have considerable promise for people with ALS. My reading of his article is that the FDA really has no good reason to prevent this. Take a look at what he says. What do you think?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

“Can I Get Life Insurance With a Criminal Record?”

Throughout my career in the life insurance industry, I have come across an amazing number of people with a criminal record. Some examples include:

  • a male teacher having sex with a (willing but technically underage) girl (and not his student);
  • a pharmacist who became addicted to painkillers, stealing from his store’s inventory;
  • a business owner who had hung out with the wrong, drug-running crowd in his younger days;
  • a businessman caught up in a racketeering crackdown because he made an innocent mistake with cash;
  • an attorney busted for possession of cocaine during his frenetic law school days;
  • a corporate executive arrested for assault after he and his wife were mugged.

The arm of the law is indeed long, and I think sometimes it is too long. Some of these folks had it coming, but others were caught up by government agents, cops, or prosecutors with an agenda – and wound up with a criminal record. (My own opinion is that the vast amount of time in America, the law works to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty – but that is a topic for another post.)

As a life insurance broker, my job is to get people coverage. This involves addressing the concerns life insurance companies have about people with a criminal record. Carriers know that jails and prisons can be dangerous places, and want to be confident you won’t end up there again. If you had been running with the wrong crowd, they want to know you have upgraded your choice of friends. If prior addictions led you to criminal activity, they want to be sure you have turned the corner. If you unfortunately were victimized by “the man,” they just want to see that your life is back on track.

The fact of the matter is that things happen. The extent to which you have stayed straight or become straight goes a long way towards making you insurable. A stable family life, a successful business, a growing career, and community involvement are all indications of someone who stays away from trouble. They can encourage a life insurance company to want your business.

Do you have blemishes on your criminal record that need some polish?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

“Can My Child Get Life Insurance – Without Vaccinations?”

Epidemic and pandemics are of great concern to life insurance companies. Diseases that can significantly increase the probability of early death or disability are watched like oncoming cyclones. Emerging cultural attitudes and changes in public medical policy are noted for their impact on the health – and insurability – of the population.  A good example of this is the current issue surrounding vaccinations.

The hot debate about vaccinations has become very interesting, spurring many questions: Will so many people opt out that dangerous diseases become widespread? Will enough people opt in so that the number of people that do become infected has minimal impact? Must the government take charge and force people to comply?

Reason magazine has a superb debate here on the topic, “Should vaccines be mandatory?” It shows all sides of the arguments surrounding vaccinations.

This issue is personal to me. I have a family relative who contracted polio as a child. Thankfully, he beat it and grew to live a long life as an able-bodied adult. He was one of the fortunate children who survived. As recently as sixty years ago, thousands of children per year died from this most-feared disease. But in 1955, the US began widespread vaccinations. By 1979, the disease had been virtually eliminated.

It is worth mentioning that measles are making a comeback, especially among groups who do not get vaccinations due to religious or philosophical beliefs.

The lack of vaccinations against serious disease is an important factor to consider in the health, longevity, and insurability of our children.

What do you think is best for your children?

 

 

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Is It Hard for Seniors to Get Life Insurance?

The world of medical technology never ceases to amaze. New and improved diagnostic studies, procedures, and lab tests are constantly being invented. As you can imagine, life insurance companies eagerly avail themselves of these tools. They want to make as thorough and accurate an assessment as possible of an applicant’s mortality. This is true for all ages of potential clients, and is especially true for seniors.

New Tests Mean New Hope for Seniors

I have seen verbal exercises employed to evaluate cognitive functioning. I have also seen blood tests performed to measure heart impairment. As insurance carriers keep coming up with these, I keep rooting them on. Why? Because I know that such deep knowledge could make an underwriter comfortable in offering a low rate. It could certainly give me a strong foundation for advocating hard for leniency.

Then again, such scrutiny may indicate that candidates are really not eligible for coverage at this time. It may even show that their health is not really as good as their doctors claim. Doctors tend to lapse into a “let’s see what happens” approach. On the other hand, life insurance underwriters have to put their money where their mouth is, and so tend to be highly scrupulous in their risk assessment. There have been many times when I have given a potential applicant news about their health and encouraged them to seek a second opinion. Then, when their condition has been stabilized, they can come back with the exact information I need to advocate once again for a low rate.

For Seniors, Knowledge is Power

When it comes to your health, knowledge can be power, and more knowledge can give you more power. This is especially true for seniors whose medical history can pose a number of underwriting challenges. The more underwriters know, the more opportunities they have to make favorable risk assessments.

For more insights into how industries are accommodating seniors, read here.

 

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“I Survived Sexual Abuse. Can I Get Life Insurance?”

021030-N-0967W-020Michael Reagan, the eldest son of Ronald Reagan, recently disclosed to the world that he is a survivor of sexual abuse as a child.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while helping survivors of abuse to get life insurance, it’s that it is hard enough to come to grips with your own trauma.

It is double hard to do so as the son of a celebrity – indeed of the former president of the United States. To do so publicly, as a noted columnist and radio talkshow host, takes enormous bravery.

I salute Mr. Reagan.

I wish all survivors could have his courage.

Many of them seem to be out there.

Over the past few months we’ve heard claims of a pedophile ring among Hollywood bosses.

Budding actors and actresses seem to always have to “sleep their way to the top,” but the predation on children makes it all especially sinister.

Sexual Abuse Isn’t Unique to Hollywood

But we can’t kid ourselves into believing that all the bad things happen only in the show business world. The facts speak for themselves: as many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused in their childhood. In a country of 300+ million people, the victims would count in the millions. They are not all in celebrity parties. They are in the homes of our neighbors, in our schools, and in our religious institutions.

Many of them are now grown up and trying to live normal and decent lives. They do their best at not letting their wounds interfere with their relationships and careers. They start families, take on mortgages, form businesses.

And so they try to buy life insurance. Is it easy? Actually it does not have to be that hard. Let me tell you the story of one client.

Drug Abuse and Depression

She called me a number of years ago to ask if I can get a policy for someone with a history of depression. I answered that generally I could, but whether or not I could help her depended on the particulars of her case. We started a dialogue.

In the course of our conversation I learned of the prior history of drug and alcohol abuse. There had been some rough patches, treatments, and relapses. She very clearly had been fighting to control the dark forces that had been haunting her. As we spoke further I realized that the drugs and alcohol were really her attempts at self-medicating for depression. She thought so too, and acknowledged that the official diagnosis and treatment of depression enabled her to finally dropped the drugs.

Depression and Sexual Abuse

But what had caused the depression in the first place? It was then that she shared a bit of her troubled childhood, and of the sexual abuse she had suffered. The trauma finally took its toll when she was a young adult and that’s when the depression symptoms started. Clearly, it had been a long, tough struggle for her to finally come to grips with that experience and not let it drive her life.

But what a great story it was! She had gone from childhood sexual abuse victim, to troubled teen, to out-of-control depressive and substance abuser, to compliant medical patient with a stable history and flourishing life. And as a testimony to her triumph, she qualified for very good life insurance rates.

The stories of sexual abuse survivors, although fraught with tragedy, can be inspiring.

Whose brave tales have you heard?

 

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Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

“What If I ‘Lie’ On My Insurance Application?”

liedetectorA recent court case in Colorado illuminates one potential problem when a life insurance application contains erroneous information.

Here are the facts:

  1. A life insurance agent miswrote the age of the insured/applicant on the application. He made her six years younger than she really was.
  2. The applicant/insured reviewed and sign the application.
  3. She subsequently passed away, and the beneficiary filed a claim.
  4. In processing the claim, the insurance company realized the error. They paid the beneficiary a reduced amount based on the actual age and premium collected.
  5. The beneficiary sued them on the grounds that the mistake was unintentional.
  6. A court ruled that the misstatement of age did not have to be intentional in order for the company to reduce the benefit. They did this as per the terms of the contract, which were written according to state law.

What we learn from this:

Misstatement of age can be such a common mistake that life insurance policies have provisions to handle that. Whether or not the mistake was intentional is irrelevant.

Less common misrepresentations may not be so cleanly handled. Nondisclosure of medical conditions or treatment, or of lifestyle risks such as adventurous hobbies, could result in the refusal to pay a claim.

Prequalification is essential for ensuring full disclosure by the potential applicant. After going through prequalification, all parties involved can sleep at night knowing that erroneous information will not come back to haunt the beneficiary.

Are you 100% sure you went through full disclosure on your life insurance application?

 

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Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Can I Get life Insurance With A Selfie Obsession?

People are going crazy with selfies. President Obama raised quite a stir with his selfie at Nelson Mandella’s memorial service. Then, baseball star David Ortiz raised a ruckus with his selfie at the White House. All harmless fun, however inappropriate.

But there is unfortunately a serious side to the this phenomenon. Some people are literally going crazy with them. As reported by Rebecca Savastio in Liberty Voice, selfies are now being linked to narcissism, mental illness, addictions and suicide. She refers to the tragic case of …

a man diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder says he grew suicidal due to his addiction to taking selfies. Danny Bowman says he became so obsessed with trying to take the “right” selfie that he ended up shooting about 200 pictures a day while trying desperately to capture the perfect image of himself.

Wow. It sounds as if people can use some straight advice for using this technology without going overboard. Psychologist Pamela Rutledge makes some good points about this in her article for Psychology Today.

From a life insurance underwriting review, a selfie obsession could pose a new challenge. Let’s suppose the practice spins out of control, and medication or other forms of treatment become necessary. That could become an item the broker must address. The typical life insurance application has this question: “has the applicant been treated for chronic fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety, or any other emotional or psychological condition?”

If the answer is yes, then the broker must put that into proper perspective. The good news is that there are many underwriters who keep current on societal trends regarding mental illness. (I bet a number of them have a few selfies in their own phones). They should be willing to assess a very reasonable rate with the proper understanding.

Do you know people who have problems with selfies? Have they had trouble getting life insurance?

“Compare term life insurance rates at no cost from top rated companies in seconds.”

 

 

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Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What Do I Need to Know About Life Insurance for Older People?

A recent article in USA today states that older workers may still need life insurance. This is true. Here is what you need to know:

1. If your spouse is still dependent on your income, you will need life insurance for income replacement.

2. If you have incurred debts, such as a second mortgage, you will need life insurance so your spouse can pay those off.

3. If your pension distribution will terminate upon your demise, you will need life insurance so your spouse will not suffer the loss of that income.

4. Term insurance may be appropriate, but many times it is not. If you buy 10-year term insurance at age 70, how much higher do you think the price will be if you have to buy more insurance at age 80? Permanent insurance would avoid that problem

5. Remember that if you have insurance in force, but it is not needed by a family member, you can use it as a charitable bequest. Your favorite group that does good deeds would remember you as a hero.

6. These days, life insurance carriers specialize and even sub-specialize in population niches. Premiums can be very reasonable.

7. Specific needs for life insurance, such as estate preservation, might call for a joint policy with your spouse. Pricing here can be very economical.

Be sure to consult with a planner, and a broker who specializes in policies for older ages.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How to Get Life Insurance and Plan Your Estate

How to get life insurance and plan your estate? That was a topic recently discussed by two close friends and business owners. Ross, a 50-year-old manufacturing industry executive, sits down for lunch one day with long-time friend George, a 68-year-old small business owner now considering retirement. As they spent time catching up on each other’s lives, estate planning came up. Here, we listen in on their conversation.

“Yeah, I just came down here to visit my mother,” Ross shares with his long-time friend, George. “Sort of giving Courtney a little break, you know?” The pair met years before, when Ross walked into the offices of G & A Manufacturing, the most prominent and prestigious corporation in their industry. As a 21-year-old, fresh faced intern, Ross was at the bottom of the corporate ladder. George took a genuine interest in him, becoming first his mentor, and eventually his friend. Ross always appreciated George for his kindness in those early days; years later, he still sought him for important advice.

George nods in agreement, smiling. “Ah, yes. How’s Courtney these days?” he asked.

“Good. She’s real good. We’ve been working together day and night on the business to wrap it up for sale, as well as on our various charitable commitments. Sometimes when I talk to her, it’s easy to see she needs a break, so I take that four-hour trip down here to give her… what do women call it? A little ‘ME-time?’”

George chuckles a bit. “I know what you mean. So, is the buyer financing in place?”

Problem: taxation of wealth.

“Yeah, it is We are all set to close. Now I have to think about paying a hefty estate tax. My net worth is going to increase considerably, even after all taxes from the sale are paid. I need to make sure the kids can pay Uncle Sam after Courtney and I are gone.” George nods, prompting Ross to continue. “Having that heart attack two years ago really ‘woke me up’, George. So, I started looking for life insurance coverage as soon as I was released from the hospital. I had no IDEA how tough it would be! It’s like companies keep saying, ‘Nope. Not with this medical history.’”

George interjects, “Yeah, companies can be pretty stringent with their requirements these days. I had the same problem recently. I read about estate taxation in Denis Clifford’s estate planning book and started the process. I, too, sought to get a policy. Apparently by their standards, at 68 with my health history, you’re an old geezer and nobody would take a chance on me.”

How to get a low rate with a history of serious illness?

Ross smiled at the joke, but the look of concern soon returned. “So, what do we do now?”

“Glad you asked,” George chimed right in, not missing a beat. “I asked some other buddies of mine who, like me, own small businesses, are looking toward retirement, and are trying to get their financials in order.”

Ross perked up, now sitting at the edge of his seat. “And what’d they tell you?”

Getting started.

“Well, it’s a little uncomfortable, so a lot of us put it off, Ross. But you need everything in writing, you know that. Have your attorneys draw up a will, as well as Power of Attorney, in case you’re sick and can’t tell your family what you want.”

“Okay,” Ross replied. “What about the life insurance?” He looked glum. “I really would rather my kids not have to sell properties just to pay a tax bill!”

How to get life insurance and plan your estate? It takes the right broker.

“They won’t have to!” exclaimed George. “My buddies referred me to a broker who specializes in tough cases. He can help you, Ross — I’m gonna recommend you to him. Listen, he knows how to choose the right carrier. He’ll fight to get it done for you, even if you’ve had problems before. Plus, he is licensed in 48 states, so if you and Courtney decide to retire to Florida to be closer to family, you won’t have to find a new agent.”

“Wow, George! I knew I could count on you. I’ll give him a call today.”

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What insurance is available for an elder with spreading cancer?

font-illustration-letter-q_MJMrdDjdMy eighty-year-old mother has been in a nursing home for a few years. After an aid noticed blood on her undergarments and found her chest to be discolored and deformed, she was sent to an oncologist – who then discovered a huge mass on her breast and diagnosed her with breast cancer. The scan showed that it has begun spreading into her bones. On top of it all, she’s a smoker! According to the oncologist, her life expectancy is approximately two years. Is there any insurance available for her, besides guaranteed issue whole life, which does not require medical exams or the answering of health questions?

[Read more…]

 

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Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.