In todays quick-paced insurance market, home office underwriters rarely receive personal letters with applications. Because they dont, many special risk clients who could have received much-needed life insurance are denied coverage.

It doesnt have t be that way. An explanatory letter, written by the producer on the applicants behalf, provides the underwriter with a clearer picture of the applicants situation. It also provides the applicant with his or her best shot at affordable coverage and injects much-needed personal attention into the insurance underwriting practice.

Such letters are a substitute for talking to the home office on behalf of your clients. It gives you the opportunity to elaborate on specific conditions. You can also include information about the applicants family health history that the app has not asked forinformation volunteered by the client that might help determine whether the person will become insured.

For these reasons, its a good idea for the agent to write these letters in collaboration with the client. This helps you verify the information and elaborate where needed.

Doing so means you are functioning as a true field underwriter, garnering all the information you can from the client and going above-and-beyond by asking for further details about the persons lifestyle, individual and family history.

Often, during your client interview, youll find much more information–sometimes very valuable datathan has been requested on the app.

When you think about it, that is not surprising. An application has insufficient information to describe anyones health history. We live in a medically complex world and an application alone doesnt address the issues to assess ones health properly. Everyone is different. Life expectancy is longer; more people are taking care of themselves; and genetics increasingly are seen as playing a large role in individual health (for instance, the medical history of grandparents, aunts and uncles are important as well as that of parents).

Therefore, agents need to look at an individuals lifestyle, diet and family history, and other details that may not be referenced in an application. Then, if the additional information seems significant, they should include it in a letter to the home office underwriting department.

Consider this. During a check-up, a doctor asks about lifestyle, diet and exercise in order to determine ones health. Insurance companies do not, as a rule, do that.

Yet it stands to reason that you, as an agent–along with those evaluating the risk at the home office underwriting department–should have an accurate portrayal of the applicant to better assess that persons eligibility for coverage.

For example, if your client is overweight, and his family is overweight but living a long healthy life, note both details on the record. This will give the underwriters more to go on.

Sending letters with applications is long overdue. They will often shorten the underwriting cycle and get special risks–many of whom have been given a clean bill of health by their doctor or are well on their way to recoverythe coverage they need and deserve.

Paul P. Aniskovich is president and CEO of U.S. Financial Life, a Cincinnati, Ohio member of The MONY Group Inc. His e-mail is usfli@mail.usfli.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 12, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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