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Life Health > Health Insurance

10 Tips for Delivering a Disability Insurance Policy with an Exclusion or Rating

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As an insurance professional, you know how hard it is to acquire new clients. When it comes to disability insurance, it can become even harder to place the business in force and keep the client satisfied after the underwriting process. In fact, approximately one-third of all disability insurance applications submitted to underwriting will come back with either a rating, exclusion, modification, or declination. This is both costly for the broker and frustrating for the client.

Here are 10 tips to help you place more business.

1. Create realistic expectations

It is important to let your client know from the start that the disability insurance underwriting process can be grueling, and that a high percentage of policies come back other than applied.

Ask your clients a lot of questions, and let them know if there are any potential problems. In most situations, the acceptance and rating will be up to the underwriter and individual circumstances – however, there are certain conditions, such as current treatment for anxiety and depression, that can cause an automatic decline for some companies.

Before you take your client down that path, do your research and let them know about any possible red flags. They may tell you they’re healthy without realizing that certain circumstances, such as seeing a chiropractor or therapist, may jeopardize their ability to purchase a disability insurance policy without a rating.

2. Explain the reasoning

Sometimes, clients don’t understand why certain behaviors or health conditions pose a risk. Explain disability risk factors to them. When it comes to the claims department, a depression diagnosis can be much more nebulous than a broken femur.

3. Screen your prospects

Ask your clients a ton of questions about their history before submitting an application. If you know your clients are seeking treatment or are taking medications, find out ahead of time from an underwriter how they might view this particular circumstance. This may vary from company to company. Do the legwork for your clients.

4. Over-deliver on client expectations

Some companies offer “preferred rates,” but actually approve less than 10 percent of all policies at those the preferred rates. When a policy filed with a company offering preferred rates comes back at a standard rate, the client may be upset, and it may make the policy even harder to deliver. Instead, show your client the more likely standard rates. If the policy comes back preferred, they will be even more satisfied.

5. Contact underwriters before you submit the application

Companies will allow you to submit the Part II medical portion of an application and review the information without submitting your client’s information into the Medical Information Bureau. This allows your client to test the water without creating a paper trail. Be sure not provide identifying information on the application, such as a last name.

6. Communicate with your client

It is important to keep your client informed throughout the underwriting process so they know what to expect. Keep them in the loop so they know you’re looking out for them. Sometimes, attending physician statements can take weeks to obtain. If you let the client know about the reason for the delay, then they may be able to call their physician’s office to expedite the process.

7. Explain the exclusion or rating

If your client’s policy comes back with an exclusion or a rating, it is important to call your client and explain exactly what will and won’t be covered in the event of a claim. The wording of the exclusion can sometimes be confusing for the client, so it’s important to offer a clear explanation and use examples.

8. Keep track of reconsideration period

Whenever a rating or exclusion is put on a policy, ask the underwriter when it can be reconsidered. Make sure you have a system for contacting your client at the appropriate time to allow them to apply for reconsideration, and for possible removal of the rating or exclusion.

9. If necessary, contest the rating

Sometimes, underwriters will come back with a rating that seems unreasonable. You know your clients better than the underwriters, and there may be extenuating circumstances that are not explained on the application. For instance, a client who strength trains to build muscle may be rated for body mass index. If the application didn’t ask about the client’s exercise regimen, the underwriter will only be looking at the height/weight ratio with no explanation for why it’s off.

10. Add increase options for healthy clients

Even if your client is healthy, it’s important for them to be aware that disability insurance underwriting can be difficult. Even a slight change in health, occupational class, or lifestyle can change their insurability. Therefore, it is important to add an option for your clients to increase their policies in the future without further underwriting – especially if they are young and have a great earning potential.

Jamie Fleischner is president of Set for Life Insurance. For more information, visit


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