Much like the relationship between the advisor and agent/broker, this one is based on integrity, competence, communication and confidence. A broker-general agent cultivates carriers and develops underwriting relationships over many years. Although friendships develop, these relationships are highly professional in the final analysis.

The BGA will diligently sort through prospective carriers to locate those that may express an interest in making a good offer. By the time a carrier’s underwriter is engaged with the case, it’s usually clear to the BGA there are one to three carriers that best fit the client’s needs and may make an appropriate offer.

When a case can be narrowed down this way, the BGA and the carriers are positioned for much more focused, productive conversations. The carriers understand they may get the case but must still have the best offer for that to occur. The BGA must have realistic, positive, creative and thorough discussions with the underwriters because this helps motivate the carrier.

When the BGA sends a carrier the attending physician statements, labs reports and medical exams, there are usually expectations as to the carrier’s response. Even so, the BGA prepares a proper presentation of the case. Based on experience, it’s the BGA’s job to know what is possible with a carrier, depending on their particular underwriting style, methodology, programs and reinsurance treaties.

The underwriter’s evaluation is a combination of art and science but mostly science. Underwriting decisions can vary widely from one carrier to another due to subjective factors. This is why the BGA and the advisor have the task of portraying clients so clearly that they “come alive” to the underwriter. The presentation should also include a cover letter from the producer that depicts a clear understanding of the client’s situation.

At the same time, the BGA’s cover letter can provide the medical background, a summary of important points, preliminary underwriting discussions and anything else that may be helpful in winning the case. This can also be useful for clarifying any concerns a company underwriter may have had about the case.

Specifically, the letters should portray the client with an active lifestyle, whenever possible, minimize medical conditions as appropriate and emphasize wellness points and treatments to maximize all possible credits.

This is a demanding task to say the least, involving careful research, astute evaluation, in depth analysis and a superior presentation of the client’s attributes in such a compelling manner that the carrier appreciates it as appropriately persuasive.

The life insurance process is always involved and lengthy, but even more so with impaired risk and difficult cases. Because these cases are often frustrating and stressful for everyone, including the client, the process can be worthwhile by recognizing the value of the three relationships of impaired risk underwriting.

Allan D. Gersten, CLU, ChFC, CFP, is the chairman, CEO and the chief Underwriter of First American Insurance Underwriters Inc, a Needham, Mass-based insurance brokerage firm. He has been in life insurance sales since 1969. He can be reached at (800) 444-8715 or agersten@faiu.com.