Matt Schmidt’s life wasn’t supposed to be in life insurance. Schmidt, a 35-year-old independent insurance agent working from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, suburbs said his career took a left turn when he was on the fast track to a financial services career.
Not that the career he ended up with is all that far removed from where he saw himself in high school. “In high school, I knew I wanted to get into this industry,” he says. “So I went to Kansas State University and graduated from the college of business with a degree in financial services.”
After an internship in the financial management firm where his father worked as an advisor, Schmidt interviewed with ten different financial firms in ten different cities. He landed a job at MetLife in northern Virginia, where he was trained well, he says.
Four years later, Schmidt, born and raised in the Midwest, returned to Kansas to work alongside his father. “The original plan was for me to transition and take over his book of business.”
Yet before that happened, his father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. It was when Schmidt tried helping his father with estate planning that Schmidt realized his father’s options for life insurance were limited. The brokers the firm worked with said that with his father’s health profile, there were no life insurance options available to him.
That’s when Schmidt took up the search himself. After an exhaustive search, he found his father a policy. That should have been the end of the story. But for Schmidt, something was still bothering him about the situation. “We took our personal situation, multiplied it by the millions out there — people with diabetes — who are being told they can’t get it or they’re getting misinformation. That’s when this company took off.”
His company is Diabetes Life Solutions, an online-based agency that specializes in life insurance for people with diabetes. He formed it in direct response to his father’s experience, and he hopes to raise awareness among the diabetes community of the options that are available to them.
He himself is pre-diabetic. “I feel like I am part of this diabetes community, so I’m learning a lot about it. I’m only going on year five of really knowing what diabetes is. It’s an ever-changing thing. The technology, research and new medications out there is huge.”
He says one of the challenges of his job is simply staying on top of all the changes, particularly coming from the life insurance carriers. “Insurance companies are changing underwriting guidelines, which are more favorable to people in the diabetes community, so I have to keep up with these different companies and what these guidelines are.” He says at least once a month an insurer will change its guidelines.