I recently applied for a new life insurance policy but was shocked to learn I would not receive a Super Preferred rating.
I had been fortunate, up to this point, to always do well on physical exams and other routine medical checkups. A good diet, regular exercise, generally good sleep and a positive attitude kept me in pretty good shape for my middle age years. I therefore had no concerns with the paramed exam, a routine exam typical when applying for life insurance. The nurse told me she would draw some blood with nothing else that I hadn’t experienced before from an annual physical. She came in the early evening after working all day at a local student health clinic. There was nothing unusual about the visit which took about 15-20 minutes. Soon after she left, I finished cooking dinner and soon forgot all about it.
Two weeks later, I received notification that I had been approved at Preferred rates. It didn’t hit me until I saw the quoted premium at a 26% increase over a previous quote. What happened?
The explanation was that I had elevated lipids. My mind raced: what is a lipid? why had this never shown up in previous exams? am I getting sick? I also knew that I would not want a lower rating on my permanent record at the Medical Information Bureau (MIB – a system that checks past medical records during the life insurance process for accuracy). I knew I had to fight it.
I explained to the insurance agent that this was unexpected; had never been an issue before and, if I decided to accept the policy, when could I be retested. The agent said she would reach out to see if we could get the test results since not all insurance companies release them. She would also find out about retesting. She cautioned me however: what doctors consider normal range may be different than what insurance companies consider. My hope sunk. I also told the agent, if I could prevent it, I would not accept anything less than Super Preferred on my rating.
A few days later, the agent asked the underwriter if I had fasted before the blood test. She found out I had not (which was true). She went on to say that since I was not fasting and my lipid levels were only mildly elevated, the company would approve me at Super Preferred. I was told that the insurance companies do not often change their ratings.
What did I learn? One, if you feel something isn’t quite right about your medical testing or results, you should speak up. Two, a good insurance agent is your advocate through this process and reviewing your entire application from start to finish is their job. Three, sometimes a little push back may work in your favor. While I don’t really know why my rating was changed, I also knew I did not need this rating or the policy. I was willing to not accept their decision and maybe apply again later or maybe not.
The life insurance application process isn’t perfect and there is room for interpretation of results. Be informed on how the process works.