A recent client, a female age 35, that was clearly a Preferred Best rate classification on the outside was given a Standard by the underwriter. Not bad you might think, but the reason for the difference in the rate class is because her father, who was overweight, smoked and drank too much, had a heart attack at age 55 and died. Her reaction was, of course, “But I am not my dad!”.
Family History Counts!
Family history is often overlooked by clients and advisors as a factor in the underwriting process, but life insurance underwriters want to know about any hereditary diseases which exist in the family. This is the reason carriers will ask for medical information on the parents, siblings, and sometimes even grandparents. Do keep in mind the insurance companies aren’t looking for complete medical histories on a client’s family members; just the major risks. Primarily they are looking for diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease or stroke. They are also looking at the age of diagnosis or death as a factor.
A carrier underwriting guideline is going to read something like this:
- Preferred Best: Age 0-64, No cancer or coronary artery disease in either parent before age 60
- Preferred: Age 0-64, No death from cancer or coronary artery disease in either parent before age 60
- Standard: Age 0-64, Not more than one death of a parent due to coronary artery disease prior to age 60
Note: with the carrier referenced above, they do not take into consideration siblings, but some carriers do. Each carrier’s guidelines are slightly different and worth reviewing.
So why do the carriers care about family history?
Life insurance carriers take on risks to insure your client, someone they don’t know a whole lot about. Who knows if this person will develop a disease in the near future? Family history says a lot about a client and their health in the future. It is obviously not set in stone with some diseases, but it is certainly something to look out for.
But what about things like breast cancer and testicular cancer? These are very gender specific. There are carriers that will disregard gender specific cancers in the opposite sex, but not all! Carriers may also give clients credits for taking good care of their health, but not all!
Also, know that your client cannot be denied coverage due to family history; only based on their own medical history.
Knowing your client’s family history and which carriers are more favorable in certain areas can give you a competitive advantage. Prequalifying your client can also save you the embarrassment and hassle of their classification not being what was expected because of their family history. Let BBA Life help you get your clients with family health history to the right carrier the first time.