This is one of these subjects that goes in several directions. Your doctor’s opinion can help you get the best possible life insurance rate. It can also bring your life insurance application to a screeching halt and if it ever comes down to who is right, the underwriter or your doctor, the answer can confound you.
We’ll start with the confounding question first since it comes up more often than the other two. “But my doctor says I’m doing fine.” ” My doctor says I have the heart of a 30 year old.” “My doctor would tell me if I had a problem with that.” Why would my doctor say there’s nothing to worry about when the life insurance underwriter obviously thinks I’m dying?” When I call someone and tell them that after reviewing their medical records the underwriters are approving them at a higher rate than we expected due to, say, a history of protein in the urine, I often hear one of the comments above. And I get it. If you’re suddenly looking at paying twice as much for your life insurance as you had anticipated, and your doctor has told you there’s nothing to worry about, well, that doesn’t make much sense.
It’s hard but it’s important to understand the difference between their respective jobs. It is your doctor’s job to treat you and make you feel good, both physically and emotionally about the future. A great way to lose patients and/or kill the morale of your patients would be end each appointment with a discussion about mortality. That, coupled with the fact that very few doctors have a good working knowledge of actuarial mortality assumptions. They may know what other things may occur if the protein in the urine persists or gets worse, but they are looking at you and you only and providing the most prudent treatment. They may have other patients with the same issue, which probably gives them some insight into the fact that not all patients work out the same, but they don’t have thousands of patients like you. That would be an eye opener.
Then they would see that this one had the same health problem and it just got worse and worse and he died at age 56 while this other clone of you lived to 90. Welcome to the world of the underwriter. My mother recently died at age 88 after smoking since she was 16. She never let up and in the end the doctors quit suggesting that she quit. They had no credibility on the subject with her because they had told her at age 45 that if she kept it up she would probably get lung cancer and never live to see her grandchildren, let alone her great grandchildren. The same doctor probably told some other 45 year old woman the same thing and she didn’t make it to age 50. Life insurance underwriters have access to those actuarial large numbers and understand that overall smoking does impact mortality or longevity and that my Mom was the exception to the norm.
Your doctor’s opinion can help you with a life insurance underwriter when they carefully document how good you are at complying with treatment. They can write cover letters to go with applications explaining why they think you have a better than average grip on and grasp of your health issue to support your opinion.
Your doctor’s opinion can bring your application to a screeching halt if you aren’t paying attention to it. If he is telling you what to do to take the best possible care of yourself, and you kind of go off in your own direction, underwriters call that medical non compliance and, believe me, they aren’t impressed. You either do what your doctor says, get the doctor to change his mind and document it or find another doctor with a different opinion that supports what you’re doing, called a second opinion.
Bottom line. Doctor and life insurance underwriters are the same page about the long term when it comes to how seriously you take your health. Both professions don’t give gold stars for poor compliance and control. Having said that, neither side is right all the time, so if you have questions or feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal from either life insurance underwriting or your doctor, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s find a solution.