InsuranceNewsNet Magazine - February 2016

Page 38


29 Million Reasons to Learn About Diabetes Life Underwriting nowing facts such as what K kind of diabetes your prospect has or the date of onset can help find coverage a client didn’t think was possible. By Michael Horbal


ore than 29 million Americans have diabetes, 86 million more have prediabetes, and more than 1 million new cases will be diagnosed this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. What does this represent for you as an agent? Opportunity! Now is the time to learn about diabetes from an underwriting standpoint in order for you to serve your existing clients and to capture new market share.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia) resulting from the body’s inability to use blood glucose for energy, according to the American Diabetes Association. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly. With gestational diabetes, women experience high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. In order to work effectively in the diabetes marketplace, you will need to learn about the handful of companies that specialize in helping diabetics. As you learn about this market, you will discover that some companies are interested in covering only Type 2 diabetics, while others may specialize in covering Type 1. Field underwriting requires that you ask questions — lots of questions. Complete and accurate medical information about your client will yield better results when you quick-quote your clients to life 34

insurance companies. A quick quote is a summary of your client’s medical history that is sent to insurance companies for preliminary underwriting feedback. The availability and price of life insurance will depend on the answers to these questions.

OBTAIN OPTIMAL UNDERWRITING FOR DIABETICS What type of diabetes does your client have? How old were they when diagnosed and how long has it been since their diagnosis?

How well does your client control their diabetes? Is your client compliant with their doctor’s advice and recommendations?

What medications does your client take? Names, dosage and frequency are needed. Has your client had any diabetes-related complications?

Does your client have any other health issues? Since their diagnosis, what positive steps has your client taken to improve their health? At this point, you want to gather as much information as possible so that you can shop for your clients effectively. Reassure your clients that the more accurate the information they can provide to you, the better you will be able to help them. While many underwriting outcomes for diabetics will incur a table rating expense, getting your clients to the right company from the onset may save them a substantial amount of money. Remember that every table rating you save your

InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » February 2016

clients will save them about 25 percent in premium expense. Now that you have an understanding of the potential of the diabetes market, these additional details will allow you to hone your skills and develop your practice.

Type of Diabetes and Duration of Disease

Did you know that there are some life insurance companies that publish specific guidelines for diabetes underwriting? The guidelines provide you with detailed information about health conditions. The information is readily available from some insurance companies. These guidelines indicate potential underwriting outcomes based on the type of diabetes, age at policy issue, diabetes complications and the duration of time since the onset of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics pay more for life insurance than do Type 2 diabetics, assuming similar control of the disease. Gestational diabetes is a non-factor in underwriting, assuming all symptoms have disappeared after pregnancy. The duration of time that your client has had diabetes contributes to the underwriting rating they will receive. The younger they were at the time of onset, the higher the table rating will be. This becomes less of a factor for clients age 50 or older, assuming they have good control over their disease. For your clients who were recently diagnosed with diabetes, many companies want to see a minimum of six months of follow-up treatment and care before they will consider coverage. However, there are instances in which companies will consider covering a client within a few months of being diagnosed.

Diabetic Control

The hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is the single most critical lab result that life insurance underwriters look at when underwriting your diabetic clients. The HbA1c