Underwriting Process for the Consumer

At some point in our lives, we will apply for insurance; whether life insurance, health insurance, disability income, long-term care. And we will have to be underwritten.

Underwriting by definition is the process large financial firms put their applicants through to determine if they are eligible for the benefits and policies they have requested.

For many, it is a daunting process. Based on the amount of benefit and the type of insurance we are applying for Insurance companies can access our medical records, our driving records, call us on the phone, even have a nurse come out to draw our blood.

In this article are the various processes you may encounter when you submit an application for insurance.

The Application

Regardless of what type of policy you apply for, you will invariably need to answer a series of medical questions. These questions can range from any current symptoms you may currently be experiencing to your full medical history. To make this process of medical questioning go smoother, and even for your own benefit, if you are taking medications, write them all down on a piece of paper: what they are, what they are for, what quantity are you taking, how often do you take them, and who is the Doctor that prescribed them.

Also, if you have had any medical procedures/surgeries in the last five years or any scheduled for the future. No matter how minor, you will need information pertaining to them as well. Again, write them on a piece of paper detailing what the procedure/surgery was for, the dates of the procedure, what was your diagnosis to warrant the procedure, who was your Physician, how long did you receive treatment after the procedure and how are you doing now?

The Telephone Interview

The telephone interview really isn't a big deal. It is a representative of the Insurance Company calling to re-ask some of the questions on the application. Be patient. Even though you have already answered them, sometimes people forget a procedure they had several years ago, or forgot they were going to replace their insurance at work with this new policy. The Insurance Company just wants to make sure they haven't missed anything or that you didn't by mistake forget anything during the application process.

Nurse Exam

This is probably the part that makes most people nervous. Depending on the amount of insurance you are applying for a nurse may just run a simple cotton swab in your mouth, up to blood draws and resting EKG's.

Some tips to get you through each segment of the exam:

Cotton swab

Make sure you haven't eaten anything right before the exam, and if you have, be sure to rinse your mouth out. Warn the nurse if you have a gag reflex, but typically they run the swab along the inside of your cheeks.

Urine sample

– The urine specimens check for many things, proteins, sugars, nicotine, certain types of infections, including HIV/AIDS. Your best bet is to drink a glass of water ½ hour prior to the nurse arriving. Don't overdo it or you will be uncomfortable. The nurse will tell you how much she needs though usually it is only a tiny amount. Another tip – if you schedule your nurse exam for first thing in the morning, get up and go to the bathroom; then drink your glass of water. During the night, our bodies release toxins and pollutants; you do not want this to be the sample the nurse takes back to the insurance company.

Blood draw

Blood draws are becoming more and more common. Some companies may require you to fast, so schedule your appointment for first thing in the morning if that is their requirement. If you need to eat something, make it something light like strawberries, a glass of milk or orange juice, an egg, something like that. Try to avoid the bid pancake breakfast with 8 slices of bacon. The blood draws are done to check for cholesterol levels, sugar levels, liver enzymes, abnormal blood cell counts and a few other normal body functions and infections.

Most nurses will require two tubes, so be patient. They perform blood draws all day long and are typically very quick and painless with it. Another tip- it is common for people to be on various diets, especially towards the beginning of the year and around summer, which is also when many people decide to apply for insurance. Some diets can affect your cholesterol and/or sugar levels. For example, if you are on a low carb diet, you can eat any type of fatty meat you want, try to avoid high fat meats at least 24 hours prior to the exam. Opt for lean chicken or fish so that you do not have the excessive fat floating around in your blood, which can skew your results. Also let the nurse know if you are on such a diet, that way if your cholesterol is a teeny bit high, they will have an explanation for it.

Resting EKG

This part of the exam is only done if you are applying for higher amounts of insurance or if you are above a certain age. It is painless I assure you. Some nurses will have you lie on the floor or lean back on a couch. Keep this in mind when you schedule your exam as you probably would not want to lay on the floor with your shirt open at work. The nurse will place a series of sticky pads with small wires attached to various places on your chest.

Men, if you have a lot of hair on your chest, she may need to shave a little off. The most discomfort this will cause is a little itchiness as it grows back. This exam is performed to see heart rhythms and check for any murmurs and abnormal functions. The only tip I can offer is to be calm. Try to take deep relaxing breaths. When we are excited, our heart rates can be a little sporadic. Try not to panic; the exam will be over with in a moment.

For many, the underwriting process can be confusing and scary. This article is meant to give you a few tips to calm your nerves and help you understand the process. It is not a pass or fail grade. It is simply a snap-shot of your current health to help the insurance company determine how much insurance you will ultimately qualify for.

(*This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not replace discussing your individual needs with your local Insurance Representative.)

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