Protection Products

Ask an Underwriter: What’s the big deal with a little extra weight?


For every life insurance policy, underwriting begins with three basics: build, blood pressure and lab results. Positive findings can speed the process for you and your clients, and result in better rates and lower premiums … so if general health and wellness aren’t incentive enough, maybe the potential for less hassle and lower costs could entice them to get in shape. 


Why Wellness Matters

Insurance carriers acknowledge and reward healthy lifestyle choices. Many have adopted crediting methodologies which empower their underwriters to seek out opportunities to improve your client’s rate class based on things such as regular exercise, sustaining a healthy diet, being a lifetime nonsmoker or simply partaking in preventative medical visits, including appropriate screenings.  

Most of the impairments we see stem from a breakdown in basic health. In a nation where obesity is prevalent, it’s common to see many long-term complications of being overweight, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and even depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control, even modest weight loss, such as 5-10 percent of total body weight, can produce healthy benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar – which can in turn improve underwriting results. 

Don’t let your clients be discouraged by the numbers, however. If they are only a few pounds from the next best rate class, underwriters will take into consideration whether they are truly making strides toward living a healthier life.  


Not All Loss is Equal

We see many clients with a history of gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, which is usually rapid. However, underwriters must look at the time period post-surgery to confirm the weight loss is steady and maintained. We also look closely at lab results after these types of surgeries to make sure there isn’t any concern with malnutrition or malabsorption. 

A better approach is slow and steady weight loss that includes a healthy diet and exercise. When you lose weight this way, you’re more likely to keep it off and cause less trauma to your body. 


Many Factors of Fitness

Of course, weight loss is only one component of health and fitness. Clients of any age can start a program for cardio conditioning, strength training, stretching, core balance, mental rest and relaxation, sleep, and healthy eating (after they consult their doctor, of course). Yoga, dance lessons or walking clubs are just a few examples of healthy choices for any client.  

You are never too old or out of shape to get started! Even clients who have been on medication for years can find their way to good health by starting with a few basic lifestyle changes that can also lead to better rates and lower premiums.  


About the Author

Rachel Landrum has been with Ash Brokerage more than eight years with an eye on a holistic approach to underwriting. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Purdue University, is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, has taken many LOMA exams and has passed all of the Academy of Life Insurance Underwriting exams. Health and fitness are an important part of her life, and she encourages everyone to start healthy habits no matter where they are in life.   


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