Educate prospects with pre-existing conditions

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.netOpinion

By Anthony Vossenberg for LifeHealthPro.com. Anthony Vossenberg is the senior vice president of Life & Annuities at Genworth Financial.

With recent medical advances and increasingly sophisticated underwriting practices, a number of pre-existing health conditions that may have previously discouraged individuals from considering life insurance are no longer necessarily a barrier to obtaining preferred rates. Unfortunately, dated misconceptions about what exactly “healthy” means when it comes to finding an affordable life insurance policy still exist, even as the number of uninsured adults in the United States continues to rise. In fact, according to Genworth’s 2012 LifeJacket Study, 52 percent of the entire U.S. adult population is uninsured — up from 51 percent in 2011. This includes many of those living with relatively common health ailments.

The LifeJacket Study looked into a number of commonly diagnosed conditions that are often thought of as barriers to insurability. They included anxiety, asthma, depression, high cholesterol, hypertension, weight problems and sleep apnea. The research found that a sizeable portion of respondents with each of these self-reported ailments remains uninsured.

The good news is that affordable insurance options are out there, and agents and advisors have the opportunity to better educate and serve these uninsured populations  — and thus turn them into policyholders. Here are a couple key observations that may be helpful in order to better understand today’s consumer.

Mental obstacles

Oftentimes, insurability is a mental obstacle for consumers who are diagnosed with health conditions. Individuals with ailments such as anxiety or asthma frequently assume they will simply be denied during the life insurance application process — discouraging them from applying in the first place. It is important that these groups understand that gathering enough facts to make a well-informed decision is part of a good financial strategy. Advisors can help move clients past this hurdle by showing them there are affordable options, regardless of their ailments, and by asking questions about how their clients are managing their conditions.

Understanding the process

In addition to mental obstacles, those with pre-existing conditions often avoid the insurance application process because they do not want to share their personal health records or answer uncomfortable questions. They see the process of applying and buying life insurance as more trouble than it is worth. A good agent will ensure they understand the process.

Fortunately, for many who live with pre-existing health conditions, many ailments are no longer a barrier to obtaining affordable life insurance. Agents and advisors can help better serve these groups by understanding the mindset of today’s consumers. Financial professionals have a critical role to play in helping convert the growing group of uninsured Americans to policyholders — and moving toward closing the nation’s growing coverage gap.

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