To get on an underwriter’s good side, submit an application that gives them a full picture of the client.
“If there is full disclosure on something, and a good field agent stated, ‘We saw this issue; we’ve addressed it; this is the answer,’ then that helps the underwriter get to their answer quicker and there’s less pushback,” said Curtis Keehr, director of life underwriting at Prudential Financial. “The more of a full picture you can get upfront, the better. What the underwriter likes to see on a case is when any of those questions they may have are getting answered quickly.”
Keehr has read cover letters that go on about the applicants’ family history, their status as an upstanding member of the community, how they grew their business and their philanthropic activity. He’s seen some that go on for a full page in that manner without addressing the tobacco use that was admitted in the medical records or other red flags.
“We’re not underwriting morals or anything like that. We’re underwriting health history and financials,” he said. “Do cover letters help? Absolutely. If there’s anything that’s questionable in their financial history, for example, a letter saying that they’re philanthropic could help solidify the financial picture. In general, cover letters are welcome, but the purpose of a good letter is to address any hurdles right off the bat.”
Being transparent about your applicant’s red flags rather than circumventing those conditions by not providing answers helps the underwriter have more faith in the responses they’re getting from the advisor. “They get a lot more buy-in from underwriters when they’re hitting things head on,” Keehr said.
This was excerpted from the January/February 2024 Round the Table article “Lead with transparency.”