Helpful tools, videos and articles for every life stage

Underwriting FAQ

  • What is insurance underwriting?

    "Underwriting" is a term that is used by insurance companies that describes the insurance company’s process for reviewing and approving, modifying, or rejecting your life insurance application.

  • What does and underwriter do?

    An "underwriter" is a person who is specially trained in evaluating risks of life insurance policy applicants and who assigns the "correct" rate classification for SBLI.

  • What are the steps in the insurance underwriting process?

    Step 1: A medical exam

    When you apply for life insurance with SBLI, you'll be required to have a paramedic examination. The results from this examination help our underwriters determine your health status. Within a few days, you'll be contacted by a trained paramedic examiner who will give you specific instructions – like whether or not you can eat or drink before the exam.. The paramedic will come to a place that's convenient for you (your home, your office or other location) to conduct the examination.

    During the exam, the paramedic will:

    • Draw blood from your arm;
    • Collect a urine sample;
    • Determine your height and weight;
    • Check your pulse and blood pressure;
    • Depending on the amount of coverage you need, possibly complete an EKG (electrocardiogram)

    The exact steps of your exam will depend upon your age, past health history, family history and the amount of insurance that you're applying for. Some of the things you’ll be tested for are cholesterol levels, glucose levels, red and white blood cell counts. SBLI will also test your blood for the antibody to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and for the presence of drugs and/or nicotine.

    Step 2: Analysis of the exam results

    SBLI will have your blood and urine samples analyzed by one of our approved labs. The analysis is important to determine if additional steps or tests are needed to make an underwriting decision. The underwriter that is assigned to your case will receive these confidential results. You will be given a copy of all of the important disclosure documents that detail your rights and SBLI's privacy policies related to how we handle your health and other information.

    Step 3: Gathering information from the MIB Group, Inc. (MIB)

    As part of the underwriting process, SBLI will gather information from the MIB Group, Inc. (MIB)

    . The MIB is comprised of a large group of U.S. and Canadian life insurance companies whose primary purpose is to detect and deter fraud that may occur when someone applies for insurance. By partnering with MIB, SBLI avoids fraudulent insurance applications and the costs of unexpected claims. These savings to us can then passed down to our customers in the form of lower premiums.

    All insurance companies will send your information to MIB in the same manner as SBLI does. Your information will be retained by MIB and will be part of a confidential database used by all insurance companies – the companies have no choice but to send the information to MIB.

    Step 4: Gathering information from your primary physician (and possible other physicians you have utilized)

    Based upon the information provided on your application – as well as the results of your paramedic exam and the information included in the MIB record – a SBLI underwriter may request additional information from your primary physician. SBLI will ask you to sign a release form that allows SBLI to contact your physician(s) and obtain copies of your medical records. All of your information will be treated as "confidential".

    Step 5: Getting a decision

    When all of the data is collected, a decision can be made. At the end of the underwriting process, you will be determined to be either:

    1. Approved: This means your life insurance application has been accepted! Your coverage will take effect on the date it was approved by SBLI, subject to the payment of your first premium and your good health on that date.
    2. Modified: Your life insurance application will be accepted once you agree to any modification(s) offered by SBLI. We may change the amount of coverage, the premium rate class, or alter some of the benefits, due to a medical condition or hobby.
    3. Declined: Your medical condition, based on your medical history and all of the information gathered by the SBLI underwriter, falls outside the established range of insurability for the SBLI life insurance policy you applied for. Or, the amount of coverage you are requesting is greater than your financial need. SBLI will send you a letter explaining the reasons your request was declined.
    4. Filed Inactive/Postponed: This means we don’t have all of the information we have requested, and are unable to make a decision on this case. SBLI will send you a letter telling you what information is outstanding. If you are able to get this information to underwriting in a timely manner we may be able to reopen the case and give you a decision. In some cases, depending on the amount of time that has passed, additional requirements may be needed.
  • How does SBLI obtain my medical records?

    Based upon the information provided on your life insurance application - as well as the results of your paramedic exam and the information included in the MIB record - an underwriter may request additional information from your primary physician. SBLI will ask you to sign a release form that allows SBLI to contact your physician(s) and obtain copies your medical records. All of your medical information will be treated as confidential.

  • That’s a lot of information that SBLI will have about me. How do I know this information is secure?

    Rest assured that your privacy is of the utmost importance to SBLI. We have policies and procedures in place that ensure your information is only handled by authorized SBLI personnel. The security of your information is something that SBLI takes very seriously. To see a copy of our privacy statement click here.

  • How long does the underwriting process take?

    It depends on the amount of information that the SBLI underwriter needs to gather and how quickly SBLI receives the information from outside sources, and how much assistance you can be to gather the data needed to make the decision. Occasionally, SBLI will ask you to request information in hopes that you can get providers to act faster then they have. On average, the process usually takes about a month from start to finish.

  • What can I do to help speed up the process?

    It helps the SBLI underwriters immensely if your application includes all of the required information. The process moves much more quickly when we have everything we need and we don't have to go back and ask you for additional information. Providing specific doctor information – full name, addresses, specialty, and phone numbers – on all doctors that you have used in the past is particularly helpful. Your correct social security numbers, driver's license, exact height and weight, meeting with the Paramedic as scheduled, and signature on all forms are helpful too.

  • Will I be approved at the completion of the underwriting process?

    At the end of the underwriting process, you will be determined to be either:

    1. Approved: This means your life insurance application has been accepted! Your coverage will take effect on the date it was approved by SBLI, subject to the payment of your first premium and your good health on that date.
    2. Modified: Your life insurance application will be accepted once you agree to any modification(s) offered by SBLI. We may change the amount of coverage, the premium rate class, or alter some of the benefits, due to a medical condition or hobby.
    3. Declined: Your medical condition, based on your medical history and all of the information gathered by the SBLI underwriter, falls outside the established range of insurability for the SBLI life insurance policy you applied for. Or, the amount of coverage you are requesting is greater than your financial need. SBLI will send you a letter explaining the reasons your request was declined.
    4. Filed Inactive/Postponed: This means we don’t have all of the information requested, and we are unable to make a decision on this case. SBLI will send you a letter telling you what information is outstanding. If you are able to get this information to underwriting in a timely manner we may be able to reopen the case and give you a decision. In some cases, depending on the amount of time that has passed, additional requirements may be needed.
  • Why is my premium rate different than what I thought it would be?

    Different people pay different insurance rates . The rate you pay is based upon your age, your health, and your lifestyle. For instance, if you skydive as a hobby, you are considered a higher risk than someone who feels that knitting is about as adventurous as it gets. SBLI determined your risk class based on the results of the insurance underwriting process.

    The information provided on your application, information gathered from your physician and possibly the MIB report, the results of your paramedic exam and other important information, such as your driving record and personal habits are the basis for determining your life insurance premium rate.

  • Who can I talk to if I have questions or want to check on my application status?

    Please contact your representative or broker any time during the life insurance application process. We're here to help you get the insurance you and your family need. If you do not remember the agent's name, call SBLI and we can easily tell you. You can reach us at:

    Call:
    1-800-694-7254
    Monday - Friday 8:00 A.M. through 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time

    Mail:
    SBLI
    P. O. Box 4048
    Woburn, MA 01888-4048