Life Insurance Underwriting

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Understanding Life Insurance Underwriting

Life insurance underwriting is the process by which insurers evaluate the risk of insuring a person. This process determines whether an individual can be insured and at what premium rate.

Key Steps in Life Insurance Underwriting

  1. Application Submission: The process begins when an applicant fills out a life insurance application, providing personal, health, and lifestyle information.
  2. Medical Examination: Often, a medical exam is required, where a health professional checks the applicant’s health status.
  3. Health and Lifestyle Review: Insurers assess the applicant’s medical history, lifestyle choices (like smoking or high-risk hobbies), and occupational hazards.
  4. Financial Evaluation: For some policies, especially those with high coverage amounts, insurers may assess the applicant’s financial situation.
  5. Actuarial Analysis: Insurers use statistical analysis to estimate the likelihood of a claim based on the applicant’s risk factors.
  6. Decision Making: Based on the analysis, insurers decide to approve, deny, or offer insurance with modified terms (like higher premiums).

Life Insurance Underwriting Factors

Factor TypeSpecific Factors
HealthMedical history, current health
LifestyleSmoking, alcohol use, high-risk activities
OccupationExposure to hazards at work
Financial StatusIncome, financial obligations
Underwriter For Insurance


The underwriting process in life insurance is a thorough evaluation of an individual’s health, lifestyle, occupation, and financial status to determine insurance eligibility and premium rates. Understanding this process can help applicants prepare for what to expect and potentially improve their chances of favorable terms.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the underwriting process?

The underwriting process is the evaluation method insurers use to assess risk before issuing a policy. An underwriter examines various factors such as age, health, property condition, or business operations to determine eligibility, coverage terms, and pricing. This process ensures that risks are appropriately priced and covered.

What is the difference between underwriting and claims?

Underwriting involves assessing risk before issuing an insurance policy and determining coverage terms and pricing. Claims occur after a policy is in place; it’s the process of requesting payment for a covered loss. Underwriting evaluates potential risk, while claims address actual incidents.

Can an underwriter deny insurance?

Yes, an underwriter can deny insurance based on evaluating risk factors that deem the applicant too high-risk to insure. This can happen for various reasons, such as poor health, risky behavior, or unsafe property conditions.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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