A consumer should never submit an application before the advisor and underwriting team have full knowledge of the client’s entire underwriting file. This includes the insured’s complete medical history (medications taken, past and current medical conditions, and family history). In addition, it is important to know travel history, driving record, avocations, citizenship, financial status, and purpose of insurance. Only then can an advisor negotiate with prospective carriers for the best product and rate possible within the marketplace.

Tread Lightly includes our Underwriting Guide and Medical Exam Guide to ensure any consumer understands the basics of this process.

Underwriting Checklist


Once you have made the decision to purchase life insurance, you must follow a specific process to generate the best possible outcome and results. We recommend the following:


  1. ________ Sign a generic multicarrier HIPAA form giving your agent and agency the ability to negotiate with numerous insurance carriers.  Additionally, sign a laboratory release form to allow the agency to request lab results for review (most carriers won’t comply until a formal application has been submitted).
  2. ________ Complete an informal application disclosing all relevant information to your advisor so that a complete profile can be developed for informal application submissions.
  3. ________ Provide a complete listing of all medical providers seen over the past ten years.
  4. ________ Provide a complete list of all medications taken over the past five years, including dosage amounts.
  5. ________ Schedule your insurance exam (the agency will do this for you).
  6. ________ Read and follow the Medical Exam Guide prior to an insurance exam (included in the following pages and on www.TreadLightlyGuide.com).
  7. ________ If you have any medical or nonmedical conditions, make sure your agent is negotiating with a carrier(s) that specifically targets those conditions.
  8. ________ Deal only with an agent who has a third-party or in-house MD and/or underwriting specialist available to negotiate with carriers on your behalf. Request this individual’s credentials so you may evaluate his or her experience.
  9. ________ Require a list of carriers being considered and the reason for final selection of the insurance company your advisor recommends.
  10. ________ Review illustrations comparing final offers to determine whether the selected carrier meets your needs.
  11. ________ Submit a formal application to obtain issued policy.



Once a formal application has been submitted, underwriting can take anywhere from one to approximately eight weeks. Occasionally the underwriter may come back and ask for additional information or forms. The more information collected and submitted at the time of formal submission, the faster the underwriting process.

After you have completed your exam and the formal application is submitted, the carrier will come back with an offer. Make sure you talk with your agent and understand your offer.