If your clients older than 65 are applying for insurance, underwriters are mainly concerned about unexplained falls.

Ross Morton, one of Canada’s top underwriters, says unexplained falls are “often the sign of the silent stroke, transient ischemic attacks, low pulse and vertigo.”

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They can also be the result of lower extremity weakness, gait disorders, acute illness and side effects of multiple medications.

The frequency of unexplained falls is alarmingly high. American data shows:

  • 1 in 3 people over age 65 will have a severe fall in any given year
  • 1% will sustain a hip fracture as a result of a fall
  • 10,000 deaths are attributed to falls in older adults

Your applicant will likely need a paramedical or medical to qualify, but as the front-line field underwriter you can expedite the process by including a letter answering the following questions:

1) How many unexplained falls have you had in the last year? A history of multiple falls regardless of cause could result in a decline.

2) When was the last fall? A recent fall requires a full explanation of the cause and the probability future falls will be prevented.

3) What medications are being taken, and at what dosage? Do they take their medications as prescribed? Multiple medications, as well as sedatives (including OTCs), are associated with an increased risk factor for falls.

4) Has the underlying cause of the fall been determined? If not, the underwriter may refuse your client.

5) Was a fracture or injury involved? Injury falls are a predictor of future falls and may result in a decline.

6) Was any home or nursing care needed to recover from the fall? Falls requiring home or institutional care create greater underwriting concern regarding the underlying causes and possibility of future falls.

You should also take a full application as underwriters cannot discuss any information with you that you don’t know. Encourage your client to write down their answers so they will be able to give the same answers during the paramedical.

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Remember to coach them on how to have the most successful paramedical – have them ask for an appointment early in the day, after a fast (during which they can still drink water and take their medication), avoid salty foods the day before and get a good night’s sleep.

Read: How to explain policy ratings, declines

Tell them to be up front with the nurse about any queasiness about needles, and remind them that if the first blood pressure reading is high, the nurse will likely take it two more times and record the lowest result. A well-prepared applicant will have the best chance of a favorable underwriting decision.

Helena Smeenk Pritchard has over 36 years of experience in the insurance industry and is the Principal of Helena Smeenk Pritchard & Associates, a leader in “Insurance Know-How” training. Helena publishes a weekly free ‘Did You Know’ newsletter on her site.