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Free Underwriting Tool Now Available - The World Wide Web

February 16, 2016| By Joe Curtin | Life | English

Underwriters routinely use numerous screening requirements to help assess applicants applying for life insurance: lab results, motor vehicle reports, attending physician statements, prescription database checks, etc. How many are conducting a simple web search on their applicants? A quick and simple search could uncover some significant information.

The World Wide Web provides access to millions of web pages that contain a vast amount of public information. It is important to note the absence of a regulating body that monitors the reliability and accuracy of the information provided on the web. As information found on the Internet may not be true, it therefore cannot always be used as the basis for making an underwriting decision. We suggest carriers consult with their compliance officer on the appropriate utilization of Internet-developed material. Nevertheless, it could alert an underwriter to pursue additional investigation.

Consider the following case involving a seemingly healthy middle-aged man applying for the maximum Non-Medical amount of coverage. A “friend,” who resides in a different state than the proposed insured, is listed as the owner and beneficiary. An inquiry to the agent regarding the insurable interest results in an ambiguous answer and leaves some uncertainty regarding how to proceed. A web search of the proposed insured reveals that he is currently imprisoned and awaiting execution!

Take another case of a young self-employed male applying for coverage who is opening a hydroponics business (method of growing plants). The cover letter provided by the agent describes a previous possession of marijuana charge that resulted in a probation period that has already been completed. However, a web search reveals a far more serious charge of an arrest for a large-scale marijuana-growing operation with possession and the intent to deliver.

If the information provided to the underwriter through traditional underwriting requirements appears inadequate, as in the cases above, a web search may help to direct the underwriter in the right direction. This was certainly true in the previous examples.

The World Wide Web is right at our fingertips and can provide details ranging from home values and business operations to criminal history. There are a variety of reasons an underwriter may want to search the web; consider these few instances:

• A proposed insured competes in motor vehicle racing or another avocation - a search may provide additional details regarding his/her participation level.

• The occupation provided is “business owner" - a search may discover a business website with valuable business details.

• The value of a property listed as an asset is unclear - a search may help provide an estimate of what the property is worth.

• A proposed insured has a high risk profile or there is a suspicion of criminal history - a search may provide past or current criminal charges.

The World Wide Web is a quick and simple tool that can be very useful at times and may become an increasingly valuable asset to underwriters in years to come.

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