The System is Broken – Can it be Fixed?

I’m impatient.  Not quite Frank Shirley impatient but, not far off.  Shirley, the old curmudgeon CEO from Christmas vacation asks his assistant to “Get me somebody. Anybody. And, get me somebody while I’m waiting.”

I want things done in the quickest, most efficient, and best way possible.  Every time.  When I see areas that can be improved upon and aren’t primarily from the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset it is like nails on a chalkboard.  To combat this we try to manage expectations.  Under promise and over deliver.

When a client applies for life insurance we tell them it may take 3 months depending on the need for medical records.  Why should it take so long?  Why does it take so long?  Should we just except it?  How can we make it better?

The biggest issue we see is the turnaround time for obtaining medical records.  Most of the time we have to use a third party copy service.  The copy service may only come to the doctor’s office once or twice a week.  It might take 2 weeks for our request to cycle to the top of their list.  The copy service could sit on them for another week or wait for you to pay for them.  They might miss that doctor’s office that week and push it out further.  That just took a month which fairly commonplace.


The Weather – We had several snow storms this past winter.  The facility closes for 2 days.  The copy service doesn’t go to that doctor’s office that week.  Maybe they are preparing for the storm a couple of days before and then playing catch up after.  We might lose two weeks right there.  What happened to this paperless office.  Do phones and internet access not work assuming you have power?  Apparently not.  Everything shuts down.

The Holidays – So, are you ready for Christmas?  You got all of your shopping done?  I hear the same questions every year.  Christmas has been my favorite holiday but, you are almost better off shutting down your practice from the week before Thanksgiving until January.  Everybody is getting ready for something which means that they can’t focus on anything else for that 6 weeks.  As head of the party planning committee we can’t be expected to work when the annual Christmas part is 3 weeks away.

Not Ordering the Records Upfront – An agent should know from the beginning if medical records need to be ordered.  In many cases the application gets to the underwriter who reviews the file and confirms medical records are needed.  You just lost another three weeks because they should have been ordered from the beginning and it can be cycling through the copy service while the application is working its way through the underwriting queue.

We try to control as much of this process as we can.  We order the exam and the medical records through our own case manager and not rely on the insurance carrier.  It does help speed up the process and we have the ability to send them to another carrier if we aren’t pleased with the offer.  This way we don’t have to start over again.

Possible Solutions

1. We have shown up at the doctor’s office ourselves with a HIPPA release form to obtain the records.  That may work if there isn’t a centralized medical records reporting facility like some bigger institutions utilize.

2. We have offered to buy the staff lunch if they could release the records that day.

3. Keep calling the doctor’s office and stress the importance and the time sensitive nature.

4. Work with the insurance carrier’s wholesaler.  They are incentivized to get the case placed.  They will help push the case through and serve as your advocate.

How Long Should it Take?

We tell clients 3 months to set expectations.  Maybe we have just accepted it ourselves.  It shouldn’t take nearly that long.  It really should take two and a half weeks.  There is no reason the client can’t have his exam done, we obtain the medical records, and have the application in front of the underwriter with a verdict in two and a half weeks.

As a group we continue to push the status quo.  Why settle?  Why not strive to better.  I’m not just talking about agents but, everyone involved in the process.  The examiner, the copy service, the case manager, and the insurance company should all aim higher.  Think of how many more clients can be helped but continuing to push.  Be better.


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Brevity & Associates

Brevity & Associates