Woman Researching on a computerThe Underwriting Process Explained

When it comes to eligibility, a disability insurance policy is a financial services product that has to be purchased while you are still in good health. One cannot buy a policy after you have been diagnosed with an illness that is likely to result in a claim, or after you have suffered an accident that might interfere with your ability to work. The underwriting process is fairly extensive, and this page is designed to help you understand exactly what is going to happen when you fill out an application. 

We realize that most people have some sort of medical history. It is extremely rare for us to see an application with a "No" answer to every medical question on the application. However:

  • There are some medical histories that are most likely not going to be accepted like a recent cancer history, heart disease, or poorly controlled diabetes.
  • There are also many histories or current conditions that may not result in a declination of coverage entirely but could be excluded from coverage—for example, a history of back pain or certain types of mental or nervous disorders.
  • A third possible underwriting outcome regarding disability insurance eligibility is an increased rating on the policy for issues like being overweight. 

Feel free to call us during the week with any questions about your ability to qualify for disability insurance at 888-513-2300. We will be happy to tell you what the most probable underwriting outcome will be for your policy.

Field Underwriting

When you are discussing the quote with your agent, your agent will ask you several questions to help them understand whether or not you will likely be approved for a policy. We have placed thousands of policies in-force for our clients over the years, we are very experienced in the underwriting process. If you have specific questions about your health history and your ability to get a policy, just ask your agent what they think. There is a good chance that we have dealt with it before and can give you an accurate expectation. 

Our goal is to make sure you have a very clear expectation of what your policy is going to look like and cost at the end of the underwriting process. We try our best to make sure there are no surprises, and as long as you answer all of the questions in detail, we have a pretty good idea of what the company will do. We do not get to see the actual medical records, lab results, or prescription history like the underwriter does, so we can't guarantee you that a policy will be offered exactly as we think it will, but you will find we are fairly accurate with the expectations we set based on our experience.

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Filling Out An ApplicationWoman filling out form

A disability insurance application is a fairly extensive document that you can complete by yourself online, or with your agent over the phone. Once the application is completed, we will send it to you to review and sign electronically before we submit it to the insurance company and begin the official underwriting process with Berkshire Life. The application will have sections covering your contact information, medical history, income, and occupational history. 

The medical section has many questions designed to give the insurance company a complete profile of your medical history, the physicians you have seen, and any treatments or medications prescribed by those physicians. It is absolutely vital that you provide complete and accurate details on the application. There nothing more damaging to your ability to secure a policy than having the underwriter discover a medical history that you did not disclose on the application. Be prepared to provide your agent with a complete list of physicians you have seen, contact information, and any dates associated with the diagnosis or episode. 

When the underwriting team reviews an application, they want to feel that they are getting full disclosure. They are most interested in what the outcome and the current situation are today. If you had a medical situation in the past, and it is completely resolved with no further issues, make sure to note this on the application. If you have a medical situation that began in the past and for which you are still receiving treatment, make sure to disclose this as well.


Once the application has been filled out and signed, the underwriting process begins. We will submit the application to the home office underwriting division, and order the necessary paramedical exams. Depending on your age, and the amounts applied for, there will be different paramedical requirements. 

Typically, we will schedule somebody to call you to have a blood and urine test completed. The results of this test will be sent directly to the underwriter on your case. It is also fairly common for the underwriters to order copies of your medical records from physicians you have seen recently. This is something they will do directly with your physician's office, and not something you have to obtain on your own. 

You will also receive an additional telephone call to go over the application one more time. In this call, some of the same questions from the application will be asked again in greater detail to give the underwriters a better understanding of your medical history. 

It typically takes about a month for the home office to make a final decision on your application. The faster you schedule your paramedical examination, and answer the telephone inspection report, the faster they are able to collect the medical information needed to make a final decision. Keep in mind that the final determination of your disability insurance eligibility is made by somebody who does not know you, so the more complete and detailed the information you initially provide on the application, the more comfortable an underwriter is going to be giving you a policy.

Issued Policy

Once the underwriter has hopefully approved your application, the home office will issue a disability insurance policy for you and your agent to review together. If all goes well, the policy will be issued exactly as your agent told you it would be. If any changes were made, your agent will review those changes with you, and you will have to sign off on each modification made to the original application. If any exclusion riders were issued because of pre-existing medical conditions, you will have to sign off on these as well.

Policy Acceptance

If you are happy with the policy that has been issued, you will sign off on all of the delivery requirements and make your first premium payment, placing the policy “in force.” Once the policy is in force, you will have disability income insurance protection. You can choose to pay for your policy through an automatic bank draft every month, or you can be billed quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

Do not hesitate to give our offices a call to discuss your medical history. We will not waste your time. We will tell you upfront whether or not you are likely to be a candidate for a personal disability insurance policy. Our disability insurance agents are awaiting your call at 888-513-2300.

2022-140682 Exp: 7/26/24