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As a financial professional, how many times have you felt as if you – or your applicant – have not been treated fairly during the underwriting process. At least once a year, if not more, you may have experienced delays, undecipherable updates, requests for additional information, more forms, or additional tests and more delays. “How long could it possibly take to process an application?” you may have asked. “Don’t those back office sales suppressors know that I have a client here that I’m trying to help? Every additional delay means that my client is at risk and thinks I’m an idiot – and, money isn’t coming into my pocket!”

You might be surprised to know that back office people have similar feelings when they get an application that has been thrown together with incomplete information, signatures missing, pages out of order, and illegible explanations of the applicant’s “yes” or “no” answers. “How long could it take an agent to at least have page 7 follow page 6?”, an underwriter might ask. “Don’t those gum-shoe field agents know how to complete an application after all these years? Every mistake, missing form, and forgotten signature means I’m less productive and, believe me, my supervisor let’s me know about it!”

Since the person that submits an application starts the process, that person should know that an application needs to be “in good order” (IGO). “There’s always time to do it right the second time” is not acceptable in the financial services industry. You may have noted that once an application goes down the wrong road, that road seems to get wronger and wronger. As a friend of mine once said, “you have to slow down to speed up”.

Just because your applicant can fog a mirror does not necessarily mean it’s time to take an application. Slow down the process and engage your client in a general discussion about their health. You’re a pro at talking to people – you’re a people person, right? You know how to get people to relax and talk about themselves – people love to talk about themselves. Take your time in completing the application properly and doing all you can to make sure the applicant understands how important accuracy and truthfulness is. After all, the end product – an insurance policy – is going to be a legal contract with a promise to provide needed funds in the event of an unexpected, financially catastrophic event.

A “clean” application with a clearly written cover letter that includes relevant details regarding what you know about your client is much more likely to be at the top of the pile of applications your underwriter has to process. And, that means more cash flows into your bank account more quickly.

You’ll still have the unexpected happen (“I didn’t tell you I was born with only one kidney because my doctor said I was fine with just one”), and in spite of your copious instructions, you’ll have an applicant gorge on a “Two-fer” Big Mac deal the night before the qualifying paramedical exam. But, your care in being a considerate professional and taking time up front to start the process in the right direction will go a long way to keeping those events to a minimum. Make your motto “Take the time to do it right the first time”.

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