Dear Harry:

My husband has had problems with his heart since he was a young man. He never got any life insurance because he was afraid that he'd be rejected or given such a high premium that it would not be worthwhile. Last week, his doctor told him he'd probably need heart surgery in the near future. I'm not quite self-supporting, but we do have savings of about $150,000 in CDs and United States I Bonds. It would make things a lot easier for me if he had some substantial life insurance. Is there some way we can find a company that will insure him?

What Harry says: The first step should be to see if his employer has a group plan in which he can enroll. There may be "open" periods when he can get in without a medical examination. Is he a member of a union, a fraternal organization, a school alumni association? Many of these have group plans in which he can enroll. One shot that is often overlooked is a really well-connected broker who can submit an anonymous application to several different companies together with a complete medical report from his doctors. Often, the underwriters at company A will have different criteria than those at company B for the same health problems. While I doubt that he will get standard rates, he may be able to get a rate that's reasonable enough to go for. Heart surgery today is much safer than it was just a decade ago. Good luck! *

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, PA 19101. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.