Applying for life insurance

The process of applying for life insurance actually begins long before you apply your signature to the application form.

Before this point, you should have developed a clear picture of your insurance needs, know what you can afford, and had discussions with several possible providers.These discussions should have helped you to pinpoint your needs and zero in on the appropriate policy options.

You should feel entirely comfortable about two things: the person you’re dealing with, and the features and benefits of the life insurance policy you’re about to buy.

Detailled probing
When the time arrives for you to sit down to complete the application, be prepared for a detailed probing of your health, habits and lifestyle. You’ll be asked about your family history, about your parents’ health or cause of death, and of course your own medical history, surgeries, medications, hospitalisations, and so on.

You may even be asked about your use of less conventional health care providers, such as acupuncturists and naturopaths. Expect questions about any stimulant, narcotic, or sedative use, including those prescribed by a physicia And be prepared to provide details.

Lifestyle examined
Your lifestyle will not escape scrutiny either. This is a broad topic that will reveal a lot about yourself and your behaviour. Your level of alcohol use is probed, and you may be asked whether you have ever received counselling or treatment for alcohol abuse.

It’s no surprise that smoking is also part of the examination. Here, you may be asked if you have used any form of tobacco, nicotine products, nicotine substitutes, or marijuana, in the last 12 months.

Even your recreational activities come under scrutiny. Have you participated in any activities that are deemed to be dangerous, such as scuba diving, parachute jumping, or car racing? Answer yes to any of the above, and you can expect many more detailed questions. Past unlawful conduct is also grist for the insurance mill, as is your driving record.

Health testing
Whether or not you need a full physical will depend on your current age, the state of your health, and the amount of coverage applied for. If you’re young, fit, and not seeking a large amount of coverage, your personal physician’s assessment of your health may be acceptable.

On the other hand, apply for a large policy amount, or provide any unfavourable indications from the above questions, and you can reasonably expect to be examined by a physician endorsed by the insurance company.

In addition to the basic examination, an ECG, chest and other X-rays, urine and blood tests will likely round out the exercise.

Honesty important
In all your answers, honesty is paramount. Any deliberate misrepresentation on your application will, if discovered, render your coverage null and void.

If, for example, your smoking history or some other critical piece of information has been intentionally misrepresented, the insurer may well deny the death claim and pay only a refund of premiums.

On the other hand, if you find that you have made an honest error on your application, let the insurance company know as soon as possible, so that any necessary adjustment can be made to your policy.