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Applying for Life Insurance--how honest should I be?
Old 11-02-2007, 12:02 AM   #1
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Applying for Life Insurance--how honest should I be?

Hehe, I'm not trying to commit insurance fraud or anything, but one of the questions on the application is as weaselly as they come:

"Have you, during the past 5 years, consulted any physician or other practitioner or been confined or treated in any hospital or similar situation?"


Do they really want me to list every single time I've gone to the doctor over the last 5 years?? I figure they just want the "big" stuff, not the routine visits. So what about the time I went to the ER with chest pains, but it turned out to be just stress? The EKG revealed everything was fine with my heart, but is the life insurance company going to read the words "heart palpitations" and freak out?

EDIT: I forgot to mention that if you answer 'Yes' to that question, you're then asked to give details such as condition, date occurred, duration, degree of recovery, name/address of physician/hospital.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:05 AM   #2
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The answer to the question is yes. At least it only goes back 5 years.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:06 AM   #3
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Well, you should answer truthfully, because they can always cancel the policy, under certain circumstances, for fraud. But primarily because honesty is the best policy.

Last time I applied, they just asked about the last visit and I told them.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Martha View Post
The answer to the question is yes. At least it only goes back 5 years.
Sorry, I should have explained that if you answer 'Yes' to that question, you're then asked to give details such as condition, date occurred, duration, degree of recovery, name/address of physician/hospital.

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Originally Posted by bssc View Post
Well, you should answer truthfully, because they can always cancel the policy, under certain circumstances, for fraud. But primarily because honesty is the best policy.
I agree, and I certainly won't intentionally withhold anything from them. I'm worried about getting rejected, (e.g., the ER chest pain visit), so I'm wondering what lengths of explanation I should go to mitigate my chances of being rejected.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:29 AM   #5
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Sorry, I should have explained that if you answer 'Yes' to that question, you're then asked to give details such as condition, date occurred, duration, degree of recovery, name/address of physician/hospital.



I agree, and I certainly won't intentionally withhold anything from them. I'm worried about getting rejected, (e.g., the ER chest pain visit), so I'm wondering what lengths of explanation I should go to mitigate my chances of being rejected.

The answer is "YES", answer all their questions. If they then ask for more details, provide those details. Selling life insurance is a competitive business. There will be plenty of companies willing to sell a policy at reasonable rates to a truthful applicant. If one company doesn't, others will.

If you do not provide this information on your application, then when you die, the life insurer has the right to not payout if/when they discover you did not disclose all information asked for on the application. Then all your premiums were wasted, and your loved ones were not protected---all because of YOU.
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:07 AM   #6
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I recently bought a 20 year term life policy, and I never thought I was one to see the doctor often, until I had to list all visits in the last 5 years: Two cases of bronchitis, one pneumonia, a couple sinus infections, miscarriage, temporary high blood pressure (caused by a week of sleepless redeye flights, abnormally high caffeine intake and lots of cold medicine), cysts in the breast caused by nursing, etc.

The phone interview to give all the information took almost an hour. I ended up with the best rate, so have no fear of the multitude of minor but non-life threatening issues.
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:15 AM   #7
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The problem with withholding or "underinterpreting" discoverable information is that you cheerfully go along thinking you have coverage, but the moment you (or your survivors) file for a claim it all hits the fan.

There is really no rational choice but to disclose everything even if it seems trivial, and deal with the underwriting issues if and when they arise - not only for life insurance, but for health and others as well.
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:06 AM   #8
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Rich is quite correct.

If you withold important medical information, the policy is probably void for material non-disclosure. If you answer express questions incorrectly, the policy will almost certainly be void for misrepresentation: even if the answers are non-material.

You might as well burn the money as spend it on premiums that effectively purchase no coverage. If you can't qualify because of your medical history, save your money and self-insure (by building up a [larger?] investment portfolio).
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:45 AM   #9
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There is really no rational choice but to disclose everything even if it seems trivial, and deal with the underwriting issues if and when they arise
Okay, that makes sense. However, I'm going back and looking at all the times I went to my doctor over the last 5 years, and for some of them, I honestly have no clue what I went there for. Could have been for an annual physical, could have been for a bad cold I had.

And these are just the visits that I kept the receipts for. I suppose I'll have to contact both my old insurance company and my current one to see if I can get a list of claims.
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:53 AM   #10
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If you don't have any chronic conditions or history of serious life-threatening disease, you probably have nothing to fear from being honest. It doesn't sound like you remember any serious problems that could jeopardize your insurability, so all you have to lose (probably) is time in recalling your visits.

Personally, if listing visits in the last five years includes preventative exams and routine lab work, I'd be afraid to insure anyone who said "no" to that question and hadn't seen a doctor for anything in five years. Who knows what bad conditions they may have that haven't been treated or managed effectively?
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:13 AM   #11
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Okay, that makes sense. However, I'm going back and looking at all the times I went to my doctor over the last 5 years, and for some of them, I honestly have no clue what I went there for. Could have been for an annual physical, could have been for a bad cold I had..
You can write in, "Possible additional visits for minor problems" or such.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:40 AM   #12
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You can write in, "Possible additional visits for minor problems" or such.
I'd think that should work. An insurer probably isn't going to care about a flu you had four years ago or a sprained ankle you had two years ago. I think writing in something as above at least indicates no intent to lie or defraud. I also don't think a reasonable underwriter will expect you to remember all the details of every minor visit.
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:44 AM   #13
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Okay, that makes sense. However, I'm going back and looking at all the times I went to my doctor over the last 5 years, and for some of them, I honestly have no clue what I went there for. Could have been for an annual physical, could have been for a bad cold I had.

And these are just the visits that I kept the receipts for. I suppose I'll have to contact both my old insurance company and my current one to see if I can get a list of claims.
Don't worry about remembering the details, they aren't going to take your word for it anyway.

They are going to request your doctors notes (APS) and take it off of there.
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Old 11-02-2007, 04:54 PM   #14
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Bet you'll think twice before going to the ER for chest pains next time.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:37 PM   #15
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Rich is quite correct.

If you withold important medical information, the policy is probably void for material non-disclosure. If you answer express questions incorrectly, the policy will almost certainly be void for misrepresentation: even if the answers are non-material.

You might as well burn the money as spend it on premiums that effectively purchase no coverage. If you can't qualify because of your medical history, save your money and self-insure (by building up a [larger?] investment portfolio).
Don't the companies only a couple years to "discover" anything. What if you die 10 years later, can they still deny?
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Old 11-02-2007, 06:39 PM   #16
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Don't the companies only a couple years to "discover" anything. What if you die 10 years later, can they still deny?
In this state is has always been 2 years from the policy issuance date. I haven't checked lately to see if that is still true.

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Old 11-02-2007, 09:08 PM   #17
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Bet you'll think twice before going to the ER for chest pains next time.
Yeah, it's kind of sad how that works. You're encouraged to be proactive about potentially serious medical conditions, yet you can also be massively penalized for it.
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Old 11-03-2007, 05:32 PM   #18
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I went through a similar decision when I was applying for private health insurance. I ended up giving all the medical info they asked for, even the time I went to the ER for chest pains. It's just too risky to leave anything off and give them a reason for denying coverage in the future. I ended up going through a few rounds of needing to appeal and forward medical records, but eventually was covered.

Now that medical records are becoming more interconnected, you can't expect anything to remain a secret. Well, one exception might be doctor visits where you always paid entirely out of pocket to that provider... at least for now those seem to be out of the system and very hard to discover.
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Old 11-04-2007, 09:48 AM   #19
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Rich and Milton are correct, but only for the first two years of the policy. This is referred to as the contestibility period. After the first two years, the insurance company cannot contest the claim or deny coverage based on any nondisclosures in the application. If you die two years and one day after the policy was issued, the insurance company cannot deny the claim based upon your failure to disclose something in the application.

I know this is true for Florida law, and each state law may vary, but I think this law is pretty standard, although the length of the contestibility period may vary.
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Old 11-04-2007, 02:05 PM   #20
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Bet you'll think twice before going to the ER for chest pains next time.

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