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Understanding Underwriting

Life Insurance FAQ's
Understanding Underwriting
How does my health affect the amount I pay for life insurance?
Is it true that hobbies and activities I participate in are considered during underwriting?
My financial professional told me I need quite a bit of life insurance. Can I really get that much?
Should I bother applying for life insurance if I know I have an existing medical condition?
Why are you concerned with my medical condition when my doctor may not be?
Why does the company need information about my health? Is it safe to give that information?
Will I have to take a medical exam? If so, what are some of the things I may be asked to do?
How long does the underwriting process take?
Understanding Underwriting
Question. How does my health affect the amount I pay for life insurance?
Answer. Underwriting is the evaluation of factors-including your height, weight, current health, medical history, family history, occupation, hobbies, driving record, and whether you have ever smoked or piloted a plane-that may affect your eligibility for life insurance at the time you apply. Through this evaluation, we can determine whether you are eligible and offer you a fair price for the risk we assume to provide you with coverage. Most people can qualify for insurance. The premium you pay is based on your overall health. If you are not in perfect health-and most people are not-you can still get life insurance at an affordable price. Even individuals with health impairments such as coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, or a history of stroke may be eligible for insurance.

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Question. Is it true that hobbies and activities I participate in are considered during underwriting?
Answer. The types of hobbies and activities you participate in can reflect how much risk you are exposed to on a regular basis. While many activities present no unusual hazard, certain ones, such as flying a plane, scuba diving, mountain climbing and car racing need to be evaluated. In some instances, participation in a hazardous hobby means the risk we assume to cover you is higher and, therefore, your premiums may be higher.

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Question. My financial professional told me I need quite a bit of life insurance. Can I really get that much?
Answer. The amount of insurance we issue will depend on a number of factors, such as your individual need for life insurance, your income and financial worth, the amount of life insurance you already have, the types of activities you engage in, and so on.

For this reason, we will ask how much income you earn; whether you have income from sources other than your work, such as investments; and your total household income. We may also ask for information about your financial worth (what you own and may owe). It is important to disclose all financial information so that we can properly determine your eligibility for the amount of insurance you are requesting. Depending on the amount, we may also ask you to provide actual records of your income and worth, such as a copy of your tax return or bank statement.

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Question. Should I bother applying for life insurance if I know I have an existing medical condition?
Answer. Yes! Even individuals with health impairments, such as coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, or strokes, may be eligible for insurance.

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Question. Why are you concerned with my medical condition when my doctor may not be?
Answer. If you have a medical problem that requires no immediate attention, your physician may not be concerned and may convey that sentiment to you. When the medical condition becomes more severe or when complications develop, your doctor can respond by starting treatment or ordering further evaluation. However, when evaluating that same medical condition, insurance companies have only the narrow window of time during which underwriting takes place to make their assessment.

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Question. Why does the company need information about my health? Is it safe to give that information?
Answer. Having a clear view of your medical history helps us determine how your health fits in with the general health of the rating class you fall into.

When you apply for life insurance, you are placed in a group of people with similar risk characteristics. Not every person in the group will have the same life span, but overall the group will have a fairly predictable life expectancy. This group, known as a rating class, gives us a basis to determine your premiums.

We realize that information we request is personal and sensitive. For this reason, the information we collect is kept confidential and shared with only those who need this information to determine your eligibility for life insurance.

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Question. Will I have to take a medical exam? If so, what are some of the things I may be asked to do?
Answer. Based upon your age and the amount of life insurance you are applying for, an exam and/or additional medical tests may be required to help us make the most informed underwriting decision. These tests will provide us with the information we need to fairly assess your eligibility for life insurance.

The medical exam is conducted at our expense, by either a paramedical examiner at your home or business or by a doctor at a physician's office, depending on your age and the amount of coverage you've applied for. During the exam, the examiner will check and record your blood pressure, pulse, height, and weight. You may also be asked to:
  • Provide a urine sample. The urinalysis will screen for indications of such things as nicotine and certain drugs, elevated sugar levels, and signs of kidney disease.
  • Take a blood test. Blood tests screen for abnormalities that might be indicative of a variety of medical conditions, or the current status of known medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disorders, cholesterol levels, or diabetes.
  • Take an electrocardiogram (ECG) to screen for irregularities, such as an irregular heartbeat or rhythm, or a decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.
  • Provide an oral fluid sample. The analysis will screen for such things as nicotine and certain drugs.
  • Various Senior Assessment testing will be performed on client ages 71 or greater. This test may involve cognitive, mobility and frailty testing.


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Question. How long does the underwriting process take?
Answer. If we do not receive all information necessary to complete the underwriting process within 60 days of the initial request for coverage, we will close your file. Once we receive the outstanding information, we will resume the process.

When the underwriting process is complete, we will either approve you for coverage (with or without changes or exclusions) or decline coverage. If you're approved, your policy will be issued and delivered by your financial professional.

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