Is my age all that matters?

Comprehensive Life InsurancePick a feature, any feature – age, sex, occupation, physical condition, personal activities, financial status, and moral hazards. These are all characteristics the insurer could look at when underwriting an individual policy. Mortality Tables are ignored and race, ethnicity and nationality aren’t a consideration. In addition, poor taste in clothes and a bad sense of direction, won’t hurt your chances either. Good news for me!

What’s a moral hazard, you ask? Saying you don’t smoke when you do. Disregarding your life and others by driving while intoxicated after receiving a DWI charge. Basically, you’re making yourself sound better than you really are. While that may work on a first date or during a job interview, Insurance companies will not be as impressed.

So where do they find this stuff? For Individual policies, common sources of info include:


Agent Report

Attending Physician Report (APR)

Medical Exam & Lab Tests

The Medical Information Bureau (MIB)

Inspection Report / Credit Report

Just like with most things that require an application, the insurance application is the first source to be evaluated and the basic source of insurability information.  The proposed insured, the policy owner and the agent who solicits the application must all give their John Hancock in order for the app to be legit.

Since the agent is the only one to see and talk to the applicant, they are considered the company’s “eyes and ears” and may be required to submit a report that provides info about the insured. This can help prevent adverse selection.  So watch out….this could mean they may give their opinion about their knowledge of your financial standing, character and environment.  As Marshall Mcluhan said, a point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding….just saying.

For larger policies (or smaller policies when the applicant is older than a certain age), a medical report may be required. If the application’s medical section raises questions specific to a particular medical condition, the underwriter may also request an attending physician’s statement (APS) from the physician who treated you. This is definitely not a time to be modest. Besides, if modesty disappeared, so would exhibitionism, right? You may be able to send a report completed by a paramedic or registered nurse too (which is paid by the insurance company) and they can’t get an HIV test done without written permission.

Say you forget or conceal pertinent underwriting info or you provide erroneous or misleading medical information with fraudulent intent? Don’t worry….Insurance companies have the MIB to help with that. How I wish that means Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith will help you fill out the application while saving earth from aliens. Rather, MIB is a nonprofit central information agency established by a number of insurance companies and its purpose is to help reveal such inaccurate or incomplete info. MIB doesn’t cover how many times you’ve been declined and doesn’t give underwriting suggestion. They simply supply medical histories.

Applying for a large amount of life insurance? Then the insurance company will probably obtain an inspection report.  You must sign a disclosure form giving permission for this though. These reports are used to provide a picture of your general character and reputation, mode of living, finances and any exposure to abnormal hazards. Similarly, the insurance company may also pull a credit report to make sure you aren’t having financial problems.

So all of the info you provided has been reviewed and evaluated. Now what? It’s risk classification time, baby. I’ll explore how you may be designated in the next blog.

Ready to find out which company and plan is right for you? Check out our Life Insurance page for a list of recommended providers.

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