When will you die?
That’s the question life insurance providers want to be answered more than any other.
If they nail this, they make money, if they get it wrong they lose money. It’s that simple.
That’s why they employ actuaries to sift through mortality rates and examine morbidity risks to figure out the chances of you outliving your policy.
The actuaries look at factors such as:
to estimate how long you’re going to live.
But they also look at your family history as sometimes medical conditions are hereditary (a fancy way of saying you’re more likely to get it)
Let’s look at a sample “family history” question from a life insurance application form:
Have any of your parents, brothers or sisters ever had one or more of the following medical conditions before age 65:
Anything there that causes you to raise an eyebrow?
A family history of disease or death, especially occurring at a young age, may imply that you are also at increased risk for the same or related illness.
Most diseases have some genetic component but environmental and lifestyle factors also play an important part.
A family history of any of the following in a first-degree relative is considered relevant when assessing insurance applications:
The possibility of cover depends on the nature of the family history, your current age and gender, the number of first degree relatives affected by the condition, the age your family member was when diagnosed, and other associated health issues that you suffer with.
The underwriters will make one of four decisions after reviewing your medical evidence.
Family history of breast cancer
Let’s say you’re a 30-year-old female whose mother and sister got breast cancer in their 40’s. You’re looking for critical illness cover. The insurers will offer you serious illness cover but will exclude breast cancer cover from your policy on family history grounds.
Family history of MS
You’re a 35-year-old male whose father contracted MS in his 40s. You have applied for income protection. The insurers will offer you cover at the normal price but will exclude MS as a reason for claiming on your policy.
Please note, for life insurance and mortgage protection, you either get full cover or no cover. There are no exclusions.
Family history of Polycystic Kidney Disease
Your mum had a kidney transplant at age 55. You’re 35 and need mortgage protection. You have been tested for PKD and your scans were normal. You’ll get cover but the insurer will increase your premium due to the higher risk of developing PKD.
Usually only happens where you are awaiting screening for a certain illness.
Using the PKD example above, if you were awaiting a kidney scan, the insurer would postpone making a decision until the results were available
But I have seen a young male (smoker) with a high BMI declined who would normally get cover. Sadly, there was a long history of cardiovascular disease in his immediate family as both parents and two of his brothers had suffered heart attacks before they had reached their 50th birthday.
Yes, all insurance providers follow a different set of underwriting guidelines.
For instance, some insurers are only interested in health issues that occurred before age 50, others look at family history right up at age 65.
This means if your mum got breast cancer at age 51, some insurers will ignore this fact, others may apply an exclusion to your policy.
Be careful which insurer you apply to. Always apply to the one who has the most sympathetic underwriting criteria for your family history.
If there’s a history of illness in your family and you’d like to give yourself the best chance of getting cover with the least amount of hassle, please get in touch.
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We’re the experts when it comes to arranging life insurance if you family medical history isn’t clean as a whistle.
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