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Sometimes when I ask the medical questions that are part of the first interview with prospective life insurance clients I get the feeling that I should have gone through them twice, or three times.

Each time I should say something like, “Now when I go through the questions this time I want you to carefully think about each one, reflecting on whether your answer represents the medical facts or just your opinion. What I need are the facts”.

Really. When I ask “Have you ever been diagnosed with or treated for chest pain, high blood pressure, heart murmur, heart attack, stroke, cholesterol or any disorder of the heart or circulatory system”, how can a person answer no when they have had mitral valve prolapse all of their adult life? I know in the whole scheme of cardiac issues it certainly isn’t a big one, but they know they have it and even if they don’t equate it to a heart murmur (which they probably should), it has to fall into the catch all at the end asking about ANY disorder of the heart.

So, in this case the difference between a yes and a no answer to the question is the difference between preferred and standard rates. In many cases that is enough for a client to get in a huff and decide they don’t want the policy after all or that they are going to find some agent who can figure out some way for them to get the best rates even though they don’t qualify. And it’s all about being honest to a fault when answering health questions. I wonder if it would change if they had to answer the questions under some kind of oath?

Bottom line. Do yourself and your life insurance agent a favor and just answer the questions honestly. If you’re not sure if your answer should be yes or no, explain the situation to the agent and at least give them a chance to include the information in their thinking, or if it really isn’t important, to throw it out.