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When I do an on the phone interview with a potential life insurance client I ask a series of medical questions that help me to decide the appropriate rate classification to quote. Part of the application process, whether it is done with your agent or with the examiner is called Part 2 of the application. This is where you get the opportunity to divulge your entire medical history.

I consider Banner Life’s Part 2 medical-history to be one of the more thorough. Some of the forms ask about medical history for the last 10 years and I think this misleads potential insureds into believing that medical history prior to that doesn’t matter. You may have survived breast cancer more than 10 years ago or recovered from a stroke more than 10 years ago, but those are still relevant events that will impact underwriting. Even if you answer no to something because it happened over 10 years ago, in all likelihood there is reference to that event in your medical records and it will come out anyway. Might as well lay the cards on the table.

That is why my phone and personal interviews always start with “Have you ever been diagnosed with or treated for?” and end with “Is there anything else in your medical records that we haven’t covered?”. You can see by the medical history form that very few stones are left unturned, but obviously every possible medical issue can’t be listed. That is another radar people will try to fly under thinking that if they don’t divulge it, the underwriter won’t know it. Trust me. You want them to know it up front.

Banner Life’s form has the most extensive family history question I’ve seen. Most companies only ask about heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. I always get a chuckle out of their alcohol question, “Have you ever consumed alcoholic beverages?”

My best advice whether asked by an agent or an examiner, or left to answer these questions on an application on your own….be honest. Your life is chronicled in your medical records and even in information from other insurance applications. Independent agents are good at making lemonade out of lemons. Let them do it for you.

Bottom line. We all have a medical history, or at least all of us old folks. You might be able to slide one by an underwriter, but if your policy is approved in the absence of information known to you and withheld from the underwriter, it is contestable. Don’t do that to your family.