It kind of cracks me up sometimes. I can almost hear the hot dog (life insurance) vendor at the ball game. “Get your free life insurance quotes here! Get em while they’re hot!”

This is certainly not to say that anyone should ever have to pay to get a life insurance quote. The quote doesn’t protect your family and the quote doesn’t bind the life insurance company or you to anything, so free is exactly the right price. So how are quotes figured and just how accurate are they?

I’ve seen quotes given out after an agent asks a prospective client if they have “any health issues that might affect their insurability”. The quotes are usually provided at the preferred plus rate because just about all that is known is that the client is, purportedly, still alive, their birth date and sex are known and the agent might know if they smoke or not. But what kind of question is that for a client? Even if I had a heart attack the year before, if my doctor said I was doing great I could reasonably assume the answer to that question is no. If my doctor says I’m doing great then why would that affect my insurability?

I’ve tested some of the big on line agencies and while they do go through a long list of health questions, they quote the best rate class no matter how you answer them. I’m serious! They just want you to apply and they don’t want to put you off by quoting a rate higher than you’ve likely already seen on line.

The next step closer to a quote worth having is when someone actually asks all of the health, avocation and lifestyle questions that should be asked. When we do a phone interview we use these questions, also available as a fillable form on our website.

Have you ever been treated for or been told you had:

1) Convulsions, epilepsy, paralysis, mental or nervous disorder?
2) Chest pain, high blood pressure, heart murmur, heart attack, stroke, cholesterol, or disorder of the heart or circulatory system?
3) Asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, tuberculosis, sleep apnea, or chronic respiratory disease?
4) Jaundice, intestinal bleeding, ulcer, chronic colitis, diverticulitis, or other liver or gastro-intestinal disorder?
5) Complicated pregnancy, hysterectomy, disorder of the breast or female organs?
6) Disease of the kidney, bladder, prostate, sugar or protein in the urine?
7) Loss of vision, amputation, deformity, arthritis, or any disorder of the muscles, bones or joints?
8) Cancer, tumor, diabetes (will need current A1C reading), or glandular disorder?
9) Treated for drug addiction, alcoholism, or been a member of AA?
10) In the past 10 years, have you been treated for AIDS or AIDS related complex?
11) Had a parent, brother, or sister who had cancer, diabetes, heart disease or who committed suicide? (Please list age of onset and/or death)
12) In the past five years, have you participated in or do you intend to participate in: any flights as a trainee, pilot or crew member, scuba diving or parachuting, ultra light aviation, auto racing, cave exploration, hang gliding, boat racing, mountaineering, extreme sports, or other hazardous activities? (Please provide full details below, such as hours, ratings, equipment used, etc).
13) in the past five years, have you ever had any traffic violations?
14) Ever been charged with or convicted of a DUI, reckless driving, or had your license revoked or restricted?
15) Are you currently on any prescription medication? (Please list all, including dosage)
16) Do you travel or intend to travel outside the US or Canada, for business or pleasure? (Please provide city, country, reasons and length of stay)
17) In the past five years, have you filed for bankruptcy or had any judgments or liens against you?

Note that these questions aren’t about the last five years, they are “ever” questions. And any yes answer will bring up a request for additional information. The goal isn’t to wear you out, but rather to provide an accurate quote. Providing all of this information accurately to an agent that knows underwriting guidelines can lead to accurate quotes or at least get you started in the right direction.

The next step if there are any impairments that the agent isn’t positive how to underwrite is to send the information out to trusted underwriters and get their opinion. When you get to this level you are past the wild guess stage and quotes, while still dependent on medical record verification, are usually accurate.

Bottom line. If they don’t ask the questions the quotes are free but bogus. If they ask the questions but don’t ask additional information about yes answers the quotes are free, but bogus. If they ask all the questions and followup questions and really do a thorough job, the quotes are free and have a good chance of being accurate. If the agent goes through it all and then asks for a few days to shop it to underwriters, you’re in free, but very good hands. If you have any questions or would like a free and very accurate quote, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk