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I am always amazed at the thought process (or lack of) that people go through when we are discussing life insurance application questions. They must think that life insurance underwriters are really not very bright. While I have, on occasion, shared that opinion, let’s get real.

Real conversation!! A person is asked if they have, in the last five years been convicted of, plead guilty or no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs? They said, “Do you mean DUI?” Yes! “Then the answer is no.” Why, I asked, did you ask about DUI? “I was convicted of driving while impaired a little over a year ago, but that is DWI, so the answer is no!”

This person really believed they were answering the question honestly. When I explained how that would be viewed if an underwriter happened to order a motor vehicle report he sort of started getting it. When I explained that, even if it was missed in underwriting, but he died during the policy’s contestable period, and they discovered his DWI with a no answer to the DUI question, his family would likely not receive a death benefit, he still only sort of got it. He was a bit disgruntled that I told him for the purpose of this application the answer would be yes.

Another thing that doesn’t get very far with life insurance underwriters is deciding that something really isn’t that important. Leaving out details will almost always come back to bite you. When an agent asks “Have you ever”, don’t assume that it was so long ago that it doesn’t matter.

Real Conversation! So, Mr Smith, when we went through the medical questions prior to you applying and I asked about any history of cancer, you answered no.  The underwriter just emailed to let me know that you had colon cancer 8 years ago. “Well, I heard that cancer didn’t matter after 5 years, so I didn’t think it was important.”

My question was “have you  ever been diagnosed with or treated for cancer”. People ask me why I ask “have you ever”. It’s so I can get all the information, so I can quote accurately and do the best job of finding the best rate.

Bottom line. Don’t play word games and never assume that you know what is or isn’t important to life insurance underwriters. Overkill with information and let them throw out what they don’t need.