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Life Insurance

Applying For Life Insurance: Why You Should Be An Open Book

By Alexandra Macqueen, CFP® • Published December 18, 2020 • 4 Min Read

When you're applying for life insurance, you may be asked questions that can sometimes come as a surprise, so let's prepare for them. It's important to ensure that all your answers are accurate because inaccuracy can affect your claim.

At a restaurant, a server may ask you if you have any food allergies so your meal won’t make you sick. A fitness coach might ask your height, weight and body measurements so they can accurately track your progress as you move through a fitness program. Most people have had to provide some sort of personal information to a company in exchange for a product or service; however, the kinds of personal information can vary as well as people’s comfort level in providing it.

Buying life insurance is another experience where you’ll be asked a series of personal questions. When you’re applying for life insurance, the application process is designed to collect all the information that is relevant to prepare your quote for insurance coverage.

Here are the kinds of personal information of you should expect to provide as part of applying for life insurance.

1. Your Current and Past Health Status

Depending on the amount and type of insurance you’re applying for, you may need to provide detailed information about your current and past health.

Questions may include if you or a family member has a history of certain health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, or if there is a history of serious illnesses like cancer or heart disease. You may also be asked about the health of your family members as it might indicate a pre-disposition to certain health issues. Other possible questions include if you’ve had surgeries or treatments for health issues, and any medications you’ve taken.

Other details like your weight, cholesterol level and your blood pressure may be checked and confirmed as a part of your application. You might even be asked to provide blood and urine samples for the insurance company to have analyzed in order to confirm the answers you’ve provided, as well as to assess your overall health.

Finally, sometimes an insurance company will check with your doctors to verify that the information you’ve provided is complete and correct.

2. Your Current Job

Your insurance application may require information about the kinds of things you do at work, to assess the risks you may face in your day-to-day life.

For example, you might need to describe if you travel for work and if so, where and how often. You will be asked about the type of work you do — to determine if you’re in a relatively higher risk occupation, like a firefighter. Whether you commute to work or work from a home office may also impact your policy.

3. The Things You Do Outside Of Work

Your application may require information about your hobbies and the things you do for fun. Are you a rock-climber or a cave-diver? If you take a tropical vacation, do you snorkel, scuba-dive, or relax on the beach with a book? How much alcohol do you drink in a week, and what — if anything — do you smoke, and how often?

Although it might seem unrelated to a life insurance application, your driving history might also be reviewed. This allows the insurance company to see if you’ve been ticketed for speeding or other offenses which might indicate a higher risk.

Why Does Your Life Insurance Company Need to Know So Much About Your Life?

Your life insurance policy is an agreement between you and your insurance provider where they agree to pay the death benefit — the amount of money you requested to be insured for, should you pass away while insured. Part of that agreement includes providing the personal information so your policy accurately represents you and your lifestyle.

Answering the kinds of questions that you’ll find on a life insurance application may be challenging because they might seem like more information than necessary. You may also be tempted to try and put your “best self forward,” by minimizing or downplaying some of the facets of your life, but remember your insurance agent wants to know and understand the real you so you can be fully protected.

While there are life insurance applications that require less medical questions, those applications typically offer lower death benefits.

When you’re applying for life insurance coverage, being an “open book” and providing accurate information is one of the most important steps to help make sure you have the right coverage and that it’ll be a smoother process to make a claim. Inaccurate information on a life insurance application can impact your claim payment so don’t hesitate to ask more questions and take your time; our licensed insurance advisors are here to help.


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*Home and auto insurance products are distributed by RBC Insurance Agency Ltd. and underwritten by Aviva General Insurance Company. In Quebec, RBC Insurance Agency Ltd. Is registered as a damage insurance agency. As a result of government-run auto insurance plans, auto insurance is not available through RBC Insurance in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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