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What should you disclose to your insurer?

Insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong so you’ll want to make sure that if you ever needed to claim your insurance policy remains valid and you receive the full benefit which you’ve been paying for.

There are certain instances where not providing the correct information when asked could result in your policy being cancelled, or that you end up receiving a smaller payout.

This guide explains what could happen if you take out a life insurance policy but you fail to disclose the relevant information to your insurance provider.

What information do I need to provide?

When applying for a life insurance policy, your insurer will ask you a number of questions relating to your age, height, weight, medical status etc. They need to do this in order to work out what the risk is of insuring you, and ultimately how much to charge you for the privilege of being insured.

You should answer all questions to the best of your ability – and always truthfully.

For a life insurance policy, the insurer will require information about your current health and medical history. You may be asked to provide quite a lot of detail that might be difficult to remember off the top of your head, so it may be wise to prepare this information before you apply for life insurance. If you are in any doubt, you are legally entitled to ask your doctor to see your medical notes so you can provide a clear picture to your insurer.  

The consequences of non-disclosure can be serious. If you do not provide the insurer with all the information that they have asked for – or are found to be withholding certain information, this could affect their decision to insure you. If you have an insurance policy, obtained under false pretences, your policy may be voided when you make a claim.

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What could be classed as non-disclosure?

There are a number of things that people lie about when applying for life insurance, as in most circumstances your answers could affect the price you pay for your premium.

Smokers are likely to pay up to 50% more for their premium than non-smokers so it’s tempting to tell the insurer that you don’t smoke, despite having a regular habit. Even if you only smoke occasionally, it is something you’ll need to declare.

Although you may not require a medical to obtain life insurance, it is common practice for insurers to spot check the medical records of applicants in order to weed out the dishonest customers. If your medical records show that you are a smoker, or there are any conditions that ring any alarm bells, your application may be declined.

If you have a life insurance policy, and die from a smoking-related illness, but have been paying your premium as a non-smoker, the insurance company may either cancel your policy and refuse a payout or alternatively may offer a lesser payout which makes up for the difference in premium between a smoker and a non-smoker.

It doesn’t matter how much you’ve paid into the policy either – you could have been paying your premiums for thirty or forty years, however if you are found to have given false information, your policy can be treated as if it never existed in the first place.

Insurer responsibility

In 2013, a new law was introduced which states that it is the responsibility of the insurer to make it clear to customers exactly what information is required, rather than expecting the customer to volunteer the information.

This should mean that your insurer will ask all the relevant questions they need in order to establish your particular circumstances, but the result still relies on you to answer as truthfully as you can to the best of your ability.

If you are worried about applying for a life insurance policy, it may help to speak to a professional life insurance specialist. They will be able to search the market on your behalf to find the best life insurance policy for you, which will save you the legwork of obtaining your own quotes from a number of different providers – which often means you’ll need to answer the same set questions over and over.

Using a life insurance adviser to help find you the right policy, means you’ll only have to answer one set of questions so the process doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. They are used to detailing all the essential information you need to provide.

Being open and honest at the time of your application can lead to a successful application, and should you need to claim in the future could save your family from a lot of heartbreak if the claim was denied.

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