Medical Questions

The proposal form asks for the name of your doctor. Ideally the company wants to be referred to a doctor who has known the proposer for some years, the longer the better so far as the company is concerned. If you have recently moved or changed your doctor, it is important to give the name of your previous doctor as well as the present one (some companies take the trouble to spell this out in their proposal forms, but others do not).

The actual form of the medical questions in the proposal form is not always as clear as it might be. "Have you had any medical, surgical or psychiatric treatment or advice (other than for the common cold or trivial injury) in the last five years?" is clear, if demanding rather more than can reasonably be expected of the average person's memory. "Have you consulted any doctor in the last five years?" is unnecessarily wide and forces the proposer to select those occasions that could be considered relevant. Likewise, questions referring to "serious illness or injury" may be capable of more than one interpretation. It is always best to answer fully and accurately and give more detail than you think is really relevant, rather than too little. Before you sign the proposal form you should read your answers carefully, and this is particularly important if the form is being completed by someone else on your behalf.

Today the majority of life insurance policies are issued without the requirement of a medical examination, even though to issue a policy without one was a rare event only 25 years ago. The expense and unpopularity with policyholders of such examinations have led to their being required only when the sum assured is a large one (large, that is, in relation to the average for that class of business for the company concerned) or the policy is on an older life, or both. Non-medical limits currently range from £120,000 to £150,000 sum assured at ages up to 50; over the age of 55, most companies will require a medical unless the sum assured is small. Where no examination is required, companies may send your doctor a medical questionnaire for completion which goes into rather more detail than the simple questions on the proposal form. So long as this does not throw up anything that the insurance company's underwriters regard as questionable, you will be accepted, but if any point arises that the underwriters regard as indicative of significantly worse-than-average health or life expectancy, you will be asked to take a medical examination. In most cases this examination will be performed by a doctor selected by the company, not your own GP. He receives a fee from the company for his report. In some cases the company may allow you to be examined by your own doctor. This concession is most often allowed to women, who tend to be more sensitive in such matters.

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Practical Considerations

The Proposal Form

The starting-point for a life insurance contract is a proposal form. The policy itself is the expression of a contract between the purchaser of the policy and the company. This contract is based on the information given in the proposal form, and if this information is later proved to be false the company will be within its legal rights in repudiating the contract or reducing the benefits payable. It is important, therefore, to answer all questions on the proposal form as accurately as possible.

Apart from annuities, where quotations are based on age attained,... see: Practical Considerations

Of interest