Impaired life

If the proposer is found to be what the underwriters call an impaired life (i.e. someone with less than average life expectancy) then the question is how much extra premium they will require on a given policy and sum assured. Practice varies widely, first in regard to the normal acceptable limit for "first-class" lives - some companies will take on at normal rates those whom other companies would require to pay an extra premium - and secondly in regard to the actual loading of premium required for particular ailments or disabilities. One company may regard a minor thrombosis lightly and require no extra premium, while another may take it much more seriously. Although most offices today adopt a reasonable attitude to underwriting requirements, anyone with an impairment needs the advice of someone familiar with the attitudes of different life offices and capable of selecting the one that is suitable.

The occupation of the proposer normally has no bearing on the rate of premium, but there are a few occupations which through experience companies have found to have a higher mortality rate and for which a higher premium may be charged. These incude miners, deep-sea divers, publicans, steeplechase jockeys and steeplejacks. (In peacetime, members of the armed forces are normally accepted at standard rates unless they are, say, aircrew, bomb disposal squad, or are likely to be posted to a political troublespot.) The extra premium charged in any of the above cases varies from company to company. The loading will amount to a substantial percentage on pure life-protection policies (it could add 50-76% to the annual premium on an FIB or term policy) but to a much smaller one on with-profit policies (where it might be 5-N0%).

It should be added, however, that if a policy is taken out while the proposer is in a non-risky occupation (such as driving a goods vehicle) then the office has no power to raise the premium if he later moves to a risky one (like coal mining).


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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... see: Medical Questions


Of interest