Life insurance and critical illness policies may be canceled or voided if insurers find out people have lied about their state of health, and this could prove to already be a problem for millions of policy holders. Norwich Union has conducted a study which revealed that one in 14 customers did not provide correct information about their health and lifestyle when applying for life insurance policies.
Common factors people lied about were the amount they smoke or drink, their weight and any existing health problems. Smokers are commonly charged three times as much as non-smokers for life insurance, and this is the most common lie told to insurers. In many cases people did not just reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, but denied smoking all together.
Norwich Union’s study was based on 5,000 of their customers, during which they asked for any omissions or untrue facts people had told on their life insurance policies, to be confessed. The inaccurate information many people had supplied could make their policy void in the event they needed to make a claim.
Steven Weisbart, an economist for the Insurance Information Institute has pointed out that numerous claims to insurers are denied each year; this can be distressing to a grieving family. If the deceased has failed to include vital information in their application for life insurance it could be their families that are left to suffer the consequences.
People who, throughout their life believed that when they died their family would receive a lump sum payment from their insurer could in fact be leaving behind their family financial hell.
Before any life insurance policy is issued, the insurer will review medical records and blood and urine tests will be administered. If these initial tests catch any white lies that have been told the insurer will ‘red-flag’ the applicant, making policies more expensive and companies less willing to offer insurance in the future.
Norwich union conducted another study which revealed a different, and higher, number of people who lie on life insurance applications. This study exposed that 15% of people are not always truthful when applying for cover; this is a big difference to when Norwich union asked customers to confess to any misdemeanors, it seems some of the company’s customers are still not willing to come clean.
As well as confessing to mistruths when applying for cheap life insurance, it was revealed that 52% of men and 43% of women say they regularly lie to employers, friends, family and colleagues about the state of their health.
Byron Udell, founder and CEO of AccuQuote, a web based company that offers free online insurance quotes, said: “There are so many opportunities to get caught. Even if you are skilled enough to fool the blood tests by abstaining for enough days to clear your blood of the nicotine, if the policy gets issued, and you subsequently die within a few years, and they find out you lied, all your family will be entitled to is a refund of the premiums you paid.”
Lying on life insurance policies is a big risk, people who do so are chancing personal and financial disaster if they are caught. Life insurance policies are safety nets for loved ones if the unthinkable should happen, telling a lie could ruin this intention and bring another nasty shock for relatives.
Following its results Norwich Union plans on challenging all of its two million life insurance customers to confess to any omissions or lies included in their policies. Those who have not told the truth will face either sharp premium increases of having their policy canceled.
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