How your family medical history can affect your life insurance premium

Medical HistoryMost of us realise that when we apply for life insurance, our insurer is going to ask a lot of questions about our physical and mental well-being.

It’s common to be asked about pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and other serious illnesses as well as lifestyle choices, especially smoking and even mental health diagnoses you might have had such as stress, depression or anxiety.

If your insurance company believes there is a greater chance of you passing away during the term of your life policy, they’ll charge you more to cover themselves for this eventuality.

As harsh as it sounds, most of us are prepared for these questions when we apply for life insurance.  However, it is increasingly common for insurers to take your family’s medical history into account when calculating your premium.

What insurers want to know about your family history

The insurance company’s underwriters will know that many serious medical conditions run in families.  That means if your parents or siblings have been diagnosed with a serious illness, there is a greater probability that you could develop the same condition.

Examples include:

  • certain kinds of cancer
  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • diabetes

If close relatives of yours have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, you are likely to be charged higher rates.

Don’t try to hide your family medical history

It’s inadvisable to try to hide yours or your family’s medical history from your insurer as the consequences for you if they find out the truth could be very costly.

Most insurers will write to your GP and ask for your medical records.  They’re even more likely to follow up like this if you’re taking out a high level of cover.  Some insurers also require you to undergo a medical exam.

If you try to conceal your medical history, it is likely that you will be found out.  When you pass away, the insurance company will enquire into the cause and contributing factors of your death.  If it emerges that you lied about any pre-existing medical conditions, your insurance will be considered void and your insurer will not be obliged to pay out to your beneficiaries.

How your family medical history will affect your quote

Insurers take many factors into consideration including the severity of the condition, how many of your immediate family developed the condition and how old they were at the onset of symptoms.  If only one of your immediate family members had a certain condition, it may well have no effect on your premium.

Typically, insurers look for family illnesses diagnosed before the ages of 60 or 65.  If they discover a history of illness, the insurer will either increase your premium or exclude this condition from the policy.

All insurers have different guidelines and policies.  Some may not even ask about your family history, which means it’s worth taking the time to research various companies and compare if you know your family medical history may affect your premium.

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