News & Views

I have just read an article in todays Cover Magazine here http://tinyurl.com/7dlbkwe  in which Zurich’s head of underwriting is quoted as stating that huge numbers of applications received contain ’embellishments’ of the truth about applicants’ health details.

Why would anyone wish to take out life insurance using information which if succesfully contended at claim stage by the life company might lead to the claim being disallowed? How pointless is that? In stead of (presumably) saving a bit on the premiums, non disclosure risks wasting every penny of the premiums.

Of course in such cases it won’t be the person who is insured who will ever know. It will just come as an extra horrible shock to those who are left. Messy!

As so many of our clients at Moneysworth have pre existing health conditions (including diabetes, heart conditions and other health conditions), it is common for life insurance companies to write to our client’s doctors for medical information before making a final decision. Though on the face of things this might be seen to cause a degree of anxiety during the waiting period, the reality is that at the end of the process clients can feel extra peace of mind, knowing that the insurance company holds a report from their doctor.

In fact in many cases clients say to us that they would prefer the life company to write to their GP so that they can feel safe knowing that medical information HAS been disclosed!

And of course by using Moneysworth our clients know that we have properly researched the market to find the best solution for them individually. Which is important when you consider that different insurance companies charge widely different prices for people with the same health conditions.

So if you have a health condition and want to apply for life insurance make sure that you fully disclose your health information and if possible use the services of a life assurance broker who really does specialise in helping people with pre existing health conditions. That way you will know that you are fully covered and at a good price. 

Whether you have diabetes or whether you are concerned about the possibility of being diagnosed with diabetes in the future you should take a minute to review your life cover. If you need more than its probably a good idea to act sooner rather than later.

Here’s why.

Currently Diabetic? – Once you have started your life cover, the terms (including the premium amounts) are generally guaranteed for the rest of the policy providing that continue to pay your premiums, irrespective of future changes in your health. Delaying taking out cover will generally end up costing you more money when you take out cover at a later date because you will be older. It may also cost you more because of the progress of your diabetes, especially if you develop more complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy or kidney issues. So again arranging your cover now protects you from the effects that future changes are likely to have if you delay. Worse still some future health developments could mean that it becomes impossible to be able to obtain life insurance. One highly relevant example of this would be the future development of any heart issues which is a significant additional risk factor for diabetics. Unfortunately no mainstream insurance companies will offer life cover to any diabetic, type 1 or type 2, who also then goes on to develop a condition such as angina or who has a heart attack. However the life insurance policy terms for those diabetics who arranged their life cover before they developed any heart conditions are still guaranteed, which also means that if death accours as a result of a heart attack you are still covered.

Not Currently Diabetic But Worried About Being Diagnosed With Diabetes In The Future?
You would also be well advised to review your life cover now rather than later. Now you may still be able to obatin life cover at lower premium rates and in the absence of any significant existing health factors there is a good chance that you may be able to so at ‘normal’ premium rates, which are the cheapest premium rates. Again if you take out the cover now these premium rates are generally guaranateed. If you delay sorting out your cover until you are diagnosed with diabetes, expect to pay higher premiums and in some cases much higher premium rates. Also if you delay until you are diagnosed you should expect to experience difficulty in being able to arrange some other valuable benefits, for example critical illness cover. This could mean for example if the purpose of the life insurance is pay off a mortgage that the option to include insurance to pay off the mortgage if you have a heart attack is simply no longer available to you even though the risk of it happening has increased.

I have been trying to get my ahead around some statistics that I came across yesterday.

Sainsbury’s commissioned the research looking at how many people in the UK had mortgages with no life cover in place to repay the outstanding balance. The results show some surprisingly big numbers, much bigger than most would perhaps guess.

Firstly the total figure of  mortgages without life cover is given at £245,000,000,000 – thats a quarter of a trillion. But  ‘billions’ and ‘trillions’ are everyday newspeak terms now, over used by both politicians and news reporters these words have become a sort of TV litter which we therefore tend to ignore as part of the familiar landscape.

Dig a bit deeper into the Sainsbury report figures though and we start to find more meaningful statistics.

The number of people with no life insurance to cover their mortgages? Just under 7 Million, or to put in a more meaningful way  that equals just over 4 in every 10 mortgages. The report goes on to break down this figure between different age bands, as follows

Age       Percentage of mortgage holders unprotected
18-24    62%
25-34    38%
35-44    33%
45-54    30%
55-64    55%
65+       58%

Of course within these figures there will be mortgage holders who have valid reasons for not having life cover. The biggest such group will be single people with no dependants – fair enough. Another group might those with significant personal wealth.

But what about all the others? What about the significant majority who are not particularly wealthy but who do have dependent partners and/or families? What about the growing number of older people who find themselves with mortgages much later in life than they had originally anticipated? What are the reasons why these mortgage holders choose to have no life cover?

Here are some of the common reasons people give when asked.

”I’ve never really thought about it.” –

”Its a waste of money – its  (my death) will probably never happen ”

”Its too expensive – I can’t afford it”

”No one will insure me with my health conditions”

All of these responses deserve a fuller response which is probably worth addressing in future posts and it would be good to hear readers opinions, so if you have one please comment.

But for the moment I should mention one other factor which I suspect lurks in the background for many and that is fear. Fear is a great inhibitor in all aspects of life. Fear changes our behaviour, it makes us more cautious, it makes us avoid action, fear makes us hide.

Generally people tend to fear the unknown. I am not a professional psychologist but based on my own observations fear is especially to do with a future outcome that is not known. Often the reason why people don’t face up to their fears is because they are scared as to what the outcome might be if they do. By avoiding action we feel like we are keeping the possible undesired future outcome at bay. Mostly its a subconcious kind of response.

So how does ‘fear’ apply to this issue of life cover for mortgages?

Perhaps underneath these figures many people are frightened about the questions they may be asked if they do apply for life cover. Perhaps they are frightened of having to reveal ’embarassing’ personal medical information about themselves.

Or perhaps they fear the final outcome  – the fear that if they apply they they might get turned down and  all that that might mean. For example it could confirm their own worst fears that they are going to die sooner rather than later, or in some way mark their financial credit record making it more difficult for them to borrow money in the future if they applied for a loan or mortgage. So some people might choose to avoid applying for life cover in order to avoid some sort of final judgement which they fear might finally mark their cards for good.

But of course fearing something does not mean that it is going to happen.

The problem is that many people are needlessly putting their families at risk by continuing to take no action. Put bluntly if you have no life cover for your mortgage on your family home then your home is at risk.  If you have a family you owe it to your family to seek the appropriate life insurance in order to protect the family home for them.

Of course this for many will involve confronting a fear of the unknown.

But if only people with such fears knew where to look they might be quite surprised at the outcome. Here at www.moneysworth.co.uk we offer a specialist service for people with pre existing health conditions who are seeking life cover, for mortgages or for family protection (for other reasons too). Our service is confidential and non judgemental. We have over a number of years developed and refined a process which is designed to help customers find best outcomes. Each case is indivually researched. Further more our service is fee free to our customers and is with no obligation. Therefore it costs nothing to try.

The results are very encouraging. It should be said that we are not able to offer all customers a 100% guarantee that we will be able to find the life cover that they seek but we are able to help the majority, many of whom have been turned down elsewhere before coming to us. Very often the premiums acheived are considerably less than the customer originally feared.

Customers frequently express a high level of satisfaction with our service and often say that a great weight has been lifted for them. With the peace of mind knowing that their dependants are now protected they no longer need to live in fear.

We wanted to share some good news.

We were recently approached by a lady who was looking for life insurance. Aged in her late 50’s our client had suffered from breast cancer a number of years ago from which she had been in complete remission for a number of years. She also had one or two other conditions which while less significant would often with most insurance companies result in having to pay additional premiums.

The good news is that we were able to obtain life cover for this client at ordinary rates with no increase in premium to cover her previous serious health condition. The life cover includes full cover for death by whatever cause, including cancer(and including breast cancer) and the premiums are guaranteed not to increase in the future.

This is a great result!

The outcomes for life insurance applications from people who have suffered breast cancer in the past,l depend upon a number of factors.

Firstly the person must be in remission.

Secondly it is more common for there to be additional premiums charged to cover the extra perceived risk.
The amount of extra premium will typically depend on a number of different factors including the amount of time since the end of treatment (surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy) and the original sizing and staging. Not every life insurance company will rate the same way and this is where it pays to use the services of a specialist broker such as Moneysworth. In the above case we were able to obtain  £45,000 for less than £30pm.

It is also worth mentioning critical illness cover.

It is often assumed that critical illness cover is not available for anyone who has been previously diagnosed with breast cancer. However while this remains true for some cases it is no longer necessarily correct in all cases. For cases where the initial staging was low and where some time has passed since treatment finished, not only might it be possible to obtain critical illness cover, it may also be possible to do so at very competitive premium levels too. Any future episodes of breast cancer will be excluded from the list of critical illnesses covered, as will any other critical illness which is caused by the initial breast cancer, but apart from that the full range of other critical illnesses normally available will be included in the policy.

So, if you have had breast cancer in the past, your prospects for both life cover and critical illness cover could be brighter than you think.
 

How soon can someone apply for life insurance after suffering a heart attack?

This is a question we are often asked as we receive an increasing amount of enquiries from people who have suffered a heart attack (myocardial infarction). For those affected it is not surprising that their minds should turn to this subject. For having survived a heart attack we are normally given a little while to recover and for many this provides time to consider what the future might hold, especially for our familes and those who financially depend upon us.

For some it can be worrying to realise that they have insufficient life cover to repay the outstanding balance on the mortgage. This means that in the event of their death, amidst and that that would mean to their nearest and dearest, the family home may be at risk as well!

The mind then turns to questions about how difficult it might be to obtain life insurance following a heart attack and how long it might take to arrange for cover to be in place…………..

Well generally speaking the prospects are often better than might at first be assumed.

Firstly if you were over the age of 40 at the time of your heart attack and you have only had one heart attack there is a good chance that you will be able to obtain life insurance. However if your heart attack was severe or if you have further health conditions (eg diabetes) then you may find it difficult to obtain life cover.

Just how long it will take to obtain life cover after your heart attack will vary from one insurance company to another. Generally speaking most life insurance companies will be prepared to offer you cover twelve months after the heart attack and some will even consider offering terms six months.

It may even be possible to do even better than that! We know one or two life companies who may consider applications one month after the client suffering a heart attack, depending on the overall picture.

So if you, or someone you know, has recently suffered a heart attack, if you are worried that you have insufficient life cover in place to sufficiently protect your family, if you think its probably too late to get life cover……… don’t despair. It might be easier to get life cover than you think.

‘There’s nothing worse than an ex-smoker’ it’s said so I’ll start by fessing up to a previous habit. My purpose is not to moralise on the subject (we all make our own choices anyway), I simply want to look at how insurance companies currently view smoking and diabetes. Also just before I get going I should point out that we at Moneysworth help both smoking and non smoking diabetics to obtain life cover, day in day out.

It may seem a bit obvious but we and the life companies all know, as it says on our the packets, that smoking is bad for our health. As mentioned in previous blogs not only do life companies charge significantly higher premiums for smoking, the price differential has been increasing over the years too.

So what about diabetes and smoking? Well did you know that some life companies not only charge extra for both being diabetic and for smoking but also make a further third charge for smoking AND having diabetes? We also know of one major insurance company who automatically decline all type 1 diabetic smokers, regardless of how good the rest of their profile.

So why the nervousness? It’s all to do with cardio vascular risks. Diabetics are at increased risk of cardio vascular events and of course unfortunately diabetes is a progessive illness. Doctors are therefore keen to identify and manage key cardio vascular risk factors in their diabetic patients. Key factors include BMI and a family history of early diagnosis of heart conditions. Many diabetics take statins and in a significant amount of cases this is not due to the patient having a cholesterol problem, but to make sure that they don’t develop one in the future, as this would again provide an additional cardio vascular risk. Blood pressure is another key factor.

Perhaps to some readers the risk of cardio vascular complications for the diabetic does not seem too important or immediate. I would urge such readers to think again. Firstly and most obviously a lot of people do die of heart attacks – and for these the warning signs often come too late ornot at all. Secondly for those diabetics who do manage to survive a heart attack or who are diagnosed with angina for example, the chances of obtaining new life cover currently reduce to nil with all the major UK life companies. I will return to this issue in a later blog.

In the meantime what can smoking diabetics expect when applying for life cover? The truth is that many of them can expect to be declined by a lot of companies. You will save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you use the services of a broker who really specialises in health conditions.  

The significance of smoking for Type 2 sufferers who apply for life cover will depend upon the number and seriousness of other additional (especially cardio vascular) risk factors present as well as the level of smoking. At the very least the premiums will be significantly more expensive and at worst the applicant might struggle to get any life cover at all.

For Type 1 sufferers smoking is even worse and applications are even more likely to end in declinature. The reason why is as follows. Type 1 sufferers tend to have already been living with diabetes for a lot longer than the average Type 2 sufferer who is seeking life cover. This means that they generally start at higher rating bands to begin with. This also means that there is less room for the insurance companies to play with in terms of adding extra amounts of ratings for extra complications, before the cases turn into a ‘decline’. It is still possible for some type 1 diabetic smokers to obtain life cover but its more difficult than for type 2 diabetics.

The news for diabetics who are able to give up smoking for at least 12 months is generally more positive as they can still be treated as non smokers by the life companies. Stopping smoking is likely to result in a more favourable attidue from life companies and cheaper premiums.

So in summary our advice for smoking diabetics is
1) Do seriously consider giving up smoking if at all possible, most importantly it will improve your health in the long term and save you a lot of money.
2) When you give up smoking for 12 months do expect life assurance companies to seek to verify this by way of a cotinine test.
3) Don’t however delay purchasing life cover in the meantime. Waiting until you have stopped smoking for 12 months before applying for life cover may leave your family with little or no protection and the prospect of losing the family home. Its better to find cover now and protect your family even if you apply for a lesser am,ount of cover than you would ideally like. Most people will still stand a good chance of benefitting from reduced premiums when you have stopped smoking for 12 months anyway.
4) Use a specialist broker rather than trying to arrnage the life cover yourself – its quicker and you are likely to get a better result. But make sure the broker really is specialist in arranging life cover for diabetics first.
5) If you think it is unlikely that you will choose to stop smoking in the foreseeable future, then work on the basis that it will become more difficult and more expensive to obtain life cover in the future. Get covered now and keep hold of it!