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Risk Related Insurance Premiums

Jan 10, 2008
When an individual applies for life insurance, most companies will ask for a full medical history. This helps them to determine your risk of developing diseases later on in life and this, in turn, will decide the premiums you will pay.

It is recommended that you actually look at your own medical records so that nothing slips by undisclosed. Sometimes, doctors will make notes on your file that even you are not aware of. Some life insurance companies can use these undisclosed events as a way of refusing to pay out in the event of a claim.

This can happen even if the undisclosed illness has no bearing on the illness or death of the claimant. They will see it as an act of dishonesty and many cases have been fought over the subject.

It also works in our favour to look after ourselves, given the guidelines that medical authorities give us. These guidelines are also passed on to life insurance companies and they will make reductions in our premiums if we can show we are living a healthy lifestyle.

But do they have a responsibility to assess all the latest findings from tests run by the authorities to then further reduce premiums for life insurance?

A woman will find it virtually impossible to get life insurance cover while she is pregnant but do the insurance companies then take into account that with each child born, her risk of developing breast cancer is reduced by 7%? Do they know whether or not she will breastfeed for up to a year, further reducing her risk of breast cancer by another 4%?

Even in families where breast cancer is prevalent, if a woman has an early childbirth, after the initial raise in risk her chances of developing the disease then fall beyond that of a childless mother with familial incidents of the disease.

Studies carried out in Denmark found that mothers of children who suffered cancers in their early years were a third more likely to develop breast cancer than expected. It is thought that this is due to the mother-child interaction during pregnancy and is also hormone related. The risk is further increased if the child is a male.

Do life insurance companies ever ask if the insured were breastfed? This factor alone reduces the risk of adult obesity, with all its life threatening implications, to a level that should merit lower premiums.

Fathers, also, do not go through parenthood without changing their risks of developing cancer, but this is overlooked by life insurance companies. A medical study of one million men in Denmark revealed that fathers are 16% more likely to develop prostate cancer than childless men.

Fathers with six or more children were less likely to develop the most common cause of male cancer, possibly showing that men who are able to have large families have healthier prostates but that does not account for the men that are able, but choose not to, have so many children.

Officials are confused over the results as there is no obvious link. The only thing these results can be attributable to is a difference in lifestyle with single, childless men more likely to look after themselves.

Given that prostate cancer kills 10,000 men every year in the UK, these studies may well be worth looking at from the viewpoint of life insurance companies.
About the Author
Insurance expert Catherine Harvey looks at whether of life insurance policies should be affected by new medical information. To find out more please visit http://www.theidol.com/
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