Family History

Most insurance companies will typically ask you this question on your Life or Critical Illness insurance application: “Has any family member (whether living or deceased) ever suffered from, or is any family member suffering from, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer (specify type), diabetes, polycystic kidney disease, mental illness, Huntington’s Chorea, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), motor neuron disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease or any other hereditary disease?”

If you answer yes, depending on what the condition is, you may be rated (i.e. pay a higher premium), be declined or be approved standard.

I had a client whose mother was diagnosed with bone cancer in her early 40s. She was rated and her premium was a little higher each month but it wasn’t much, maybe $10 per month. Another client’s father had had a heart attack and a brother had high cholesterol; the policy was issued standard. Yet another client that had two sisters who’d had breast cancer (one had passed away); her policy was declined and the insurance company said they would never consider giving her coverage.

The key is to be very up front with your Financial Advisor. Make sure you tell him or her about your family history before you complete a formal application. Your advisor can make inquiries to different companies to see if they will insure you before you actually apply for the coverage. There are companies that will take higher risk cases but you have to be careful. They may ask, “Within the past two years, have you applied for life insurance, which has been declined or postponed for medical reasons? Or have you ever applied for life insurance, disability insurance or critical illness insurance in the past?”

If you answer “yes” some companies may make you wait or defer you for two years to purchase a critical illness insurance policy. Let your advisor know what your family history and they can do some leg work so that you don’t go through the process of applying and then have a declined application on your record.

Your Health History Isn’t Good

If you have had a heart attack, cancer or stroke, then you may be concerned about a reoccurrence. Thankfully there are a few companies on the market in Canada that sell critical illness insurance to someone who has had one of these conditions. 

In the case where the client was declined because her two sisters had had breast cancer, I was able to get her critical illness insurance through a higher risk company. The advisor with whom she initially applied for the coverage didn’t do a preliminary inquiry for her. It all worked out and she was able to get critical illness insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone that sells life insurance is a broker and has the ability to shop over 20 companies like we do, so make sure you do your homework.

Your advisor can submit a trial application for you. This is a preliminary application that assesses your insurability for medical impairments, lifestyle choices, hobbies, financial background, etc.

Some of the companies we deal with that offer some form of insurance for the hard to insure.