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If in doubt, leave it in - understanding non-disclosure

Seema Bangera

By Seema Bangera
Executive Manager, Life Claims and Customer Solutions

30 November 2017

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Non-disclosure can be a huge bone of contention for insurance customers, who are worried that something they forgot to mention years ago could affect their claim if something goes wrong.

Of all the claims we receive, only about 1-2% are declined due to non-disclosure. But although the numbers are low, the impact on an individual customer can be big. 

It’s a situation we never want to see our customers in, so we work proactively with advisers to help customers understand their duty of disclosure.

If you’re thinking about applying for life insurance, we’ve put together a few things you should know about what you need to disclose, and why it matters.

Why does disclosure matter?

When you apply for a policy, we ask for information that allows us to tailor and price your insurance according to your specific circumstances. 

‘Non-disclosure’ refers to information that you haven’t told us (whether deliberately or accidentally) that might have affected the cover we offered you.

Let's work together to ensure you're covered

What we'll do

  • Underwriting when you take out your policy

    At Asteron Life, we underwrite when you apply for insurance. If you disclose information about your mental or physical health when you apply for cover, there are lots of things we can do.

    For example, we might adjust your policy terms or premiums, request your medical records or ask that you get some medical tests done. But if you’ve disclosed a medical condition in your application and we’ve accepted your application, you’ll be covered.

  • Working with you at claim time

    If you make a claim, we sometimes need to access your medical records for information on your condition, and we might become aware of medical information that you didn’t disclose when you applied for insurance.

    If that happens, what we try to figure out is, ‘would we have given you the same cover, if we had known this information?’. Sometimes the answer is no, but often it’s more complex. 

    If the missing information is ‘material’ (meaning it would have affected our decision to insure you), we might ‘avoid’ your policy. ‘Avoidance’ means the policy never existed, so you won’t get your cover - but we don’t get your premiums either. They’ll be refunded.

    But if we can, we’ll do our best to work with you to offer you cover for the future.

    Whatever happens, we’ll respond reasonably based on what we would have done at the time you applied for insurance.

What you can do

  • Keep records

    It’s a good idea to keep written records of your application and your conversation with your adviser. That way, if we query something when you make a claim, you’ll be able to remember what you told us.

  • Double-check your paperwork

    If an adviser is helping you with your application, make sure you double check it before signing it, to ensure that everything you’ve said has been noted on the form.

  • If in doubt, leave it in

    If you’re not sure whether something might matter, the best approach is to include it on your application. Then the responsibility lies with us to check it out, and if we accept your application then you’ll know you’re covered.

  • Understand when you need to disclose

    You know that you need to disclose your medical information when you first apply for life insurance (including anything that changes between when you apply and when the policy starts, which can take a few weeks). But it’s also important to remember to disclose anything new that’s happened to you if you’re changing your policy, increasing your sum insured or switching insurance providers.

The information in this article has been compiled from various sources and is intended to be factual information only. It is not personal advice and any description of an insurance product or service is not a complete description of all the terms and conditions applicable to the particular insurance product or service. You should consult a qualified adviser for advice on whether the information in this article is suitable for your personal situation and needs. While we take reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate and up-to-date, it is subject to change without notice. Asteron Life Limited and its related companies does/do not accept any responsibility or liability in connection with your use of or reliance on this article.

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