What NOT To Say On An Insurance Application

Question About Insurance ApplicationLast week someone visited this blog by searching, “What are the best answers when completing health insurance application?”  I want to focus on that question this morning.

It may sound like a simple question.  The correct answer can be complex.

When answering questions on any application for insurance you should always be honest and tell the truth.  If you do not, the answers you give can cause you problems in the future.


Insurance companies rely on the answers you give them on the application during the underwriting process.  They assume that what you tell them is accurate.

A problem can arise in the future if you “tell a little white lie.”  If you tell an insurance company that you have quit smoking, you may get a better rate on your monthly premium.

Unfortunately, if you develop lung cancer 6 months later, the insurance company has the right to investigate your claim before they pay your doctors.  If their investigation finds that you were smoking cigarettes at the time you completed your application, they have a legal right to cancel your policy as if it had never been issued.

If that happens, it is the same thing as being found guilty of insurance fraud.  If you are going to lie on your application for insurance, you are taking a huge chance.


If withholding information is a bad thing, so is giving too much information.  I am not advocating that you do not divulge negative information about your health history.  I am just saying that the information you give needs to be accurate.

Insurance underwriters speak “Medicalese.”  It is a language in which your doctor and nurses are fluent.  The average American – not so much.  Underwriters and medical professionals are able to communicate with each other when most of us cannot.

In the past I have seen applications for health insurance declined because the applicant stated, “I have a touch of Arthritis in my knee.”  The problem is not that they have pain in their knee.  The problem is that the word “Arthritis” means something different to an underwriter than it does to the every-day American.

Many of us experience pain in our joints when it is cold and wet outside.  In fact, that is one of the reasons why many “snow-birds” migrate from Michigan and other northern states to Florida and Texas during the winter.  A 70 degree day in Houston is better on the knees than a 7 degree day in Detroit.

Arthritis is a medical condition.  My sister suffers from it.  Arthritis has various types and levels.  Unfortunately, many people say they have Arthritis when what they mean is that their joints hurt in the cold and wet.  When an individual uses the word, “Arthritis” an underwriter has no option but to assume the worst.  The same is true whenever an applicant uses any medical term.


  1. Read the application’s questions – Every question on an application will have a time reference.  Some questions only ask for information for the past 2, 5 or 10 years.  Some questions ask, “Have you EVER …”  Confine your answers to the time period for which you are asked.
  2. Answer questions honestly – The very last thing that you want is to be accused of insurance fraud and have a claim declined.  One way to make certain that does not happen is to be truthful on your application.
  3. Direct an underwriter to someone who speaks their language – In our culture, it is natural for you to want to be helpful. Unfortunately, it is possible to be too helpful.  By trying to be helpful, many people have actually hurt themselves.  The reason is that they do not speak the same language as underwriters.  Unless you are reading directly off a pill bottle or letter from your doctor, give underwriters the name and address of your doctor.  They will get your medical records from someone who speaks their language.
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