You order food online, book plane tickets online, bank online, and date online. It stands to reason you can apply for life insurance online, too.
That’s why it surprises some people when, after they submit some information for their online life insurance application, they have to jump on a phone call with a life insurance carrier.
A phone interview is a normal part of the life insurance application process. But if you’re applying online, you probably did so because you didn’t want to talk to anyone in the first place. You might think it’s a hassle. But a phone screening is painless, and if you’re prepared properly, you can get it over with in no time.
What to expect from a life insurance phone interview
If you’re applying online, why do you even need to get on the phone?
Sites like PolicyGenius get enough information from you upfront to give you an accurate estimate of what your life insurance premiums will be. But the life insurance carrier is the one who sets the final rates, and they want to take an even closer look at how much it’ll cost to insure you. This is what’s known as the underwriting process; the carrier is finding out your risk level – the probability that you’ll die over the term of your policy – and setting your premiums accordingly.
The life insurance interview questions are a way for the carriers to get a more accurate read on your risk, and make sure they have all of the identifiable data they’ll need about you. They’ll also be able to clarify any of the information you’ve provided up to this point so everyone is on the same page.
Everything that’s said during this phone interview is confidential (you can read up on HIPAA laws for more detail) so there’s no need to fear your personal information being leaked. The phone call usually only takes between 15 and 30 minutes, so it’s easy to get out of the way and won’t take up much of your day. Plus, if you do a little prep work beforehand, it goes even faster.
How to prepare for your life insurance phone interview
The easiest way to get through your phone screening is to have all of the information you need at the ready. Some of it you’ll know off the top of your head, while some you should dig up before your call.
Here’s information you need to find documents for if you don’t know the information offhand:
Your driver’s license number and Social Security number. Here's why insurers need this info.
Your medical history information, including doctors, treatments, and any prescription drugs.
Other life insurance policies you have. Insurers want to make sure you aren’t over-insured.
Financial information, like income and net worth (assets minus liabilities). This helps ensure you’re getting the right level of coverage.
Citizenship documentation. If you’re a visa holder, you may have to choose your carrier more carefully.
The contact information for your doctors and your treatment history are helpful, but it’s also good to have a general idea of your health history and your family’s health history.
Whether you’ve lost weight, quit smoking, or have a history of cancer, the insurance company wants to know so they can take that into account when they’re setting your rates. They’ll also want to know about your family’s health history, to see if there’s any hereditary diseases that might play a role in your future health.
Habits and hobbies
The underwriting process is all about figuring out how risky you are to insure. That’s why, during your phone interview, you’ll be asked about any dangerous hobbies you partake in. That includes things like racing, scuba diving, mountain climbing, skydiving, or hang gliding. You’ll also be specifically asked about aviation hobbies.
Finally, because they can lead to bigger health problems down the line, you’ll be asked about your smoking and drinking habits.
Confirmation of medical exam
One final piece of the underwriting puzzle is the paramedical exam. This is like your standard physical: A technician takes some body measurements like height, weight, and blood pressure, you’ll probably give a blood and urine sample, and you’re on your way. The whole thing usually takes under 30 minutes, and you can schedule it at your home or office at your convenience.
The phone interview is where you can schedule your exam, so it’s another thing to cross off your list.
Keep in mind that more and more insurers are offering accelerated underwriting policies, where they’re compiling data to get a look at your overall risk without having you go through the medical exam. If you apply for an accelerated underwriting policy, you can cut several weeks off of your application timeline at no extra cost, so it’s worth looking into. Learn more about accelerated underwriting policies here.
The life insurance interview questions might seem like a pain at first, but once you realize what’s involved, it’s obvious that it’s a pretty quick process. If you schedule your call as soon as possible and have all the information you’ll need at the ready, you’ll be one step closer to signing your policy.