How long will it take for a decision to be made on my life insurance application?
The short answer is; 1 to two weeks. This is how long it takes if everything goes smoothly and all information is readily available. It will take about this long for an underwriter to review your application and medical information, make a decision on your application, submit the application for issue, have the policy issued and double-checked, then have the policy mailed or emailed to you.
Unfortunately, life insurance applications are rarely perfect. Here’s some common things that can add time to your life insurance application, as well as tips on how to expedite the process.
Taking Your Phone Interview:
Once your application is submitted, you’ll either have a medical interview with a paramedical in person, or much more commonly these days, a telephone interview to collect your medical history.
Underwriters don’t start looking at your application until at least this base level of information is received. Therefore, any timeframe between the time your application is submitted and your telephone interview will be added onto the total time to make a decision. If you book your phone interview two weeks from now, that will delay your decision for an additional two weeks. There’s little to no pre-processing that can be done on your application without this information so your application is simply held in the queue until your telephone interview is completed. Therefore, you should attempt to schedule your telephone interview as quickly as possible after you’ve submitted your application.
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Full And Complete Details:
Underwriters need full data to evaluate your risk profile. Dates, symptoms, medications, and resolutions are all important information. The more information they have, the quicker they can make a decision. Thus, when doing your telephone interview, you should be as detailed as you can.
For example, a typical answer to a question might be something like this:
- I had (some condition) at age 23 but it’s over now.
Far better would be to provide the following information:
- I had (symptoms) at age 23 for about 3 months.
- I saw my family doctor, they ordered the following tests (test 1, test 2).
- Tests were negative and/or showed the following results.
- Family doctor diagnosed me with (condition) at that time.
- Family doctor prescribed (medication) for six months.
- I completed the medication regime, all symptoms were resolved and I’ve had no further issues since.
So again, try to provide information on those four areas: Dates, symptoms, medications, and resolutions.
Providing this level of information allows the underwriter to quickly review and discard potential medical issues. Insufficient information will lead the underwriter to having to dig deeper to get full details, including asking followup questions or ordering additional reports.
And as you might expect, if they come back with a followup question or clarification, they’ll send that followup to your agent and then place your file back into the queue until it’s answered. The time it takes your agent to receive the question, connect with you, submit the new information back to the underwriter and have the underwriter pull your application back from the queue will add days to your processing time.
Avoid Doctor’s Reports (APS):
An APS is the acronym for Attending Physician’s Statement – basically a report from your family doctor.
These are often ordered when life insurance policy applicants have provided insufficient information. Thus the section above – full and complete details – can also prevent or cause the need for an APS. Providing full information can sometimes prevent the need for an APS request by the underwriter.
However, sometimes there’s no avoiding an APS request – occasionally medical details simply require lab or test results only available from your doctor. When this happens, this can cause substantial delays – often weeks added to your application. We’ll explain why this is, and show you how you can limit this timeframe easily.
Doctors are busy, your doctor is likely busy as well. Therefore when an underwriter sends an APS request to your family doctor (and then places your application back into the queue – nothing happens while they’re waiting for the APS), responses from doctors are highly variable. Some doctors initiate a response within days. Other doctors seem to place the requests onto a ‘someday, when I have time’ pile, ignoring the request for weeks. This
delay again gets added onto the total time it takes to process your application.
But! There’s something you can do to speed this up substantially. Because doctors don’t work for life insurance companies, they may not see the response as a priority. However, most doctors do see their clients as a priority. Therefore, if an APS is requested for your life insurance policy application, we recommend that you send your doctor a quick email along these lines:
We’ve applied for some life insurance and understand they’ve requested a medical report from you. Just wanted to give you a heads up to expect that request in the next day or so.
That simple email just reframes the APS request as being for your benefit (not the life insurance company) and most doctors in our experience will ensure that they respond to the APS request promptly. That simple email can shave weeks off of your application time.
Respond To Your Advisor Promptly
This is obvious, but delays in response to advisor questions again simply add directly onto the total time required to get your policy in place.
Examples of this would be follow up medical questions requested by the underwriter, requests for signatures on banking documents, and even the final signatures required to place your policy in force. If you’re unavailable for a couple of days (because life happens, stuff takes time and you have other priorities of course), then again the entire process is delayed.
So there you have it. The basic process is a week or two, but routine administration and data gathering can add to that timeframe. To minimize delays, disclose information thoroughly during your telephone interview, send your doctor a note letting them know to expect an APS, and make sure you respond to your advisor as soon as you’re free. Do all of that, and you’ll have your policy in the fastest time possible!