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The Disability Insurance Application & The Paramedical Exam

by Steve Crawford

"Don't Have An Exam If You Recently Exercised"

The Disability Insurance Application

Filling out a disability insurance application can be confusing if you have never done it before. However if you simply start at the beginning, and answer each question individually it is not that hard. The most important thing to remember is to answer every question honestly, and to error on the side of telling too much. Do not hold back on anything, the worst thing you could do is not tell the insurance company about something that occurred in your past. Then when you need a claim paid, the insurance company could have a case of possible misrepresentation or fraud against you. Tell them everything up front, and use your insurance agent for advice when filling out the application.

Basic Information

The vast majority of the application is basic information. What is your full name, street address, social security number, etc...Feel free to breeze through this part, just fill it out accurately. Once you get to the occupation section, slow down and spend some time providing the insurance company details to your occupation. There is a good chance this piece of the application will be used when determining a possible claim. Total disability is often defined as the inability to perform the material and substantial duties of your regular occupation, so when the insurance company is trying to determine whether or not your sickness or accident prevents you from performing these duties, one of the first places they look is your original application. "General Duties Of A Dentist" can work if you are a dentist, the vast majority of dentists do a lot of the same work. However, if you are a consultant, "General Duties OF A Consultant" doesn't come close to describing what you do for a living. Protect yourself by listing what you need to be able to do to continue in your occupation. Driving to appointments, having client meetings on site in several states, preparing data, working with a PC, problem solving, managing people and many other duties should be listed on the application if you need to be able to do them.

Financial Information

Most disability insurance carriers underwrite you based upon what you can verify. If you are making more money this year than you did last year, make sure to show the insurance company somehow. Provide them with a copy of your most recent paystubs, a copy of a recently signed employment agreement, notice of a raise, etc...You will also be required to show last year's income documentation as well unless you just started working in this new occupation. Usually your most recent tax return will suffice, however if it is a joint return you may need to show your W-2 as well so that the insurance company can distinguish between the spouses incomes. Don't be alarmed about providing your personal financial information to the insurance company, there is no way they are going to give it out to anybody else, they simply have too much to lose. They must verify your income level, when insurance companies over-insure somebody that person has less of an incentive to return to work if they possibly could, and insurance carriers design plans so that when a person is on claim they still have an incentive to return to work if they could.

Medical Information

The disability insurance application is designed to obtain a complete medical history of you. Give them what they want, nothing makes an insurance company more nervous than an applicant who turns in an application with all "NO" answers. Apparently this applicant has never been to the doctor, so not even the applicant knows what is wrong with them. A normal person has several "Yes" answers on the medical section of an application. Most disability insurance applications now ask if you have been to a physician within the past several years, they actually hope you have so that they can obtain medical records from that visit. I can sum up how to answer every "Yes" answer by having you follow these rules:

What did I have? What was the diagnosis?
When was it diagnosed?
When was the last time it happened, when was last time it happened and I required treatment?
How was I treated? What medications was I given? What was the amount of medication used?
How does this impact my ability to perform the duties of my occupation?
Make sure that every "Yes" answer on the disability insurance application has the supporting details that answer the above questions.

The Paramedical Exam

I use the term paramedical exam to refer to the visit from a nurse who takes a blood test, urine sample and asks you a bunch of medical questions you have already answered several times. Depending on the company it may also require a blood pressure reading and scaled height and weight. A couple tips to provide the best results to the insurance company for you;

  1. Schedule the time for the morning, sometime around 9 or 10am. Usually you have not been involved in your day enough to let stress get the better of you. You may provide better BP readings in the morning.
  2. Don't have an exam if you have had strenuous exercise within 7 days, and no exercise within 12 hours.
  3. No smoking within 2 hours of the exam if you smoke, don't even think about it.
  4. Have your normal amount of caffeine intake, no more and no less.
  5. Don't have the exam if you have had any injuries, even bruising can provide poor test results. Definitely no exam if there has been a broken bone.

Good Luck

I wrote this brief article as a resource for my clients, however I thought perhaps many other insurance agents could benefit from it as well, so I posted it to this website. Feel free to link to it as a resource for your clients to read before they apply for a disability insurance application. Following these guidelines will make the disability insurance underwriting process much easier for everybody involved.

These are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America or its subsidiaries and affiliates thereof.