When you look for life insurance you’ll be asked a long list of questions about your health and lifestyle, especially if you’re looking later in life, around the age of retirement. These questions are used by underwriters to determine how much your policy will cost you.

It’s important to remember that, while we’d all love cheaper premiums, you need to be honest and tell any potential life insurance company about the current state of your health. You may plan to lose weight, quit smoking, or start cycling, but you need to tell them how you are today. If you bend the truth – even with the positive intentions of making a change in your life for the better, you may void your insurance if something were to happen before you reached your goals.

Here are some of the questions you’ll be asked and how to answer them,

8 Questions You’ll Be Asked When Applying for Life Insurance

Do you smoke?

We all know smoking isn’t good for you – one look at the packaging will tell you that. Life insurance companies will ask you if you smoke and if so, how much, but they also need to know if you use tobacco in any other way, vape, or smoke something that’s not yet legal here in the UK. You also need to tell them if you smoked within the last 12 months, so if you gave up smoking 6 months ago, tell them so. Remember that though we may find that vaping causes no harm whatsoever, hiding that you vape from your life insurance company because you don’t see it as smoking puts you at risk of committing insurance fraud or not getting a pay-out.

Do you do any dangerous hobbies?

If you do any hobbies that require physical activity or put you at risk of physical injury, you need to tell your life insurance company. Don’t assume that just because you don’t horse ride or go rock climbing that your insurance company doesn’t need to know about it – just tell them what you do for fun. Remember that not every activity will drive up your premium, but if you hide something from them you may void your policy. You just need to make sure they have a full picture of your life.

Do you have a dangerous career?

Again, when they ask for your profession tell them what you do – if you know your job comes with risks, don’t try to mask it. We’re fortunate here in the UK that very few jobs are truly dangerous, so tell them what you do for work and don’t worry too much about whether it will drive up your premium.

Do you drink?

If you’re thinking of getting life insurance, it’s a good idea to track what you drink for a week or two so you have a realistic view of how much alcohol you drink on average. It’s surprisingly easy to over or underestimate how much you drink and again, not being accurate here could cost you in the long run by paying more than you need to for your insurance or by voiding your insurance policy.

How often do you exercise?

Most insurance companies will count going for walks as exercise, so if you’re not sure what counts, ask them to clarify and be honest about how much you exercise on average, not just on your best week.

Do you have any existing medical conditions?

This is a simple question you don’t need to overthink – simply discuss any conditions you have had diagnosed by a doctor and discuss any treatment or medications you have or have had, if necessary. Don’t make any self-diagnoses here!

What’s your height and weight?

This is another straightforward question you can answer honestly. They’ll likely use this to calculate your BMI, so if you get to this point and you’ve had no opportunity to describe your physique and are muscular, make sure you tell them so. BMI isn’t a good indicator of body composition, so tell your insurance company if you’re heavy but have more muscle than fat.

Do you use any drugs?

Life insurance companies aren’t interested in the legalities of what you do in your own time, so if you tell them you use an illegal substance regularly, it will only effect your insurance premium, they won’t tell anyone about it. Again, make sure you’re honest here or you could void your policy.

Have you ever had any mental health problems?

This can be a difficult question to answer, but generally, if you’ve ever been diagnosed with a mental health problem or have been to speak to your doctor for guidance, you should mention it to your life insurance provider. Remember that they are not here to judge and they are not legally allowed to discriminate against you for any issue – so a mental health issue cannot be treated any differently to a physical problem. The information they ask for must also be relevant, so if you feel like they’re asking something that is not relevant to your life insurance policy, ask them about it. For more information about your legal rights regarding your mental health and insurance policies, see this information from Mind.org.uk.

Do you need a medical to get life insurance?

Nowadays, there are hundreds of life insurance policies that do not need a medical, so you definitely don’t need a medical to get life insurance. However, is it a good idea to get a health check-up before you get life insurance? Probably. When you can prove that you’re healthy, you’ll likely be able to get a lower premium, and your insurance company will have a full picture of your health that cannot be disputed later down the line. It also serves to give you a indication of what you’re doing right and wrong in regard to your health, and what you can do to continue to feel good and fit well into old age.

Do I need to tell my insurance company if I develop a health issue?

Yes, if you’ve developed a health condition, you should notify your life insurance provider so they can add it to your records. The best way to ensure you get the most from your policy is to ensure they have a full picture of your health, so they can’t say they didn’t know about something after you passed.

What would cause an insurance company to deny a life insurance claim?

It’s a good idea to be clear about what may cause an insurance company to deny a life insurance claim, since you won’t be around to advocate for yourself. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

  • If you died before the insurance policy comes into effect (known as the contestability period)
  • If you lied about anything on your policy (even if it has nothing to do with the way you died)
  • If they believe your partner caused your death for the insurance policy, or if they believe you killed yourself for the policy
  • If you died in a way they don’t cover
  • If you failed to disclose relevant information
  • You didn’t keep up with your premiums

Making sure your life insurance policy is accurate can feel like navigating a minefield, but rest assured that if you are honest and reveal all information they ask for, you won’t have a problem. Provided you don’t knowingly withhold information, they will have no reason to refuse a claim. If you’d like to find out more about how much life insurance companies pay out on average, read How Much Life Insurance Providers Paid Out in 2020 next, or if you’re trying to minimise costs, head to How to Reduce the Cost of Your Life Insurance.