Why you really need to bare all

Think you’re protected because you’ve been paying premiums for years? You’re not … if you failed in your duty of disclosure.

Most insurance claims are paid. This is shown by the industry’s results: net profits are often less than investment income. In other words, the cost of paying claims plus general business expenses is often greater than premiums earned (with investment income making up the difference).

When insurers do deny a claim it’s usually on the basis of non-disclosure, so don’t get caught in the worst of both worlds – having paid premiums for years then not receiving the payout when you, or your loved ones, need it.

It’s tempting to leave something out, just in case it might make it more difficult to get insurance, or because it might make the policy more expensive but there a few things you need to know about your duty of disclosure.

  • An applicant for insurance has a legal duty to disclose certain matters to the prospective insurer
  • If the applicant fails to make the required disclosures, the insurer might have grounds to reject a claim in part or in whole, even if they’ve been receiving your premiums for years.
  • This remains the case even if medical conditions have resolved, or are being properly managed, or there are no obvious injuries that are a result of an accident.
  • Most insurance applications give the insurer authorisation to access the insured’s medical records ­­­— at any time.
  • Generally insurers do not assess and check applicants’ disclosures at the time insurance is taken out, but will do so in determining a claim. So if you don’t disclose something and the insurer issues you a policy, you are not in the clear.
  • Insurers sometimes seek to void a death benefit even if the cause of death is not directly related to the non-disclosure, and in the case of death benefit claims it commonly falls to grieving beneficiaries to contest denied claims.


Now is the time

If you have a policy and you’re worried you may have missed telling them something, don’t wait to make a claim to discover you aren’t covered. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, disclose it now, in writing, and ask for a response in writing. Make sure you keep records of all communications with the insurer and broker (if any). And keep beneficiaries informed.

It’s not just life insurance

The duty of disclosure applies to all types of insurance.

Whether it’s your car, your house, your phone, or even your pet, you aren’t protected if you held back information that might be relevant.

If there’s a problem, find out up front, before you pay away all those premiums… rather than when it’s too late and you have a claim denied.


What are your thoughts?

Do you have any doubts about your insurance cover? Is there anything else you’d like to know about insurance and your duty of disclosure, or about insurance more generally?

Join the conversation — leave a comment below and let us know what you’re thoughts are.

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