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A costly mistake

Tanya explained that the life insurance company could not pay out the death benefit on this specific policy because the man’s late wife failed to tell the insurer about her diabetes diagnosis and the medications she was taking.

“In fact, her application said she was fairly healthy [and] she had no past history of any type of complications,” Tanya said. “And with [life] insurance policies, if your policy is under $200,000, they’re not going to ask you for any proof of medical information or any proof from a doctor that says otherwise.

“But what they will do is, after you pass, they’ll go back and ask doctors for medical records to confirm that you do not have any pre-existing medical conditions prior to that policy being active.”

The man’s wife passed away from kidney failure, which the insurer concluded was due to complications triggered by her diabetes — which, sadly, she’d failed to disclose.

As a result of this misrepresentation, the insurer declared her policy void and refunded the husband the $3,100 she’d paid into it in premiums over the two years she’d held the policy.

“Her claim was denied and he was left holding the bag,” Tanya said.

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Don’t lie on your life insurance application

It is rare for a life insurance company to deny a claim — but still important to understand how and why it can happen.

According to the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), claim payments are delayed or denied “from time to time” as a result of issues like “material misrepresentation, suicide within the contestable period, or no proof of death, among other reasons.”

The first reason — material misrepresentation — is the most common. This can include a false or misleading statement, or simply an omission of information.

Some people searching for life insurance may fall into the trap of not sharing a complete picture of their health through fear of not being able to get a policy and provide financial protection for their loved ones.

One commenter on Tanya’s TikTok alluded to that trend: “This is so sad. Because if she HAD disclosed it [her diabetes], she’d have been denied anyway. My brother can’t find life insurance because of this exact reason.”

Some examples of information you must disclose on your life insurance application, according to Forbes, are: your medical history, any risky hobbies (like skydiving or scuba diving), any risky behaviors (like alcohol and tobacco use) and if you work in a dangerous occupation (like firefighting, law enforcement or construction).

One commenter on Tanya’s TikTok, who claimed to be a life insurance agent, pointed out that every insurer she’s contracted with runs the applicants’ Medical Insurance Bureau (MIB) report to fact check medical history, determine insurability and set premiums — regardless of how much coverage people are buying.

Usually, any discrepancies are caught before the policy is written. If not — and you decided to lie or misrepresent facts in your application — then you’re at risk of leaving your loved ones behind with little to no financial support.

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About the Author

Bethan Moorcraft

Bethan Moorcraft

Reporter

Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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