Buying over the telephone

Unless you’re buying a basic No Pre-exist policy, or are in good health with a clean medical record, completing a medical questionnaire over the telephone is a tricky business. There are many questions about whether or not you have ever had any one or more of dozens of conditions e.g. fibromyalgia, urinary disorder, hiatus hernia, etc. etc. some of which require some thought or explanation. Did you understand the question? Did the agent speak clearly. Did the agent have an accent you had difficulty with? Did you understand the difference between osteoporosis or osteoarthritis? Did the question about bowel disorder refer to constipation or something more serious?

The greatest risk in doing telephone questionnaires is that you have no record of your responses. You have no assurance that your answers were taken down correctly unless your insurer confirms all of your answers with you, preferably on paper or online so you can verify their accuracy at your own speed, your pace and convenience. More insurers are providing this type of confirmation and it’s worth the extra effort. As an ombudsman reviewer I have seen many cases in which applicants said the insurer’s customer service agents recorded their information wrong. But without some backup, how can that be proven? If you can complete the questionnaire by your own hand or with the help of the agent, at your own pace, and with your physician’s help if needed, do it.

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