Published on 20  Apr 2018

When it comes to recommending which insurer (and their offering) may be appropriate for you and managing expectations around potential outcomes of a formal insurance application, often an important step in the process can be the completion of a pre-assessment. In this article, we explain what one is.

In terms of the personal insurance process, prior to the recommendation of advice and subsequent formal insurance application, a great deal of time is spent conducting research into insurers (and their offerings).

As it stands, numerous insurers operate in the personal insurance space. Whilst the insurer offerings can often be quite similar to one another in terms of form and function (e.g. types, levels, features and structures available), there can frequently be differences in how insurers assess an individual’s formal insurance application. The reason that these differences can arise are mainly due to the specific underwriting guidelines that each insurer has in comparison to one another.

For example, one insurer may assess a particular individual’s circumstances (e.g. occupational duties, pastimes, current health and medical history – including family history) as a medium to high risk. Whereas, another insurer may assess these same circumstances as a low to medium risk. The potential outcomes regarding an assessment of an individual’s formal insurance application can be that the former may apply revised terms (e.g. a loading, exclusion or decline on cover), whilst the latter may accept at standard rates.

Despite the above example, it’s important to note that this may not always be the case. In some instances, insurers may view a particular individual’s circumstances in a similar way or with only a slight deviation. For example:

  • Similar way e.g. each insurer may either apply revised terms or accept at standard rates.
  • Slight deviation e.g. one insurer may apply a 25% loading, whilst another may apply a 50% loading.

These differences and/or similarities with regards to insurers are important to consider when it comes to recommending which insurer (and their offering) may be appropriate for you and managing expectations around potential outcomes of a formal insurance application. Consequently, an important step in the personal insurance process can often be the completion of a pre-assessment.

Pre-assessments
A pre-assessment is an informal way of finding out how insurers may view your formal application. It involves answering various questions on a form and then sending this information onto multiple insurers for their assessment; however, it does not require you to undergo medical examinations, such as blood tests or blood pressure readings.

As you may have already guessed, completing a pre-assessment can be of particular relevance to individuals with potentially hazardous occupational duties or pastimes, a pre-existing medical condition, or family history of a medical condition.

The questions asked on a pre-assessment form are not as in-depth as those found in a formal insurance application; however, there are often some similarities. For example, here are some of the common questions asked on a pre-assessment form:

General

  • What is your age and gender?
  • What cover is being applied for?
    • Type (e.g. Life, Total and Permanent Disability, Trauma and/or Income Protection).
    • Sum insured, premium style and relevant features (e.g. comprehensive/standard options, occupation definition, waiting/benefit period/benefit type etc.).
  • Do you intend on traveling overseas within the next 12 months and if so, what is the destination and length of the trip?

Occupation and pastimes

  • What is your occupation, as well as the time spent in that current role, hours worked per week and percentage of time spent doing manual labour?
  • Do you perform any hazardous occupational duties (e.g. working at heights)?
  • Do you intend on changing your occupation in the next 12 months?
  • Do you participate in any pastimes/pursuits/sports and if so, how often and at what level?

Health

  • What is your height and weight and smoker status?
  • What is your alcohol consumption per week?
  • Do you take any medications?
  • Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions?
  • Do you intend to seek any medical advice, test, investigation or treatment (including surgery) in the near future?
  • Do you have a family history of any particular medical conditions?

Although this list of questions may appear confronting, it’s important to note that pre-assessments are anonymous where possible and are completed with sensitivity and understanding with regards to the personal and sensitive information that you disclose.

Once a pre-assessment form is completed and you have provided authorisation for the information to be passed on, it is then sent to the underwriting teams of multiple insurers. With this information, they then make an assessment based on your individual circumstances. Whilst the results obtained from a pre-assessment are not a guarantee of the terms that will be offered by insurers upon the completion of a formal application, they can provide a strong indication of the potential outcomes.

Moving forward
The completion of a pre-assessment can be an important part of the personal insurance process. It aids in the in-depth comparison of multiple insurers, which in turn helps with:

  • Making informed decisions regarding which insurer (and their offering) may be appropriate for you.
  • And, managing expectations around potential outcomes (i.e. revised terms or standard rates) of a formal insurance application.

If you would like to know more about what is involved in a pre-assessment, please contact us for further information.