Applying for life insurance—what to expect

By ATB Wealth 9 December 2020 4 min read

When we’re young, it’s easy to live in the moment. But once we reach adulthood, we have to strive to balance juggling competing priorities – do we live in the moment, or prepare for the future? When it comes to our financial choices, it’s often a delicate dance between now and later. 

The secret is to prepare for the future, which makes living in the moment that much easier to do. 

Applying for life insurance is an important step in preparing for whatever the future may bring, but it can feel overwhelming for many. The process involves making decisions, answering questions, doing some paperwork, interviews and sometimes even medical tests when the amount being applied for is large in value. 

Then there’s understanding the various types of life insurance – Term, Universal, Whole Life, – it can be hard to know where to start. In this article we’ll take you step-by-step through how to apply for life insurance in Alberta. 


Step one: Assess your needs.

Your first step is to learn about the different types of life insurance and meet with your advisor to discuss your options. A needs analysis will be completed to help provide you with the information you need to make a decision on the type of insurance best for you and how much coverage you would like to apply for. Here are some questions you might want to think about in advance:

  • How much income would you need replaced to support your family if you were to die? 
  • What expenses would you want to have covered upon your death? (e.g. your funeral)
  • Think about your immediate needs—are there any outstanding debts that you would like to be covered upon your death? 
  • Do you currently have any other life insurance coverage through an employer plan or other benefit? 

From there, your advisor can provide you with some options and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. 


Step two: The life insurance application. 

Once you’ve selected the product type that best meets your needs, you will move on to the application process. It’s important to know what to expect from the application, as you’ll want to answer all medical and financial questions with as much detail as possible.  

They will ask you about your job and lifestyle, such as any high-risk activities you may participate in, whether you smoke and your current health status. You may also be required to take a medical exam if the amount of insurance you are applying for is substantial. It’s important to be very honest on your application. 

Once complete, your advisor will forward your application to the insurance company. 


Step three: Underwriting—be prepared with documentation.

Once the insurance company receives your application, they will assign an underwriter to your case to do a risk assessment. The insurance carriers often look for more detail around the information that is given on the application to ensure they have a clear understanding. Working in partnership with your advisor, this information is obtained and provided in addition to the application:

  • Medical information: Access your medical records and ensure you have a list of all significant illnesses, family history of illnesses and any current medication you are taking.
  • Attending physician contact information: The insurance provider may request an attending physician statement from your physician. This is a confidential personal health history record that is sent directly to your insurance carrier.  
  • Inspection report: This is a confidential interview that could be conducted by a professional consumer reporting company or credit agency that is contracted by the insurance company. They may ask you about your finances, lifestyle, driving, foreign travel and more. 


Step four: Policy issue and delivery.

Once the underwriter has assessed the risk for the policy, a decision will be made on behalf of the insurance company. Your advisor will meet with you to review your new policy and have you sign a delivery receipt to acknowledge that you accept the coverage as outlined. From there, you’ll have 10 days to change your mind. If premiums are due, you’ll need to arrange for payment. 


Step five: Policy service.

Once you’ve purchased your life insurance, your policy will be in place. Keep your policy in a safe location and contact your advisor if you experience life changes, such as a job loss, purchase of a business, the birth of children or other major events which may impact your insurance needs. 

Also, always be sure to keep your advisor updated with any contact information changes, to ensure you are always receiving the yearly statements and other news related to your policy.

You can expect the entire process to take anywhere from four weeks to four months from start to finish to complete. 


It’s all about peace of mind

The idea of life insurance can feel daunting, but with the right advisor in place to help you find the right policy, holding an insurance policy can bring peace of mind for you and your loved ones, no matter what life brings. 

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