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Life Insurance Perfect Self

Life Insurance Perfect Self

Category: Life insurance

Updated: 26/11/2012
First Published: 04/09/2008

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Women across Great Britain are painting an inaccurate picture about their weight to keep their insurance premiums down.

A recent research report1 by AXA shows that one in 14 of us who have taken out insurance has knowingly misled our insurers when completing application forms.

In a desire to present their 'perfect self' to insurers and keep their policy premiums low, more than one in 10 insured women have stretched the truth about their weight (11%), while over one in 20 have hidden any previous or current feelings of depression.

In total, 7% of Brits who have purchased insurance have misled their insurers about their lifestyle habits and previous medical conditions, despite the fact that a number of these conditions will not necessarily affect their premium. Effectively, this means that 1.5 million people in Britain potentially face having their claim declined should they need to make one.

  • The most common insurance inaccuracy is about alcohol intake - particularly for men, who are 25% more likely to understate their consumption
  • Almost one in 10 of us don't disclose our smoking habits
  • Women (more than one in 10) are twice as likely not to disclose their real weight than men
  • The younger generation are the most likely to be inaccurate, with more than one in nine 18-34 year olds admitting to this, while the over 55s are the most accurate
  • One in 20 of us keep quiet about previous or current depression and one in 30 about minor back problems

AXA points out that 25% of the British population incorrectly believe that they will face hefty premium increases if they are honest about particular lifestyle habits or medical conditions (particularly men who were 50% more than women to believe this). These include high blood pressure (55%), high cholesterol levels (47%), asthma related to smoking (50%) or if they have experimented with drugs in their past (48%).

People also believe high insurance premiums would be charged if they suffer from any history of depression (39%) or back problems (34%), and more than a quarter of people (29%) thought they would be penalised with higher premiums if they had ever previously contracted a sexually transmitted disease. While these conditions are likely to affect a large proportion of the population, AXA confirms that they are unlikely to have significant impacts on their premium costs and in some cases will have no impact at all.

Iain Mallon, Head of Protection at AXA said:

"Insurers are not looking for reasons not to pay out. Our business is designed to support people not constrain claims. However, quite simply if your insurer finds out you have deliberately not disclosed relevant information, they may not be obliged to pay out the full amount. Insurance policies are there to protect people in times of need, without this reassurance in place, people may find themselves in a very difficult position."

[1]The research was completed by YouGov Plc on behalf of AXA Life. Total sample size was 1,962 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th-7th July 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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