Man­ulife nixes need for nico­tine test­ing for some ap­pli­cants


Man­ulife is re­mov­ing the need for nico­tine test­ing for some of its life in­sur­ance ap­pli­cants as part of its ef­forts to stream­line the process.

The com­pany says nico­tine tests will no longer be re­quired for in­di­vid­ual poli­cies for el­i­gi­ble ap­pli­cants aged 18 to 40, on poli­cies that pay up to $1 mil­lion in ben­e­fits.

The com­pany says data an­a­lyt­ics al­low it to pre­dict the like­li­hood that some­body is a smoker based on ap­pli­ca­tion forms, with­out meet­ing with a paramed­i­cal pro­fes­sional who tests for nico­tine.

Man­ulife an­nounced last May that it was re­mov­ing the need for blood and urine tests on Man­ulife term life prod­ucts.

Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment ex­pands that to all in­di­vid­ual life in­sur­ance pay­ing up to $1 mil­lion, in­clud­ing whole life and uni­ver­sal life poli­cies.

Man­ulife said it’s also re­duc­ing elec­tro­car­dio­gram test­ing re­quire­ments for peo­ple aged 41 to 69 ap­ply­ing for up to $5 mil­lion in cov­er­age and for peo­ple aged 70 and over ap­ply­ing for up to $10 mil­lion in cov­er­age.

Test­ing will still be re­quired for some ap­pli­cants, for ex­am­ple those with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions such as di­a­betes or heart dis­ease.

Karen Cut­ler, vice-pres­i­dent and chief un­der­writer for Man­ulife, says the change will save the in­surer money and at­tract more clients by mak­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion process faster.

She says the new ap­proach also re­flects the fact that there are fewer smok­ers to­day than be­fore.

“When we look at our process and we see the time that it takes, even for some of our low-risk cases, it just doesn’t seem that it re­ally meets the cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tion any­more,” says Cut­ler.

Man­ulife is based in Toronto, but its Cana­dian head­quar­ters are in Water­loo. It em­ploys about 3,800 peo­ple in of­fices in Water­loo and Kitch­ener.

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