Am I just shy?
November 20, 2008 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Did I have a normal life insurance appliction experience?

Yesterday, when my husband and I had a meeting with an insurance broker to apply for life insurance. After we agreed on the terms, the broker proceeded to go through the entire application with us, asking us about details of our medical history. I understand that the insuance company needs this information and am happy to provide it. However, I was very suprised to have to give the information orally to a stranger, rather than fill in the form ourselves, privately. Furthermore, this was done in a cubicle in a rather public office. I know that the other insurance agents and members of the public could hear our conversation if they were so inclined. While (luckily) our medical histories are rather boring, I still felt humiliated to have to discuss previous drug use, abnormal pap smears, tests, and family history with a stranger, in public.

So: my questions. 1) Is it normal to go over the application orally with the broker? 2) Is it normal for this interview to be semi-public?

I am considering writing to the branch manager of the insurance agency, but I want to make sure that my concerns are well-founded.
posted by ms.v. to Human Relations (12 answers total)
Mine was the same way, but in a closed office rather than a cube, but that was just his office -- we didn't "go somewhere more private" or anything. It did strike me as a little weird at the time, but not inappropriately so.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:47 AM on November 20, 2008

I was in a Dunkin Donuts on Monday sitting next to an insurance broker conducting the same interview with a woman. Very loud, very public and very awkward for my boyfriend and I.
posted by ginagina at 8:15 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could fill it out yourself, but your salesman wants to do it so it is complete and you don't take a long time or change your mind. My guy did it at my house so it wasn't so bad.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:35 AM on November 20, 2008

We had to provide the info too but like Johnny Gunn above, our broker came to our house. I wouldn't have had the conversation in a dunkin donuts, that's for sure.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:51 AM on November 20, 2008

My husband and I have bought life insurance several times over the years. Each time the insurance agent took only our basic information, e.g., age, whether we are into skydiving, etc., and then we were told to set up an appointment with their private nurse. The nurse came to our home or office and took our blood, blood pressure, and so forth, and asked the health-related questions. They told me that this information was kept confidential from the agent. This seems to me to be the proper way to handle sensitive health information and I am surprised to hear that it is done any other way.
posted by HotToddy at 9:57 AM on November 20, 2008

Seconding that the agent only asked for basic info and the private nurse came to our home for blood tests and private health-related questions
posted by pixlboi at 10:34 AM on November 20, 2008

Sounds normal to me, depending on the type of insurance that you're getting. If you're getting something that doesn't require a physical, the process that you went through sounds very typical. I've gotten life insurance twice, once on my own and once at work. On my own, we went to the agent's desk--it wasn't a cube, even--and went over the questions. At work, we were taken into an empty conference room and went over the forms there. Not quite public, but not exactly private either--the door was left open while people did their interviews, people would stick their heads in to see when they should come back, and no one seemed bothered.

My husband's recently gotten life insurance that required a physical, and that, it seems, is when the agent asks you some basic questions and then a nurse comes to get all the details. If there's no physical needed, though, there's no nurse, so of course you're going to have to give all of your information to the agent.
posted by meghanmiller at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2008

Oh, also, in all of the above instances, the application was done orally, so that seems standard, too.
posted by meghanmiller at 10:45 AM on November 20, 2008

I'm afraid so, (to both of those things).
posted by small_ruminant at 12:20 PM on November 20, 2008

Every insurance agency (just about) has at least one conference room, or someone's private office. Insist on using it.
posted by yclipse at 1:30 PM on November 20, 2008

I just did this. The initial conversation was in a conference room. The medical questionnaire/exam took place at my house. The follow-up complete medical interview took place over the phone.

The questions were lengthy and in-depth, but I did not have any privacy issues. Sounds like you had a crappy experience - I would not have been happy having to disclose my (ridiculously boring, thankfully) medical information where others could hear.
posted by widdershins at 2:04 PM on November 20, 2008

Response by poster: This is a big help. I wrote a kindly worded letter to the insurance agency expressing my embarassment and suggesting that they provide a private office for these meetings. At least my experience was fairly typical...ginagina definitely had it worse. Brutal.
posted by ms.v. at 10:16 AM on November 21, 2008

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