How to cancel life insurance before a medical exam and after you've signed up?
July 20, 2010 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I signed up for life insurance at work without realizing it required a paramedical exam. This is a drug test too right? Can I decline coverage at this point or am I obligated to go through with the exam?

When I filled out the form, I went through checking no on all the boxes. Usually I'm careful and catch things like, "Illegal drug use," but I must have missed it. There's nothing about a drug test from the little, "Paramedical appointment reminder" postcard I got, but from googling around it seems they definitely test for this.

Can I call up and say that I was on my wife's life insurance and didn't realize it? I don't need the life insurance and just want to get out of this with as little attention drawn to me as possible. I'm afraid that signing up for the insurance obliges me to go through the paramedical exam, this isn't the case is it?

I went to HR to try to figure out how to get out of it, but they told me to just go through the paramedical exam and they'll work on cancelling it (to be clear I've been working here for awhile, this isn't tied to some employment drug test). The stance they took was that this is something like $50 a year and not a big deal. Obviously I couldn't just say I didn't want to take it and show positive for a drug test and end up on some insurance blacklist.

The insurance people have called me at least 2-3 times since I got the postcard (yesterday!) and are very pushy to get the test done. I have a feeling I'll get a hard sell if I try to cancel it, so I'm hoping I know what I'm getting into before I tell them I want to cancel.

If it isn't obvious, the drug in question is marijuana.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total)
They're insurance agents - hard sell is what they do. Tell them you changed your mind. Tell HR you changed your mind. You really don't need to give any reason. Don't do the testing and if you must, must give an answer you can say you're looking into other policies and thanks but no thanks. I have no idea whether any testing they do would come back to bite you but I wouldn't take the chance. You can get a policy outside of your employer if you like.
posted by amanda at 5:17 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

You can definitely just say you don't want to spend the money / don't need it. Just keep repeating that until they cancel it.

But yes, life insurance almost always has drug tests as part of the application. If you want it in the future, just stop smoking for a few months and then take the test. They don't ever retest [in my experience anyway].
posted by wildcrdj at 5:24 PM on July 20, 2010

IANAL, IANYL, etc, etc. I also don't know what state you live and work in. The term "paramedical" does not refer to drug testing. It refers to someone who has medical training but is not a licensed doctor. I'm guessing that the term is being used to explain that your physical is not being given by a doctor and should not be considered a diagnostic exam. That said, your paranoia is making you look paranoid to your employer. If you don't want to take the exam, do not lie and say you suddenly discovered you are on your wife's insurance. You will have to live with this and any other lies you come up with right up until they figure it out and fire you.

If you must lie to get out of this, try something like, "I've got the stomach flu and would like to wait a week until I feel better before coming in for an exam."

I would also see if there is another employee whom you trust and who has had this exam. Ask what was involved. Last, ask the examining entity what is involved in the exam, what tests will be taken and what use they will be put to. You have the right to know these answers before you go in.
posted by Old Geezer at 5:32 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aren't you super-busy at work? And swamped at home? And totally sorry but you really can't spare a single minute until, say... HR cancels it?
posted by Houstonian at 5:34 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's a thought: call up the insurance company anonymously. Say you were interested in a policy through your work and wanted to know if they shared any of the medical tests with the employers. See what they say. And look on their web site, also, this issue may even be in their FAQ.

My (NOT A LAWYER) understanding of HIPAA is that they don't and can't tell your employer anything about your medical history, but drug tests may be different.

Now of course that assumes they would be ethical about such matters. But, life insurance is usually something outsourced, and not something that is tied into your employment qualifications. More than likely, all that would happen would that you would be turned down if you tested positive, not that your employer would be told the results. But again, not a lawyer.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't just tell the insurer and HR that you decided you're not interested and you're not taking the test/using the coverage. You don't have to have a reason. You're just not interested. Nothing else is their business.
posted by emjaybee at 6:04 PM on July 20, 2010

I work for a life and disability insurance company. I have always been told that HIPAA only applies to insurers that provide health, dental, or vision insurance. So I am not confident that HIPAA applies for medical history related to life insurance.

That said, I can tell you that, where I work, if you do not complete the application process for the additional insurance, you just won't get the additional insurance. I have seen plenty of people who sign up for extra coverage without realizing they will have to provide medical history/testing, then just fail to send in the paperwork when they realize they (1) don't really want the extra coverage or (2) realize they wouldn't pass the underwriting review. All that happens is that the "request" for additional coverage gets denied.

It's also perfectly OK to tell the broker (who, yes, is all about the hard sell) that you have reviewed it and decided you don't want the extra coverage. That is all they need to know. It should have no effect on your relationship with HR or the company in general if you bail on extra coverage. Really.

Please just don't lie to them.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:50 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

This happened to me, too. I asked if we could schedule 3 weeks down the road because I was helping my parents remodel the house before my sister got married. Total bullshit, but it worked.
posted by boostershot at 7:06 PM on July 20, 2010

I agree with emjaybee. I asked once and they said they only tested for cocaine and heroin.
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:05 PM on July 20, 2010

I am a plan administrator for our company's life insurance & disability insurance plans. We frequently have individuals request additional coverage, then change their minds or cancel the coverage. Just tell HR you've changed your mind. They'll probably have you complete a new form declining coverage.

We see this all the time, and believe me, we're not going to give a shit, or assume you're on drugs, have some kind of disease, etc. The possible reasons for changing your mind about life insurance coverage are practically endless, and they don't concern us. We just need to know to cancel the coverage request. Ignore the calls from the insurance company and paramedical company, or just repeatedly tell them you've canceled your request for coverage. In no way is a drug test, physical, or other exam mandatory at this point.
posted by pecanpies at 8:14 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

As a follow up, I wanted to point out that if an HR person were going to assume why you'd cancelled your request, they'd probably assume that you had some kind of health condition and realize you'd be turned down. When I see a cancellation, the thoughts that run through my mind are either 1) they decided it wasn't worth the cost, no matter how low; or 2) they have a healthy condition. It's never even crossed my mind that someone might cancel their request because of illegal drug use, and I've never heard a colleague mention that as a possible reason. YMMV.
posted by pecanpies at 10:07 AM on July 21, 2010

Well technically for policies that are under $250k you don't need a drug/health test. You can do 2 policy split at $250k each if you're goal is to get say $500k total in insurance. This way you get your insurance and avoid the testing. But yes, for high policies, they require a drug/health test panel to make sure you're worth it.

You can also possibly argue hard with the rep saying you want your doctor to do a health/drug screening and talk with him (honestly) as to what the dillio is. Some will say "look 4:20 habits I won't test; just heavy habits" and you're a-ok.

Note that even without a drug test you can fail the policy by having high cholesterol. They're not only looking for drug infringements but also health. Just a fyi.
posted by stormpooper at 11:17 AM on July 22, 2010

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