Manulife removes nicotine tests for some insurance policies

Manulife removes nicotine tests for some insurance policies

On policies that pay up to $1 million in benefits


TORONTO — 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 (TSX:MFC) 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 older age groups applying for up to $5 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.