Insurance companies are increasingly asking questions about your family, when you apply for life or health insurance V we consider the reasons behind this V and how you can speed up the process.

According to Norwich Union (news release 8/2/2005), almost nine out of ten doctors think patients know too little about hereditary medical conditions that affect their families. Their research was based on interviews with more than 200 GPs throughout the UK, which also questioned more than 1,000 adults about their own health. At an individual level, a third of us dont know much about our own parents and siblings health history and have little confidence when answering our own GPs questions on the topic.

Historically, GPs would have known the familys medical record; but few of us now live in the same area for a long time and, even if we did, how many GPs have sufficient time to learn about each patient, let alone their family?

Family history is important because we inherit genes from our parents and share them with our siblings. So any trends in the family, such as diabetes, heart condition or other hereditary conditions, could affect us.

The greatest impact can be on health, critical illness and medical insurance, but straightforward life insurance is also affected by family history.

After all, if your parents lived to 90, there is no guarantee that you will not walk under a bus, tomorrow; but the statistical probability must be that you can expect to live a reasonably long time.

On the other hand, if your father and grandfather suffered from an hereditary illness that affected them at a relatively young age then, unless there have been medical advances in the area concerned, you may be likely to suffer from a similar condition.

Knowing about your familys health record can have several benefits. It can help speed up the process of obtaining life assurance and potentially save you money.

This is because knowing something about any medical conditions you may suffer from could help you clarify information for the insurance company, reducing the risk of increased premiums. But, perhaps of greater importance, is that if you know about a congenital or hereditary condition that could affect you and your children, it may be possible to make lifestyle changes that actually reduce the possibility of you becoming affected V or at least to mitigate or delay the impact.

Taking control over our health can potentially improve longevity and enhance quality of life. And any savings that can be made on health, medical expenses and life assurance costs can be used to invest for the future, so that you can enjoy the benefits yourself, rather than spending too much money on protecting your family and yourself against misadventure.

You should seek independent financial advice before making any decision regarding your family finance.

Key points: P nKnowing your family history could save you health problems later; P nIt could also save you insurance premiums if you act on health The above does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. Always seek independent advice from a qualified financial adviser.

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