All you need to know about Attending Physician Statement (APS)

What is an Attending Physician Statement?

“The Attending Physician Statement is a summary of your health condition, written from a doctor or medical facility that either has treated or is currently treating someone that is seeking life insurance,” explains Paya Schlass, Customer Success Manager at Haven Life.

When you apply for life insurance, you are often required to answer health-related questions about your family medical history, any prescriptions you are currently taking and any acute or chronic issues or a specific medical condition that could affect your life insurance risk classification. Many life insurance companies also request that you complete a brief, in-person medical exam as part of the underwriting process.

In most cases, the medical information you provide in your life insurance application and/or your medical exam is enough to determine whether you qualify for a life insurance policy.

However, there are situations in which a life insurance provider needs additional medical information on an applicant — which is why you might be asked to provide a statement from a treating physician who can provide a professional perspective on your health.

“Depending on your medical history and/or your medical exam results, the underwriter may need to obtain these medical records from your doctor to get additional context and more details on medical conditions you disclosed and/or your prescription history,” says Schlass.

Who completes an Attending Physician Statement?

In order to be effective, an Attending Physician Statement must be completed by a doctor who knows you in person — your insurer or agency will reach out to get information from a physician who has either treated you in the past or is currently providing treatment. A primary care physician is a good option, as is an OB-GYN.

For example, if you are currently receiving specialized medical treatment for a health issue — such as going through physical therapy, learning how to manage diabetes, or dealing with depression — your life insurance provider may request an APS from the specialists who are providing care. In some cases, the medical facility you are working with can provide an APS on behalf of its medical team.

If a life insurance provider requests an APS, the insurance company will typically cover any costs involved. You will not be required to pay the cost of your Attending Physician Statement out of your health insurance deductible, for example — nor will you be required to make any payments out of pocket.

Do you need an Attending Physician Statement to take out a life insurance policy?

Do you need an APS before you can take out a life insurance policy? It depends on the applicant. If a life insurance company decides that they need more information about your health before they can issue you a life insurance policy, they may request a physician’s statement to assess the situation further.

If your life insurance company is satisfied with the medical information received in your life insurance application and/or your in-person medical exam, they won’t require you to provide an additional APS.

Many life insurance providers, including Haven Life, are working to make the life insurance application process as easy and streamlined as possible. Haven Life recently began using  electronic health records when available to verify the medical information included on some life insurance applications and, whenever possible, pre-empt the need for an Attending Physician Statement.

You can also take advantage of simplified issue life insurance, such as Haven Life’s Haven Simple policy. Simplified issue life insurance is designed for people looking to buy term life insurance without the need for a medical exam, and don’t mind paying a little more for the added convenience. 

If you’re a new parent, for example, simplified issue life insurance could be one way to get the coverage you need for your growing family — without having to answer a lot of health questions, take time out of your day for a life insurance medical exam or provide an Attending Physician Statement.

How long does it take to get an Attending Physician Statement?

How long does it take to get an attending physician statement for life insurance? Well, it depends.

“Unfortunately, it’s one of the most time-consuming steps in the process,” Schlass explains. “The insurance company depends on the speed of the medical facility providing these records, which in some cases can take a few weeks or more.”

That said, some applicants can qualify for temporary life insurance coverage (TLIC), which as the name might suggest, means you can start no-risk coverage to hold you over for the period between when you apply and when/if you’re approved.

If you’re hoping to complete your life insurance policy application as quickly as possible and avoid the potential delay of an Attending Physician Statement, make sure you are thorough about your health during the application process.

This means answering all questions as accurately as possible, whether you’re providing a family medical history, sharing a recent mental health diagnosis or owning up to regular tobacco use.

The more information you can provide about your own health, both during the application process and during the life insurance medical exam, the less likely your insurer will require you to provide an Attending Physician Statement for life insurance — and the sooner you may be able to receive the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have an affordable life insurance policy in place.

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