How a Medical Diary Can Protect Your Life Insurance Claim

Mortgage Coverage Strategies for Canadian Insurance Life

It’s a scary thought: Having your insurance claim denied after paying into a life insurance policy for a substantial period.

In most cases, with proper honesty and due diligence from the beginning, this isn’t an issue. But there are no certainties in this life, and it’s a good idea to back up your claim with a medical diary.

What is a Medical Diary?

A medical diary logs the correspondence between a patient and all doctors they see over their lifetime. It keeps track of information that can be crucial to a life insurance application or claim.

No one is perfect, and memories fade. Given that the general population knows little about life insurance, it’s hard to know which medical conversations and occurrences are important enough to remember and provide to life insurance companies. The medical diary elevates this stress by providing the insurance companies with a clear account of the applicants’ history and divulges all relevant information.

Situations Where Medical Diaries Come in Handy

In some cases, a company that provides life insurance benefits to its employees switches insurance carriers. Here, some employees (especially older people with more health issues) will have to provide a full medical history to qualify for the new program. Having a medical diary provides clear and thorough information, building confidence for your case.

Medical Diaries in Action

The last time I applied for life insurance I provided a copy of my medical diary to the health professional who came to my home. She said it really helped with the completeness of her forms. I was once diagnosed with a terminal illness that turned out to be an echocardiogram error. The details of my diary was very helpful when it came time to explain away this terminal illness diagnosis on my insurance application.

On another occasion, a new client was denied his disability claim on his CIBC mortgage. He saw his doctor two years prior to his claim for a pain in his lower back and was sent for an X-ray. By the time he had his follow up visit, the pain had gone away and the doctor told him he had a little arthritis in his spine, which was normal for a person of his age (early 50’s).

When he completed a small insurance form at his bank a year later, he was asked if he had arthritis – to which he responded “no.” He had forgotten about this earlier issue. Years later he had a problem with his neck which caused numbness in his arm. He went on disability and was expecting to have his mortgage payments covered after a wait period of a couple of months. The insurer got a copy of his medical file from his doctor, saw the notation that he had arthritis in his spine, and denied the claim. One could easily argue that this mild arthritis had nothing to do with his neck.

Had this client kept a diary, he would have likely included it on the application and attached a copy of his medical diary as an explanation. The bank might have seen the minor nature of the arthritis and still issued the coverage. When I applied for life insurance in the past, I always included a copy of my medical diary.

How to Write a Medical Diary

There are apps for keeping a medical diary, but they are more complex than you really need. Google even had one that they abandoned in 2012 due to a lack of use.

To make your own, simply make notes when you see a doctor and transfer them to your diary (paper or digital) while it is fresh in your mind. You should include:

– visits to a doctor
– medications prescribed
– dosage and duration of treatments

The key is to provide a detailed summary of the past, keeping it simple but complete going forward. Mine is now four pages long. Later in life it will help if I go to a “home” or need to change doctors.

Medical Diary Entry Example

Russell Smart
Medical History
January 2013General Medical History
Dr xxxxxxxx

xxxxxxx, BC V3A 2C6
(604) xxx-xxxx

Patient Since ……………..

1) Medications taken:

2) Name, dosage, reason for drug, how long it is taken and if dosage changed:

3) Family medical history:

*this may have you taking meds on a preventative basis or explain something in your medical history.

4) Weight gain or loss:

5) Exercise programs:

6) Recent testing:

7) Frequency of checkups:
*If you are just starting a diary – summarize your previous experiences if they are not significant. You could bounce this off your doctor at a visit to be sure you have not missed anything significant.

8) Hereditary Issues:

Dr xxxxxxxx

xxxxxxx, BC V3A 2C6
(604) xxx-xxxx

Patient Since ……………..

1) Medications taken:

2) Name, dosage, reason for drug, how long it is taken and if dosage changed:

……….. etc.

Continue to list the doctors seen or clinics visited. You cannot afford to forget a clinic doctor you visited unless it is a minor issue. The insurance companies have ways to find all this out.

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© 2003-2024, an Internet brand and property of I.D.C. Insurance Direct Canada Inc. All rights reserved. Last updated March 2022.

All product names, trademarks, and trade names are the property of their respective owners. The Insurance Council (BC, AB, SK, MB), Financial Services Commission (ON), Chambre de la Sécurité Financière (QC), The Superintendent of Insurance (NB, NL, PE, NS) are the provincial and federal authorities that regulate, supervise and enforce standards for life insurance professionals. IDC member websites include: Life Insurance Newspaper, Employee Benefits Newspaper

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