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Health IQ Review

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Health IQ life insurance review

At I&E, we specialize in convertible term life and cash value life insurance, so we are not necessarily a direct competitor to Health IQ. And we are not privy to the rate discounts based on your health IQ.

However, we both offer policies from the top life insurance companies, so we offer this notice for full disclosure to any of our readers. With that said, we hope you enjoy our Health IQ review.

Table of Contents:

What is Health IQ?

In its current form, Health IQ is a California-based online insurance broker that specializes in helping people with healthy lifestyles find cheaper insurance.  The company was initially chartered in 2013, led by tech entrepreneur Munjal Shah, and started operating as a life insurance broker in 2016.

The origins of Health IQ are rooted in an innovative health-status assessment developed by Shah and a team of tech and wellness experts.

Health and Wellness Survey

Rather than asking general lifestyle questions that can be easily smudged by responders, the test steers responders through a detailed health and wellness survey designed to take a clear picture of the test taker’s overall health consciousness.

More than a million people took the quiz, and—perhaps unsurprisingly—people who scored well were significantly less likely to die in the near future.

Opportunity

Having demonstrated that the unique health assessment was a reasonably reliable predictor of longevity, Health IQ’s founders saw a potential business opportunity.

If the Health IQ quiz could outperform traditional underwriting in predicting the risk of untimely death, then an insurer using the assessment in its application process could offer more competitive term life insurance rates to high-scoring applicants.

Or, perhaps more accurately, a broker administering the quiz could identify the lowest risk applicants for insurance companies.

Low Mortality Risk

In practice, Health IQ’s business model is built around providing reduced premiums to individuals who have very little mortality risk due to their healthy lifestyles.   To do so, the company convinced a few life insurance carriers to offer top-tier candidates special discounted rates only available through Health IQ.

To get access to the special rates, applicants undergo a comprehensive underwriting process that takes a lot longer than with most online brokers but which can, for the right people, result in cheaper life insurance.

Notably, though, Health IQ also brokers standard-rate life insurance, so you don’t necessarily have to ace the screening test to find coverage through Health IQ—just to get the discounted rates.

So far, the company has sold nearly $30 billion in life insurance coverage, issuing policies in all 50 states plus DC.  The general concept seems to have at least a little appeal, and, judging by online reviews (of which there are quite a few) people who have purchased coverage through Health IQ seem to have been, for the most part, satisfied with the experience.

What Services does Health IQ Provide?

There’s a tendency in the insurance industry for low-risk insureds to subsidize high-risk insureds.  This is most noticeable in the world of health insurance, but it’s true in life insurance, as well.

Health IQ’s goal is to more accurately identify the lowest risk insureds and reward them with rates lower than what they could get by going through traditional life insurance underwriting.

Data Aggregation

They do this by aggregating and analyzing huge amounts of data on lifestyle and life expectancy—looking for statistically reliable correlations between healthy habits and long lifespans.

Not an Insurance Company

Health IQ doesn’t actually issue life insurance policies to the optimal applicants it identifies.  Instead, the company is a broker working on behalf of the life insurance carriers with whom it has partnered.

Prospective insureds go through Health IQ’s health assessment, and Health IQ is authorized by the insurers to offer discounted premium rates to people who perform well on the screening.

Essentially, Health IQ helps insurance companies find the policies that have the lowest chance of resulting in a payout.

Health Literacy Quiz

The health literacy quiz that is Health IQ’s calling card focuses on lifestyle aspects affecting longevity—like exercise and dietary habits. But rather than just asking questions about personal habits, the quiz also measures the applicant’s knowledge of health and wellness concepts.

Along with wellness literacy, Health IQ also offers discounts for people who are physically fit due to active lifestyles.  For example, rate reductions are available for applicants who can complete a one-mile run in eight minutes or less.

Of course, Health IQ still uses the standard underwriting criteria like sex, height, weight, health history (though family history is deemphasized), and tobacco and alcohol use.

However, Health IQ’s screening allows for more flexibility in weighing those factors.

This approach is intended to avoid penalizing applicants who have excellent health habits and are in good shape but have one or two negative datapoints under the traditional criteria.

It’s important to remember that Health IQ doesn’t get paid for saving consumers money on life insurance (at least not directly).  They get paid to find new insureds for insurance companies.

Like other agents, Health IQ earns a commission for each policy sold.  The commissions are built into the cost of premiums, but the money ultimately comes from the carrier.

Health IQ has convinced a few insurers that it can save them long-term money using its proprietary screening process.

In effect, Health IQ helps the carriers find the policies least likely to result in claims.

In return, the insurance companies let Health IQ pass on some of the anticipated net savings to the policyholder.

This gives Health IQ a competitive advantage over other brokers when it comes to the specific applicants that fit into Health IQ’s niche and the specific companies willing to offer the discounts.

What Types of Insurance Does Health IQ Sell?

Health IQ markets life insurance, disability insurance, and Medicare supplement insurance.

Term and Whole Life

Life insurance, though, is clearly where Health IQ focuses—specifically term life, although  supposedly Health IQ can offer whole life insurance policies to applicants interested in obtaining permanent coverage.

Guaranteed Issue

Interestingly, Health IQ also sells a form of life insurance on the opposite side of the spectrum from its ordinary target market:  guaranteed-issue life insurance.  Applicants between ages 50 and 85 can get up to $25,000 in coverage without a medical exam and with very little in the way of underwriting.

Health IQ’s carrier network includes around 30 life insurance companies, including some well-known premier companies like John Hancock, Lincoln Financial, and Pacific Life.

However (and this is important), discounted rates are only available from four of Health IQ’s partnering companies:  SBLI, Ameritas, Assurity, and Protective.

Rates from any other company will be the same as through any other broker.

How Does Health IQ’s Life Insurance Application Process Work?

Spoiler Alert:  You will not receive any life insurance rate quotes directly from Health IQ’s website.  The purpose of the site is to collect applicant information.

If you make it through the process and end up receiving a quote, it’ll come from a Health IQ representative over the phone.

If you click on the “Get My Quote” button on Health IQ’s website, you start with a few ordinary questions about height, weight, age, and gender.

After that, Health IQ asks about your personal income.  Compared to other online brokers, this is very early in the process to be providing financial information.

Next, the website asks for your contact information and home address.  Thus, you can’t get even a preliminary estimate of available rates without providing detailed contact information and your annual income.

If you’re the type of person who’s leery of providing a bunch of personal information before you know you’ll be entering into a transaction, Health IQ is not the site for you.

If you continue with the application from here, you’ll have the opportunity to qualify for discounts for “health literacy,” “active lifestyle,” and other underwriting factors involving your current health history and status.

Discounts of up to 8% are available for health literacy, 9% for active lifestyle, and 24% for the other factors.

Before taking the health literacy quiz, though, you’ll need to provide even more personal information like your marital status, education, occupation, diet, exercise regiment, mental and physical health conditions and treatment, and family health history.

Health Literacy Quiz

The health literacy quiz itself takes about ten minutes and consists of 30 questions randomly chosen from a database of over 30,000.  It attempts to measure how well-versed you are on general health issues.  The questions revolve around various lifestyle factors—especially nutrition and exercise—and how those factors affect health and longevity.

For the most part, Health IQ’s survey tries to determine what you know more than what you do.  But the company believes there is a strong correlation between the two.  Upon completing the quiz, applicants who score in the “elite” category qualify for the 8% premium discount.

Verify Fitness Level

To qualify for the active lifestyle discount, you need to verify your fitness level.  You do that by confirming that you have performed or participated in one or more of several fitness activities.

These include running an 8-minute mile, completing a 50-mile bike ride, competing in a swim meat, and several others.

In general, Health IQ just likes exercise and doesn’t really discriminate between types.  So, joggers, swimmers, weightlifters, and yoga enthusiasts can all potentially earn active lifestyle discounts.

At this point, you’ve provided a wealth of information to Health IQ—much more than you would have given to other online life insurance brokers.

Phone Call

The final step in the process is that you wait to be contacted by phone by a Health IQ representative.

During the call, you’ll find out what premiums rates are available from Health IQ’s partnering carriers and whether you qualify for any discounts.

Even if you don’t make the cut, you can still purchase a standard-rate policy.  Remember, many of the life insurance companies in Health IQ’s network don’t even offer the discounted premiums.

If you decide to buy a policy, Health IQ earns its agent commission from the insurer.  Future premiums payments will be made directly to the company, and any claims will be submitted to the company.

What are Health IQ’s Strengths?

Discounted Rates for Term Coverage:

Health IQ’s pitch is that it gets cheaper premium rates for health-conscious individuals.  And it absolutely can do that if you’re in the company’s niche market.

If you qualify for each and every one of the available discounts, you can save as much as 41% on premiums (according to Health IQ).

Most people won’t qualify for every discount, and many won’t qualify for any.

But if you’re health-conscious, live an active lifestyle, and test well, there’s a decent chance Health IQ can save you money.

Underwriting Flexibility:

Life insurance companies have devoted a lot of time and resources into developing their underwriting standards.

Nothing in life is certain, but life insurers are pretty good at estimating mortality risk.

This makes it especially noteworthy that Health IQ has convinced some of its carriers to allow for greater flexibility with even some of the traditional underwriting metrics.

This flexibility allows certain people who are in excellent health but have one or two negatives in the traditional factors, potentially resulting in better rates than with traditional carriers.

For instance, if your family medical history isn’t that great, but your own health is perfect—or if you have a high BMI due to a muscular physique rather than a high bodyfat percentage—you might benefit from Health IQ’s approach.

Independent Agency:

The general rule in life insurance is that you can get the same rates purchasing a policy through one agent that you would get purchasing that same policy from another agent (or by purchasing directly from the company, when that is an option).  Between companies, though, rates can vary significantly.

Health IQ is an independent agency that works with multiple insurers.  In theory, independent agents facilitate competition between the companies in their networks, letting applicants find the best deal.  Captive agents, on the other hand, only work with one company.

All things being equal, consumers are almost always better off buying from an independent agent.

On the other hand, it’s not nearly as easy to compare companies using Health IQ as it is with most other online brokers.

The focus is on the fitness-based discounts—not the carrier network.

So, if you’re more interested in comparing and contrasting companies online, you’re better off checking out another online agency.

What are Health IQ’s Weaknesses?

Not Everyone Benefits:

Health IQ’s model is designed for people who are in excellent health, but, of course, not everyone is in excellent health.

If you don’t read fitness magazines or otherwise pay much attention to healthy-living studies—or if you don’t have enough free time to make an exercise regiment part of your routine—you probably won’t see any benefit from Health IQ’s approach.

And you could also make the argument that the “health literacy” quiz judges education level, test-taking ability, or even IQ more than it judges actual health.

Even for healthy people, premiums rates can vary considerably between insurance companies.  The discounts offered by Health IQ are only available from a few of the companies in its network.

If those companies aren’t particularly competitive for someone in your situation, you might still be able to find a lower price from another company, even after factoring in the discounts.

The percentage discounts are based on that specific company’s standard rates—not on the best rates in the market.

So, for example, if another carrier’s regular rates are more than 9% better, the active lifestyle discount won’t result in a better deal than what you could find elsewhere.

Highly Tedious Application Process:

The recent trend among online life insurance brokers has been toward making the application process as easy and time-efficient as possible, as is evidenced by the many companies offering no exam life insurance.

This approach has been successful because consumers typically don’t want to spend a bunch of time and effort applying for life insurance.

Health IQ goes in the opposite direction, presenting consumers with an application process that is significantly more time-intensive than most online brokers.

Even more, you have to divulge tons of personal information when applying.  Granted, you can’t buy life insurance without providing at least a little personal info.

But, with Health IQ, you’re going into a lot more detail about areas some people might prefer to keep private.

So, even if you’re health conscious and have an active lifestyle, saving fifty to a hundred bucks or so per year on your life insurance premiums might not be worth spending a few hours on the application telling the company all about yourself.

If you’re looking for a high-coverage policy where the potential discounts could translate to greater net savings, the time commitment might make more sense.

Remember, though, the healthy lifestyle discounts are only available for the ‘best of the best.’

By definition, most people in the general population won’t qualify.

If you don’t make the cut, you can still get life insurance through Health IQ at standard premium rates.

But, in that case, you will have spent several hours (and provided a lot more personal information) to get the same deal you could have received from another online broker in a half hour or so.

Persistent Sales Reps:

Though most consumer reviews of Health IQ are generally positive, there is a common thread that comes up regularly in the occasional negative reviews.

Once someone has submitted an application and requested a rate quote, Health IQ’s representatives are persistent in following up with phone calls and emails—sometimes multiple times per day.

Remember, Health IQ doesn’t get paid for letting consumers take its quiz or finding them discounts—the company gets paid for selling policies for insurance companies.

Health IQ’s system requires more upfront effort than most online brokers, so their reps have a big incentive to ensure applicants who take the quiz and go through the whole application process end up signing up for a policy.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for a term insurance policy, you are super healthy and have a high health IQ, then Health IQ may very well be the best option for you.

On the other hand, if you are considering permanent life insurance or convertible life insurance, and want to know how it fits into a long term financial plan, you might want to give the team at I&E a call instead.

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