Tele-interviews - FAQ

What is a tele-interview ?

Tele-interviewing is a method to gather information from the proposed insured.  A trained tele-interview professional telephones the proposed insured.  They will identify themselves as a representative of Sun Life Financial, and authenticate the client. 

The representative will ask a number of questions about the proposed insured's:

  • medical history - diagnoses, medical tests, medications being taken,
  • immediate family's medical history - diagnoses, and
  • lifestyle - hobbies, recreational activities, tobacco and drug use, and alcohol consumption.

As the interview comes to a close, the client can ask the representative to read back the answers they have given to any question if they're not sure of their response or if they have additional information to provide.

At the end of the interview, the client is asked to confirm that he/she answered all the questions truthfully and completely.

The interview takes approximately 20 minutes but can vary in length depending on the individual. If the client is not available when the tele-interviewer calls, they will leave a message and try calling back, but will also leave a call back number if it is more convenient for the client.

How does a tele-interview add value?

Tele-interviews can add value in many ways:

  • Some clients feel more comfortable providing information, over the phone, to someone they do not have a relationship with.
  • Some clients don't always have the information they need when you write an application. Selecting a tele-interview can provide the proposed insured the time to prepare and collect the names of doctors, medications, and medical history.
  • A tele-interview saves time for the advisor and client, especially when the application is completed on paper and the client has an extensive health history.
  • A tele-interview plus vitals can replace a paramedical. The tele-interview is completed within three days, on average, of the application being submitted which allows underwriting to begin more quickly than waiting for the paramedical.
When and why should I select tele-interview?

A tele-interview can replace either a non-medical, or a paramedical if we also receive vitals.

Here is when you should use a tele-interview:

  • If a paramedical is the requirement, it can speed up the underwriting if replaced with a tele-interview plus an order for a health care provider to collect vitals. The information is collected more quickly and the case may require no manual underwriting, which will result in the policy being issued faster. In addition, the information collected is more complete which means there is less likelihood of the underwriter having to order additional requirements such as an Attending Physician Statement.
  • If the application is completed on paper, replacing the non-medical portion with the tele-interview saves time and allows more complete information to be collected which means there is less likelihood of the underwriter having to order additional requirements such as an Attending Physician Statement.
  • If you have a personal relationship with the client, you may opt for the tele-interview to help manage a sensitive conversation.
  • If the proposed insured would be more comfortable not discussing personal issues in the presence of the applicant/policy owner, a tele-interview is a good option. The responses to the evidence questions will appear in the policy which the applicant/policy owner will see, but the tele-interview can allow the proposed insured to answer the questions more privately.
  • If the proposed insured is likely to have a complex and long health history, you may prefer to have the tele-interviewer gather the information.
  • If the proposed insured only has a limited amount of time for the meeting, it makes sense to have the tele-interview gather the evidence at a time that is convenient for the proposed insured.
  • If the application is for multiple lives and the applicant/policy owner does not want to wait while all medical information is collected, then two lives can be done via tele-interview. This may be especially helpful for company owned policies completed at the workplace.
  • Whenever companioned applications for the same proposed insured are submitted at the same time, a single tele-interview can be done to collect evidence for all applications.

When a tele-interview is not the preferred option for the advisor and client:

  • If the proposed insured is healthy and/or young and does not participate in high risk activities, it may make sense for the advisor to collect the non-medical information on the application. Note: if an advisor begins to collect the non-medical information but determines that the history is more complex than originally thought, a tele-interview can be selected (the proposed insured will have to repeat all answers already given on the application).
  • If a medical is required.
  • If the proposed insured is hard of hearing or prefers a face to face discussion, a non-medical or paramedical might be a better choice over a tele-interview.
  • If the proposed insured is going on vacation, travelling in the very near future or has a busy schedule or may not be easy to get a hold of (a trucker, farmer, business executive etc.), a non-medical or paramedical might be a better choice over a tele-interview.
What type of information should I put in the 'best time to call' section of the tele-interviewing application?

This field is used to indicate the client's preferred time to complete a tele interview.  If the tele-interviewer cannot reach the client at their preferred time after several attempts, they may attempt to reach the client outside the 'best time to call'.
Some things to consider:

  • The 'Best time to call - morning, afternoon or evening' assumes weekday preferences.  If there are specifics dates, times and instructions, please see "What type of information should I put in the 'additional information for tele-interview' field" below.
  • The client may phone the tele-interviewer directly to complete the interview (1-866-739-8863.)
  • When in contact with the tele-interviewer the client has the choice of completing the interview at that time or scheduling an appointment for a more convenient time.
What type of information should I put in the 'additional information for tele-interviewer' section of the tele-interviewing application?

This field can be used to let the tele-interviewer know:

  • That an interpreter is required.
  • If another application is pending for the same client and companioning is required.
  • If another application is pending for another insured in the same household and companioning is preferred.
  • Specific details about when to call (i.e. available all day Mondays) or when not to call (i.e. client works nights, don't call before 2pm on weekdays).  Weekends are often a good time for the tele-interviewer to reach clients. If you wish to have the call made on the weekend at a specific period of the day, please state that clearly.
  • Any special instructions or additional information about contacting the client.
Can I order the tele-interview?

Sun Life will order all tele-interviews on your behalf. You cannot order the tele-interview directly.

Who do I contact for information or updates?

For updates on the status of the tele-interview or to provide additional details, or advise of changes to the client's contact information, you can:

  • Contact our tele-interviewer team directly:
    • by phone: 1-866-739-8863.
    • Call the Advisor Service Centre at 1-800-800-4SUN/4786
What does a tele-interview replace?

A tele-interview can be completed in place of the evidence portion of an application. A tele-interview and vitals can be completed in place of a paramedical.

What questions does a tele-interview consist of?

The tele-interview questionnaire consists of all family history questions, all personal medical history questions, and personal information questions, except for a few brief questions, which remain on the initial application as they may impact age and amount requirement calculations.

How do I prepare my client for the tele-interview?
Leave your client with the brochure Tele-interview preparation material, (810-4848)
. It contains information on the tele-interview and a work sheet so that the client can prepare for the interview by gathering information that might be asked for.
How long is a tele-interview valid for?

A tele-interview is valid for a period of 90 days, similar to a non-medical or paramedical.

How do combination interviews and companioned interviews work?

Critical illness and life insurance each have separate questionnaires that are unique for the underwriting of each product and which reflect the differences in the details that are required for each product. A combined questionnaire will be completed by the tele-interviewer so that the best possible client experience is provided.

If a proposed insured has applied for multiple life insurance products, a single tele-interview can be applied to all the applications. The same applies to multiple critical illness applications.

As previously mentioned, the questionnaires for life insurance and critical illness insurance are different; therefore, for situations where all applications are not submitted at the same time, a tele-interview completed for a life insurance application can not be used for an application for critical illness insurance that is submitted at a later date (and vice versa).

How will the provider know they are talking to the right client?

To ensure that the individual responding to the questions is in fact the correct person, each interview consists of an authentication process. Clients should be prepared to spell their full name and disclose their full birthday and mailing address including the city, province and postal code. If these pieces of information cannot be provided, the tele-interviewer will not be able to proceed with the tele-interview.

How do clients provide their signature?

At the end of each interview, the client is asked the following questions:

"Do you agree that your answers to the questions I asked you are complete and true, and do you understand they form part of the application?"

A "yes" answer is required to complete the interview, and it constitutes the client's voice signature. The question and answer are also printed and form part the policy/contract.

Are translations supported and how does the process work?

Sun Life provides service in English and French and a number of other languages covering a range of clients. If a language other than English or French is requested and a tele-interviewer with that language skill is available on the team, the tele-interviewer will act as interpreter, reading the questionnaire and translating into the required language. The interviewee will then respond in their desired language with responses being recorded in English/French by the tele-interviewer.

What languages are supported?

Our vendor strives to support as many languages as possible, however only English and French are guaranteed. The majority of the time they can support approximately 11 languages, and there are options available if they don't have a tele-interviewer who speaks the preferred language. Indicate the language in the application and we will do their best to accommodate the request.

Can tele-interviews be used for preliminaries or requests to review ratings?

Tele-interviews cannot be used for preliminary inquiries, reinstatements, change in smoking status or requests to review ratings. They can only be done for new business, internal replacements or for conversions when there is an increase in risk requiring full evidence (i.e. increase in face amount, additional illness, but not for a smoker change).

The client has not yet completed the tele-interview, are they still covered by the Temporary Insurance Certificate?

Yes. The client must submit a valid application and pay the initial premium to qualify for the TIC. The forms themselves specify all terms and conditions.

How long does it take from the time the client completes the tele-interview until the requirement shows as received on Activity Centre?

The tele interview should show on Activity Centre within 48 hours of completion.

Can information disclosed on the tele-interview be disclosed to me?

Similar to other evidence, we cannot share information unless the Authorization to disclose information to my advisor/LTC specialist for life, critical illness, and/or long term care insurance" application (Form 4376) has been completed, or with a fully completed Section 18 on the Application for life and/or critical illness insurance (810-2799) application (this would be Section 14 on the RapidApp/Tele-interviewing application for life and/or critical illness insurance (810-2815) application).

How often will the client be contacted? Are messages left?

The interviewer will call the client each day for 10 days, but will only leave a message every other day. If after 10 days they cannot reach the client, the tele-interviewer will place the case on hold and contact us or the advisor directly. The advisor must confirm the contact information and discuss the options available to the client. Once the advisor has discussed the options with the client and replied, the tele-interviewer can either proceed with contacting the client or we can close the request with them and adjust requirements.

What type of additional information is required on the application?

Additional information that is required on the application to let the tele-interviewer know:

  • If an interpreter is required.
  • If another application is pending for the same client and companioning is required.
  • If another application is pending for another insured in the same household and companioning is preferred.
  • Specific details about when to call (i.e. unavailable Mondays).
  • Best time to call.
  • On juvenile cases we require the full name, date of birth and complete address of the interviewee.

Please note that if an APS is an age and amount requirement, unless you include the Doctor's contact information on the application, we will have to wait until the tele-interview arrives to request the APS.

How will the client know they are being contacted for a tele-interview?

If the client has a land line, the phone number of the person calling to conduct the tele-interview displays as "Sun Life Ins 1-855-491-9604."  If the client has a cell phone the call shows as "+1-855-491-9604"

Can a client request a tele-interviewer of a specific gender?

If the client wants to speak with an interviewer of a specific gender, advisors can include that information in the tele-interview instructions in the application. If this is something the client decides they want after the interview has started, they can ask the interviewer if they can speak with an interviewer of the opposite gender. The call may have to be rescheduled depending on the availability of another interviewer.

What happens if the tele-interviewer is unable to reach the client to conduct the tele-interview?

The tele-interviewer will try to contact the client 10 times, leaving a message on every other attempt. After 10 calls, they notify Sun Life head office or the advisor directly to find out how we should proceed. The advisor will have 10 days to respond. If we don't have any direction after 10 days, we will put the case on follow up for Day 90. System generated reminders will be sent to the advisor regarding outstanding requirements every 15 days and the status on Activity Centre will show as "EVIDENCE ORDER ON HOLD - PENDING RESPONSE."

If an advisor selects SLF to order field requirements when requesting a tele-interview, can the advisor ask for a specific health provider to provide the service?

At this time we cannot accommodate advisor requests for a specific health provider to collect vitals. If the advisor wants a specific provider, they should order the service themselves.

Why does the application ask for the client's country of birth after the client has answered that they are a Canadian citizen?

We ask for country of birth to make it easier to match the client with the correct information on MIB.

Who completes the tele-interview to collect evidence for a child?

If the application is being completed for a child, the parent who is going to be answering the tele-interview questions needs to be present while the application is being completed. If they are not, the tele-interviewer will ask to speak to the parent who completed the application. If the client tells the tele-interviewer that the other parent is going to answer the tele-interview questions, the interviewer will follow a voice authentication procedure with the client and the parent who is going to answer the evidence questions.

Can a tele-interview be conducted with clients who are hearing impaired? 

If the applicant is hearing impaired, the tele-interviewercan use the TTY system to complete the tele-interview.  TTY stands for Text Telephone. A TTY is a special device that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment use the telephone to communicate, by allowing them to type messages back and forth to one another instead of talking and listening. The client needs to be prepared for the interview to take longer than 20-30 minutes to complete.