Life insurance medical exams, or paramedical exams, are typically required as part of the application process for a traditional life insurance policy. The purpose of these exams is to help the insurance company assess your health and determine your risk level for the policy.
During a life insurance medical exam, a medical professional will typically check your vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. They may also take a blood and urine sample to test for various medical conditions and risk factors, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Blood and urine samples can also be used to screen for other things, including the presence of nicotine and/or drugs and alcohol.
The specific tests included in a life insurance medical exam may vary depending on the insurance company and the type of policy you are applying for.
Some standard tests that may be included in a life insurance medical exam include:
- Blood tests: These tests may measure your cholesterol, blood sugar, and other health markers.
- Urine tests: These tests may be used to check for signs of kidney disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
- EKG: An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a test that measures your heart’s electrical activity and can help detect heart problems.
- Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray is a test that uses radiation to create images of the inside of your chest, including your heart and lungs.
While it’s important to understand what a life insurance company is measuring and testing when taking their paramedical exams, it’s also important to know how individual life insurance companies may react to the information they collect.
This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss some of the most common questions we receive from people asking about what life insurance medical exams test for and provide some helpful tips along the way that could improve your chances of qualifying for a lower rate.
Questions that will be addressed include:
- Do all life insurance policies require a medical exam?
- How does the medical exam process work?
- What physical exam questions are asked?
- What medical exam questions are asked?
- What are blood and urine samples used for?
- What questions might I have to answer during the application process?
- What are some ways I can improve my medical exam results?
- Should I try to avoid taking a medical exam?
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Do all life insurance policies require a medical exam?
No, not all life insurance policies will require applicants to take a medical exam. So, policies may only require an applicant to answer health-related questions. These “types” of life insurance policies are often called NO MEDICAL EXAM LIFE INSURANCE and utilize accelerated underwriting and “big data” to determine whether or not you qualify for coverage.
Insurance companies offering these types of life insurance policies feel comfortable enough with the information that they can receive by having you answer a series of medical conditions combined with the information available to them within a prescription database check, DMV report, a Medical Information Bureau report, and a routine criminal background check.
Medical Information Bureau (MIB):
The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is a nonprofit organization that maintains data and insurance information for the database of its member insurance companies.
The MIB’s database includes information about an individual’s health history, including previous life insurance applications, medical exams, and any health conditions reported to the MIB by its member insurance companies.
When an individual applies for life insurance, the insurance company may request access to the MIB database as part of the underwriting process. The insurance company will use the information in the MIB database and other information about the applicant’s health and lifestyle to assess the risk of insuring the applicant and determine the premium for the policy.
Applicants who may be unable to qualify for a No Medical Exam Term or Whole Life Insurance policy due to a pre-existing medical condition or other “disqualifying factor” may choose to apply for a Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policy.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance:
Guaranteed issue life insurance, also known as guaranteed acceptance life insurance, is a type of life insurance policy that does not require a medical exam or any health questions as part of the application process. These policies are generally available to individuals with difficulty obtaining coverage due to pre-existing health conditions or other factors.
Guaranteed-issue life insurance policies typically have lower coverage limits than traditional life insurance policies requiring a medical exam. They may also have higher premiums since the insurer is taking on more risk by providing coverage to individuals without assessing their health status.
It should also be noted that guaranteed issue life insurance policies will contain a graded death benefit which will limit when the policy will begin to provide coverage for all types of death (both natural and accidental).
The Life Insurance Medical Exam Process
The life insurance medical exam process is typically a required part of the application process for traditional life insurance policies, including whole life insurance and universal life insurance. The medical exam aims to assess the applicant’s health status and provide the insurer with the information needed to determine the risk of insuring the applicant and set the premium for the policy.
Here is an overview of the typical life insurance medical exam process:
- Schedule the exam: The applicant must schedule a time for the medical exam with a paramedical professional, typically a nurse or other medical professional trained to conduct the exam. The exam can be scheduled at a location convenient for the applicant, such as their home or a local medical facility.
- Complete the exam: The medical exam typically includes a physical examination, blood and urine tests, and other tests such as an EKG or chest X-ray. The paramedical professional will review the applicant’s medical history and ask questions about their health and lifestyle. The exam generally takes about 30-45 minutes to complete.
- Review the results: After the medical exam, the results are typically reviewed by a medical underwriter at the insurance company. The underwriter will use the exam results and other information about the applicant’s health and lifestyle to assess the risk of insuring the applicant and determine the premium for the policy.
- Approval or denial: The insurer will then decide whether to offer coverage to the applicant and, if coverage is provided, at what premium. If the applicant is approved for coverage, the policy will be issued, and the applicant will need to pay the premiums as specified in the policy. If the applicant is denied coverage, they may be able to appeal the decision or apply for coverage with another insurer.
The Life Insurance Physical Exam Questions
During a life insurance physical exam, the paramedical professional may ask questions about the applicant’s health and lifestyle. The specific questions asked may vary depending on the insurer and the type of policy being applied for, but here are some examples of the kinds of questions that may be asked during a life insurance physical exam:
- Personal and family medical history: The paramedical professional may ask about the applicant’s medical record, including any conditions or diseases they have had or are currently being treated for, as well as the medical history of their immediate family members.
- Medications and supplements: The applicant may be asked about any prescription or over-the-counter medications they are currently taking and any supplements or vitamins they are taking.
- Lifestyle and habits: The paramedical professional may ask about the applicant’s lifestyle and practices, including their diet, exercise routine, and any risky behaviors such as smoking or heavy alcohol consumption.
Life Insurance Medical Exam Details
The medical exam aims to assess the applicant’s health status and provide the insurer with the information needed to determine the risk of insuring the applicant and set the premium for the policy.
Here are some details about the life insurance medical exam:
- Schedule: The applicant must schedule a time for the medical exam with a paramedical professional, typically a nurse or other medical professional trained to conduct the exam. The exam can be scheduled at a location convenient for the applicant, such as their home or a local medical facility.
- Duration: The medical exam generally takes 30-45 minutes to complete.
- Components: The medical exam typically includes a physical examination, blood and urine tests, and other tests such as an EKG or chest X-ray. The paramedical professional will review the applicant’s medical history and ask questions about their health and lifestyle.
- Results: After the medical exam, the results are typically reviewed by a medical underwriter at the insurance company. The underwriter will use the exam results and other information about the applicant’s health and lifestyle to assess the risk of insuring the applicant and determine the premium for the policy.
- Cost: The cost of the medical exam is typically paid for by the insurance company
Life Insurance Blood Test and Urine Sample
The life insurance blood test and urine sample are typically required as part of the medical exam process for traditional life insurance policies, including whole life insurance and universal life insurance. The purpose of these tests is to provide the insurer with information about the applicant’s overall health and to assess the risk of insuring the applicant.
Here are some details about the life insurance blood test and urine sample:
- Blood test: The life insurance blood test is typically conducted by a paramedical professional, who will draw a small sample of blood from the applicant’s arm. The blood sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing, and the insurer will use the results to assess the applicant’s overall health. The blood test may include tests to evaluate liver and kidney function, cholesterol levels, and other general health markers.
- Urine sample: The life insurance urine sample is typically collected by the applicant at home and returned to the insurer in a particular container. The sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing, and the insurer will use the results to assess the applicant’s overall health. The urine sample may be tested for various substances, including drugs, alcohol, and proteins that may indicate the presence of certain health conditions.
5 Categories A Life Insurance Medical Exam Tests For
1. Heart and Arteries
Cholesterol – Although there are good and bad types of cholesterol, it is a fatty substance that the body needs lubrication.
However, current medical literature states that too much of the wrong type and you could experience blockages in the arteries which increases the likelihood of a stroke or heart attack.
For insurance companies, you will notice that they all offer different parameters for what is ‘acceptable’.’
The good news is that many top life insurance companies are okay with elevated cholesterol. Some companies even offer you a preferred best-rate class with cholesterol less than or equal to 300.
HDL/LDL – With HDL, this is often called the ‘good cholesterol’ as it prevents a build-up of LDL (bad cholesterol) and protects the arteries – men should aim for 40 HDL while women require 50 HDL.
With LDL, this leads to blockages and sometimes needs stents as a cure.
Your assessment will calculate the LDL/HDL ratio for your risk of heart disease. Then, there will also be a cholesterol/HDL comparison.
You want the best HDL/Cholesterol and HDL/LDL ratio possible. A cholesterol/HDL ratio below 4.5 is ideal.
Diuretic in Urine – Medications for high blood pressure act as a diuretic, so the presence of this in the urine will show if you take an HBP medication.
Triglycerides – As a type of fat in the blood, you will be eligible for the best health rating if your levels are below 150. If above this, the risk of higher premiums becomes increased.
Beta-Adrenergic Blockers – This will look for all signs of medication relating to high blood pressure, heart defects, or arrhythmias.
Alkaline Phosphatase – As an enzyme in your blood, having too much is potential evidence of a bone or liver disease.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) – This is an enzyme that shows whether liver disease is likely or elevated.
Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) – If you have high levels here, it could be a warning of muscle, liver, or heart disease.
After this, several minor things are checked, including total Protein, Bilirubin, Globulin, Albumin, and Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT).
3. Kidney and Bladder
Blood Urea Nitrogen – You can see a person’s overall health very well, and a normal range is between 10-25.
Creatinine – If this is high, there is a possible danger of kidney disease.
Leukocyte Esterase – With this, life insurance companies are looking for enzymes that could prove bladder or kidney infections.
Urine pH Screen – Here, insurers can see how acidic the urine is; the expected result would be between 4-8.
Hemoglobin Screen – If hemoglobin is found within the urine, this could be evidence of a kidney or urinary tract infection.
After these five, there will also be tests for Urine Creatinine, Proteinuria, and Microalbumin, and your Protein/Creatinine ratio will be assessed.
Fructosamine – As this measures your blood sugar levels over two or three weeks, particularly high or low results could suggest health issues.
Urine Glucose – As the name suggests, this checks the amount of glucose within your urine because a high result could be a sign of diabetes. Ideally, you want your blood glucose to be below 120.
Hemoglobin A1C – Your blood glucose will show over the last 90 days, and anywhere below 5.7 can be considered regular. You sit in the pre-diabetic zone if you’re a little above this. As soon as you pass 6.5, this is considered diabetic within the application for life insurance.
Although we have now seen the four main areas that are tested in the life insurance blood tests and urine samples, there are two final areas with the first being Serum HIV – over time, this can lead to AIDS.
Also, Cotinine is a big one within a life insurance medical exam because this is a byproduct of nicotine. Despite much research, we aren’t quite sure how long nicotine stays in the body, but insurers can gauge tobacco use by Cotinine.
Testing for Drugs in the Life Insurance Medical Exam
Drug testing may be included in the life insurance medical exam process. Drug testing aims to provide the insurer with information about the applicant’s drug use, which may be relevant to the insurer’s assessment of the risk of insuring the applicant.
There are several ways in which drug testing may be conducted during a life insurance medical exam:
- Blood test: A sample of the applicant’s blood may be tested for the presence of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates.
- Urine test: A sample of the applicant’s urine may be tested for the presence of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and prescription medications.
- Hair test: A sample of the applicant’s hair may be tested for the presence of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates. A hair test can detect drug use over a more extended period (typically several months) compared to a urine or blood test. Which is rarely performed, if ever.
We should also note that…
An increasing amount of companies are allowing nicotine and marijuana – with this; the consumption level will depend on individual rules set out by the insurer.
2X Rule for Marijuana Users
Marijuana users applying for life insurance should be familiar with the ‘2X’ rule. For the most part, the ‘2X’ rule has been gaining traction in recent times, and this says that an applicant can receive the best rates if they consume marijuana less than twice per year. With others more favorable to Marijuana use, it can be more frequent and even up to three times per week with marijuana-friendly life insurance companies.
Regarding the frequency rules, you don’t necessarily qualify for the best rates automatically because this relies on other sections of your application. This being said, it does mean that you have an opportunity to qualify as a non-smoker.
For the more serious drugs such as heroin or cocaine, they lead to automatic rejections because life insurance companies do not allow current drug abusers.
If you are now clean after being addicted to drugs in the past, life insurance is achievable as most companies have a set amount of time for which you must be clean – this is usually three years with no relapses.
Alongside the life insurance medical examination, you will also be asked some questions, and you may need to answer follow-up questions if you suggest previous drug use.
If you are currently a drug user, you will find it hard to receive coverage from any insurer in the market.
Even when a company offers guaranteed issue life insurance to you, it will be expensive versus a more traditional underwritten policy.
If you are now drug-free, you will find that many companies will offer you life insurance as long as you have been drug-free for a certain period.
Medical Exam FAQs
What if the appointment is canceled, or I need to reschedule?
If you need to reschedule your life insurance exam appointment or the appointment has been canceled, contact the life insurance company or the agency that scheduled the appointment to arrange a new date and time. They will be able to provide you with the necessary information and assist you in rescheduling the exam.
Rescheduling the exam as soon as possible is essential, as obtaining life insurance can be lengthy, and you want to ensure no delays. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask the company or agency for clarification.
How much does the life insurance physical exam cost?
Since it is part of your application for life insurance, it won’t cost you a dollar. Just because you aren’t paying anything doesn’t mean you have to choose them.
Over the years, insurers have become used to applicants going elsewhere even after the medical examination. As you can see, this is a great way to check your overall health, and you should even receive a copy of your health report.
What if I disagree with the lab results?
Thanks to technology, the results are now highly accurate with medical exams, but you may still feel as though you had an off day or that the results are wrong.
If valid, you can request a second exam, but there are some problems.
First, some insurers don’t do second examinations.
Secondly, your first exam will still be considered instead of being ‘forgotten.’
W.’h most policies, you will take a new medical exam at some point in the future – normally at a renewal point.
If the results are worse than the first, you can have these scratched to continue using the first. If the results are better, you can ask the insurer to consider your new medical exam when working out your new rate.
What happens after the life insurance medical exam?
After the life insurance medical exam, the insurance company will review the exam results and any other information about your health and medical history that is part of the application process. The insurance company will use this information to determine your risk level and to set your policy’s premiums. Suppose the insurance company decides you are eligible for coverage based on the information provided. In that case, they will issue a policy to you and send you a copy of the policy documents.
The policy documents will outline the terms and conditions of your coverage, including the amount of the premiums you will need to pay, the benefits provided under the policy, and any exclusions or limitations that apply.
If the insurance company determines you are not eligible for coverage, they will typically send you a letter explaining their decision and its reasons.
In some cases, you may be able to appeal the decision or provide additional information to support your application.
What if I choose not to accept the policy?
As mentioned, you are not under any contracts, even through the examination process, so that you can walk away at any point.
Instead of undergoing a different medical exam for each company, you can have the first and then use these results to shop around, which is vital to remember.
People often decide against shopping around because they think a new medical exam is required for each.
If the exam has been taken within six months, it will be valid for all applications.
Don’t forget all medical exams will go on your health record for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately, this means that your very first medical exam will be considered in all future life insurance applications, even if you have a newer exam in the application.
Should You Undergo a Medical Exam?
This all depends on your needs and your unique situation. If you are currently ill or have a disease/condition that would prevent you from being accepted with a medical exam, you might want to look towards simplified issue life insurance.
If you are young and healthy but have not had a physical exam for a while, maybe you want to err on the side of caution and avoid an exam, rather than find out you are not as healthy as you thought you were. See Exam vs No Exam?
Further, some no-exam policies have provisions that prevent the policy from paying out 100% of the death benefit in the first 2-3 years. These approaches have a graded advantage, which means that the full death benefit will not go to the beneficiary if you die within a specific time after the policy has been set up.
For many with no concerns about their health, the medical examination may be worth the effort because it only takes a0-45 minutes and you may benefit from lower premiums for the years ahead. Also, you may qualify for accelerated underwriting that allows you to bypass the exam altogether.
What decision is best for you comes down to your unique scenario, and this is why choosing a top-notch life insurance agency, such as the team at IBUSA, will come in handy to help you make the best decision for you based on your unique needs, health, and lifestyle.