Life Insurance Medical Exam

    Life Insurance Medical Exam: How It Affects Your Insurance Premiums

    As with any long-term product, you'll want to ensure you're getting the best possible value out of your life insurance policy. If you're taking out coverage to financially secure your loved ones after death, a good value policy is one that can provide a sizable death benefit.

    To determine how much you pay in premiums, your life insurance company will review several determining factors, including your medical history. If you receive a higher health classification, you can obtain higher coverage at more affordable premiums. Read on to find out how your current state of health affects your life insurance terms.

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    What Is A Life Insurance Medical Exam?

    A life insurance medical exam corroborates the medical information you provide on your life insurance application. It also uncovers new information – such as a pre-existing condition or recent illness – that you may not have been aware of before the exam.

    Why Insurance Companies Require A Medical Exam

    Medically underwritten life insurance is often more affordable than other policies because it provides an accurate scope of health risks. The less risky you are to insure, the cheaper your premiums will be.

    Naturally, a paramedical exam is the best way to obtain insights into your health and life expectancy.

    To Determine Risk

    Healthier applicants can enjoy the benefits of lower interest rates. How healthy you are will depend on the health classification you fall under. A typical life insurance policy will classify people into five different categories:

    • Preferred Plus: The individual is in excellent health and has an ideal height-to-weight ratio. Their family medical history is preferable.
    • Preferred: The individual is in good health and demonstrates only mild conditions.
    • Standard Plus: The individual is in good health with a clean health history, though does not demonstrate an ideal height-to-weight ratio.
    • Standard: The individual has a complicated medical history and does not demonstrate an ideal height-to-weight ratio.
    • Substandard: The individual has a complicated medical history and demonstrates severe health issues.
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    To Understand Your Full Medical History

    The medical exam serves to corroborate the health information you provide in your life insurance application. By taking a closer look at your family medical history, a life insurance company can:

    • Identify underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or inconsistencies in blood work and medical imaging exams
    • Determine mortality rates using patient information and longevity charts
    • Ascertain the appropriate health classification and provide the best possible coverage

    What Does An Assessor Look For During A Medical Exam?

    Below is the scope of a typical medical exam. Depending on the information you provide, a medical examiner may opt to screen for illnesses or conditions.


    Cigarette smokers are at greater risk of health complications and have a shorter lifespan. Depending on how much you smoke and whether you've contracted a smoking-related disease, your premiums can increase from anywhere between 3 to 5 times higher than that of a non-smoker.

    For instance, a 30-year-old smoking male will pay over $800 in monthly premiums. An individual of the same age who doesn't smoke will only pay around $300.

    To be considered a non-smoker, you must be smoke-free for at least 12 months. Even if you smoke only a few cigarettes a year or consider yourself an occasional smoker, it isn't advisable to omit this information on your life insurance application. If you lie to your life insurance company about your smoking habits and die of a smoking-related disease, they can choose to withhold the death benefit.

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    Examiners will pay special attention to your blood pressure levels since high readings could lead to coronary heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. Always disclose any beta-blockers that you might be taking. High cholesterol levels are also a contributing factor to heart and kidney-related diseases.

    If an examiner finds that you have elevated glucose levels, this could be an indicator of diabetes.

    Drug Use

    This part of the medical exam is fairly intuitive – if you use recreational drugs, a life insurance company isn't going to look favorably upon your application.

    Some life insurance companies will be more forgiving of marijuana users and provide non-smoking rates, depending on the frequency of use. Others might choose to provide tobacco rates, which are up to 200% more expensive than non-smoking rates. 

    What To Expect During A Life Insurance Medical Exam

    Life insurance medical exams can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what test your examiner requests. A typical life insurance medical exam will comprise two parts: an interview and a physical evaluation.

    The Interview & Questionnaire

    During the in-person interview, you'll be asked to provide the following information:

    • The names, dosages, and purpose of any medications you're currently taking
    • The contact information of healthcare professionals you've received consultation and treatment from in the last five years
    • Information regarding existing medical conditions including the date of diagnosis, accompanying treatment plan, and current state of health
    • Lifestyle habits including cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and medical or recreational drug use

    The Physical Exam

    After the interview, a medical examiner will perform a standard physical evaluation, which includes:

    • Recording your height and weight
    • Collecting a blood sample
    • Collecting a urine sample
    • Measuring your heart rate and blood pressure
    • Calculating your body mass index (BMI)

    If you are over the age of fifty, an assessor might request additional lab tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) to determine the electrical activity in your heart. Other tests might include a cognitive ability assessment if you're beyond retirement age.

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    How To Pass A Life Insurance Medical Exam

    There is no explicit "passing" or "failing" component to a life insurance medical exam. Unfortunately, unfavorable results that impact your life insurance rates are, more often than not, out of your control. With that in mind, it's possible to take steps to ensure better rates.

    Fast Before Your Exam

    Fasting before your exam ensures that your blood sugar and cholesterol levels are read accurately. Your life insurance agent will recommend that you fast at least 6 to 8 hours before the exam. Avoid hunger pangs while you wait by scheduling your exam early in the morning.

    Undergo A Cleanse

    Though it may not undo the effects of any long-term habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol, staying hydrated and undergoing a cleanse can help flush the body of toxins and dilate the veins. Make sure to get enough sleep at least a week before your medical exam and indulge in antioxidant-rich foods.

    Know Your Medical History

    Though it may seem intuitive, not every individual is familiar with their family medical history. Remember, an insurer is likely to ask a handful of questions regarding your parents' and grandparents' health – not just yours. They will also request documentation reflecting medications you're currently taking, recent hospital visits, and contact information. Make sure you gather the necessary paperwork at least a week in advance.

    Reduce Smoking & Alcohol Intake

    Remember, to be considered smoke-free, you'll have to quit smoking at least 12 months before your medical exam. While quitting a few weeks before the test won't necessarily make a significant impact on your exam results, it may decrease your blood pressure.

    Life insurance companies perceive alcohol in a similar way. While it won't make much of a difference to stop drinking for a few days, an assessor will look favorably upon a blood test or urine sample that reflects no traces of alcohol.

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    How To Avoid Taking A Life Insurance Medical Exam

    If you don't qualify for the insurance policy you're after, you can opt to pursue term life insurance that doesn't require a medical exam. Consider the following options below:

    Group Life Insurance

    Group life insurance is available through your employer and is considered a no-exam policy. It is considered a work benefit, as your employer is likely to pay most or all of the premiums. However, group life insurance provides only basic coverage and will cap at a payout of around $50,000.

    Additionally, this type of life insurance coverage isn't transferable if you eventually decide to change career paths. If you need to provide more money for your family, you might be better off taking out individual term life insurance.

    Guaranteed Life Insurance

    If an insurer cannot provide coverage due to poor test results, guaranteed life insurance makes for an ideal failsafe. As its title suggests, you cannot be turned down for this type of policy, nor will you have to undergo a life insurance exam or answer any health-related questions.

    However, guaranteed life insurance products offer only low-coverage policies that cap at between $10,000 and $25,000. If you, the policyholder, are severely ill and pass away within two years of when the policy becomes active, your insurer might only release a portion of the money, plus interest. 

    Simplified Life Insurance

    If you need to secure money fast, you can opt for a simplified issue life insurance policy. While you won't have to undergo a medical exam, an insurer might still ask questions about your medical history, which will impact your premium rates.

    Accelerated underwriting is similar to simplified life insurance policies, in that they don't require applicants to undergo a medical exam. However, insurers will still scrutinize your current health and lifestyle.

    What If You Fail Your Life Insurance Medical Exam?

    In theory, you can't "fail" life insurance medical exams. After your session, a lab will evaluate blood and urine samples, typically producing exam results in as quickly as 24 hours. Here is what you should do after you receive your assigned insurance rate:

    Request A Copy Of Your Results

    Even if you don't receive the health classification you were hoping for, it's best to review your exam results to pinpoint areas that you can improve with gradual lifestyle changes. You never know when your insurance company will allow reconsideration.

    Discuss with your insurer about obtaining preliminary coverage and scheduling a re-evaluation within the next two years. During this time, you can quit smoking, achieve an ideal height-to-weight ratio, and transition into a more balanced diet. 

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    Consider Another Policy

    Unfortunately, some life insurance companies won't be willing to budge on their rates. In that case, you can consider a short-term life insurance policy and re-apply for traditional coverage after some time. Alternatively, you can consider no-exam policies such as the ones listed above.

    If you're pursuing insurance with your primary banking corporation, consider working with an independent agent or broker. A freelance professional is likely to be connected to multiple insurers and can advise you towards the best option for your specific health conditions.


    Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding life insurance medical exams.

    Do you have to pay for a medical exam?

    If your life insurance company is requiring that you undergo a medical exam, they are likely to cover it themselves. An independent insurer will typically reimburse any medical expenses you accrue if you undergo your exam with a separate healthcare institution.

    Can you contest unfavorable results?

    Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about unfavorable lab results. Insurance companies don't allow second examinations, though they may allow it if you choose to renew your term life policy. The risk here is receiving even worse results, which can negatively impact your premium rates.

    Is it possible to fail a medical exam?

    While you cannot "fail" a medical assessment, you can be denied insurance if a professional deems you too high-risk. In some cases, companies may deny coverage beyond health reasons, such as if you engage in a high-risk occupation or enjoy dangerous hobbies.

    Can you reschedule your appointment?

    If you don't feel well on the day of your assessment, you can opt to reschedule it. Even the ordinary flu can impact your test results.

    Can you avoid taking a medical exam?

    Yes – although it usually means you'll have to seek coverage elsewhere. When it comes to term or permanent life insurance, there is no way out of the medical exam. However, you can opt for no-test life insurance if a professional isn't willing to take on your case.

    The most common downside to no-test policies is that they usually cost more and don't provide a generous payout.

    In Conclusion

    From an insurer's perspective, a life insurance medical exam is the best way to make sure that you get the best out of your policy while they mitigate the risks of providing you coverage. To learn more about how you can achieve the best policy terms at competitive prices get in touch with Wesley Insurance, LLC.

    Written By Cameron McDowell
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