life insurance medical exam ultimate guide

A Guide to Life Insurance Medical Exams

When you purchase life insurance coverage, you will likely be asked to have a medical exam. The insurer will determine how much of a risk you are, first with an interview followed by a physical exam administered by a medical professional, typically a paramedical, such as a nurse.

Ultimately, the insurance company will use what they learn to help determine your premium.

How a Life Insurance Medical Exam Works

Your life insurance exam will occur either at your home or at a health facility. The medical professional will ask a series of questions about your health and then complete the exam with a few tests. Be sure to be forthcoming in your interview because your answers to health questions will be verified by the actual exam.

The Interview

Before you take the exam, you will be asked health-related questions to gather your full medical history. The medical professional will ask about:

  • Hospitalizations, medications you take, diagnosed conditions and procedures you have undergone.
  • Your parents’ and other close relatives’ medical histories.
  • Details about your primary doctor and any other physicians you have seen over the last few years. This includes names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Your habits including exercise regime as well as smoking, drinking and recreational drug use.
  • Conditions such as depression and anxiety and other diagnoses.

The Physical Exam

After an in-depth interview you will be tested for basic data and to verify or determine certain underlying conditions.

  • Height and weight.
  • Blood pressure and pulse.
  • Bloodwork to check your cholesterol, glucose, protein, HIV and more.
  • Urine sample for urinalysis to look at HIV, glucose, protein, creatinine levels as well as evidence of drug and nicotine use.

If you are an older applicant or one who is applying for a large amount of coverage, you may also be asked to take an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure the electrical activity of your heart.

After the Exam

Your insurance company will review the results of your medical exam to decide on your premium costs or determine that you are not insurable. It can take up to a few months to process everything, so you probably won’t hear back right away.

Your Health Classification

Insurance companies qualify people according to where you fit in on health classification.

Preferred Plus – This classification is also called Super Preferred, Preferred Select or Preferred Elite. If you fit into this category, you are healthy, and your premium will be the lowest possible.

Preferred – This classification shows you are almost as healthy as someone in the Preferred Plus category.

Standard Plus – You are found to be in good health overall, with a few issues that disallow you from be given Preferred or Preferred Plus standing.

Standard – A Standard rating means you have some less-than-ideal issues. For instance, you might weigh too much for your height, your family medical history is troubling, or your blood work or urinalysis came back showing a few concerns.

Substandard – If you are put in this category, expect to pay higher premiums. Substandard rates you on past or recent health issues. The highest rating means you will pay the standard premium plus 25 percent. The worst rating of substandard results in your premiums costing the standard amount plus 100 percent.

Smokers’ Ratings

Applicants who smoke are put into their own category. Both ratings, Preferred Smoker and Standard Smoker, add costs to your premiums.

Preferred Smoker – If you are a smoker given a Preferred rating, it typically means you are generally healthy with any risk factors such as high blood pressure well controlled by medication.

Standard Smoker – A Standard Smoker is typically overweight and has risk factors that are not well controlled by medication.

How to Prepare for a Life Insurance Medical Exam

Some of the things you’ll need on hand for you life insurance medical exam include: your driver’s license or other proof of identification; the names, addresses and dates of past visits to your various health care providers; a list of all prescription and OTC drugs you’re taking; and dates and basic information about hospitalizations, injuries and major illnesses.

Although it does not guarantee you will get a better rating, it might help your case if you do everything you can ahead of your medical exam to try to improve your results.

1. Drink plenty of water.

If you aren’t already, begin drinking more water; eight glasses a day for at least a week before the exam. This is said to help wash toxins out of your system that show up in blood and urine tests.

2. Eat the right food.

To help your blood pressure and cholesterol levels try to start eating non-processed foods which can be high in sugar, salt and fat a few days before your exam. Add more leafy greens and other vegetables.

3. Avoid caffeine.

Caffeine can spike your blood pressure, so avoid coffee, tea and other drinks that include caffeine on the day of your exam. That morning cup would best be saved until after the medical exam!

4. Go without alcohol.

Alcohol is dehydrating and can also affect liver enzymes, so avoid imbibing for a few days right before your medical exam.

5. Fast just prior to the exam.

Ask about fasting when you schedule your appointment. If recommended, it is a good idea to fast for eight hours before the exam, because eating can affect glucose and cholesterol levels.

6. Do not workout.

Take it easy for about 24 hours before your exam. While exercise is good for you, obviously, cardio in particular can raise pulse, blood pressure, cholesterol levels. Protein levels can also be increased in your urine.

7. Get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep well the night before the exam so you can go into it with the best possible pulse and blood pressure readings.

Life Insurance Policies That Don’t Require a Medical Exam

If you can afford high premiums and are in poor health, some policies let you skip the medical exam.

Guaranteed Life Insurance

One of the most expensive policies with relatively low payout, this kind of coverage is considered a last resort.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance

Expedite the process with a Simplified Issue Life Insurance policy. Faster coverage with fewer steps to go through. You will have to answer the health questions, plus it will likely cost more than traditional insurance. It also comes with more limited coverage.

Final Expense Life Insurance

These kinds of policies are designed for seniors with health issues that do not qualify for traditional coverage. It is affordable, but with a smaller pay-out. Typically, Final Expense Life Insurance is purchased to cover end-of-life expenses and perhaps pay off some debt.

Group Term Life Insurance

Employers often offer Group Term Life Insurance coverage, which doesn’t require a medical exam or interview. Coverage is low, however, and it won’t go with you when you leave your job.

Why Would You Want No Exam Life Insurance?

Typically, people who purchase a no life insurance policy do so for one these reasons:

  1. They are older and/or have health problems and are concerned about the affect that might have on the cost and availability of a policy
  2. They just don’t want to deal with the time consuming process of an exam
  3. They want coverage fast, and traditional policy approvals take longer
  4. Their employer provides life insurance, they want to supplement it, but additional coverage is not available through work

The Downside To No Exam Life Insurance

While no medical exam insurance does not require a physical exam, it does have some negatives to consider.

  • Payout amounts are smaller than with an exam-required policy
  • Premiums are more expensive for healthy people than with a policy that requires a medical exam
  • Some types of policies do not guarantee approval
  • Some types still require an applicant with health issues to have a medical exam
  • Some have age limits
  • Processing takes longer

End Notes

Shop around before you purchase a life insurance policy using our quote comparison tool. Or, call (844) 524-6503 for free insurance quotes.


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