Life insurance policies often request that applicants complete medical exams. These medical exams help the insurance companies better ascertain risk and set an appropriate rate based on that risk. Many people find the idea of a life insurance medical exam worrisome or even intrusive. Will a past broken bone or a family history of diabetes affect the premiums? Each insurance company handles the medical exam differently and will place each policyholder into a different risk classification, including preferred, standard or rated. Those who are considered extremely high risk may be declined altogether.
Medical Exam Basics
Insurance companies will generally provide the doctor or paramedical professional for the medical exam. Although applicants are not required to locate a doctor of their own for their exams, they may be asked for their personal physicians’ contact information. Applicants may also need to provide information about any surgeries they have had, medications they have used or are using and doctors they have seen. The health care professional who is performing the exam will check the applicant’s blood pressure, cholesterol and record other vital information. An EKG and other medical tests may be performed. The exam can take about 30 minutes altogether.
Preparing for the Medical Exam
Little preparation is needed for a life insurance medical exam. However, because rates can be as much as 20 percent lower for those who enjoy good health, applicants should do what they can to put their best feet forward. Fasting eight to 12 hours before any lab work can ensure more accurate results, and applicants should avoid stimulants and depressants, such as caffeine and alcohol, as well. Most insurance company medical exams allow applicants to drink water during the fasting period. Avoiding exercise and getting plenty of rest in the 24-hours immediately before the exam will also help applicants appear at their best. If an individual uses decongestants or tobacco products, these should be avoided for at least 24 hours before the exam. Patients should wear comfortable clothing to the exam and bring a list of current medications or treatments with them. They will also need to bring their medical records and a photo ID.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Applicants should also be prepared to be entirely honest with the insurance company’s paramedical or physician. Many health-related white lies can be easily discovered through lab exams and may affect the insurance company’s decision to offer a policy at all. Other lies may not be discovered during the applicant’s lifetime but can result in the policy’s being rescinded after death, leaving the family without coverage at the time when it is most needed.
Although a life insurance medical exam is very similar to a thorough physical, individuals with questions about specific health issues or concerns should discuss these with their personal physicians instead of the physician or paramedical performing the medical exam. This medical exam is not designed to address ongoing medical concerns but rather assess an applicant’s current state of health.