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What do Life Insurance Companies Test for in a Medical Exam

One of the most common questions that I get asked is what do life insurance companies test for when they do a medical exam. In this blog post I’ll cover what life insurance companies test for, how they conduct the testing,what they look for,as well as other factors that could influence the approval or decline of your application, and the health rating you might get. I’ll answer some commonly asked questions, and hopefully give you a very good understanding of the process of applying for and getting approved for life insurance. You can also compare life insurance quotes right below this parragraph, or keep reading for more on what life insurance companies look for when doing a medical exam.

Why Life Insurance Companies Require a Medical Exam?

Insurance is the act of transferring risk from one party to another. When it comes to life insurance, you pay a premium in exchange for transferring the risk of death to the life insurance company. In order for insurance carriers to effectively assess the level of risk they are taking, they require a medical exam to assess your health.

What Do Life Insurance Companies Test For?

There are several aspects of your health that are tested as part of a life insurance exam. To break down all the aspects of the exam, I’ll break down the exam into categories based on various aspects of health:


Heart & Arteries:


As part of heart and arteries, here is what the insurance company tests for.

Cholesterol – A waxy fat like substance that occurs naturally in the body. Too much can create plaque, which can narrow or block the arteries.

HDL – HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein, which is good cholesterol. A healthy level can protect against heart attacks and stroke.

LDL– LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein, which is bad cholesterol. Too much LDL can clog the artieries.

Cholesterol/HDL Ratio – Total Cholesterol divided by HDL. This is a key number that life insurance companies look for. A ratio of 5.0 or less is the optimal number.

LDL/HDL Ratio – The lower this ratio – the lower the risk of heart disease.

Triglycerides –  These are fat lipids that provide us with a reserve of energy. An increase of triglycerides increases the risk of heart disease. Factors that can increase this number are drinking alcohol, obesity, and diabetes.

Diuretic – Often prescribed for high blood pressure, a diuretic can be any drug that elevates the amount and frequency of urination. This tests detects if a diuretic is in your system.

Kidney & Bladder


BUN – Blood Urea Nitrogen is a test used to test for kidney disease.

Creatinine – A test that is used to evaluate kidney function

Urine PH – A test that measures the acidity of urin

Protein – Measures protein in urine, such as Albumin, found in the urine. Elevations or urinary protein may indicate kidney disease.

Leukocyte – An enzyme that may indicate an infection in the kidney or urinary tract.

Hemoglobin – Hemoglobin in the urine may indicate kidney or urinary tract disease.

Urine Creatinine – Creatinine is the breakdown product of creatine.

Protein/Creatinine Ratio – A test used to evaluate kidney function.



Alkaline Phosphatase – An enzyme found in the liver and bones. Elevated levels may indicate bone or liver disorders

Total Bilirubin – High levels may occur in individuals with liver or gallbladder disease

AST – Aspartate Aminotransferase is an enzyme that might increase in levels in liver, heart, and muscle disorders.

ALT – Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) is an enzyme found in the liver and rises with liver disease.

GGT – Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT) is an enzyme that may rise with alcohol consumption, some medications, or liver disease.

Total Protein – Can be an indicator of kidney or liver disease.

Albumin – This is the largest component of blood protein. Decreased blood albumin can indicate many disorders, including advanced liver disease.

Globulin – Another major component of blood protein. Increased levels may indicate immune disorders, allergic states, or infections.



Blood Glucose – Measures amount of sugar in the blood and can indicate presence of diabetes.

Urine Glucose – Glucose should not normally be present in Urine. This test can indicate urine in glucose, which may be a sign of diabetes.

Fructosamine – Measures average blood sugar in the previous few weeks. A rise can indicate uncontrolled diabetes.

Other Tests


HIV – Testing for infection that causes AIDS

Cotinine – Cotinine is a by-product of Nicotine, and indicates use of tobacco.

Height/Weight and Blood Pressure are also checked during the medical exam.

An EKG may also be required depending on age.

How the Exam is Done

Insurance companies have contracts with several companies that employ paramedics who specialize in conducting exams for the insurance companies. They will not accept an exam done by your doctor, and will only use paramedics that they have contracts with. The paramedic will come to your home or office and there is no cost to you for the exam.

What Happens When The Medical Exam is Over

After the life insurance company gets your exam results they may also order your doctor’s records – called an APS (attending physician statement). They might do this because of your age or based on the amount of coverage you are applying for, or if they see something on the lab results that they want more information on.

Following the exam, it may take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to get a decision from the insurance company. Factors that play a part in how long it takes are whether or not records are needed from your doctor, and how long it takes your doctor’s office to get those records to the insurance companyy.

You can get the results from the exam mailed to you, and some life insurance companies will mail them to you automatically, others require that you request them. In addition you can use the medical results used to apply to one insurance company, in an application to another company – that means if you get declined by one company, or don’t get the health rating we think you should get, we can use the results of your medical to apply with another company – you will not have to go through another medical exam.

Tips for Getting the Best Results on Your Exam

To get the best results on your medical exam, we recommend that you schedule your exam for first thing in the morning before you eat, and that you avoid alcohol the night before your exam.

Other Factors that Play a Role in a Decision

Other than the results of your medical exam, other factors that can impact your ability to get approved, or get the best rates are past drug/alcohol abuse, DUIs, Criminal Record, and Bankruptcy.

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Liran Hirschkorn

Liran Hirschkorn is the founder of His mission is to help individuals across the country in finding the best rates on life insurance as well as helping individuals with high risk life insurance.

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