Almost all life insurance companies require that new policyholders undergo a medical examination before their insurance policy is activated. This exam, also known as a paramedical examination, is used to determine your current medical condition and your life expectancy. The results of this exam along with your medical records are used to assign your health rating by the underwriting department, which will be used to determine your monthly (or annual) life insurance premiums.
While the exam can create a lot of anxiety for many clients, it does not need to. If you understand what is checked during an exam and why they are checking your health you will take the mystery out of the process. Your exam information is 100% private and can not be released to anyone due to HIPAA regulations.
Is it possible to get a policy without a medical exam?
There are some ways to get a life insurance policy without a medical exam. For example, if you are under 40 years old and are buying a small amount of life insurance coverage (low death benefit), you may be given a policy with no medical examination requirement. Be forewarned, however, as these no-exam life insurance policies also consider those with poor health when these policy rates are set. A life insurance policy issued without a medical exam will sometimes cost more money than a policy issued with full underwriting. A policy issued without a health exam is simply considered a higher risk for the insurance company.
The most common way to get a life insurance policy without a medical examination is to get life insurance through your employer. These employer-sponsored plans are group policies that typically offer a multiple of your salary as the death benefit. This is often the most economical way to get life insurance coverage, but it is usually not sufficient to cover all of your needs.
Additionally, there are many life insurance companies that specialize in high-risk life insurance (such as smokers, cancer survivors, and those with a history of heart disease). These policies are usually very expensive and the insurance company will not usually write policies of this nature with a large death benefit (although it varies depending upon the severity of the issue). Policy size for smokers is not limited, for instance, but is assigned a special smoker’s health rating.
What Do Insurance Companies Check For In The Medical Exam?
There is no industry standard when it comes to medical exams. Different life insurance companies will check for different things when they examine you. There may also be a different exam process within the same company for policies of different sizes. With that being said, the typical exam usually entails:
The physical exam usually entails:
- Blood pressure check
- Height and weight measurements
- Waist and chest measurements
- Lung capacity check
The blood test is usually only taken for larger policies and looks for:
- Your cholesterol levels
- Whether or not nicotine is present
- HIV status
- Immune disorders
The urine sample will test for:
- Current medications you are taking
- The presence of drugs such as cocaine
- Kidney health
In cases of high-value life insurance policies (of over $2.5 million), the life insurance medical exam might also have the patient do a treadmill EKG, chest X-rays, and/or MRIs.
The specifications of your test will be determined by your life insurance company and will differ based on your policy type and size of your policy.
Can You Prepare For Your Medical Exam?
Although the future policyholder cannot mask most major medical conditions, there are several things you can do in order to improve the medical exam results. These things include:
- Schedule your examination in the morning
- Get plenty of rest and a good night’s sleep before your examination
- Avoid stressful activity before your examination (arguments, driving in traffic, etc.)
- Do not engage in high intensity or strenuous physical activity within 24 hours of your examination
- Do not drink alcohol within 24 hours of your examination
- Do not consume coffee or other high caffeine items within 6 hours of your examination
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco within an hour of your examination
- Limit your consumption of high sodium and high cholesterol foods (like bacon and eggs) within 24 hours of your examination
The tips above won’t be able to work magic, but they are the best things you can do within a short period of time to achieve optimal results on your life insurance medical exam.
Checking The Results Of Your Medical Exam
Life insurance companies typically will not automatically send you the results of the medical exam. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires life insurance providers to let you know if they denied your application for insurance or if they placed you in a higher risk life insurance policy. If you are not placed in this category and still would like to know the results of your exam, you will have to write to your insurance company to request the results. Some insurance companies also have been known to share the results with your doctor.
In addition, all life insurance companies will share the results of your exam with the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). This institution allows all life insurance companies to view the results of your exam. You can request a copy of your medical exam results from the MIB in order to get an idea of what insurance companies will see and have access to.
Keep in mind that state laws dictate what an insurance company can and cannot share. With that being said, most states will not restrict you from viewing the results of your exam.