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Life Insurance

What Is a Life Insurance Medical Examination (And What Can I Expect During Mine)?

07 Jul 2020

Life Insurance by Life Stage

The choices you make today can impact your long-term health, wealth and happiness. Understand the important role Life Insurance can play in key life events.

Some insurers may ask you to undergo a medical exam before you can get life insurance. Discover what to expect in such an event through this article.

The challenges of the current situation may give you a new outlook on life.

Where life insurance once seemed like something you didn’t need to worry about, now it seems vital. And after a lot of deliberation, you choose to take the plunge and apply for a policy.

But something on the application form stops you in your tracks.

The form says that your insurer may ask you to undertake a medical exam during the life insurance application process.

The challenge here is that many application forms don’t tell you what this entails. You start wondering about how intensive this exam may be. And often, doubt slips into your mind as you ask yourself if you really want to go through that experience to get life insurance.

This fear of the unknown could even stop you from making a decision that will most likely benefit you and your family!

In this article, we aim to demystify the life insurance medical examination. That starts with asking the key question…

What Is a Life Insurance Medical Examination?

As the name suggests, it’s a medical examination that your life insurer may ask you to undertake. The insurer may ask for this exam as a means of checking the information that you’ve provided to them or to better understand the risks involved in insuring you.

Consider it a form of risk protection. They want to ensure that all of the facts are available to them before they make a decision on offering you a policy.

However, this exam isn’t a hugely invasive process. And it likely will not involve undergoing any extraneous physical activity. Instead, it’s often little more than a quick check-up, like what you might usually have with your doctor.

Typically, the insurer will have you meet with  a licensed medical professional in your home, or maybe your office. This is more often a nurse, rather than a doctor. That’s because the procedures you undertake are fairly straightforward in nature.

You will go through two phases during your exam.

Phase One – The Verbal Questionnaire

You will sit down with a medical professional who will run through a series of questions with you. Some of these questions will relate to the answers you provided in your application.

This phase allows the professional to get a good idea of where you believe your health stands at that point in time.

Phase Two – Sample Collection

Upon completion of the verbal portion of the exam, you will be asked to provide various samples. These often include the following:

  • Urine
  • Blood
  • Saliva

Often, you can provide these samples in your own home, under the supervision of the chosen medical professional. Your insurer will notify you about the samples they intend to collect prior to the exam itself.

You may also get your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse measured. And in some cases, the insurer will require an x-ray or electrocardiogram (ECG). The latter is often reserved for seniors applying for life insurance but from time to time may be required in other instances. If these tests are required, they are usually done in a radiology practice or similar.

The medical professional will then take the samples away for testing. Your insurer will check the results against your application to confirm the accuracy of your claims and may use the results to make decisions concerning whether or not to offer you with insurance cover and on what terms.

What Else Can You Expect?

The above covers the basic process of a life insurance medical exam. This may vary, depending on the insurer. Some may prefer to conduct a more in-depth exam, especially if they have cause for concern.

So, what else should you know?

The following covers the key questions that many have about the exam beyond the process itself.

How Long Will the Exam Take?

Assuming you don’t need to undergo an x-ray or ECG, the exam should take about half an hour. And this already includes the verbal questionnaire phase.

You can add 20 minutes to this time if the insurer asks for an ECG. An x-ray may also add another 20 minutes, though requests for these are fairly rare.

It’s unlikely that your medical exam will take more than one hour.

What Does the Insurer Test for?

The samples you provide during your exam allow the insurer to screen for a range of health issues, such as:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • HIV, AIDS, and other sexually-transmitted infections
  • Glucose levels, which are a potential indicator of diabetes
  • Urine acidity, which may indicate an issue with your kidneys

There are many more issues that the insurer checks for besides these. They will also compare these results against the answers provided in your application form. The insurer may deny your application if these checks don’t match up to your answers.

How Should I Prepare for the Exam?

First, aim to ensure the accuracy of all answers provided on your application. Amongst other things, this allows all parties to go into the exam with a reasonable understanding of the results they can expect.

It also helps to eat healthy. Reduce your intake of processed and fried foods. Also, try to eliminate processed sugar from your diet. These are healthy habits to maintain even after the exam ends.

There are also a few things you may want to avoid before the exam:

  • Try not to engage in heavy exercise. This can raise protein levels in your urine, which could trigger further examination.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol during the two days leading up to the exam.
  • Try to avoid the following, all of which can lead to false positives for drug use:
    • Poppy seeds
    • Tonic water
    • High-protein snack bars
    • Sleeping pills
    • Ibuprofen
    • Cold remedies

Is a Medical Exam a Negative Thing?

Not at all.

Yes, it’s possible that your potential insurance premiums  may increase should the exam discover an issue. But this also means that you now know more about your body and can work to resolve the issue. Your life insurance medical exam gives you (as well as your insurer) a better understanding of your current state of health.

What Should I Bring with Me?

Aim to have the following ready to go for your exam:

  • A driver’s licence (or some other form of ID)
  • A list of any medications you take and the dosages
  • The details of any doctor that you’ve visited over the last five years
  • Any other important information about your existing medical conditions

Don’t Fear the Life Insurance Medical Exam

As you can see, the exam isn’t as strenuous as many imagine. Often, it’s a simple case of answering a few questions and providing some samples. And in many cases, your insurer won’t even ask for one.

The prospect of a medical exam should not dissuade you from getting life insurance. In fact, the exam may save you money or reveal underlying health issues, depending on your results.

And that brings us to the question that you’re still contemplating:

To insure or not to insure?

That is a question that only you can answer. You may choose to get some professional advice, or to carefully consider your own needs and circumstances and deal directly with a Life Insurer like NobleOak who can provide you with general advice and product information.

This is general information only and does not take into consideration your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation, or needs. Please do not use this information as a substitute for medical advice.

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