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Life Insurance Blood Tests & Exams Guide

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Elizabeth Rivelli
Updated December 5, 2022
4 Min Read

Purchasing life insurance is a unique process. After submitting a comprehensive application, many life insurance companies require you to complete a medical exam. The medical exam provides insight into your health, which is used to calculate your premium.

However, not all life insurance applicants have to take a medical exam. Some insurers offer no-medical-exam policies, which allow you to skip the exam and the waiting period that goes along with it. If you’re in the market for life insurance, here’s what you should know about the life insurance exam and blood tests.

Why life insurance companies require a blood test

As part of a life insurance medical exam, you are often required to have a blood test. The findings of the blood test reveal key indicators of your health, like your cholesterol, glucose levels, and nicotine use. Ultimately, the life insurance company is looking for signs that you could die prematurely.

More specifically, blood tests are required because the findings help the insurance company determine your eligibility and set an appropriate premium, based on the findings. If your blood test indicates that you have significant health problems and mortality risks, the life insurance company could disqualify you for coverage or set a very high premium.

Although life insurance premiums are based on many factors (both health-related and not), people in poor health generally pay the highest premiums. This is because the insurance company expects to payout a claim sooner rather than later. In anticipation of that potential payout, the insurance company charges a higher rate.

How to prepare for a life insurance blood and urine test

Preparing for a life insurance exam ultimately starts when you fill out the application. It’s important to be truthful and honest when answering the questions, particularly as it relates to your personal health, family history, drug and alcohol use, and hobbies. The physician performing the exam will talk to you about these things and may have additional questions.

When you schedule your life insurance medical exam, you will be told exactly what will happen and what tests will be performed. If you are scheduled for a blood and urine test, it’s a good idea to start eating more healthy foods a few days leading up to the test. You should also stay hydrated, which can facilitate the process of giving blood and urine samples.

Other ways to prepare for a life insurance blood and urine test include avoiding sugary or high-fat foods, avoiding alcohol and nicotine, staying calm to avoid an above-normal heart rate reading, and reducing your sodium intake.

What is tested for in a life insurance medical exam?

A life insurance exam is akin to a regular physical check up with your primary care provider. The life insurance company is interested in learning more about your vitals, like your weight, height, prescription drug use, surgical history, and pre-existing conditions.

Specifically, the physician will be checking for signs of disease, like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, liver function, immune disorders, bone disorders, and more. Some of the things that will be tested in a life insurance exam, either through a physical exam or a blood and urine sample, include:

  • Height and weight
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Cholesterol
  • Nicotine use
  • Alcohol use

In addition to the physical exam, you will also be interviewed by the physician, who will ask a series of questions. For example, the physician may ask about illnesses that run in your family, past hospitalizations, and your history of alcohol and/or drug use. They will also verify the information you submitted on your application.

What to do if you’re denied life insurance coverage

The life insurance medical exam is used, in part, to determine your eligibility for coverage. If the findings of your medical exam suggest that you have major health risks, you could be denied coverage. If this happens, there are a few things you can do.

First, talk to the life insurance company and request a copy of the exam results. If something looks off, ask for another medical exam. It’s possible that an error on the exam results could prompt a denial for coverage when the underwriter evaluates the findings.

If your age or health make it difficult to qualify for traditional life insurance, you can also look into a no-medical-exam life insurance policy. These policies don’t require you to take a medical exam for acceptance, so it’s easier to qualify. However, no-medical-exam coverage has pros and cons, so it’s not the best option for everyone.

Can I get life insurance without a medical exam?

It’s entirely possible to get approved for life insurance without going through the medical exam process. Not every life insurance company offers a no-exam option, so you’ll need to shop around and find a provider that offers this type of coverage.

There are two main types of no-medical-exam life insurance:

  • Simplified issue life insurance: To get simplified issue life insurance, the life insurance company will ask a series of questions related to your health, like whether you’ve been diagnosed with a major illness or if you live in a nursing home. A medical exam is not required, but you can still get denied based on the responses to these questions.
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance: A guaranteed issue life insurance policy has guaranteed acceptance, regardless of your medical history. There are no medical questions required and no medical exam. You can typically get approved right away, so there’s no lengthy waiting period. Your coverage starts as soon as you pay the first premium.

No-medical-exam life insurance can be a great option if you have been denied medically underwritten life insurance (where an exam is required) in the past. However, these policies are not without their downsides.

Simplified issue policies are more expensive than medically underwritten policies. The coverage limits available can also be lower. For example, you might be able to get up to $10 million in coverage with an exam, but only $3 million without an exam.

With guaranteed issue life insurance, you can expect to pay the highest premiums. Not only is guaranteed issue life insurance more expensive than simplified issue, but it also has much lower policy limits. Guaranteed policies usually provide $50,000 in coverage or less.

Nevertheless, the option to get no-medical-exam coverage is always available. Because fully underwritten life insurance is almost always a better (and cheaper) option, it’s advised to purchase life insurance when you’re young and in good physical health. This is when you are most likely to pass a medical exam without any challenges.