Life Insurance Exam – Do I Have to Take One? What It Involves, FAQs
Not all life insurance policies require a medical exam. Smaller policies – like final expense insurance (also known as “burial insurance” or “funeral insurance”) – typically only require answers to health questions. These no medical exam policies are a great tool for those with health concerns who want to give their loved ones support in paying the bills they leave behind.
For larger policies – like term insurance – several factors determine whether a life insurance exam is required. These can include the consumer’s age, the coverage amount being applied for, the type of policy, the consumer’s family history, and any pre-existing policies the consumer has.
Getting accurate health information is an important part of the insurance process. In fact, some insurance providers will deny coverage for those who refuse to answer health questions or get an exam. Some insurance companies will require a blood test and urine sample.
While this may seem inconvenient, it can work in your favor if you are in good health. For example, if you’re able to answer “no” to all of the health questions on the application, you may qualify for lower premiums.
Even if you have health problems, most insurance companies have a special policy you can qualify for, which helps ensure the death benefit is processed smoothly when the time comes.
What to expect in a life insurance medical exam
A typical health exam is conducted by a nurse or other medical professional and can often be completed in your home or office as an added convenience.
In most cases, the test starts with a verbal questionnaire where you’ll be asked about:
- Your medical history, including hospital stays, physical and mental illnesses, surgeries, and medications you take now or have in the past.
- Your family history of conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Lifestyle choices that directly impact your wellness, such as smoking and other types of tobacco use, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, and diet and exercise habits.
- Contact info of your primary doctor and any other specialists you’ve visited in the last few years.
Next, the medical professional will measure your height and weight to calculate your BMI, check your pulse, take your blood pressure, and collect blood and urine samples. The most important component of the exam is the blood test, which helps confirm the answers you provided on the insurance application. Your blood will likely be tested for:
- Cholesterol levels
- Indications of heart, liver, or kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- AIDS, HIV and Hepatitis
Some insurance companies may also request an electrocardiogram (EKG) – especially if you are applying for life insurance over 50 – to gauge heart health. Men over 50 may also be given a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to check for prostate cancer. Some insurance medical exams may test your blood for tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs, so it’s important to be honest when you first complete your insurance application.
How to prepare for a life insurance exam
It’s important to note that you don’t “pass” or “fail” a life insurance medical exam. This test determines what your overall health risks are, and therefore the rate you’ll receive on your insurance premiums. It also verifies if you were honest when answering the initial health questions on your application. Still, there are some things you can do to receive the best rate possible and help ensure you qualify for the type of policy you want. For example, starting a few weeks before your test:
- Watch your diet. Limiting foods with added sugar will help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. Avoiding foods with high sodium will help reduce your blood pressure, while reducing the amount of red meat you eat may reduce your cholesterol levels.
- Exercise moderately. Adding physical activity to your routine can boost your overall wellness. But don’t have a rigorous exercise session on the day of your exam, because it may raise your blood pressure.
- Quit smoking, vaping, and using tobacco in any way. Smoking is dangerous to your health in many ways, so the sooner you quit, the better rate you’ll receive. Keep in mind that some insurance companies may consider your smoking habits for up to the past 10 years, even if you’ve recently quit.
- Cut back on drinking alcohol and caffeine, which can elevate your blood pressure.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water is not only a healthy habit, it also makes blood draws easier by dilating your veins.
- You may be advised to fast for several hours if you’re taking a blood test in order to get a more accurate blood sugar reading. However, you should only fast under a doctor’s orders.
If you have health issues that will take longer than a few weeks to address, it may be worth postponing your medical exam to give yourself time to address them. For example, if you’re overweight, taking a few months to improve your diet and exercise regimens may help you lose weight and get better results during your physical.
What happens after a life insurance exam
Results of the medical exam can take several weeks to process. Once completed, you and the life insurance company will be sent copies of your results. The results will also be sent to an underwriter who will evaluate your risk factors and determine whether you are eligible for coverage and the cost of your monthly premiums. The higher the risks identified in your exam, the higher your premiums will be once your policy is issued. Some companies may also look at factors such as your criminal background and drug use to determine eligibility and premiums.
If you don’t get the policy type or premium rate you hoped for due to poor test results, there are a few things you can do. You may be able to purchase the policy and request another test in a few years to try to lock in lower rates, but not every provider allows this. You could also buy a short-term policy so you have some coverage while you work on your health ahead of a future physical.
Another option is to apply for a no medical exam policy, like burial or funeral insurance. Some policies, like Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, offer final expense coverage without a life insurance exam. All you need to do is answer a few health questions. Most people qualify, even those whose health or age makes it difficult to get other kinds of policies. Plus, there’s no waiting period, so your loved ones are protected as soon as you pay your first premium (as long as you answer your health questions honestly).
What happens if you die before your medical test results are in?
Every company treats this situation differently. In many cases, if your test results would have qualified you for a policy, your loved ones receive the death benefit. Be sure to ask your agent how they handle these cases.
Is a medical exam always required?
You should know that not all life insurance policies require a medical exam. There are options for those who do not wish to undergo a physical. In these cases, the coverage is usually issued based on answers to health questions on the application.
Carefully read the terms of a life insurance policy to ensure it meets your needs. There are many life insurance policies available where there is no requirement for a physical that provide comprehensive coverage and ensure your loved ones will not be left with financial burdens (like burial costs or funeral expenses) after you pass.
If you’re looking for a policy that doesn't require a life insurance exam, consider getting a final expense life insurance quote from Funeral Advantage. We offer an affordable final expense insurance policy that can help families cover funeral costs and other final expenses.
What is no medical exam life insurance?
No medical exam life insurance policies, including final expense plans, don’t require a physical exam or a long health questionnaire to qualify. You only need to answer a few questions about your health and lifestyle habits. But as with any type of coverage, it’s important to be honest with your answers to ensure your loved ones receive your death benefit.
What does a life insurance exam consist of?
These tests usually have two parts: a verbal questionnaire followed by a physical exam. You’ll be asked about your medical history and lifestyle habits during the Q&A. After that, the nurse or other medical professional will check your weight, blood pressure, and other health stats. Many companies also require you to have blood and urine tests done to check for serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, HIV, and AIDS.
Who pays for my life insurance medical exam?
The insurance company pays for the test whether the medical professional visits your home or you go to a doctor’s office.
How do you pass a life insurance exam?
You can’t technically fail one of these tests, but you can receive higher rates than you want to pay if you’re in poor health and considered high risk to the provider. If your test results don’t line up with the answers you gave to the health questions on your application, you may be required to take more tests or denied coverage completely. That’s why it’s so important to be honest from the start.
If you’re worried you’re not in good enough health to qualify for coverage, a no medical exam policy is a great option. Policies like Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage don’t require you to take a life insurance exam. You only have to answer a few questions on your application. Even if you’re too ill or old to qualify for other coverage, these policies offer everyone a way to buy life insurance to give their loved ones a way to pay for their burial, funeral, and other final expenses.