What to expect in an insurance medical exam
A medical exam may be required depending on your age, the amount of insurance and any health issues. If the results are stellar, a medical exam can also help you lock in fthe lowest premium.
What does a life insurance medical exam consist of?
- An interview: only if you did not already do a tele-interview. Some insurers only have a nurse collect blood/urine and vitals (height/weight/pulse and blood pressure). Other insurers have the nurse ask the questions in person.
- A physical exam: You can expect your height, weight, pulse and blood pressure to be recorded. You may have to provide a urine sample and have blood drawn. If you are over 50 and applying for a high amount of life insurance ($1 million and up), you may have to take an electrocardiogram (EKG).
What does a life Insurance medical exam look for?
- Your medical history. This includes current and past health problems, treatments, and current and past prescription medications.
- Height and weight measurements. These measurements will be used to determine your body mass index (BMI). High BMI is highly correlated with premature death and disability.
- Blood pressure check. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to health problems such as heart attack and stroke. However, HBP controlled by meds above age 50 is normal.
- Blood and urine samples. These samples can detect high cholesterol or glucose levels, liver or kidney disorders, diabetes, immune disorders, HIV antibodies, and indicators of nicotine, tobacco or drug use.
- Electrocardiogram. Also called an ECG or EKG, this test detects abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), coronary artery disease, previous heart attacks and the efficacy of heart disease treatments (such as a pacemaker).
Where is an insurance exam conducted?
- At your home (good).
- At your office office (not usually good as little privacy).
- Or a clinic (good).
Who conducts the exam?
- A paramedical company such as Examone or Dynacare.
Who pays for the exam?
- The insurance company that you apply with.
How Should I Prepare For a Life Insurance Medical Exam?
In the days and weeks prior to the exam
A few healthy tweaks to your diet can do wonders for your health and in turn insurance premiums:
- Drink plenty of water. Drinking water can help dilute concentrations of sugar and protein, and clear toxins from your system.
- Limit your salt intake. Too much salt can make your urine too concentrated and lead to dehydration.
- Eat a healthy diet. Food that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products can help lower your blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s a good idea to avoid processed food that has added sodium.
- Limit alcohol. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. That’s one drink per day for women and two per day for men, according to the Mayo Clinic. Drinking more than a moderate amount can raise your blood pressure and reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
The Day Before the Exam
You’ll want to take a few extra precautions the day before the exam, such as:
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Both can increase your blood pressure. But remember, the blood or urine test will reveal recent nicotine use.
- Avoid red meat. Red meat is a high-cholesterol food.
- Avoid over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and nasal decongestants. These types of medications can increase blood pressure.
- Get a good night’s sleep. People who sleep less than six hours a night could have increased blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Day of the Exam
Here are steps you can take on the day of the exam to help ensure the best possible results:
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, soda and tea.
- Avoid strenuous exercise, which can raise your blood pressure.
- Drink plenty of water. Being well hydrated also makes it easier to provide urine and blood samples.
- Have a photo ID ready. You’ll most likely need a government issued ID, like your driver’s license, state issued photo ID or passport.
- Have your medical information ready, including a list of medical conditions, treatments, prescription medications and contact information for your physician(s).
- Wear short sleeves or sleeves that can be rolled up so the examiner can get your blood sample.
When you get the blood pressure reading, a few simple steps like not having a full bladder and keeping your feet flat on the floor during the reading can get you the best results. A full bladder can raise your blood pressure reading by 10 to 15 points and crossing your legs can add 2 to 8 points, according to WebMD. Dangling your legs can increase the blood pressure reading by 6 to 10 points
Will I Get the Results of My Life Insurance Exam?
Maybe. Some insurers will upload results whereas others will only send results to your family doctor.
Clean living in the weeks and days before the exam can save you a lot in the long run. The labs results are however only part of the underwriting process. General medical history will also come into play.