Health Requirements for Your Life Insurance Exam

Sometimes a life insurance exam is required before you can obtain coverage. What does this exam entail? You should familiarize yourself with the following health requirements insurers look for when determining whether or not to extend you life insurance coverage.

What’s Involved in the Life Insurance Exam

An examination required for your life insurance typically involves a physical lasting about 20 to 30 minutes, performed by a licensed paramedical. This physical exam is provided at no cost to you, and may take place either at your own home or in a medical office.

Step 1 - The examiner will ask you questions pertaining to your medical history. These will include questions about hospitals and doctors performing any treatment you’ve had, as well as any surgeries and other procedures, and any medications you take now or previously took. It’s important to mention any over-the-counter or non-prescription drugs you take, since these could adversely affect the results if you don’t.

Step 2 - Measurements for height, weight, blood pressure and pulse will also be taken.

Step 3 - A blood sample will be taken and sent away for analysis. Typically, less than one ounce of blood is drawn from your vein and into two to three vials. Verify the seal on the needle to assure that the procedure is sterile. For lower coverage amounts in a younger person, a simple finger-prick blood sample may be all that’s required.

Step 4 - Saliva and urine samples are also taken. These are sent to a lab for analysis to determine the presence of several ailments or conditions.

Other Conditions May Apply

Your life insurance exam may also consist of an electrocardiogram (EKG), which may be required by your carrier. An EKG is a recording of the electrical impulses in your heart. If an EKG is required, you will be asked to lie on your back and leads will be placed on your chest.  You’ll need to remove or unbutton your shirt or blouse, and if you are wearing tight stockings, these should be removed prior to the test.

Persons applying for higher coverage, like more than $2.5 million, may be required to have higher-premium tests. These include chest X-ray and treadmill EKG for monitoring the heart under stress.

Results of the testing and exam go to the life insurance underwriters for review. If there are any unusual readings or if a hidden condition is suspected, additional tests may be ordered.

What Carriers Look For

In a nutshell, insurance carriers examine the data from your exam to determine the overall state of your health. Any major condition in your health that puts them at risk, either now or years down the road, is of great significance.

Blood, saliva and urine analysis may show problems with cholesterol, diabetes, disorders of the kidney or liver, heart disease, immune system disorders, antibodies to hepatitis, or the prostate-specific antigen. The presence of antigens or antibodies to HIV virus may also be revealed.

Any use of a drug, medication or nicotine can be revealed in the urine analysis. For example, the marker for tobacco use is of particular importance to insurers who believe smoking increases the risk of premature death. Premiums for smokers can be two to three times that for nonsmokers.

Weight is another area of concern to insurers in your life insurance exam. The more weight you carry, the more you’ll have to pay in premiums.  Carriers are looking for where you fall within height and weight guidelines to determine your premium costs. According to American Medical Association studies, excess weight often leads to a number of health problems, including high cholesterol and blood pressure.

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