What’s a Life Insurance Medical Exam? What to Expect and How to Prepare
You may have heard that a life insurance company may require a medical exam in order to get a policy. Whether the exam is required, depends on a range of factors but even if it is, it’s typically a quick and easy process.1 Here, we’ll cover what typically happens during a life insurance medical exam, why it can be an important part of obtaining life insurance and how you can confidently prepare for it.
What is a life insurance medical exam?
A life insurance medical exam is designed to help your insurance company understand your risk, so they can price your premium (what you pay for life insurance) fairly and accurately.
Many companies may require a medical exam as part of the process to get a life insurance policy. If an exam is required, a health professional usually visits your home or workplace—whatever is most convenient for you. Or you may be able to get an exam at a clinic or health center.1
The medical exam is free and may take only about 30 minutes. During the exam, a health professional may:1
- Ask you general questions about your medical history, like any health conditions, past treatments or medications you take.
- Take your pulse and blood pressure.
- Measure your height and weight.
- If needed, request a urine or blood sample.
According to Lyndell Helgerson, Lead Life Underwriter at Amica “The medical exam is helpful in placing the applicant in the best possible risk class based on age and coverage amount criteria. With favorable lab and exam results, we’re sometimes able to place applicants in a better risk class than they were initially quoted for.”
In addition to the medical exam, insurers will also use nonmedical data, such as age, gender, occupation, tobacco use, driving record, hobbies and more to determine your premium.
Why do insurers ask for this information? It helps their underwriters accurately and fairly evaluate you for life insurance and ensures that you receive an accurate premium rate.
If you’ve been shopping around for insurance and already completed a medical exam, you may not need another one to get a policy with a different company. According to Lyndell Helgerson, Lead Life Underwriter at Amica Life, “In situations where applicants have recently applied with other insurance companies, and a similar exam has been done, we’re often willing to obtain those results to use in our underwriting process.”
Why a life insurance medical exam is important and might secure you the most affordable coverage
A medical exam can be an important part of getting an accurate and fairly priced policy. An exam helps insurance underwriters understand your health and life expectancy, so that your premium is based on accurate information.3
According to Helgerson, “The medical exam is helpful in placing the applicant in the best possible risk class based on age and coverage amount criteria. With favorable lab and exam results, we’re sometimes able to place applicants in a better risk class than they were initially quoted for.”
When insurers base your premium on information from a comprehensive health questionnaire and/or a medical exam, your premium is often less than a policy application that only asks limited health questions. This is because when insurers don’t have much health information, premiums are higher to account for unknown risks.
How to prepare for the life insurance medical exam
Here are a few tips to prepare for your life insurance medical exam to make your appointment go smoothly.
- 24 hours before your exam: It helps to get a full night’s sleep so you’ll be well-rested the day of your exam.
- 12 hours before your exam: If possible, try to avoid things that could raise your blood pressure like taking antihistamines or nasal decongestants, engaging in strenuous exercise, consuming alcohol, high-levels of caffeine or high-cholesterol foods. Wear a shirt that has sleeves that are easy to roll up for the drawing of blood. And don’t forget to bring identification with you.
- 1 hour before your exam: Drink a glass of water to stay hydrated and try to avoid using tobacco.
Life insurance medical exams are usually quick and last about 30 minutes.
When do I get results from the medical exam?
Typically, the results of the medical exam are sent to the life insurance company within a few days. But it can take a few weeks to get a final decision on your policy from the underwriters.1 This is normal, as insurance companies take time to fully evaluate your risk, so they can offer you coverage at the best possible price.
Can I get life insurance without a medical exam?
You may be able to get life insurance without a medical exam. Remember that, even without a medical exam, you’ll likely still be asked about your medical history. There are three situations in which life insurance is offered without a medical exam:2,4
Some life insurers offer accelerated underwriting to applicants that meet specific criteria, usually around age and coverage amount. Once the insurer receives an application, it decides if it can underwrite using accelerated underwriting or if a medical exam is required. You’ll still be required to answer a medical questionnaire, and coverage amounts are often capped. Accelerated underwriting offers affordable coverage with a decision on coverage usually in days. Amica Life offers accelerated underwriting to some applicants, usually those under age 50.5
This policy requires a modest health questionnaire but no medical exam. It can be more costly than policies that may require a medical exam, even for people who are healthy. Depending on answers to the health questionnaire, you could be denied coverage. Lastly, most simplified issue policies are capped at a moderate level. Simplified issue can be best for people that are looking to secure a policy as quickly as possible and are ok with possibly paying a higher premium in exchange.
A Guaranteed Issue policy is the most expensive type of life insurance coverage because a person cannot be denied coverage. People with severe health issues may choose this route, despite the costs. There are also limits to this policy, such as very low coverage amounts and a potential waiting period before benefits pay out when a claim is made. Additionally, a guaranteed issue policy is usually only offered to people ages 50 to 85.
Above all, concern about a life insurance medical exam shouldn’t be a reason to avoid getting coverage. At Amica, we offer a simple, fast and convenient process designed to help you get the right amount of life insurance, at the best price. Sometimes this may involve an exam but in other situations, no exam will be requested. Give us a call today Give us a call today, and one of our insurance representatives can help you determine how much coverage is right for you and answer any questions you have about the life insurance application process.
- What to Expect in a Life Insurance Medical Exam, Forbes.com, September 3, 2020.
- Facts + Statistics: Life Insurance, Insurance Information Institute, n.d.
- You Can Get Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam, But Should You? CNN.com, March 23, 2021.
- What Is No Medical Exam Life Insurance? Businessinsider.com, October 8, 2020.
- No medical exam will be required if you meet specific underwriting criteria based on the amount applied for, the responses provided in the application and the results of our underwriting review. However, Amica reserves the right to require a medical exam, possibly with blood and/or urine testing at our expense. If we deem it necessary to have such additional information as part of our full underwriting process.