Life Insurance Exam Preparation Tips

Tips for best results with your life insurance medical exam:

The initial application and medical questions provide basic information to the company you have selected for your life or disability insurance. Depending on the application or the exam results, the insurance underwriter may also contact your physician(s) for more information. If this is the case and the physician’s office hasn’t responded to requests within a reasonable time, we may ask you to make a call to your doctor's office to keep things moving forward.

About the exam:

Blood and urine tests are almost always part of the process today. These tests are administered by licensed paramedics or physicians. The examiner will schedule with you directly. Allow at least forty-five minutes (full physician exams take an hour or longer).

Blood Tests, Urinalysis, and Blood Pressure Readings:

If your tests do include blood work (most do), you will be tested for the HIV antibody / antigen. Read the AIDS testing authorization and disclosure statement carefully for specifics on that test. A positive test does not necessarily mean you have AIDS, but it will result in declination of insurance coverage. Please read the disclosure statement carefully. The insurance industry is regulated by stringent privacy laws, so a positive test will remain confidential.

These tests run best if you have fasted for twelve hours beforehand. Therefore, whenever possible, schedule your test for the morning, and skip breakfast. Avoid coffee or tea the morning of the exam as caffeine can elevate your blood pressure, which will be measured. Also avoid soda and sports drinks which can elevate your sugar, cholesterol and other readings. Do drink a moderate amount of water a few hours prior to the exam to hydrate your veins and to allow for moderate urination. If you must be tested in the evening, avoid rich foods especially the day of the exam. In general, avoid excessive salt, alcohol, high-fat foods and candy for several days prior to your exam.

Blood tests screen for cholesterol levels and other biochemical ratios, and provide information on kidney and liver functions, diabetes and immune disorders, and drug use. Eating well balanced, light meals several days beforehand will keep these tests from being skewed and will produce a more favorable blood pressure reading as well. Avoid dinner rolls with poppy seeds for several days; they may show traces of opium, which is used in a variety of illegal drugs.

If you smoke or use tobacco in any other form, admit it. Nicotine shows up for longer than you could normally refrain, unless you’ve really quit for good. If you don’t tell the truth about smoking, insurance underwriters assume you'll have other things to hide about your health. (In addition to the exam issues, hiding tobacco use is considered a “material misrepresentation”, and in some cases can jeopardize a claim payment to your family.)

Try to get a good night’s sleep. If the exam is scheduled away from home, arrive a few minutes early to let yourself unwind. I find reading the paper helps. Do whatever relaxes you (except coffee and donuts).

If your policy is issued on a standard or preferred basis, you have passed some basic screening exams that your doctor might routinely run, and the insurance company has picked up the tab. Conversely, it is possible that your insurance is not offered at a standard rate, or worse, declined altogether. If you are borderline, careful attention to the above tips should help. Should you be subject to a higher rating (or declined), the reasons behind these decisions are strictly confidential. Specifics will be released only to your doctor, as they may be based on his/her records on you. Any health questions should be reviewed with your physician only.

Good luck. Relax.

Prepared by Geoffrey A. Gordon, CFP (R), CIC, CRM

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