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Life Insurance Basics

Get a better understanding of your medical exam

Some life insurance plans require a medical exam when you apply. This article explains what to expect with your exam and what comes next.

While not every type of life insurance plan requires a medical exam, there will be times that it's necessary when applying for coverage. Unfortunately, there are many people who put off getting life insurance and don't ask themselves “How much life insurance do I need?” for fear of the unknown. The fact is, many people just don't have the information they need to fully understand the process and put their minds at ease.

Scheduling your exam

For a typical life insurance exam, a paramedical examiner comes to your home or office - sparing the need to take time off from work or schedule an appointment with your doctor. The average exam doesn't take too long - usually less than 30 minutes.

Tip: Since you will need to fast for at least eight hours prior to your exam, you might consider trying to schedule your appointment early in the morning. This way you can fast while you sleep and then be ready to take your exam. It's okay to have a glass of water (especially since you'll be required to provide a urine sample), but you should refrain from your morning coffee until after the exam. If you need to schedule an evening exam, you should eat a light, healthy lunch and try to stay away from caffeinated beverages.

Exam day

The exam is comprised of two main steps: The physical exam (includes a blood draw, urine sample, and measuring height and weight), and a medical questionnaire. Once the examiner is done administering your life insurance medical exam they may ask some additional questions about your health history. This will depend on the particular carrier and on how much information you submitted to your life insurance agent prior to taking your physical exam.

Tip: Knowing that a blood draw is looming can sometimes get a person's heart racing and raise blood pressure. Here are a few tips to consider for the day of the exam. Try to keep your anxiety level over a brief blood draw to a minimum. If you feel that you simply can't relax, inform the examiner and request that he or she draws your blood first and checks your blood pressure last, allowing time for your anxiety to subside. Often with the blood draw out of the way, you can begin to relax.

After your exam

Once completed, the examiner will submit your lab work for processing (i.e., screen your blood and urine for any negative health concerns), and the findings will be sent to the life insurance underwriter. Depending on the amount of insurance and your health history, a request will be sent to your personal doctor(s) asking for additional information from your medical records. Once reviewed, your life insurance company will offer you coverage based on those results.

Tip: Rating results are what determine your premiums. These ratings are typically determined by underwriting tables that are based on your overall health and health history scores, and fall under categories that may include: super select, preferred, standard select, standard, and so on down the line.

Getting the best results

Since your medical examination results will determine your rates, you want to try and shoot for the best results possible. Before your exam be sure to:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Do not drink alcohol for eight hours
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages for eight hours
  • Limit your intake of high-cholesterol or salty foods for 24 hours
  • Don't engage in strenuous physical activities for 24 hours

For more information on types of life insurance, visit our learning center.



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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective or its subsidiaries.

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