Skip to Content
Father, mother and daughter laughing symbolizing a time of life when learning about life insurance is important.
Life Insurance Basics

What do life insurance medical exams test for?

Used as a means to determine insurability and premiums, a medical exam may be a part of your life insurance application process. The exam includes routine screenings that may detect health issues.

What do life insurance medical exams test for?

In addition to asking questions regarding your health history, an insurance company may require that you complete a life insurance medical exam as part of the life insurance application process. If this is the case, don't feel as though you're being singled out. The fact is, insurance companies routinely conduct life insurance medical exams on prospective policyholders in order to determine insurability and to establish premium rates. Have you ever wondered what is included in a life insurance medical examination?

What are they testing for?

Life insurance companies routinely screen for a variety of different health alerts such as:

  • elevated blood sugar levels
  • abnormal liver and kidney functions
  • HIV
  • cocaine, cotinine and the substance indicating nicotine use
  • conditions that may indicate heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers

To test for these issues, a typical life insurance medical exam may include a blood and urine sample, your height and weight, blood pressure, and pulse rate. Keep in mind that if you are age 50 or older and are applying for a large amount of life insurance, you may be asked to undergo additional tests that could include an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a treadmill stress test. In addition, your medical records may also be requested from your primary care physician.

Once your exam has been completed, your samples will be sent to a lab for testing. The length of time before the life company receives your results will vary; however, it typically takes on average between 30 and 60 days for a life insurance application to be reviewed and a policy to be issued.*

How can I prepare for a life insurance medical exam?

When it comes to medical exams for life insurance, the results are not "pass" or "fail." The information collected during your medical exam is used to place you in a risk class and will impact the rate you are offered. It's a good idea to ensure the exam represents your actual health condition and that you don't inadvertently misrepresent your health with practices (discussed below) that could negatively impact the results of your bloodwork or vitals. If you don't consider yourself to be at the peak of fitness, think about taking some time to put a healthier lifestyle in place prior to your insurance medical exam. 

In order to ensure that your results are not delayed, it's a good idea to spend some time collecting your personal and family medical history as well as a list of medications you take. By preparing prior to the exam, it's possible to avoid delays and frustration.

Medical exam tips

Here are some tips for preparing for the exam:

  • Watch your diet for a few days prior to the exam. Avoid processed foods with lots of sugar or sodium. Red meat can raise your cholesterol levels. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats. 
  • Avoid rigorous exercise the morning of the exam, which can raise blood pressure.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to ensure you are well hydrated for the exam.
  • Limit alcohol consumption prior to the exam to avoid high blood pressure readings.
  • You may want to consider fasting to avoid high blood sugar.

Can I get life insurance without a medical exam?

Not every type of life insurance policy requires a medical exam. With guaranteed issue, final expense, or simplified issue term life, there are typically no exams. Depending on the type of policy, you may be required to answer a few medical questions. Policies with limited medical examination often come with a higher premium cost. This is due to the life insurance company forgoing a full underwriting process to issue your policy.

If you'd like to get a better understanding of your life insurance medical exam or read more about no exam life insurance, visit the Protective Learning Center.

 

*This is only an average. Your individual results may take longer depending on the life insurance company and lab.

 

WEB.1867.12.15

Arrows linking indicating relationship

Related Articles

Young family with two children at lake having fun

Facts about the advantages and disadvantages of health insurance

Learn more
Young man at work and browsing his smartphone trying to understand what will happen with his life insurance exam.

Get a better understanding of your medical exam

Learn more
 Older couple viewing mountain range, leveraging flexible life insurance benefits while still alive

Using your life insurance benefits while still alive

Learn more

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 Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax-related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit www.protective.com.

Companies and organizations linked from Learning Center articles have no affiliation with Protective Life or its subsidiaries.