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Life Insurance Basics

Understanding the life insurance medical exam

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.

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. They're looking for conditions that may indicate heart disease, diabetes, and even 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.*

Getting coverage with no 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 being unable to fully underwrite your policy to verify your health. Why? Because the life insurance company won't be able to fully underwrite your policy to verify your health. For this reason, individuals who may have had medical problems typically shop for these types of policies.


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



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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 Life or its subsidiaries.

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