A crib sheet to the life insurance medical exam

Jeanine Skowronski


Jeanine Skowronski

Published January 10, 2018|1 min read

Policygenius Image

You did it! You applied for life insurance, phone interview and all. Hooray for getting stuff done in the new year. There’s just one more hurdle: the paramedical exam. That's where insurers send a technician to get a snapshot of your health.

Why? So they know how likely you are to die and, therefore, how risky you are to insure. The results are used to approve or deny applications and set premiums. Sounds ominious, but don't freak: You're just having a physical. Here's a crib sheet to getting through your life insurance medical exam.

  1. Know what to expect. A tech will come to your house or workplace to take basic measurements (height, weight, pulse, blood pressure), some blood and maybe a urine sample. It'll take about 30 minutes.

  2. Schedule an appointment. If you did your phone interview, you probably have one already, since that's when the exam typically gets scheduled.

  3. Resist the urge to binge diet. Yes, weight affects premiums. No, starving off five pounds right before you take the exam won't help. Insurers look for 12 months of weight stability before counting losses.

  4. Quit smoking, because, you know, it's bad for you. Just don't expect to avoid a smoker classification. Here's why.

  5. Still, avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol and over-the-counter drugs 24 hours before the exam as that stuff can mess with the results.

  6. About six to eight hours before your exam, don't eat anything or engage in strenuous activity for similar reasons.

  7. Drink a glass of water one hour before your exam so you can provide a urine sample.

  8. Take the exam. If, for some reason you need to reschedule, call your broker or the company administering the exam.

  9. Fill out the health questionnaire provided by the technician. And stay truthful. Lying can lead to a denial, cancellation or, worse, refusal to pay the death benefit.

  10. You're done! Now sit back and relax while the testing company analyzes your samples for conditions that could affect your life insurance classification.

  11. Be patient. Testing companies usually process results in about two weeks, but you might not see them right away. Some insurers wait until underwriting is done to release results to applicants.

  12. Answer any follow-up questions the insurer has about your health. They might tap your doctor for more info, too. Depending on the follow-up, underwriting usually takes anywhere from three to eight weeks.

  13. Review your results. If you don't agree with them, ask about taking another exam. FYI, though: That exam isn't a do-over. The insurer still considers the first round of results when setting premiums.

  14. Buy the policy or shop around. If you don't like the offer, you have 6 months to use the exam results to shop other insurers. Your broker can help you figure out if that move is worthwhile.

  15. Once you've found the one, request a new medical exam at a future date, especially if you plan to quit smoking, maintain weight loss or otherwise improve your health over the next 12 months. Most insurers let your retest at your one-year anniversary and consider lowering premiums if you show better results.


There are life insurance policies that let you skip the medical exam, but they're almost always more expensive than ones that don't. Still, there are instances were a no-medical exam policy is a good option. Say you can't qualify for life insurance otherwise. Or you're young, healthy, in a rush and eligible for accelerated underwriting.

Confused? No worries. Our policygeniuses can help you figure out what type of policy is right for you. You can get the process started by pulling some quick life insurance quotes here.

Image: PeopleImages

Get essential money news & money moves with the Easy Money newsletter.

Free in your inbox each Friday.

Easy Money phones image