Get a medical examination
If you opt-in for a no medical exam life insurance policy, then the insurer will continue to look into your medical history and reach back out once they’ve come to a decision about your policy. If you decide to go the traditional route, then at the end of your phone interview, you’ll schedule your medical exam. The life insurance medical exam is meant to get an in-person look at your health at no cost to you. It’s similar to your yearly physical, except that you also have the option of the medical examiner coming to your home or office.
The technician or nurse will take basic measurements like your height and weight, blood pressure, and pulse, and you’ll also provide a blood and urine sample. The entire process should take just about 30 minutes. Although the procedure might seem a little burdensome, you can use the same results on other life insurance applications for up to about six months if you need to postpone your life insurance application. You can also ask the testing company or the life insurance company for a copy of the results, effectively scoring yourself a free medical exam.
→ Learn more about how the life insurance medical exam works
Get your policy offer
The hard part is over — now all you have to do is wait. Behind the scenes, the underwriter you’ve been working with calculates how risky you’re going to be to insure, which determines your health classification and what type of premiums you’re going to pay. This process can take four to six weeks, but sometimes longer if they need to verify parts of your application or require any supplemental documentation.
How the underwriting process works
How do they decide what you pay? By looking at the results of your medical exam and the data you submitted with your application. They will cross-reference what the insurer knows about your medical history with what’s in the MIB, looking as far back as seven years ago to see what medications you’ve been prescribed. The underwriter will also learn whether you’ve ever been convicted of a DUI/DWI or reckless driving as well as other traffic offenses.
Some medical conditions that could cause a downgrade in your health ratings, and thus an increase in premiums, include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and essentially always, tobacco use.
The most common life insurance classifications, in order from the highest health rating to lowest, are:
- Preferred Plus
- Standard Plus
People with complicated health histories or recent medical issues may be given a substandard rating, which is assessed via a table rating system.
→ Read our full guide on life insurance classifications
Sign the documents and pay for your policy
Once the underwriting process is complete, you’ll be issued a policy offer. If you agree to their terms, all that is left is for you to sign the policy documents and pay your first premium. Your policy isn’t in force until you do so — a policy offer from the insurer doesn’t mean you have coverage.
You’ll also want to take note of the nitty-gritty of your policy — you can choose between paying your premiums monthly or annually (with the latter usually offering a small discount), and this should also be indicated on the policy. You can always change the frequency of payment after the policy is in force by contacting your insurance company.
What to do with your policy documents
Depending on the insurer, your policy documents will either be electronically delivered or need to be mailed back. Yes, even in the age of artificial intelligence and driverless cars, you still need to use the postal service. The same will apply for how insurers allow you to make changes to your policy. Some insurers will let you make changes — like updating your personal information or beneficiaries — online, while others will need to be done via snail mail.
Make sure to keep a copy of the policy in a safe place, and let your beneficiaries know exactly where that place is and how to access it. If your beneficiaries don’t know about the policy, they won’t know to claim the death benefit you’ve been paying for all this time, and having easy access to the policy will help them claim the payout as soon as possible.