Cost & Coverage
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The life insurance medical exam confirms the details you provided to the carrier when you first applied but also uncovers new information that could affect your premium.
There are a few simple ways to prep and pass the exam
After the exam, your insurance company will determine your insurance rating classification
The results of your medical exam play a direct role in how much you pay for coverage
When you begin shopping for life insurance, you may soon learn about the life insurance medical exam. When you purchase life insurance, you are quoted a rate that becomes the premium you’ll pay to keep the policy in effect. Your medical history, including your current health status, is one of the most important factors insurance companies use to determine what to charge you for your coverage.
That’s why the process of determining your premium, called underwriting, almost always includes a health exam that the insurance company uses to get a direct read on your current health.
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The medical exam, technically called a paramedical exam, is a standard part of both life and disability insurance, and it not only confirms the details you provided to the carrier when you first applied but also uncovers new information that could affect your premium.
The life insurance health physical is free to you – the life insurance company pays for it, and you can keep your results.
If preliminary research has put you off the thought of an insurance medical exam, you may be tempted to skip the whole affair and avoid the trouble. However, most insurance companies will require you to submit a health evaluation when you apply for life insurance. They want to verify that the information you provided (height, weight, health habits, medical history, etc) are accurate so they can offer you an accurate life insurance rate. The better you “score” on your health exam, the more desirable your policy and premium will be.
In addition to other factors like your age, family medical history and lifestyle, the results from the medical exam help determine your life insurance classification . From best (lowest premiums, lowest risk) to worst (highest premiums, highest risk), the life insurance classifications are Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus, Standard and Substandard.
The medical physical and the health questions you answer reveal a lot about the risk your health poses to the insurer. The less healthy you are, the riskier you are, so your premiums will be higher if you’re sicker or have a more checkered medical history. The health exam tests for a number of conditions, including the following:
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After you submit your life insurance application, you'll need to schedule the medical exam. A broker like Policygenius can help you coordinate your appointment during a phone interview. While the word “interview” might conjure up anxiety, there’s no need to worry. The call is quick, easy, and designed to help you get the best possible life insurance for your lifestyle and health history.
During or after your call, the life insurance carrier will work with you to set up an appointment time. You may also schedule a time with the medical exam company that works with the insurance company, such as ExamOne.
Getting a paramedical exam is just like going to your doctor to get a physical. However, the life insurance company knows that scheduling an appointment can be difficult, so you can choose to have the medical technician come to your home or work. The whole thing should take about 30 minutes.
The tech will perform the routine health checks you expect from your regular doctor. That means checking your pulse and blood pressure and recording your height and weight (and figuring out your body mass index).
If you’re an older applicant or you’re applying for a large amount of life insurance coverage, you may also have to undergo an electrocardiogram, or EKG, where the technician will put electrodes on your skin to measure your heart’s electrical activity.
The tech will ask you a series of health-related questions to help the insurer confirm the information on your application. Expect to get asked about the kinds of prescriptions you’re taking and what doctors you’ve seen recently.
You’ll have to take a blood test, so be ready for that if you’re afraid of needles. In many cases, you’ll have to provide a urine sample too.
It's important to keep in mind that there's no "passing" the health exam. Your results will help determine the cost of your policy but most people will be able to get some level of coverage regardless of how their exam results turn out.
That being said, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best shot at lower rates.
The first thing you can do to prepare is to be completely upfront about any conditions you have when initially applying for the life insurance policy. The underwriter will be doing his or her homework, so you'll only delay the process if the medical tech discovers health concerns you never mentioned. Plus, your actual premiums will look much different from your quotes (spoiler: they’ll be higher) if you don’t disclose a condition up front.
Wondering how to get a better classification? You can give some of these things a try. Just remember, your health classification is made up of several different factors. You're welcome to try these out but it's not guaranteed that one tip or another will sway your results.
Feeling worried about the outcome of your medical exam? Try not to think about it from a traditional doctor/patient perspective. Carriers assess based on risk, so something you might think is alarming or not a problem at all might be viewed radically differently by the carrier. Your best bet is to wait and see what they tell you and then you can figure out next steps.
If the carrier sees a drastically abnormal reading, they might request a follow-up appointment. For example, if you have protein in your urine, they might request two separate follow-ups on different days to get an accurate read. If you have an abnormally high blood pressure reading, you might be able to request a retake if you can prove it's an anomaly. One way to demonstrate that is if your medical records show otherwise normal readings.
After the paramedical exam, the technician will submit your information to the insurance company to complete the underwriting process.
If all goes according to plan, you should hear back with your actual quote in a few weeks’ time. However, depending on the follow-up, the process can take anywhere from three to eight weeks. You can request a copy of your medical results. The record can be used to apply with other life insurers, if need be, or for other types of insurance, including disability insurance, for up to six months.
In some ways, receiving the life insurance health exam is kind of like getting a physician’s checkup for free, although, like a trip to your usual doctor, it does become part of your health record and could be factored into future insurance premium quotes.
In an ideal situation, you’ve already been getting plenty of exercise, watching your diet and staying clear of environmental toxins. If you’ve been keeping healthy, you’ll pass the medical exam with flying colors and score a low premium on your life insurance policy.
Don’t want to take a health exam for coverage? There are life insurance policies that let you skip the medical exam, but they generally tout higher premiums, since the insurer has less information about your risk of death. Here’s a quick guide to the main types of no-medical life insurance policies out there:
If you’re young and healthy, you might qualify for simplified issue life insurance. You’ll likely pay a higher premium than you would for traditional term life insurance at the same coverage amount, but you’ll get coverage more quickly because you won’t have to go through so many hoops.
Simplified life insurance carriers determine your premium by having you fill out a health questionnaire. The questions are geared toward your health, including whether you have any serious illnesses or habits that could affect your health.
While there are obvious benefits to simplified life insurance plans such as expedited coverage and less hassle, you should be aware of a few caveats. Since insurers are creating a plan for you based on limited information, they tend to be more cautious in their assessment and charge more to cover you. The coverage itself could also be more limited for that very same reason.
These policies are for seniors with health issues who can’t qualify for traditional term life insurance, but need a policy to help cover end-of-life costs and outstanding debts, Premiums are generally high and coverage amounts are limited. You can learn more about these policies — also known as guaranteed life insurance — here.
While final expense insurance is affordable for those on a budget and it can provide peace of mind for your family members, it doesn’t provide as high of a pay-out as term or whole life insurance plans do. Depending on the cost of funeral arrangements, credit card bills, medical bills, and other expenses, these policies might not be enough to cover that.
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Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
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