Life insurance urine tests

Urine tests are a common part of life insurance medical exams.

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Andrew HurstSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertAndrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

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Many life insurance companies require a urine test during the application process. These urine tests check for illegal drug and nicotine use, liver and kidney problems, and other chronic health conditions.

Insurance companies use urine test results to evaluate your health profile during underwriting. Urine tests are a normal part of the insurance application process and confirm your application information and in turn determine how much you’ll pay in premiums.

We’ll explain what the life insurance urine test is used for — and how you might be able to avoid it.

Life insurance terms you should know
  • Beneficiaries: The people you name on your life insurance policy to receive the lump sum of money — also known as the death benefit — when you die.

  • Cash value: The portion of a permanent life insurance policy’s monetary value that grows tax-deferred over the life of the policy.

  • Death benefit: The amount of money the life insurance company will pay your beneficiaries when you die.

  • Face amount: The dollar amount, or death benefit, your beneficiaries receive if you die while your life insurance policy is active.

  • Insured: The person who is covered by the insurance policy.

  • Policy: The legal document that includes the terms and conditions of your life insurance contract.

  • Policyholder: The person who owns an insurance policy. Usually, this is the same person as the insured.

  • Permanent life insurance: A type of life insurance that lasts for the rest of your life and usually includes a cash value account.

  • Premium: The amount you pay your insurance company to keep your coverage active. Premiums are typically paid monthly or annually.

  • Riders: Add-ons to a life insurance policy that provide more robust coverage, sometimes for an extra cost.

  • Term life insurance: A life insurance policy that lasts for a set number of years before it expires. If you die before the term is up, your beneficiaries receive a death benefit.

  • Underwriting: The process where an insurance company evaluates the risk of insuring you and determines your final rate.

Why life insurance companies test urine

Before an insurance company sells a life insurance policy, they need to know the likelihood of the applicant dying during the policy’s term so they can price the premiums accordingly. If an applicant is likely to die while their policy is in place – because they’re elderly, have a chronic health condition, or a risky lifestyle – they’ll pay higher premiums.

When do life insurance companies test urine?

Life insurance companies conduct a urine test during the medical exam, which is similar to a physical and gives life insurance companies a comprehensive picture of your health beyond the written application. It’s scheduled after the phone interview.

Urine tests and blood tests, a medical history interview, and prescription drug checks all play a role in the life insurance medical exam. If the results reveal high blood pressure, a history of heart disease, or any other underlying medical conditions, the insurance company could charge you more for life insurance coverage.

That’s not to say you’re uninsurable if a life insurance company uncovers anything during application process. Obtaining life insurance with chronic medical conditions is possible, and often more affordable than people expect, especially if your condition is well-maintained.

What does a urine test show?

Your medical records and a phone interview with the insurance company only provide limited information about your health. Conducting medical tests, including a urine test, give underwriters a full picture of your current health. Here are a few of the things that life insurance urine testing can be used to uncover:

  • Drug use: If you’re currently using hard drugs or painkillers that haven’t been prescribed to you by a doctor, you’ll be ineligible for coverage. A life insurance urine test detects drugs like amphetamines/methamphetamines, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and methadone.

  • Nicotine: Nicotine and cotinine, which is an alkaloid found in tobacco, can stay in the body and be detected by a urine test for at least several days; bodies process nicotine differently. Smokers pay two to three times more than non-smoker premiums.

  • Health issues: By analyzing a urine sample, companies can determine a wide variety of health risks, such as a kidney infection, liver problems, or diabetes.

Urine tests can also detect diuretics, which may be a sign of blood pressure medication. Even if you don’t disclose a health condition on your initial application, a urine test may still reveal potential issues, which is why you should be upfront from the beginning when applying for life insurance. Not only are life insurance companies able to check for inaccuracies on your application, but lying on your application is considered insurance fraud, and could lead to a death benefit denial for your beneficiaries later.

If a potential health issue is flagged by a urine test, the life insurance company may do some more digging to confirm the findings, which can delay the application process.

Learn more about the types of death not covered by life insurance

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How to avoid a urine test

As far as medical tests go, urine tests are relatively unobtrusive. Still, some applicants may not want to take a life insurance urine test — or undergo any aspect of the life insurance medical exam.

No-medical-exam life insurance policies allow applicants to bypass the medical exam and offer comparable (or even lower) rates. A Policygenius agent can work with you for free to find you the most affordable policy.

Author

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

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