Life insurance urine tests

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

Rebecca Shoenthal author photo


Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

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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.

Key Takeaways

  • Urine tests reveal traces of hard drugs, THC, and nicotine, and can show glucose levels, red/white blood cell counts, and more.

  • Any trace of drugs will make you ineligible for coverage.

  • No-medical-exam life insurance policies don't require a urine test.

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 have a risky lifestyle – they’ll pay above average premiums.

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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 is 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 underwriting. 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 will 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 nonsmoker 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.

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How to avoid a urine test

As far as medical tests go, urine tests are relatively unintrusive. 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.

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Frequently asked questions

Why do they test urine for the life insurance medical exam?

Insurance companies use blood and urine samples to learn more about your health profile. Health is one of the factors underwriters use to determine policy rates. Urine tests can reveal information about drug/nicotine use and other underlying health issues.

Can I skip the life insurance urine test?

If you’d rather avoid a urine test, or a medical exam altogether, some companies offer no-medical exam policies. Accelerated underwriting, simplified issue, and guaranteed issue life insurance policies may be available and do not require a medical exam.

Can you retake the life insurance medical exam?

In some cases, insurers will allow you to retake the medical exam. If the insurance company sees a drastically abnormal reading, they might request a follow-up appointment. But this generally only applies if you can demonstrate that your medical records show that the results are an anomaly (such as a high blood pressure result but no prior history). If drugs are detected in your urine, it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed a follow-up exam.