3 secrets to preparing for your life insurance medical exam

Colin Lalley 1600


Colin Lalley

Colin Lalley

Associate Content Director, Home & Auto Insurance

Colin Lalley is the associate content director of home and auto insurance at Policygenius, where he leads our property & casualty editorial teams. His insights have been featured in Inc. Magazine, Betterment, Chime, Credit Seasame, Zola, and the Council for Disability Awareness.

Published January 19, 2017 | 5 min read

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Featured Image 3 secrets to preparing for your life insurance medical exam

So you’re having a life insurance medical exam!Wait, we already wrote that article...You may be able to avoid the life insurance medical exam more and more often these days, but you won’t always be able to get a policy at the best rate without the medical exam. The medical exam is still the most common way for a life insurance company to assess your health, find out how risky you are to insure, and classify you in order to set your premium rates.That sounds like kind of a lot, doesn’t it?

Even though the medical exam can seem overwhelming, there isn’t a whole lot to the medical exam. After all, it’s free, and a medical technician will come to your home or workplace to do the tests. But if you’re still a little nervous about making sure you nail your medical exam, here are three things you can do to make it go that much smoother.

Have the right mindset

The life insurance medical exam can be scary. It can be overwhelming. It can be an annoyance. But only if you’re a Negative Nelly! With the right mindset, it won’t feel like a chore – it’ll be a something you can feel good about.Preventative care gives you and your doctor "the opportunity to screen for diseases or conditions, as well as to promote healthy behaviors that may delay or prevent these conditions and reduce subsequent use of emergency or inpatient care." That means catching conditions before they worsen – and potentially saving you a lot of money in the long run thanks to early-stage treatment.According to the CDC, most people don’t visit their doctor for regular preventative care checkups. This is especially true with men; among men age 18-44, only 18.5% made preventative care doctor visits. That’s a lot of young men who aren’t getting proper and robust care for wellness and health maintenance. With the life insurance medical exam, you’re basically crossing this off of your to-do list.Life insurance underwriter John Voelker says this is the mindset he tries to impart to applicants. If "applicants go into the exam with the attitude that they are getting a free exam and lab work (and possibly an EKG), they tend to have a more favorable view of the process," he says.If you’re unaware, an EKG, or electrocardiogram, measures the behavior of your heart’s chambers and can show if your heart is enlarged or overworked (from high blood pressure, for example). Considering over 700,000 Americans suffer from heart attacks every year, and an EKG can routinely cost over $100, the potential for getting a free EKG isn’t a bad selling point.

You’re already applying for life insurance to make sure your family is protected. Just think of the medical exam as yet another way you’re ensuring a healthy, happy life for yourself – and how that can affect your loved ones.

Prepare accordingly

Are you several years or decades out of school but still have recurring nightmares of going to class and being totally unprepared for a test?No? Just me? Well, maybe you’ll still be able to appreciate that value of being prepared for your medical exam – and it’s a lot easier than hitting the books.

If you’ve ever had a physical, you may be familiar with some of the precautions you should take going into a life insurance medical exam. Some things that experts say you should stay away from in the four to 24 hours leading up to your exam include:

  • Salty and high cholesterol food. This is good advice for life in general, but especially for the day leading up to the exam. And you should aim to avoid all food for at least four to eight hours before the exam.

  • Strenuous exercise. Maybe you’re upset that this will interfere with that new year’s resolution that you’re still sticking to, or maybe you’re happy for the excuse to binge watch something on Netflix. Either way, for the 12 hours before your exam, take it easy, because overexertion and dehydration from exercise can affect blood results.

  • Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. These can skew blood test and urine screen results.

The point of the medical exam is to get a good picture of your current and future health, and any issues that can arise from it. By going into the exam as close to your baseline health as possible, you’ll be able to get more accurate results – and the best possible premium rates.

Disclose all of your health information

The life insurance medical exam measures your health. If you have less-than-perfect health, you could be tempted to fudge the truth a little so that your health comes off better than it actually is.That’s a bad idea.First of all, the insurance company has other ways of finding out your health details. If you don’t disclose a certain medical condition, the insurance company can find out about it through an Attending Physician Statement or a prescription drug database check (which reviews what prescriptions you’ve recently had filled).Second of all, even if some details are initially missed, the insurance company may find out about it during the first two years of your policy, called the contestability period, and if it’s determined that you deliberately misled them about your health, they can cancel your policy. Like most other people and entities, life insurance companies don’t take nicely to fraud.

All of this is to say that you should be upfront with any medical conditions that you have. If you have a condition or diagnosis, disclose your date of diagnosis, any treatment and results, and your doctor’s information. This will make the whole thing go a lot smoother.If you disclose this information, you’ll get a more accurate classification and premium rate, and you don’t run the risk of having your policy cancelled if the carrier uncovers information later on. More importantly, your rates won’t rise as much as you’d think. A carrier would rather know that you’re taking medication, seeing a doctor, and taking measures to control of it. That makes you a much better risk, in the eyes of a life insurer, than someone who lets their condition go untreated.Common conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer and HIV/AIDS are more treatable than they’ve ever been, and you can get insurance at reasonable rates. Check out our life insurance company reviews, where we note which carriers will work with you to help you get the best rates for various chronic conditions.I get that even with the conveniences that a medical exam offers, you may still not want to take time out of your day to do it. But it’s a one-time thing, and if you’re going to have to anyway, wouldn’t you want to get the most out of it and make the entire process as frictionless as possible? By following these three simple steps, you’ll be able to go into your exam prepared and headache-free.