The Ins and Outs of Life Insurance Medical Exams

Common No-medical Life Insurance Amounts:

$10,000 $15,000 $20,000
$25,000 $30,000 $40,000
$50,000 $75,000 $100,000


at doctor's officeIf you are planning to purchase life insurance, you will likely need to undergo a medical examination before you will be eligible for a policy. Whether or not you are eligible for a policy and the rates you pay for your premiums will be determined by the outcome of this medical examination, which is generally performed by independent health care professionals known as paramedicals.

Reviewing Your Medical History

When applying for a life insurance policy, the first portion will typically ask you to provide information about your health status. This part might be completed with the help of your agent or you might simply complete this portion on your own with an online form. The second portion of the insurance application's medical form, however, will need to be completed by a physician or a paramedical. In many cases, this paramedical will be contacted by your insurance agent after he or she received your information and the medical professional will come to your home to complete the medical examination.

Although you may have a personal physician who would be more than happy to perform a medical examination for you, you cannot have the examination completed by your personal physician. Rather, you will need to work with the health care professional that is provided by the insurance company, though your insurance company might require you to also obtain an attending physician's statement from your doctor as well.

After your information is passed on to a paramedical professional, he or she will make an appointment to come see you. Or, if you can't schedule a time that is convenient for you, you might be able to go to a clinic selected by your insurer instead. Either way, you are not responsible for paying for the examination or for the lab work.

What to Expect from the Medical Examination

Once your medical examination is set up, the actual exam is a pretty simple process. In addition to taking your medical history, the paramedical will also measure your height, your weight, your pulse rate and your blood pressure. He or she will also obtain urine and blood samples. Other tests and procedures may be necessary depending upon your age as well as the amount of coverage you are seeking. Some companies, for example, might require an EKG if you are over the age of 50 and you are applying for a large policy amount. Others might also require a treadmill test to be completed if you are over a certain age and are applying for a large policy. If you are applying for a policy with a small face value, on the other hand, you may not need to undergo any form of medical examination at all.

When a medical examination is required, the reasoning behind the exam is really quite simple - the insurance company wants to make an accurate assessment of your health in order to determine the risks involved with providing you with a policy. When taking samples of your blood and urine, for example, the company is typically looking for the following:

  • Antibodies or antigens associated with HIV
  • Cholesterol and other similar lipids
  • Signs of liver or kidney disorder
  • Signs of diabetes
  • Antibodies associated with hepatitis
  • Prostate specific antigens
  • Signs of immune disorders
  • Nicotine

The urine sample may also be used to test for certain types of medications as well as for drugs.

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To take your blood sample, the paramedical professional will either draw the blood with a needle or will prick your finger for a sample of blood. Either way, the results are sent to the home office of the insurance company so it can be reviewed by the company's underwriter. If you like, you can generally obtain a copy of these results as well. This way, if there is anything of concern, you can be sure to contact your doctor right away in order to discuss the results further.

Determining Your Rates

If your medical examination supports the level of health that you reported when you applied for your policy, you will likely qualify for the quote you were originally provided. If a problem is uncovered or if signs of nicotine are found in your blood, however, you might be denied coverage or your rates may be higher than you had originally hoped. In some cases, the underwriter will also request additional information before determining the type of policy you will be offered.

If the underwriter determines that there are risks involved with providing you with coverage, you will receive either a "flat" risk rating or a "table" risk rating. A flat risk rating indicates that you are a higher risk for only a short period of time, such as if you recently underwent surgery. A table rating, on the other hand, indicates that you have a chronic condition that places you in a higher risk category. If you disagree with your rating, you can get your agent involved and undergoing additional medical testing in order to prove that you should qualify or a better rating.

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The Long Term Effects of Testing

Whether you decide to purchase a life insurance policy or not, the results of your medical examination will be recorded in the MIB Group's database. This database serves as a clearinghouse of medical information, which is stored in the database for seven years after the exam takes place and is shared among insurance companies. The database is jointly owned by approximately 470 insurance companies. Therefore, if you go to a different insurance company in search of coverage, that company will be able to access your information from the database.

If you want to check on your MIB file or if you want to dispute information that is contained on it, you can obtain a free report each year by visiting the MIB Group Website at It is important to note, however, that the database does not actually contain medical records. Rather, they offer codes that represent medical conditions, hazardous hobbies, medical tests that you have taken and even information about your driving record.

Getting the Best Results

Since your medical examination results will determine your rates and will be included in the MIB Group databases for seven years, you certainly want to be sure to get the best results possible. In order to get the best results, you should implement the following tips:

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam
  • Do not drink alcohol for eight hours before the exam
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages for at least one hour before the exam
  • Limit your intake of high-cholesterol or salty foods for 24 hours before the exam
  • Don't engage in strenuous physical activities for 24 hours prior to the exam

If you would rather avoid the examination altogether, you will need to seek out a policy with a lower benefit amount or you should apply for a guaranteed issue policy. If you are in good health, however, getting a medical examination shouldn't be a problem at all.

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