Life & Health Insurance Medical Exam: What to Expect

Here is a story of what to expect during a life insurance exam. Listen to this podcast and learn what your are likely to experience during the medical and underwriting process when applying for a term life or permanent life insurance policy.

Transcript: Life Insurance Exam

What happens during a paramedical exam for life insurance? When you
apply for life insurance, your health, both medical and financial gets
evaluated. This process starts with data gathering. What's needed
depends on your age and the amount of coverage. The requirements
usually show on the life insurance projection you signed when you
applied. Depending on your answers and test results, more
investigations may be required.
The nurse; a nurse came to my home at the appointed time to conduct
the tests. She was pleasant, efficient, and experienced. She also
works at a hospital. She asked many questions throughout. The process
took about 40 minutes. Sometimes the insurer requires that your
examination be conducted by a doctor of their choosing. To prevent
conflicts of interest, you can't use your own doctor.
The requirements; as with a normal medical checkup, the nurse collects
the basics - measures your height, checks your weight on her scale,
checks your blood pressure, asks about your use of alcohol, tobacco,
and drugs, asks about your use of prescription medication, asks about
changes in your health. In addition, I provided blood and urine
samples, which go all the way to Kansas City for analysis.
Why there? Who knows? You'd think local testing would be faster and
cheaper. I also gave proof of identity with my driver's license, which
has photo ID, and the name and address of my doctor, which may be
helpful if other information is needed. Past health affects future
health, so you're asked many questions about yourself, and some about
your family.
Here's a tip. When answering questions, pretend you're on the witness
stand or at border security. Be truthful. Be concise. Be quiet. You
gain nothing by continuing to yack. Otherwise, you risk providing
unnecessary information that can lead to unnecessary scrutiny. A final
question asks if any relevant information was not provided. Clever.
The EKG; an EKG was also required because of the amount of coverage I
was requesting. This does not take a visit to a clinic for testing
with a huge machine. Now a small device, the size of a paperback novel
suffices. Ten electrodes were connected over my chest. I sat
comfortably with my feet resting on a chair. The results were
converted to sound and communicated to the analysis center by
The squeals reminded me of dial-up modems connecting, or R2D2 in a
foul mood. Had the EKG identified problems, the test would've been
repeated. Ouch. The EKG sensors attach to your body like bandages with
metal probes on your back. The application is easy but removal stings
if you have a hairy body like mine. The nurse asked me to remove the
three toughest probes.
Initial results; the initial results look good and mirror my executive
physical four months ago. That was an earlier podcast. If the
insurance underwriter is doing it, we face more tests or higher
premiums. A poor health rating costs you just as a poor credit rating
does. Or in extreme cases, no offer from insurance. You're un-
Free; there's no charge for the examinations to you or your adviser.
The insurer covers the entire costs even if you are declined for
coverage, or if you decline to purchase the coverage. Each party loses
if you don't get insured. You lose because you don't get the
protection you wanted. The adviser doesn't get paid. The insurer
doesn't get revenue to cover the costs incurred.
Even so, the insurer would rather lose a small amount now than pay out
a large death benefit for which you paid too little. There's also an
earlier blog post on why insurers won't insure you.
Privacy; if the underwriting process uncovers medical issues, your
adviser never gets the details. To protect your privacy, the results
go only to your doctor and you. You can then see if you can take steps
to restore your health through treatment or changes in lifestyle.
Author: Liran Hirschkorn