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 telephone.

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-insurable.

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