How to ace your life insurance medical exam

By Posted : 10/22/2010

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How to Ace Your Life Insurance Medical ExamWhen you apply for life insurance, you're generally required to undergo a medical exam. The examiner will record your height and weight, take your blood pressure, collect blood and urine samples, and confirm your answers on your life insurance application.

"We're going to collect all demographic information and physical measurements," says Betsy Sears, executive vice president of client solutions for ExamOne, based in Lenexa, Kan., a provider of paramedical exams to life insurance companies. "Those will be passed to the insurance company and the underwriter, which will make the risk assessment on the basis of the profile, and place the applicant into an underwriting class or category."

The results of your life insurance medical exam are crucial to obtaining affordable life insurance rates. Your exam results should confirm what you've already reported on your application. In addition, unfavorable results, like a high blood pressure reading, will likely result in higher rates.

So it's important to ensure the exam is accurate and that it garners the best possible results. Here are steps to a good exam, according to ExamOne.

Stay well-hydrated. Drinking water before the exam can make it easier to draw your blood, a necessary step in obtaining cholesterol readings.

Fast prior to the exam. You should not eat for a period of four to eight hours before the exam. Even a muffin eaten an hour before the exam could result in elevated glucose levels.

Avoid physical exercise. Take it easy and avoid rigorous workouts for 12 hours before the exam. That doesn't mean just passing on that planned marathon, but also avoiding a fast walk or a workout on an elliptical trainer. "It's better to be conservative," Sears advises.

Refrain from alcohol. For 12 hours before the exam, avoid consuming alcohol, Sears says. "That can dehydrate you, and a lot of alcohol within 12 hours of the exam could result in elevated liver function tests, which could bump you out of a preferred category, and also lead to additional tests," she says.

Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Applicants should avoid both coffee and smoking an hour before the test, as caffeine and nicotine elevate blood pressure. And a further word about coffee: Black coffee is okay up to an hour before the exam, but adding cream and sugar is like going off your fast. So if you're having coffee within the fast period, avoid cream and sugar.

Get a good night's sleep. Being well-rested won't necessarily affect your exam results, but may ease "white coat anxiety" -- the tendency for some to exhibit elevated blood pressure readings during an exam.

Limit salt and high-fat foods. For an hour before the exam, lay off the salt and fatty foods, as they may affect exam results.

Know your medications. Generally you will be asked questions about your medical history during the exam, including whether you are currently taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication.

Test outside menstruation periods. Female life insurance applicants should not take the test when they are menstruating.

Follow all these steps and you are likely to obtain the best results possible in your life insurance medical exam. "Information is power, and if that applicant is armed with all the information they need before the exam, they will feel much more comfortable and prepared," Sears says.

"With this preparation, this will be a more positive experience."


Jeffrey Steele is a Chicago-based writer who writes on insurance and personal finance topics.


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3 Responses to "How to ace your life insurance medical exam"
  1. Hadley 01, May, 2013

    Thanks for the helpful tips on getting best results for my medical exam for life insurance. I have also discovered there are life insurance plans available on the internet that do not require a physical exam, just answers to some health questions.

  2. Josh Docktor 28, Nov, 2012

    Hi Megan, I am an Independent Insurance Agent and I've helped many clients get life insurance with over 50 carriers throughout the United States. Exercise should be avoided for 24 hours prior to completing a blood test because it may cause elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, also abnormal white blood cell counts and glucose readings. To ace your exam, follow the steps above and do not work out 24 hours prior to your exam so you can qualify for the best rate class!

  3. Megan 23, Jun, 2012

    I'm really curious to know WHY you're supposed to avoid physical exercise before the exam. I have a class I want to go in the morning before my exam that I always go to but everything I've read says to take it easy. Can anyone explain WHY????


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