Don’t Fear the Life Insurance Medical Exam

January 21, 2010

Horror stories abound about life insurance medical exams. Smokers, you may have heard, never pass, and you don’t have to just be within normal weight ranges, but actually skinny or you get disqualified. We won’t even discuss the rumors about what happens if you took an antihistamine the day before you provided your blood or urine sample. With all these myths about what can cause you to be labeled “uninsurable” it’s no wonder people who are generally healthy are paying higher no-exam life insurance rates just to avoid being told “no.”

The reality is that if you’re reasonably healthy you have nothing to worry about when it comes to these exams. They’re fairly routine, and don’t take that long. Typically, they’ll include blood and urine samples, a blood pressure check, height and weight measurements, and a medical questionnaire. While people who are overweight, smoke, or are in poor health will generally end up being classified as “high risk” and paying higher premiums, most people have little to worry about.

Still, it pays to be prepared, so while you can’t exactly cram for a medical exam, there are a few things you can do to present yourself in the best possible light.

  1. Fast for at least eight hours before the exam for more accurate blood test results. The easiest way to do this is to schedule your appointment first thing in the morning, and skip breakfast.
  2. If you have to eat before your exam, keep it light: nothing heavy, and no caffeine.
  3. Avoid salt for 3-4 days before the exam; doing so might improve your blood pressure.
  4. Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours before the exam, for the same reason.
  5. If you smoke, don’t puff anything for at least 30 minutes before your exam, since smoking constricts artery walls. Abstain longer, if you can.
  6. If you have an acute, temporary illness, like the flu or strep throat, reschedule your exam, as either the illness, or the drugs you take to treat it may affect the results of blood and urine tests.
  7. If you’re female, and have your period, be sure to inform the examiner (generally a nurse) as this will affect your urine test.

Remember that an insurance medical exam is never a substitue for an actual wellness exam, nor is it a measure of your total health, just a snapshot of your condition at a specific moment in time. Either way, there’s nothing to fear in such an exam.