Why Do Some Life Insurance Policies Require a Medical Exam?

I get an application for life insurance in the mail about once per week. Although I already have an excellent policy, seeing how the requirements have changed over the years is fun.

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As I’ve gotten older, the term-life options have changed to whole-life solutions. I also receive more requests for medical exams as part of the application process.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is a look at why that might happen.

What Medical Tests Are Necessary for Life Insurance?

When you apply for life insurance, several tests could be required. It is often determined based on your health history or age.

The policy you want can also determine the need for a medical test. Although every situation is different, most insurers will require any or all of the following as a stipulation to entering into an agreement with you.

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A general medical questionnaire that describes your personal history.

Blood pressure measurements or a log of readings over a specific time.

Various blood tests.

A complete urinalysis.

For some people, an electrocardiogram (ECG) or a direct medical exam by an authorized provider could be necessary.

These tests help insurers assess your health and determine your premium. Since the requirements can differ between providers or specific policies, it helps to discuss any specifics with the company or your agent.

What Information Does the Insurance Company Need?

Some life insurance policies require medical exams to ensure there is documented evidence of your current health status within the scope of a contract.

If you misrepresent your current health to obtain a policy, the insurer can use those circumstances to void the agreement. That means you could lose any premiums you’ve paid, plus face other potential legal and financial consequences.

You’ll need to provide details about your medical history, including any past illnesses, surgeries, or hospitalizations. That includes any existing conditions, like heart disease or diabetes.

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If you have a questionnaire, it’ll often ask you to list the medications you currently take, including names and dosages.

You could be asked to share any hereditary or genetic medical conditions that run in your family, as these may impact your risk assessment.

A complete medical exam could be necessary based on the questionnaire or your desired policy. Blood tests are often used to check cholesterol levels, glucose, and overall health.

A urinalysis can indicate lifestyle choices that could invalidate your application, like illicit drug or nicotine use. Some diseases can also be detected in your urine.

Additional Information The Insurer Needs

After you provide the essential health data for the insurance company, you might find some follow-up questions to answer before starting the underwriting process.

Exercise and Diet: Some insurers may ask about your exercise routine and dietary habits related to your health.

Height and Weight: Your body mass index (BMI) is often used to assess your overall health. You’ll likely need to provide your current height and weight. The insurer might request a history of this data point to see if any fluctuations have occurred.

Recent Doctor Visits: Provide details about any recent visits to your healthcare providers, including the reason for the visit and any diagnoses or treatments received.

Substance Abuse: Suppose you smoke or have a history of substance abuse. In that case, insurers may consider you a higher risk and charge higher premiums or deny coverage.

Be honest about your current health status. If you find it a struggle to pass these tests, a different coverage option could be suitable. Although it costs more, some insurers have a no-test policy to review.