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How to Prepare for a Life Insurance Medical Exam

By Brian Hartstein MSFS, CLU, ChFC | 10/22/2012

I get asked countless numbers of different questions in regard to the medical exam for life insurance. They range from the mundane to the incredibly strange. The requirements of the medical exam can vary based on the amount of the death benefit - also known as the face amount of the policy - that is being applied for. For example for a high face amount an EKG is most likely required and for a very high face amount a stress test plus an EKG will be required.

However in the majority of applications the requirements are basically the same. It is important to properly prepare for the medical exam as the results will have a direct effect on the rating designated for the insurance plan. As stated in previous articles the primary goal is to have the plan issued with the highest rating and the lowest possible mortality cost. The rating equates to the health of the proposed insured and the mortality cost is the charge by the insurer based on the rating or health status.

Most medical exam companies will schedule the exam at a time and place convenient for the applicant. It is important to schedule the exam at a time and location which is most comfortable. Our underwriting department is very thorough in preparing an applicant for the medical exam and we will review in detail a variety of specific guidelines to follow. Many of the critical ones are as follows:

    1) It is suggested that the appointment is set for first thing in the morning as the applicant will need to fast for 12 hours (or at a very minimum 8 hours) before the blood draw. No foods should be eaten that morning before the exam; however enough water should be consumed so that the applicant is not dehydrated.

    2) No non-essential drugs including alcohol and caffeine, medications, vitamins, or herbs for 24 hours before the exam and avoid strenuous exercise as well. If the applicant does smoke they should refrain from smoking for 30 minutes prior to the exam.

    3) If the applicant is taking essential prescribed medication(s) - for example blood pressure medication - it is recommended that they do not stop taking the medication(s).

    4) If the applicant is diabetic try to schedule the exam for 2 ½ hours after a meal (no sweets/sugars after the meal) Also - empty the bladder immediately after eating. Keep taking usual medications as directed by their physician.

    5) It is a good rule of thumb to monitor closely what is eaten on the day prior to the medical exam. For example stick to fruits and vegetables and if meat is consumed chicken or fish - either baked or broiled - is highly recommended. Absolutely no fried foods and also limit or eliminate the intake of sugar and carbohydrates.

    6) Try if possible to get a good 8 hours of sleep.

    7) Have a valid photo ID and insurance card available

    8) Be prepared to list the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any physicians, hospitals, or clinics visited in the last 5 years. Specific dates of those visits as well as reason for the visits and if possible the results will also be required.

    9) Names and dosage amounts of current medications.

Recommended Reading

Obtaining a Life Insurance Policy: Part I

Obtaining a Life Insurance Policy: Part II

Is "Buy Term and Invest" Really the Answer?

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