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Having a life insurance policy can help safeguard your family's financial future. But getting the right policy involves more than just shopping around and comparing rates.
When you apply for a policy, you'll typically need to undergo a life insurance medical exam before getting approved. The process is pretty straightforward, however, and it's not nearly as intimidating as it may sound. Here's a little insight to help you prepare.
Why Do I Need a Life Insurance Medical Exam?
The typical application process for a life insurance policy involves answering several questions about your health, finances and personal and family history.
After you've submitted your application, the usual next step is a medical exam (although some insurance companies may not require this). The test is used to confirm the information you submitted on your application, and it provides additional details the insurance company will use to determine your premium and the policy amount for which you qualify.
Undergoing a medical exam will help ensure your policy is fully underwritten, meaning the insurance company has the information it needs to put you in the right risk category and approve you for a policy that reflects that risk. While this can affect your premium amount, it helps provide a more accurate assessment with which the insurance company can make a decision, meaning you'll receive a policy that's better suited to your needs.
What Happens During the Typical Health Exam?
Life insurance medical exams are typically performed by a qualified medical professional, such as a nurse or paramedic. Most insurance companies do not allow you to use your own health care provider.
This person will come to your home to perform the exam, which usually takes less than an hour. The costs of the exam are covered by the insurer. It typically involves:
- Bloodwork: A paramedic or nurse may perform a blood test.
- General health testing: The paramedic or nurse will also take your blood pressure, collect saliva and urine samples, measure your weight and height, and take your pulse.
- Heart test: Depending on their age and health history, some people may also have to undergo an electrocardiogram (EKG), a non-invasive type of heart test.
- Specific health questions: You'll have to answer more in-depth questions about your medical history, your family's medical history, and lifestyle habits such as whether you smoke, use drugs or drink alcohol, and your level of physical activity.
To better prepare for the medical exam, it's best to follow the instructions provided to you by the nurse or paramedic, either directly or through your insurance agent. You'll also want to make sure you have complete details about your medical history, including the address, names, dates and phone numbers of all doctors who've treated you in the last five years. If necessary, you can request health records in advance from your doctor's office to refresh your memory; consider writing down any important details you think you may have to share.
What Happens Next?
The time it takes to get results from your medical exam will vary by insurance company, but the process can range anywhere from several days to a few months, depending on your health history and whether the insurer needs additional information.
After your exam, the insurance company will review the results to determine your premiums and the policy for which you qualify. You also can request a copy of the results for your records and have them shared with your doctor. Doing this is a good idea, as it helps ensure the information collected is accurate, especially if you're denied coverage or if the insurance company requests additional information.
And while the medical exam is for life insurance purposes, it's also a good way to surface health issues you may want to address with your health care provider.
The most important thing to remember with life insurance medical exams is that every company has its own requirements, meaning the tests will vary. These tests are necessary, however, to ensure you get the right policy and right amount of coverage for your needs.