The Ultimate Guide to Physical Exams for Life Insurance

When you apply for life insurance, most insurers require you to undergo a physical examination before offering you a policy. Knowing what to expect will help you be properly prepared.

Why do life insurers require a physical?

Before a life insurance company offers you coverage, it needs to know how much of a risk you are. In other words: What are the chances that you’ll pass away during the term of the policy, which will require them to pay the death benefit to your beneficiary or beneficiaries?

The best way for them to assess this risk is to learn all about your health—past and current illnesses or injuries, as well as any future conditions you may develop as a result of either genetics or current poor health.

The physical examination for life insurance

There are three main parts to the physical exam. First, the life insurer requires you to sign a release form so its underwriters can gain access to your medical records. It looks for any mention of acute injuries or illnesses, as well as mention of chronic illnesses or conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. It will also take note of any mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.

The life insurance company also reviews the medications you have taken in the past and the medications you currently take, if any. In fact, in some cases, an insurer will deny coverage based solely on medication if it believes the drug was prescribed for a serious condition.

For example, if you were prescribed an anti-psychotic during a psychotic episode related to schizophrenia, it could raise a red flag for some insurers. Note, however, that life insurance companies all have different guidelines for underwriting. So in a situation like this, another insurer might not weigh the medication too heavily if you’re currently not taking it and are otherwise physically and mentally healthy.

Last, but certainly not least, a doctor will examine you. They’ll ask you questions about your past health and your family’s health. For example, if your mother suffered from heart disease, it could indicate that you’re at a higher risk than the general population. They’ll ask whether or not you smoke or take drugs, whether you have done so in the past, and if so, for how long.

They’ll measure your height and weight, and they’ll take your blood pressure. Then they’ll ask you to submit a urine sample and a blood sample, which will they’ll send to the lab to be tested for tobacco and drug use, as well as for indications of diseases or conditions such as HIV, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and more.

After the physical

You’ll receive the results of your lab tests approximately 5 to 10 days after your physical. At this point, the life insurer’s underwriters will have all the information they need to evaluate your risk, so you can expect a response to your application within another two weeks.

Feel free to contact us today with any questions.