Life insurance medical exam what do they test for?

Life Insurance Medical Exam What Do They Test For
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    What do life insurance medical exams test for? Many of the best life insurance companies require a medical examination before offering you a policy.  The medical records supplied to the life insurance underwriters from your physician can provide them a clearer picture of your health.  This will allow the life insurance company to determine the final cost that you will ultimately pay for the policy.

    Getting a medical examination can seem stressful, so you should have a better understanding of what these tests are for after reading this guide.

    Life insurance medical exam – What do they test for?

    The major tests used for determining any life insurance with preexisting conditions and drug use are a blood test and a urine test. 

    Below is a quick breakdown for each of these tests and what the life insurance underwriting process and testing will be used to determine your rate.

    Life insurance medical exam blood test

    What will a life insurance blood test detect? Life insurance companies often use common measurements for the medical exam. However not all companies use the exact same tests. With that said, the underwriter will most likely look at a variety of proteins and enzymes to assess specific measurements.

    A blood test will give the underwriters a much broader picture of your health because your circulatory system will determine your risk for possibly dying from heart disease or some other blood related condition.

    What will the blood test will detect?

    The life insurance underwriter will take a sample of your blood and will screen for the following:

    • Triglycerides and Fats
    • If you are on certain medications for High blood pressure, heart defects, or arrhythmia then Beta Adrenergic Blockers will appear in your blood.
    • Your HDL and LDL Cholesterol
    • In many cases, doctors will use Urea Nitrogen to evaluate how well your kidneys are functioning in the removal of waste from your body.  Urea Nitrogen levels will be picked up in your blood test.
    • There are various blood enzymes that doctors screen to check for liver and bone diseases or extreme alcohol use.  Two of these blood enzymes might be Alanine Aminotransferase or Alkaline Phosphatase which will show up in the blood test.
    • Serum HIV will detect if you have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus which causes AIDS.
    • Your Hemoglobin AIC levels will allow doctors to know what your blood sugar levels have been over the past 90 days.  It also helps them screen for diabetes or if you’re pre-diabetic.
    • There is a carbohydrate known as Fructosamine which will help doctors detect your blood sugar patterns over the past 2 or 3 weeks.

    These are just some of the leading indicators that might arise from different enzymes and proteins. This is not a complete list but will give you a good idea what a blood test will cover.

    Life insurance medical exam urine test


    The urine test will help the underwriters determine how well your body’s filtration and digestive systems are working. 

    The urine test also detects whether you are developing diabetes and what drugs you might be taking. 

    This includes recreational drugs.

    What will the urine test will detect?

    • The life insurance urine test will detect if diuretics have entered into your urine as a result of high blood pressure medications.
    • If your urine acidity is not normal, sitting outside the range of 4 to 8 ph, you might have kidney problems, diabetes, suffer from obesity or you indulge in unhealthy foods.
    • If Hemoglobin is detected, this could show kidney issues or possibly a urinary tract infection.
    • If your Creatinine is too high, you could have kidney disease.
    • There are certain proteins such as Microalbumin which is also a sign of kidney disease.
    • High levels of Glucose could point toward the onslaught of diabetes or pre-existing diabetes.
    • Leukocyte Esterase is an enzyme which could show that you have a kidney or bladder infection.
    • If you use tobacco or other nicotine products, Cotinine will enter into your bladder.

    What drugs do life insurance companies test for?

    Life insurance companies will also test for drug use. Some frequent questions we’re asked are:

    • Do life insurance medical exams test for drugs?
    • What does life insurance drug test Blood or Urine?

    Companies may use the urine test, the blood test, or both to find out what drugs you have taken. Each company is unique, but these are the most common drugs tested:

    These drugs include:

    • Tobacco / Nicotine
    • Marijuana / Pot
    • Cocaine
    • Amphetamine / Methamphetamine
    • Opiates
    • Barbituates
    • Methadone
    • PCP / Phencyclidine
    • Benzodiazepines

    For the majority of these drugs, you’ll be denied life insurance. However, tobacco, nicotine, pot or marijuana is the exception. Depending on the life insurance company, your frequency and type- you can get approved. For example, do you use recreationally or use medical marijuana? Some of the best term life insurance companies are much more lenient on these drugs compared to others. Make sure you contact us to find out who will look at you most favorably based on your specific health and lifestyle.

    The following categories are what life insurance companies evaluate with the blood and urine tests

    • Testing Kidney & Bladder

    • Your Heart & Arteries

    • Your Pancreas

    • Your Liver

    • Testing Miscellaneous issues

    Let’s break them down into more detail and see exactly what the life insurance underwriter will be looking for.

    Testing your Bladder & Kidney health

    Leukocyte Esterase is a test used to determine if there are white cells in your urine as this could indicate a urinary tract infection.  The medical exam will screen for the presence of enzymes that cause infections in the kidneys and bladder.

    Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) is a test that will measure how much waste you have in your blood.  If the levels are not normal, it could mean your kidneys or liver are not working correctly.  Normal ranges from the test should be between 10 to 25.

    Urine pH Screening  This test will analyze the level of acidity or alkalinity in the urine. There are many diseases, diets, and medications that will affect these levels.  Normal ranges should be between 4 to 8.

    Hemoglobin Screening  This screening tests for hemoglobin being present in your urine.  This could be a sign of a kidney or urinary tract infection.

    Creatinine  When tested, the normal levels should be between 0.7 and 1.5.  If the levels are higher, this could indicate kidney disease.

    Proteinuria If there is an abnormal amount of protein in your urine, this could be a sign of kidney damage.

    Protein/Creatinine Ratio  Normal levels should be between 25 to 250.  If the levels are higher, this could indicate kidney disease.

    Microalbumin  This is a test to find small levels of blood protein.  The test is normally used to discover early signs of kidney damage that can lead to kidney disease.  The normal level should be 0.30, higher levels could be signs of kidney disease.

    Testing your Heart & Artery health

    Your heart and arteries represent your cardiovascular system.  The following are what life insurance companies are looking at:

    Cholesterol is the waxy fat like material in your body that is found in your blood cells throughout your entire body.  As I’m sure you have heard about good and bad cholesterol, but do you know what they are?  Bad cholesterol will attach to your arteries causing blockages that will lead to a heart attack or a stroke.  Life insurance companies differ about what is high cholesterol and what level of cholesterol is allowed.  There are companies that will only allow a total cholesterol of 200 to rate for the best class of insurance but many have changed their demands to 300.

    High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol as it protects your arteries from bad cholesterol building up in your arteries.  (Bad cholesterol is known as LDL)  Men want over 40 HDL and women over 50 HDL.

    Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is bad cholesterol that will build up in your arteries causing a blockage. A common practice is the placement of stents.  Stents are tubular supports that are temporarily placed in a blood vessel to improve or provide relief for an obstruction.

    The Ratio Of LDL/HDL  LDL is divided by HDL to determine the risk factor for heart disease.  The lower the ratio, the lower the risk factor for heart disease will be.

    Cholesterol – HDL Ratio  This ratio measures the total cholesterol divided by the HDL.  If your ratio is below 5, you are good to go and some life insurance companies actually offer a bonus if the ratio is 4.5 or lower.

    Triglycerides and cholesterol are lipids (fatty acids)  that are easily stored in your body and blood.  They are fuel and important for cell structure.  The best levels are below 150.  Above that level, chances are, you will not qualify for the best rates for life insurance.

    Diuretic Detected In Urine  High blood pressure medications act like diuretics and commonly known as water pills that increase the level of water and salt being released from the body and helps lower your blood pressure.  Life insurance medical exams will see if there is a presence of diuretics and if you are taking high blood pressure medications.

    Beta-Adrenergic Blockers  Tests look for potential medications used by people with high blood pressure, heart defects, or arrhythmias.

    Testing your Pancreas health

    Your pancreas produces hormones such as insulin which helps to control your blood sugar levels.  It also produces enzymes that help you digest your food.

    Urine Glucose  The medical exam from a life insurance company will test for glucose in your urine to determine if you have diabetes.

    Fructosamine This is a test that takes place in a lab but is rarely used in normal medical practices.  It measures your blood sugar levels over the past 2 or 3 weeks.  Your level should be between 1.5 and 2.5.

    Hemoglobin A1c  Abbreviated HbA1c, this is a simple element of hemoglobin in which glucose is bound. Normal levels are below 7% in healthy people.  Normal levels should be below 5.7, over 5.7 to 6.4 is considered pre-existing diabetes and higher than that indicates diabetes in the eyes of life insurance companies.

    Testing your Liver health

    Your Liver is your filtration organ. It filters your blood’s production of cholesterol and protein.

    Alkaline Phosphatase is an enzyme that is present in your blood.  The best levels should be between 30 to 100, over that range could indicate liver or bone disease.

    Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)  This is an enzyme found in the liver and heart cells.  Normal levels should be below 40, higher than that is a warning sign.  If AST is released into your blood, your liver or heart is damaged.

    Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) The level of enzyme should be below 45, elevated levels can lead to liver disease.

    Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT) This is a test that analyzes the level of enzyme GGT in your blood.  This enzyme is normally found in your liver but can also be located in your kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, and pancreas.  Normal levels should be below 65, higher levels could increase your risk for liver disease.

    Bilirubin  This is a test that is often used to determine the cause of jaundice or to diagnose various conditions including liver disease.  Normal levels should be between 0.3 to 1.8.  Higher levels could indicate gallbladder or liver disease.

    Total Protein  This test is commonly used during a normal health checkup.  It can also be used if there are health issues such as an abnormal drop in weight or signs of kidney or liver disease.  Normal ranges are between 6 to 8.

    Albumin  This is a simple protein that is soluble in water.  Normal levels should be between 3.8 and 5.2.  Lower levels could indicate various diseases or poor nutrition.

    Globulin  Normal levels of globulin should be between 2.1 to 3.5.  Higher or lower levels can indicate a potential health issue.

    Testing miscellaneous issues

    Serum HIV is literally the virus that causes AIDS.

    Cotinine this is the byproduct of nicotine which will let insurance companies know that you use tobacco products.  Normally, life insurance companies test for nicotine through a urine test.  There is no definite timeline for how long nicotine stays in your system but the normal assumption is anywhere from 2 days to 3 months.

    Tip: Keep in mind, the more life insurance you want, the more information the underwriters will want.  Being prepared for what will be required of you is important but even more important is being upfront and honest.  The last thing you want to find out is that you have declined because of misinformation.

    How To Prepare For Your Medical Examinations

    Here are some excellent suggestions that you should take into consideration when preparing for your medical examination.

    Eat Healthy Foods

    Eat foods that are high in good cholesterol and avoid fats that will increase your bad cholesterol.  Again, good cholesterol is HDL, bad cholesterol is LDL.  Stay away from sugar and foods that will cause high blood pressure or high blood glucose.

    Drink Plenty Of Water

    You should drink plenty of water, whether preparing for a medical examination or just for good health.  Water flushes toxins out of your body and will get you ready for your urine test.  Water also opens your veins for the blood test.

    Stay Away From Alcohol And Exercise

    A good 24 to 48 hours before your medical exam, stay away from excessive alcohol and exercise.  You don’t want your test to scream alcohol and excessive exercise will increase the level of protein in your body.  Get back to exercising and partying after all is said and done!

    Get A Good Night’s Sleep

    Don’t stay up late the night before worrying about the exam.  A good night’s sleep will improve your entire well being so you will excel!

    Fast In Your Sleep

    You should fast for 8 to 12 hours before your exam.  Plan to take your medical exam early in the morning so you are not starving or become overly irritated.  Planning it wisely, you can fast while you sleep and then get right to it and put the exam behind you once and for all.

    Your Morning Preparations

    Again, drink plenty of water and avoid eating.  Lock your elbow for the blood test as it will make the test much less painful, especially if needles are not your thing.  When they measure your height, stretch as much as you can and wear lightweight clothes to keep your weight down.

    Want to learn more on passing your medical exam? 


    How to Pass Life Insurance Medical Exam

    Paramedical exam companies

    So who exactly will conduct your medical exam? How much will a life insurance medical exam cost? How long will the paramedical exam take?

    These are the most common questions we get about the medical exam companies.

    Here is a list of some of the most common life insurance medical exam companies:

    • ExamOne
    • Superior Mobile Medics (SMM)
    • APPS
    • EMSI
    • Portamedic

    You won’t pay for the life insurance medical exam. Who pays for it? It can be either your agent, the brokerage the application is place with or the actual life insurance company you apply with. There is no cost or risk in applying for life insurance coverage.

    How long will the medical exam take? It depends on the company and what they require, but it should take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

    Expert tips

    First and foremost, choose the right life insurance policy for your needs.  If you choose a policy that requires an medical exam, get with your examiner to come out to your home or office to complete the examination.

    You can avoid an exam if you choose a no medical exam life insurance policy. These life insurance policies do not require an exam.  We have many companies that offer up to $2,000,000 no exam life insurance.

    What do life insurance medical exams test forIf you do have to take an exam,  the examiner will start by taking your height and weight, blood pressure, and a blood sample.  If you are older, you might be required to have an EKG run, especially if you are getting a rather extensive life insurance death benefit coverage.

    The examiner will also need information regarding your primary physician as well as any other doctors you have seen recently.  Afterward, they will need to see your driver’s license for identification.

    After the medical examination, the examiner may have other questions to go over with you.  They will ask about your health and lifestyle (one more time).  The reason this is done is to look for any inconsistencies that could raise a red flag with the underwriters. In many cases, it’s the underwriter who wants this information and will request your physician’s statement.

    On average, the medical exam will take somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes and if an EKG is needed, another 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Your lab specimens will be sent to a lab that will put together their report for the underwriters.

    Once your life insurance medical exam is completed, your lab results are normally available for your review within 7 to 14 days.

    At the time of your exam, the insurance company will be going over your medical history by running the information through the MIB Medical Information Bureau, the Prescription Database, and the Motor Vehicle Records for any red flags that might surface including any pre-existing medical issues.

    In addition, the life insurance company might want information about your family health history.  This is because there are health issues that are genetic.  This probably will crop up if you ever had genetic testing performed as this information will probably end up in your record.

    Once the underwriters have reviewed the lab reports,  they will review this information and then provide you with an offer for your health rate class, based on the lab’s report.

    Final thoughts

    Keep in mind, there are so many companies to choose from to find the life insurance policy that’s right for you. 

    Having valuable information regarding what to expect from your medical exam will give you a great edge for obtaining a better rate, saving you thousands of dollars! The best way to get the least expensive life insurance is to go with the company that looks at your specific lifestyle and health most favorably. Some companies are more lenient and some are more strict depending on the issue. At Life Insurance Blog, we’ll help you find the best life insurance company that’s available for your specific situation and needs.

    Learn more about life insurance by visiting our Life Insurance 101 page.  If you’re looking for information on various benefit amounts, be sure to visit Life Insurance Payout Amounts.

    Life insurance medical exam what do they test for

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    Michael Quinn

    Michael Quinn

    Michael is a licensed life insurance agent, expert & owner of Life Insurance Blog. LIB has helped thousands of shoppers understand life insurance and secure affordable coverage.

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