What Are Life Insurance Companies Testing For?
Applying for life insurance on its own is already something that can be extremely stressful for most people. Just the thought of life insurance can bring out a lot of negative emotions in people. Once they start thinking about life insurance, they start thinking about their own demise, and how it will all play out. Beyond that, they start thinking about what will happen to their family when they pass. Then they start to panic, because if they can’t get life insurance, they have no idea what will happen to their family.
This is all very stressful, and is usually enough to turn most people away from ever getting life insurance at all. For better or for worse, humans have an unfortunate habit of shying away from things that are difficult or uncomfortable to think about. With something like life insurance though, there couldn’t be a worse way to approach the situation. Never confronting the difficult thought process of getting life insurance is a guarantee that if you were to pass unexpectedly, your family would be stuck in a terrible financial situation. I think we can all agree that’s much worse than simply thinking about the problem head on and acting upon it.
The most difficult and stressful part about getting life insurance hasn’t even been brought up yet though. We’re talking about none other than the medical exam that needs to be undertaken before beginning your path to obtaining life insurance. If just the simple thought of taking out a life insurance policy has got you stressed, then taking a medical exam to figure out what type of policies you’ll be eligible for is probably going to be even more stressful.
It’s a necessary evil though, and with the exception of a small handful of non-ideal policies for most people, you will be required to undergo the medical exam. The good news is, there’s never been a better time to take the medical exam. The longer you wait to do the medical exam, the more likely it is that something will happen to your health that might show up on your exam, which will cause your rates to rise. This means that if you aren’t currently suffering from any sort of atypical medical condition, then right now is the absolute best time to get an exam and begin the process to get yourself some life insurance coverage.
Is the exam invasive in any way?
This is one of the biggest concerns people have before undergoing their medical exam? They fear getting an exam done, because they feel it will be invasive, and uncomfortable. Since the tests will be conducted at the discretion of the insurance company using their own doctors, it’s also likely that you won’t be able to do your exam with your own doctor, who you’re probably already very comfortable with.
The good news is the exam won’t be invasive or intrusive. You’ll probably be required to give some blood, or a saliva sample, but it will be no more intrusive than your average check up. There’s no reason to be nervous about this exam at all. Just go into it as you’d go into your regular doctor for a check up.
Will this exam need to be done for every company?
Yes and no. Every company who you’re considering seriously will ask you to undergo an exam. The companies are also unlikely to accept the results from a medical exam obtained from another company. They would all likely to prefer to have you undergo the exam with one of their own, chosen doctors. This means if you get to the ending stages of obtaining a life insurance policy with several different providers, then you’ll end up having to undergo several different medical exams. This is obviously not ideal.
Our best recommendation in this case, is not to get too far with any one company before you know they are almost certainly the company you want coverage from. The best way to go about this, is to get quotes from as many different companies as possible before getting to a stage where anyone expects you to to undergo a medical exam.
If you work with an independent life insurance agent like us, this is a whole lot simpler. We will work with you to ask you all the important medical questions upfront. We also know how to correctly interpret those answers, so as not to make your rates rise. We will then contact all the relevant life insurance providers individually, to find the ones that will be the best fit for your condition.
Many people upon hearing this believe they can do the same thing themselves, and they can. There are two main differences though when we do this for you:
First, we can get it done a whole lot faster. You’ll have an agent working full time on your case, contacting over 100 companies for you. They’ll then return with quotes and plans for you within a few days. If you were to contact all those companies on your own, it would probably take you a couple months to get quotes back from all those companies. You don’t want to spend all your free time contacting life insurance companies do you?
Second, we can get you cheaper quotes. Life insurance companies want to find risk anywhere they can. We want to save you money everywhere we can. We never lie to the insurance companies, but we know how to phrase things so we can be honest about your health without incriminating you and causing your rates to go up.
So, we can get it done faster than you can do it yourself, and also save you money compared to if you were to do it on your own. That in itself is reason enough to work with an independent life insurance agent such as us. As an added bonus though, you’ll only have to undergo the medical exam once you’ve figured out which company it is that you want to go with. The less medical exams the better we always say!
What will I be tested for?
This is the biggest question that everyone has – they all want to know what they can expect in the exam, almost as if they could study for it! While studying certainly won’t effect your results, knowing what to expect in an exam will help you be a bit less tense about going and getting it done. While the things below are the common things they check for, keep in mind that if you have any atypical medical issues, they’ll also want to check into things that are relevant to your condition.
The common culprits – When you first go in, you can expect many of the same things you would expect from your standard physical. The doctor or nurse will check your height and weight, along with your blood pressure. Then it may be time to take a blood sample. The blood sample is one of the most important parts of the medical exam, because it can tell the insurance company so many things about your health.
Some common things the blood work will be used to test for are:
Heart conditions – As one of the most common causes of death in the United States, you can bet that the insurance companies are interested to look and see if you show any risks for heart conditions. While no single thing is used to tell them this, they’ll be making sure to test the following things:
Cholesterol – You know all about cholesterol and the effects bad cholesterol has on your health. You may even have an idea already of what your cholesterol is like, but you’ll definitely know from the results of this test.
HDL – They aren’t just testing for the bad cholesterol, but the good stuff as well. HDL is the good kind of cholesterol if you trust that there is such a thing. The insurer will want to make sure you have enough of the good stuff to help your body keep away unwanted things like strokes and heart attacks.
LDL – HDL is the good kind of cholesterol, while LDL is the bad kind of cholesterol. You definitely don’t want to be too high in LDL, in order for your insurance company to not see you as a risk.
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio – Seems like we’re spending a lot of time talking about cholesterol, but that’s because of how important the results are to the insurance company’s decision. They will want to see a healthy ratio of cholesterol against good cholesterol. A ratio of 5.0 or less is typically seen as favorable by the insurance companies.
LDL/HDL Ratio – Just like with the ratio of your overall cholesterol vs your good cholesterol, the insurance company will also want to see the ratio of bad cholesterol vs good cholesterol. The lower the number, the better you’re doing overall.
Triglycerides – You’ve probably heard of triglycerides before, but don’t know exactly what they are. Triglycerides are the fat lipids which have been correlated with an increased risk for heart disease. Triglycerides in the body are increased by conditions like diabetes and obesity, as well as lifestyle choices like drinking alcohol. If you don’t have any of those medical conditions, and your triglycerides are high, it might be time to take a closer look at your lifestyle.
Diuretics – The presence of diuretics in your blood indicate that you might already be undergoing treatment for high blood pressure.
Liver health – Through your blood work, the overall health of your liver can also be observed. They will be looking for enzymes like Alkaline Phosphatase, AST, ALT, and GGT which all can determine whether liver or muscle disease is a risk for you.
Protein levels – By monitoring your protein levels, they can also deduce whether or not liver or kidney disease will present itself as a problem in the near future for you.
Globulin – If your levels of Globulin are elevated, it could mean you have an infection or immune system problems.
Bilirubin and Albumin – If your blood work shows a high level of Bilirubin, you could be at risk for a liver or gallbladder disease. Alternatively, if you have lowered levels of Albumin, you could be at risk for severe liver disease among other disorders.
Pancreas health – It’s also very common for them to focus on your pancreas during the test. The results from this test can usually determine whether or not you’re at risk for diabetes.
Additional tests – This is the part that will be variable for most people. For some insurance companies, it may be standard to do some deeper testing, such as testing for HIV or other STDs. Others might also require you to undergo an EKG as a standard part of the process.
This is also when any special conditions you might have will be looked into more deeply. So if you have diabetes, they will want to find the source of the problem, and will also be very interested to find out more about your treatment and how well you’re dealing with the condition.
After the exam
Just like taking an exam in school, the time after the exam while waiting for the results can be stressful. Don’t get too worried though, because that won’t help you. The results typically take a few weeks to come out, and you’ll get a copy, as will the insurance provider.
After they’ve had time to go over the results, they will contact you again regarding coverage. If all looks good, their original quote should stay the same. If they’ve uncovered any more things about your medical condition which worry them however, then they’ll likely raise your premiums based on the new information. In very rare cases, they might even lower your rates if they find certain conditions not to be as severe as they once believed.
The most important part of the process though, is to work with an independent life insurance agent like us who can help you get to the quote stage with all the companies, before requiring you to undergo the medical exam. There’s no need to do the medical exam more times than you have to, so make sure you’re almost ready to go with a company before undergoing a medical exam with them.