What to Expect During Your Life Insurance Medical Exam

Posted on October 4, 2018

Health is wealth, and in more than one way. As it turns out, good health can save you more money in the long run. If you don't believe us, just ask financial services company John Hancock.

The company wants to transform life insurance into a wellness game, one that could take up to 15 percent off customers' annual premiums.

And here's another benefit of good health:

It will make passing your life insurance medical exam a breeze.

How, though, can you pass an exam if you don't even know what it entails? Just thinking about it is enough to stress some people out.

Fortunately, we're no strangers to life insurance exams here at Insurdinary. Having said that, sit back, relax, and enjoy this crash course on how to ace your medical exam.

What Is a Life Insurance Medical Exam?

Let's first talk about what a life insurance medical exam is and why it's necessary. As its name suggests, it's a medical exam you must take before a company approves you for medical insurance.

It's not, however, as simple or stress-free as an ordinary medical exam.

Your examiner will go to great lengths to find out just how healthy--or unhealthy--you are. If he or she finds your overall health lacking, the company could deny you health insurance.

And why do insurance companies conduct these exams?

Insuring customers is in many ways a gamble. If too many customers are too sick, insurance companies can take huge losses.

And then they simply wouldn't be able to offer good coverage to as many customers.

Of course, we're not saying any of these things to scare you. That's just how life insurance works.

What Should You Expect During Your Exam?

Now that we've discussed why you'll be taking this dreaded exam, let's find out what you should expect during your exam.

Insurance providers consider several risk factors when deciding whether or not to offer coverage. Many of these risk factors depend on your current physical health.

If, for instance, you're severely overweight, your weight will work against you. That's because obesity is a leading cause of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Other risk factors will depend on your family's medical history. For example, if both of your parents died young, the medical examiner will note this information.

So what specific things will occur during your life insurance physical? Here's just a short list of some of the things you should expect:

  • Blood testing
  • Urine testing
  • Identification verification
  • Health questionnaire
  • Measurement of physical characteristics such as weight and height

Your examiner might want to run additional tests, but the above list includes the most common tests.

Of the five items on this list, we'd like to hone in on two in particular: blood testing and the health questionnaire.

Blood Testing

When you read the words "blood testing," you likely thought of infectious diseases. And you weren't wrong to do so. After all, your blood carries evidence of sexually transmitted diseases and other conditions.

But here's something that probably didn't come to mind:


That's right. Medical examiners are also looking for drugs when they conduct blood tests. If the medical examiner finds any evidence of illegal drug use, your chances of getting coverage will decrease.

And what about legal drugs?

If you're taking prescription drugs or some over-the-counter medicine, you should let your examiner know. But if you can avoid taking medication before your exam?

You should definitely do so since the drugs in your system can negatively affect your test results.

Health Questionnaire

Before we move forward, we'd like to clarify something:

The term "health questionnaire" is somewhat misleading. You won't, after all, be sitting down and taking a test on paper.

This term instead refers to a series of questions your medical examiner will ask you during your life insurance medical exam. These questions will center around your lifestyle. The examiner might, for example, ask:

  • Have you ever been in a car accident?
  • Have you or do you currently take any prescription drugs?
  • Have you ever had an STD?

As you can see, some of the questions are extremely personal. But don't lie to your examiner when answering them.

If you think you can get away with lying, you're wrong. The insurance company has a way of verifying the information you provide.

For one, the examiner takes a blood test and urine test. So if you lie about taking prescription drugs, your body fluids might tell a different story.

The examiner can even find out whether or not you're telling the truth about your driving record. The insurance company can, after all, check with vehicle registration agencies.

In any case, if the insurance company catches you in a lie, there's a good chance you won't get coverage.

How to Prepare for Your Life Insurance Exam

You now know what the exam will consist of. Is there anything, however, you can do to prepare for your life insurance exam?

As it turns out, there a few things you can do. Here are two things you should definitely do prior to your life insurance physical:

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Technically speaking, we should all be eating healthy, balanced diets most of the time. But none of us are perfect, so we like to indulge from time to time.

But right before your life insurance medical exam is not the time to do so.

You should maintain a healthy, balanced diet during the weeks prior to your exam. Doing so will ensure that you're as healthy as you can possibly be when you walk into your examiner's room.


Water is essential to your body's major organs and systems. If you don't drink enough of it, your body doesn't perform at its peak. Your body's core temperature, for instance, might be higher than usual if you're dehydrated.

That said, drink plenty of water in the days preceding your exam.

Things You Shouldn't Do Before Your Exam

Now let's talk about some things you shouldn't do before your exam. This list is a bit more extensive than the above list, so we'll dive right in:

Drink Alcohol

Every person 15 years and older drinks almost 14 grams of alcohol per day on average.

Hopefully, you're not average. Because if you are, you should know that drinking alcohol before your exam will cause your blood pressure to spike. Your examiner will also detect the alcohol in your blood, which will work against you.


Smokers are saddled with some of the highest life insurance premiums on the market. As a result, you don't want your examiner to think that you're a smoker.

Having said this, refrain from smoking before your exam--and not just for a day. You might have to abstain for a long time since nicotine can stay in your system for weeks.

Stress Yourself Out

Life insurance medical exams are stressful for obvious reasons. And stress can trigger increases in blood pressure. This increase in blood pressure might lead your medical examiner to think that you have high blood pressure.

Our best advice for you here is to:

  1. Try not to stress yourself out about anything before or during the exam
  2. Tell your examiner that you're nervous and would like a minute to calm down


Under ordinary circumstances, exercise is great for your body. Unfortunately, though, exercise also leads to increases in blood pressure.

So don't bother hitting the gym on the day of your exam. Rest easy and read a book.

Why You Could Be Denied Coverage

Sometimes your medical exam ends with a denial of coverage. In such cases, an insurance company determines that providing you coverage is risky.

Here are a few specific reasons insurers might deny you coverage:

  • Your measurements (e.g. weight, height) suggest that you're at risk of developing an illness
  • You already have an illness (e.g. heart disease, diabetes) which heavily impacts your life
  • You have a condition which has a small impact on your life, but an impact nonetheless (e.g. pre-asthma)

Luckily, denial of coverage isn't the end of the world. There are steps you can take to appeal the decision, as you'll find out below.

Appealing a Denial of Coverage

We want to be clear on something here:

An appeal only goes so far. If, for instance, you're showing strong signs of heart failure, an appeal likely won't go far.

Appeals are more suited to people who believe that their exam results don't reflect their overall health. If you belong to this group, be sure to ask for a copy of your test results. If something doesn't look right, contest it.

Let's say, for example, that the vitals your medical examiner took differ significantly from the vitals another examiner took just a week prior to your life insurance exam.

What are the odds that your vitals have changed that much within a single week?

If you can convince the life insurance company the results were a fluke, you'll get a chance at another exam.

And if your results turn out to be accurate? It might be time to consider life insurance plans that don't require medical exams.

Getting Your Life Insurance Health Screening Soon?

If you're getting your life insurance medical exam soon, don't worry. If you're in good health, the test will show it.

And even if you're not in good health, you still have options.

In any case, don't forget to shop around for the lowest insurance rates in Canada before committing to one insurance company. You'll save a lot of money in the long run.

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