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Ever wonder why you're required to undergo a medical exam before being approved for life insurance? When you purchase life insurance, you pay regular premiums to the company. The company then invests the money in order to earn a return. In order to make money and stay in business, you need to live long enough for the company to offset the cost of paying out your death benefit. It's a risk equation. If you're unhealthy and likely to die sooner - especially if you have a high face amount - you'll be required to pay a higher premium.
In order to make a more accurate risk assessment, the life insurance provider uses a medical exam. You can't have this exam done by your own doctor, though; in many cases a paramedical professional will come to your home in order to perform the exam. You might also be required to present yourself at a specific clinic that the life insurance company contracts with for your exam.
Most life insurance exams are not terribly intrusive. If you're 40 or under and in reasonably good health, most life insurance exams consist of the following:
- Urine sample
- Blood sample
- Blood pressure
- A questionnaire about lifestyle habits
Insurance companies use urine and blood samples to look for evidence of disease, including diabetes and HIV, cholesterol levels, organ disorders and the presence of drugs in your system. Your height and weight can help insurance companies calculate your body mass index and get an idea of whether you're at risk for complications due to obesity. The questionnaire attempts to figure out whether you engage in risky behaviors, including extreme sports, binge drinking, smoking or other activities that might affect your lifespan.
In some cases, such as for those over the age of 50, treadmill tests or an in-home EKG may be ordered. The individual tests run by the insurance company may vary, and it's a good idea to find out exactly what will be expected of you during your life insurance exam.
Preparing properly for your life insurance exam is important. You want your information to reflect as favorably on you as possible so that you can qualify for the best life insurance rates. You should also begin well before your exam date so that you're as healthy as possible. Here are six things you can do in order to prepare for your life insurance exam:
Eat Healthy: Limit sweets and fatty foods at least a week before your life insurance exam. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, can help get you fit for a successful life insurance exam. What you eat shows in your blood sample, and if you're not eating healthy, it will show in your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. You'd be surprised at what one week of healthy eating, combined with regular exercise, can do for your health.
Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is important to your health, and it can be seen in your exam. It's best if you make regular exercise a permanent part of your lifestyle, so that you are always ready for a health exam. However, you can improve your health readings if you exercise regularly for two weeks before your exam. When combined with proper nutrition, exercise is a good part of healthy living - and a positive health exam. Do not, however, do any strenuous exercise the day before your life insurance exam, as it can raise the levels of protein in your urine.
Drink Water: Dehydration can lead to constricted blood vessels and higher pulse rate. Make sure you're properly hydrated. Plenty of water is necessary for optimum health, so it should be part of your daily routine anyway. Drink sufficient water the day before your exam, and make sure you drink at least six ounces of water the hour before your exam. This will make it easier to provide your urine sample, as well as dilate your blood vessels making it easier to for the paramedical professional or phlebotomist to draw your blood.
Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption: Do not drink alcohol or caffeine the day before your exam, up until the exam is complete. High amounts of these items in your system can be red flags. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption for 48 hours before your exam and have none 10 hours before the exam. Caffeine can induce arrhythmia, as well as contribute to higher blood pressure. Remember that caffeine isn't just found in coffee; it's in tea, energy drinks, soda and some over the counter medications.
Fast for 10 Hours Before Your Exam: The only thing you should ingest prior to your exam is water. Drink plenty of water, but avoid other food and drink. Many people like to schedule their exams before noon, making it easier to fast, since they're sleeping for most of the hours leading up to the exam, and all they really need to do is skip breakfast. You want your system as clean as possible before the paramedical arrives for the life insurance exam.
Stay Away from Medication: Try to time your exam so that it falls between any need to medicate you may have. You'll still need to take your prescriptions, so try to time your life insurance exam so that it comes just before your next dose. If possible, avoid any over the counter medications for at least 10 hours before your health exam. Stay away from illegal drugs and controlled substances well before your exam. (Of course, for your health, you should avoid these substances anyway.)
As you can see, careful thought as to the timing of your life insurance exam is important. Most of the time, the person performing the exam will call at least a week ahead in order to schedule a day and time. Consider your situation and habits, and schedule your exam for a time when you can observe the above actions. This way, you will be more likely to "pass" your life insurance exam with flying colors - and pay the lowest possible premium.