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What do life insurance companies test for?

Before most insurers will offer you life insurance, they need to know what kind of a risk you are to work out how much to charge you.

If you’re a good risk (and less likely to make a claim) you can expect your premium to be lower compared to someone who was considered a bad risk (and with a high probability of claiming). Of course, to work that all out, you’ll need to be checked to see whether you’re a medical marvel or a health hazard — here’s what to expect.

What should I expect from a life insurance medical exam?

If you’re asked to take a medical, it’ll be pretty straightforward so there’s no need to panic. Insurers usually arrange for a health pro to visit you or ask you to visit a clinic.

As well as a physical exam, you’ll be asked about your family’s medical history and if anyone close to you has (or did have) any medical conditions. You’ll also be asked all sorts of questions about your general lifestyle, for example:

  • If you smoke and if you do, how many you get through a day
  • If you drink alcohol and if so, how much
  • What you usually eat
  • How much exercise you do and how regularly

Now, we all know what the right answers should be but it’s crucial to be honest. So, if you smoke a bit, drink a little and like a doughnut or two every now and again — say so. Pretending to be a smoke free, booze free, plant-based eating, triathlon training unicorn won’t do you any favours in the long run.

What do they test for in a life insurance medical exam

Medical exams help insurers work out how likely it is that you’ll develop a serious illness or condition.

Unsurprisingly, insurers will be looking out for any of the biggies, like heart disease, diabetes or stroke. You could also be asked questions about your emotional wellbeing in order to suss out whether you’re a candidate for mental health issues.

What are the most common medical tests?

The most common tests are pretty straightforward so you’ll be measured for height and weight. Your blood pressure and pulse rate will be taken too.

Some medical exams will also involve blood tests, urine samples, and perhaps an electrocardiogram which checks whether your heart is tickety boo.

Depending on the policy you want or the insurer’s own conditions, you might also have to take an ‘exercise’ test. Don’t worry — we’re not talking about running a marathon or climbing K2, it’ll simply be getting onto a treadmill for a bit to see what happens.

How many times can you take the life insurance medical exam?

There’s no hard and fast rule, you might be asked to take just one test or you might be asked to take another (perhaps less comprehensive test) if you need to renew your policy.

If you develop an illness, you could also be asked to take another medical at the end of all your treatment. Ultimately, it really comes down to whether or not your insurer needs to review your health or not.

Can life insurance request medical records?

Yes, life insurance firms can indeed request your medical files with ‘request’ being the operative word. Insurers can only get hold of your records from your GP if you give them permission to.

In most cases, GPs will only provide information that relates to your insurance application. If you’re a bit concerned about what your medical records say, you can ask to see them before they go to the insurer.

If you don't like what you read, you can even ask your GP to make changes but it’s entirely up to them to do so. You can of course change your mind altogether and if you don’t want the insurer to read your records, then just let your GP know.

What information is in my medical records?

There shouldn’t really be any surprises about what your medical records say and you can expect to find details about:

  • Conditions you’ve been diagnosed with and when
  • Treatment you’ve had including medication prescribed
  • Dates of operations
  • Any specialist care you’ve had and when

How far back can a life insurance company request medical records?

This really depends on the insurer. Some like to request all your records (so if you do tell porky pies, it’ll be pretty clear) while others just look at the last five to ten years.

Can you be denied life insurance for a pre existing condition?

Technically, yes you can but in most cases, insurers will take a view of your overall situation. With that in mind, they’ll consider how serious your condition or illness was and how recently you had treatment for it. Instead of declining you insurance altogether, you’re more likely to find that insurers will either:

  • Offer you life insurance but exclude cover for those specific pre-existing conditions.
  • Include cover for your pre-existing conditions but increase your premium to cover the cost.

If you’ve had an illness in the last few years you might even find that after a certain amount of time, your insurer will reinstate cover for that condition.

For example, let’s say you apply for life insurance today but had a mild heart attack three years ago. Your insurer might offer you cover but exclude heart conditions. If you don’t have any further heart problems and you don’t need any ongoing treatment, your insurer could decide to include cover for your heart at a later date, in theory.

What will disqualify you from life insurance?

When it comes to any type of insurance, there’s one golden rule — always tell the truth.

False declaration (in other words, fibbing) is a sure-fire way to get your policy cancelled quick-smart. Your policy can also be cancelled for non-disclosure, whether you’ve purposely not told your insurer something or if you’ve just forgotten to mention it.

Don’t forget that insurers aren’t obliged to offer you cover at all. For instance, if you choose not to take a medical when asked or if you don’t share your GP records, you might not get cover in the first place.

How long does it take to get approved for life insurance?

How long is a piece of string? The answer of course, depends — and it’s exactly the same when it comes to life insurance. If you go for a traditional life insurance provider then, you could find it a fairly laborious, frustrating, and intrusive endeavour and you could find yourself waiting days, weeks or even months to get your cover sorted, if they accept you that is.

There is another way. With DeadHappy, you can get insured online in a matter of minutes, and with only 4 simple questions.

Don’t wait for life insurance, get cover today

At DeadHappy, we know you don’t want to wait ages for someone or some algorithm to decide whether you’re fit enough for life insurance. We also get that you probably don’t want to be poked and prodded or face judgey stares about your five times a week fried chicken and chips habit.

Refreshingly, when you search for life insurance with us, we’ll just ask you a few questions (well, four to be exact) and let you know whether or not you’ve been accepted — that’s all there is to it. No 40-page questionnaire and no medical (no squatting and coughing here).

To find out more, take a look at our guide to simple life insurance. And while you’re here, why not check out some of our deathwishes and get your sh** in order before the grim reaper comes a-knocking. From leaving someone a cash payout, to paying off the mortgage, put your money where it could be very useful for those you leave behind (before it’s too late).