When you buy life insurance, one step in the process—most of the time—is to get a medical exam. Your medical exam results help underwriters at the life insurance company determine their risk when they insure you. Your risk class then determines how much you end up paying for your coverage.
To help you get the best outcome possible, we have 12 tips to share if you’re getting your medical exam done soon.
12 Tips to Help You Prepare for Your Life Insurance Medical Exam
1. Schedule your life insurance medical exam to take place early in the morning
Even a piece of fruit can affect your blood pressure reading, so you should fast six to eight hours before an exam. Scheduling your life insurance medical exam early in the morning makes this task much easier so you’re not starving all day.
2. Don’t drink coffee or smoke beforehand
Skip your morning cup of coffee and cigarette because the caffeine and nicotine may elevate your blood pressure readings that could put you in a higher price (rate class) group.
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3. Avoid eating 12 hours prior
Fasting will help you obtain the best lab results. In addition, salty and fatty foods affect your cholesterol and blood pressure so avoid these a week before your exam, if possible. If a week is too much to ask, at least shoot for eliminating fatty and salty foods 24 hours prior to your medical exam. Every little bit helps!
4. Drink lots of water
You want your exam to be done as quickly as possible right? Staying hydrated will make it easier to give blood and pee in that fancy, little cup.
5. Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours prior
Avoid drinking alcohol the day of your exam. Alcohol dehydrates you which makes it hard to draw blood.
6. Don’t smoke marijuana for 30 days prior
Don’t smoke marijuana up to 30 days before your life insurance medical exam. Even if you admit on your application to using marijuana and live in a state where it’s legal, testing positive for THC can negatively affect your underwriting class since some life insurance companies will consider you a smoker and you’ll pay higher rates.
If you do use marijuana, be honest on your application. If you say you don’t use, but then it’s discovered through your exam or medical records that you lied on your application, your coverage may be denied.
7. Avoid use of OTC medications and nasal decongestants for 24 hours prior
Nasal decongestants and over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and ibuprofen, can increase blood pressure.
Avoid cold medicines as they can trigger a false positive for opiate use.
8. Prepare a list of any medications you are taking
Speaking of drugs, as mentioned already, the life insurance physical examiner will ask about your medical history so have a list available of any medications you are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins and supplements. Anything you can have prepared beforehand will make your medical exam go quicker.
9. Avoid working out
Finally a time when we should avoid the gym! Exercise can raise your blood pressure and pulse rate. You can go on your evening walk, but avoid strenuous cardio the night before and the morning of your exam.
10. Don’t schedule the exam during a menstrual period
Ladies, do not have your medical exam during your period, if possible. It can contaminate your urine sample and you would then have to schedule a redo. If this comes up after you’ve scheduled the exam, don’t worry. It happens. Simply contact your agent (or the medical exam company) and ask to re-schedule for a later date. This will save you and your physical examiner the hassle of having to do it a second time.
11. Get plenty of sleep
When you are well-rested, your blood pressure is lower. Sleep also helps offset anxiety and fear. All these factors lead to better test results and potentially a lower rate class (price) for your life insurance policy.
12. Fear of blood or needles? Tell your medical examiner.
If you are anxious about what may happen during your medical exam, talk to your examiner and explain your concerns. They may note your fears in your file, and should your nervousness lead to unusually high blood pressure results, these notes may be taken into consideration by the insurance company underwriter.
We want you to get the best life insurance rates possible and leading a healthy life is the best way to do it.
Watch the Life Insurance Medical Exam Video
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Licensed Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.