There’s no contest when it comes to investing in life insurance. It’s a good idea. Period. But many people hesitate to purchase life insurance because they’re afraid of the normally mandatory physical exam. But for most people it’s not a dealbreaker. You need some basic background information about the life insurance industry today in order to make an informed decision. So make sure you’ve got the following down pat before you write that first check:
The physical exam
Yes, a real live medical practitioner is going to exam you.
That is, if you want to get the best deal possible on your policy. If you are willing to pay a few dollars more a month in premium, you can forgo a medical exam with many insurance companies, as long as the coverage amount is under $500,000. According to Brian Greenberg, founder of True Blue Life Insurance, “with policies that do not require a medical exam, the company will check several public reports including your pharmacy report, DMV (department of motor vehicle), any past insurance applications and claims, and your financial history.”
Your exam can take place at your place of work or at your home -- it’s usually your choice. Very rarely, if your preliminary application indicates a rare or uncommon family history, you may be asked to come into a clinical office for more extensive tests than can be done at home or your office.
Be prepared to answer all the questions you’ve already answered on your preliminary application again. Your medical practitioner is required by law to do this, so don’t take it out on them if it gets really tedious! It’s also done so that the insurer knows that you have been face to face with someone and affirms what you put on your application. Sometimes people find it easy to exaggerate or withhold information on their preliminary application, but when faced with a person they quickly ‘fess up to any inconsistencies or gaps.
You’ll have blood drawn. Blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen levels in your bloodstream are measured. A simple stress test may be administered.
And a complete history of your family’s medical background will be done. Don’t be afraid that a family history of stroke, cancer, diabetes, even schizophrenia, will automatically disqualify you from purchasing life insurance. Actuaries today are much better able to gauge your health risks using computer algorithms than back in the pre-computer days. This usually means your projected lifespan, along with improving medical treatments, will keep you hale and healthy much longer -- so you’re still a good prospect.
The one major roadblock to purchasing reasonably priced life insurance is tobacco. If you are using tobacco in any form, from cigarettes to pipes to snuff, be prepared to pay substantially more for your premiums. The only way around this, of course, is to quit, and then wait at least a year before applying for life insurance. Be sure you check with your prospective insurer if you vape -- in some states it’s considered tobacco use, but in others it’s not.
And finally, remember that the insurance industry is competitive. If you are turned down or penalized from one medical exam, you have the right as a consumer to go to another insurance carrier to apply again. TIP: If you have been turned down by a major insurance company through their agent, try an independent insurance broker -- they can often find smaller but more competitive insurance carriers that will be glad to reexamine you and possibly give you a passing mark for a preferred policy.