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Preparing for a life and health insurance exam is not quite like cramming for a college final. While you cannot exactly study for the test that is administered by a paramedic service hired by the insurance underwriter, there are tips that you can follow to prevent bad health stats that can lead to high rates. Medical exam preparations can start weeks or months before your scheduled exam date, but most of the preparation is done on the morning of your appointment. The life insurance medical exam is not difficult, but failing to prepare can make it difficult to afford your premiums for coverage.
Life insurance and health insurance underwriters are looking for a long list of signs that you suffer from a medical problem that will shorten your life expectancy or lead to a hospitalization. This is why even a slight elevation in your blood pressure can lead to rate increases of 20 percent or more. If you would like to ace your medical underwriting exam so that you can receive the best rating classifications possible, read this guide and avoid making small mistakes that could lead to huge premiums.
Why are medical exams required?
Both life and health insurers are in business to profit. They will extend either a death benefit or a benefit that covers medical treatments and routine care services to you in exchange for a regular premium payment.
The goal of the insurer is to collect enough money from you that it covers the cost of the benefits that are paid.
The premiums for every insured are not going to be the same because their health status and their lifestyles are not the same. One applicant who is 30 may be in excellent health and live a very safe lifestyle. Another applicant who is 30 may suffer from high blood pressure, smoke and work a hazardous occupation that puts them at risk on a daily basis.
The Application and Underwriting Process
During the application process, you will be asked to answer questions about your health status, your occupation, your habits, your family history, and your lifestyle. While the insurer cannot verify all of the answers that are given, they can verify questions about your stature and your medical history by ordering your medical records and requiring you to submit to a medical exam. By requiring that you roll up your sleeves and pass a basic medical exam, the company can verify that everything that you have stated on your application is true.
The company will send a paramedic service to your home or your work to weigh you, measure you and take blood, urine, and saliva samples. They will then have the fluids sent to a lab to be tested for abnormal signs that something could be wrong. The results will be sent to an underwriter for review to determine if you really do deserve the preferred rating classification that you were quoted. If you do not, your classification can be downgraded and your rates can be inflated.
Life Insurance Rating Classifications
It can be very difficult to assign a prospective buyer a rating classification by simply looking at them and reviewing answers that they provide. It is not always written on a person’s face that they suffer from a disease or some other debilitating medical condition. While some insurance companies do extend coverage to their applicants without requiring an exam, the traditional insurers that are offering traditional policy will have the common requirement. The entire purpose of the medical exam is to assess risk and then assign the right risk classification.
Why is knowing about risk classifications before an exam important?
There are multiple risk classifications that help underwriters assign premiums to applicants. Understanding what each risk class means can be helpful as you request quotations because you will have a general idea of where you should fall. If you notice you are being quoted for a better risk class than you think that you might be eligible for, you can ask for a quote for a lower class so that you have a better idea. Here is a breakdown of the options available with most traditional carriers from the best to worst:
- Preferred Plus:
Preferred Plus, often called Preferred Select or Super Preferred, is the best classification. It is assigned to people in a healthy weight range who are in excellent health and have no factors in family history that would signify a health risk.
Preferred customers are in excellent health but may have minor health issues that can go away with small lifestyle changes. Someone in a healthy weight range who has elevated cholesterol may receive a preferred classification.
- Standard Plus:
Just a notch below preferred, standard plus applicants may have high blood pressure or be overweight at the time of application.
If you have minor health problems and you are as healthy as the average person, you will live a normal life expectancy. You might not be at your optimum weight, you might suffer from a condition that is not life-threatening, or you may have a parent who has died before the age of 60 due to a disease. These are all examples of standard class insureds.
- Preferred Tobacco:
Smoking does affect health, but it is possible to be in good health and use tobacco. If you are a smoker who is in a healthy weight range and are in excellent health, you can receive a Preferred Smoker rating. This is also assigned to healthy occasional smokers who puff on cigars socially.
- Standard Tobacco
A tobacco user who is in standard health will receive a tobacco rating. The rates are higher than standard ratings but still affordable for term applicants.
- Table Rated
Not every applicant falls into a class. There are those special circumstances where someone may have a medical condition and a tobacco user or where the applicant flies planes overseas. They are not the standard risk and will not receive a standard risk rating. Instead, these applicants will be table rated. This means that they will pay a certain amount per thousand dollars of coverage that they buy. The amount per thousand is based on how serious the risk is, but it is better than being denied for those who really need the protection.
Tips to Get the Best Rating After Your Medical Exam
There is not really a way that you can hide tobacco use, drug use, or bad eating habits if you are prepping for your exam that is just days away. There are long-term preparation recommendations, and then there are the short-term options.
If you have time before you plan to apply for life insurance, you should try to slim down, exercise, or quit smoking so that your habits do not work against you.
If you are applying now, there are still practices you should know about to avoid bad test results. Here are some tips from the experts to get health exam results:
- Fast on the Night Before Your Exam
Some service providers say not to eat two hours before the exam, but it is best to fast for at least 8 hours. Scheduling your exam in the morning will make fasting much easier. If you do eat prior to your test, the fats in the foods can boost your cholesterol or leave enzymes in your urine that could signify high blood sugar.
- Abstain From Alcohol
It is recommended to abstain from drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours before your test. Alcohol consumption can show up in your blood work and raise blood pressure readings. The results may also lead the underwriters to believe that you are a high-risk applicant because of your drinking.
- Avoid Caffeine and Drink A Lot of Water
You should also avoid drinking too much caffeine a day prior to your exam. Skip the coffee, tea and soda on the day of your exam so that your pulse is not erratic. If you have an irregular heart rate or high blood pressure, the company could assign you a standard rate when you qualified for a preferred rate. You should drink a lot of water throughout the day to flush your system of toxins.
- Relax and Avoid Exercise
You might think that exercise is a good thing, but going to the gym before can lead to inaccurate vital readings. Relaxing for 24 hours is recommended.
Life insurance medical exams may not be difficult, but they are necessary. When you are applying for coverage, knowing what gives the underwriter an accurate picture of your health status could be the difference between high and low premiums. To price the cost of coverage at a specific class, you can use an online rate comparison site. Answer the health questions and see what your rating will be with leading insurers from home. Start comparing life insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below!