Life Insurance: Drug Test
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You may be wondering, “Do they drug test for life insurance?” Typically, when you purchase life insurance, the provider will require that you submit to different types of medical tests to ensure that you are insurable.
To be considered insurable, you must have an acceptable medical history and provide a blood sample so that it can be tested for the presence of illegal and legal drugs.
The only way that a life insurance carrier would be capable of verifying that everything that you stated on your life insurance application is honest and accurate is by requiring their applicants to take medical exams that look for several different things.
One of the main things that the underwriter will look for when ordering laboratory results is whether or not you tested positive for drug use.
If you test positive for drugs, you may either be asked for an explanation, denied for coverage, or charged a higher premium depending on the substance that was found.
If you would like to learn more about the typical life insurance drug test and why drug testing is an integral part of the underwriting process, read on and learn what you need to know.
What is underwriting?
After you receive a quote for life insurance coverage and you decide that this is the plan that you want to apply for, you will be asked to answer an extensive list of questions about your lifestyle and your medical history.
When the application is forwarded to the company, an underwriter will review the questions, check the answers, order medical reports through the Medical Information Bureau, and order medical examinations and tests.
While the medical tests that you must submit to can vary from company to company, typically a paramedical health service professional will come to you to weigh you, take your vitals and then take blood, urine, and/or saliva samples to take to the labs.
You may also be required to stress tests or an EKG depending on your age or the amount of insurance that you are applying for. When the labs have been processed and the results are in, the underwriter will review the results.
What happens when an application has been underwritten?
After the records and the results have been reviewed, the underwriter will then decide whether or not the premium rates that were quoted are sufficient to cover your risk level.
To determine this, the underwriter will assign you to what is called a risk classification.
The rating classification can change based on the applicant’s health risks, their current health status and their lifestyle choices.
People who are in good health may be assigned a Preferred, Plus or Standard rating. Those who smoke may be assigned either a Preferred Smoker or Smoker rating. If you do not fall into a specific category based on your health and habits, you may be table rated.
A table rating will lead to higher premiums. The amount that you will pay will be based on the death benefit and the rating you are assigned. You could pay 25% more or even 200% more depending on the reason for the table rating.
What is the importance of underwriting?
The life insurance industry is all about risk. The only way that a life insurer licensed to sell life products can stay in business is by assessing risk properly.
Underwriting is all about assessing that risk so that the company is able to collect enough money to justify proving you with thousands of dollars of coverage.
The money that is collected from the premiums that you pay go to more than just paying for the claims that are filed.
In addition to this, the premiums will cover operations costs and the cost for investments.
The money that is earned from the investments will help the company stay profitable and will be added to the company’s reserves so that they can cover the claims when someone passes away before they were projected to pass away.
If a company does not invest their assets to underwrite an application, they cannot accurately project when an applicant will die or how much premiums they need to collect to stay profitable.
This is why every step of the underwriting process is so important, including the life insurance drug test.
Understanding the Life Insurance Drug Test
There is not just one type of test that you can take to be tested for the presence of drugs.
It is important to learn about the different ways that you may be tested so that you can prepare in advance.
One of the most common drug tests given by insurers is the oral swab test. This drug test will look for the presence of tobacco and marijuana in the saliva as it is metabolized. It can also detect the presence of cocaine, opiates. methamphetamine and ecstasy for a very short period of time.
Generally, the quantitative or qualitative test can only detect the presence for any of these for a few days. This is why the saliva test may not be the only test used for drug testing purposes.
Urine tests are much more popular because they are able to detect substance abuse problems for a longer period of time. A urine drug screen can detect many different drugs including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines.
This test is common because it is affordable and more sensitive to long-term drug abuse. The paramedical health professional will have you give the sample while you are completing your exam.
If you are applying for a large life insurance plan, the company may require you to pass more rigorous screening to verify that you not abused drugs over a longer period of time. The most accurate test is the blood test because it can typically find the presence of an illegal substance if it was used in the past 5 to 6 months.
In some cases, when one tests comes up with suspicious results you may be asked to take a confirmation blood test.
The blood test may also show non-illegal prescriptions, but if you did not list these on your application you may need to provide proof that these were prescribed to you.
Anyone who is taking a prescription that can affect health will be rated to pay higher premiums because these drugs, even if they are legal, shorten life expectancy.
What do drugs have to do with life insurance?
Some might wonder why the life insurance company cares that they used a drug in the past, but there are various reasons why drug use can have an impact on rates.
Some drugs cause people to act erratically and this behavior could be risky.
Not only are accidents a leading cause of death for someone under the influence, but drugs can affect health and studies have shown that long-term abuse can reduce a person’s life expectancy by several years because of the effect that it has on the body and organs within the body.
When anything reduces your life expectancy it will increase your premiums.
This is because you are more likely to pass away within the time period that you are insured.
If you are applying for a term insurance plan, the impact on your premium may not be as high because the term will only last to a specific date.
If you are applying for a permanent insurance plan that is designed to provide coverage for the rest of your life, you are more likely to be denied or charged extremely high premiums because of the detection of harmful substances in your blood, urine, or saliva.
You will need to compare the cost of a term vs. a permanent plan to see just how much your rates might be affected.
Are there any plans where you do not have to test?
Most traditional plans for adults will require a drug test, but there are specialty products that may not require medical exams or drug tests. These are typically called annual term plans and last for one year at a time.
These plans were once very popular, but due to the fact that they are much more expensive than level terms, they are only popular for people who do not want to be obligated to take a medical exam.
Just be aware that your premiums will not only be higher, they will go up as you age.
If you are ready to buy life insurance, it is time to start comparing rates. The quickest way to compare rates is to use an online rate comparison tool. You can access these online systems with a personal computer and an Internet connection.
Once you visit the website, all you need to do is enter your personal information and then you will be directed to instant quotes through some of the most respected companies in the market. Be sure to review the underwriting guidelines, then you can feel comfortable as you apply.
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