If you have an upcoming life insurance medical exam, and you’re like most people, you’re feeling a mix of dread, anxiety, and wondering what you should or should not do before. The good news is that exams are relatively quick, and outside of a blood draw, painless. For some, a life insurance policy may be to protect a family's income, but life insurance can also be used for business's to protect against the loss of an owner or key person. Regardless of the motivation to buy a policy, you want to make your exam count and avoid many pitfalls others end up in.
I don’t like giving blood and I’m not alone, however, I have found that looking away and fixating my mind on something big, like my wedding day, birth of my son, or receiving a great gift does make it go so much better.
The urine and blood samples are snapshots in time providing data insurance companies use to help assess your chances of an untimely end, and like anything, a sample size of one can create a picture that doesn’t accurately depict your situation. Luckily, there are things you can do to minimize adverse results that can cause an increase in rates, unnecessary worry concerning your health, or a decline in your application.
If your health isn’t great to begin with, you’re not going to erase years of neglect to make it to a gym or your eating habits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your odds of the most favorable result based on your situation. So take the time to read what you can do, and then go ahead and get ready for your life insurance medical exam like you would any other exam that has important financial implications.
10. Avoid coffee, tea, and soda the morning of and before the exam. I know that’s a tough one, and if you’re like me, you drink more than one cup full of “go go juice” every morning. The problem is, is that the caffeine you crave and gets you going also increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse. If you’re already borderline, that “required” cup of Joe can make the difference in what you’ll pay for life insurance.
In other words, one or two cups of coffee before an exam could end up costing you hundreds of dollars, maybe thousands over the course of years of life insurance premiums. Just don’t do it and wait until after the exam. I suggest scheduling the exam as early as possible if you consider caffeine one of the basic required food groups. You’ll have a tough morning until the exam, but at least the rest of your day is yours. As soon as the exam is over, feel free to rush over to the nearest Starbucks (SBUX) and order as you please. Or, if you're like many, a can of coke (KO) or diet Mt. Dew (PEP) may be your craving. Regardless, wait until after.
Whatever you do, don’t even consider multiple cups or one of the popular “energy drinks”. You might as well ask your life insurance agent for the worst deal they can find.
9. Skip the morning meeting or work altogether before your exam if you work in a stressful environment. While I don’t trade stocks daily anymore, I continue to make several trades a week. I know that unless I’m using breathing exercises and mentally working to keep myself stress-free, that I’m likely raising my pulse simply by watching the stock or S&P 500 (SPY) charts.
With as many years as I’ve traded and invested, I don’t get too worked up over much anymore, but I wouldn’t want to have a trade on my mind during an exam neither. So, if you’re in the financial industry or any type of business that raises your anxiety level (and what business doesn’t?), skip reading your email inbox before your exam, and don’t allow any trades to remain unhedged before your exam. You don’t want to find yourself wanting to watch a stock chart at the same time as your blood draw and heart rate are taken.
Don’t worry, the in-box will still be there when you’re finished and who knows, maybe for once they’ll solve the problem before you reply.
8. Stay hydrated. We all know we should drink more water (and less of just about everything else), and yet, many people attend their life insurance exam without drinking plenty of water beforehand. When you wake up, drink two extra-large glasses of water, and without going overboard, continue to drink more until the exam. You may find yourself needing to use the bathroom once or twice before the exam, and thinking you should wait, but don’t. The urine sample you provide shouldn’t be the first release of the day. Everything that’s built up overnight is being flushed and you’re better off providing a sample that’s the second or more of the day.
7. Diet even when hungry. Your life insurance medical exam instructions advise you to fast, but you’re hungry and thinking just a small snack won’t hurt, but akin to the coffee, it may turn into a very expensive mistake. If you’re supposed to fast, it’s because the life insurance company wants to know what your triglyceride and glucose readings are without food processing through your system. Once you eat, you run the risk your levels won’t be consider acceptable, or you end up paying a lot more for your life insurance. Another possibility is you have to go through the whole process again, and if it wasn’t fun the first time, you can bet round two won’t be any better.
6. Forget about losing weight before the exam. You might be thinking your life insurance exam will go better if you can just lose “a little weight” before you’re stepping on the scale for the paramedical examiner. However, the same type of workout that you should be doing the other 51 weeks a year isn’t likely to be appropriate right before your exam. Protein levels in your urine can change and indicate issues that don’t actually exist.
Save your workout for after your life insurance exam and the best advice is to continue with it, but just don’t exercise right before you provide samples. If you already exercise daily, make sure to schedule your workout at least 14 hours before your tested. That way, if you exercise for two hours, you still have 12 hours before your insurance exam.
5. If you smoke, quit. Ok, that’s easier said than done for most people, but the good news is that some carriers are treating e-cigs as non-smokers. It appears that if you only want the nicotine and avoid all the nasty smoke, your life expectancy may not be materially changed. If your life insurance agent doesn’t have a company that considers tobacco that’s vaporized as the same as non-smokers, you may want to shop around for another before buying that large life insurance policy.
Keep in mind that nicotine is known to raise your blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate. It also stays in your system for a long time, so don’t have the first smoke of the day (e-cig or smoking type) before your exam.
4. Alcohol is expensive as it is. Having a few drinks may not sound like a problem, and usually isn’t when it comes to buying life insurance, but a night out with friends that leads to being “over-served” can raise red flags for your liver. The life insurance company won’t know it’s only a once a year birthday event and will assume your liver is always in its current state of affairs. When it comes to life insurance and alcohol in general, more is almost never better. If you want to have a drink, it's Miller time after, not before your insurance exam.
3. Junk food is always junk food. Processed foods high in sodium and ingredients with names way too long for me to pronounce are not going to do you any favors with your life insurance examination. Take one day off if nothing else, and treat your body to a junk food free day. Your body and bank account will thank you.
2. Sleep is always good, unless you oversleep and miss your appointment. Make sure, or at least the best you can to get a good night sleep before your exam. You’ll feel better, and if you’re counting the minutes until that first cup of coffee or hit of nicotine, you’ll be much more pleasant to be around if at least you had a full night of sleep.
1. Work with an insurance broker that represents many companies. Ok, yes, I admit I’m biased. As an independent life insurance agent, I always believe that your best bet is to find an agent you trust that will shop various companies for you. If you buy from an agent that only sells one company that you always see advertising on TV, well, you’re likely to pay a whole lot more for a product that may not be as good as another company has available.
If you don’t believe me, simply ask a captive agent (one who only sells one product) and an independent agent to meet you at the same time. The independent agent will be happy to, while the captive one may decline your offer. That should tell you everything you need to know about who is able to provide the best value.
Also, if you’re not an easy risk to place, an independent agent is more likely to find a company willing to underwrite a policy if they have 20 they work with as opposed to the captive one company agent.
If you take your life insurance examination seriously and you probably are the type of person who does if you’re reading this, you can give yourself the best chances of having a successful exam by following these simple rules.
Robert Weinstein is a husband, dad, stock market junkie, real estate broker, and of course…Insurance agent. Interests include my family, economics, marketing, technology, real estate, finance/investing, history, and Asia.
Robert’s insurance expertise includes having the designation of Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) and assist in asset protection for families with members entering retirement.
Robert is also an accomplished syndicated writer whose work can be found in TheStreet, MainStreet, CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, MSN Money, The Money Show, Stock Saints, Motley Fool, Fidelity, Minyanville, RealMoney Pro, and many national and international newspapers.