How to prepare for a life insurance medical exam

Life insurance is one of the major ways to fulfill your responsibilities to loved ones. But before a policy can be issued, you’ll need to undergo a medical exam to evaluate your health.

Your health status—along with your age and policy type —will determine your premium.

What to expect from your exam

The first step in a medical exam is paperwork. A paramedical professional, often a nurse, hired by the insurance company, will ask you general questions about your health. You’ll also be asked to list your doctors, any conditions you’ve been treated for and the medications you take. This is the time to disclose any tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

Once the paperwork is out of the way, you’ll move on to the physical exam. The paramedical professional will check your height and weight, take your blood pressure and  pulse, and perhaps even administer an EKG if you are older than 50.

After your blood is drawn, you’ll be asked to provide a urine sample, which will be analyzed for signs of heart disease, diabetes, drug use and cancer, among many other conditions.

Keeping your weight down, exercising and eating are all important to good health. But even the healthiest of people can make a slight mistake in the days or weeks leading up to a life insurance medical exam.

Improve your outcomes with the following tips

Tip #1: Drink lots of water and lay off the salt

A week before your exam, get serious about hydrating. You may not need eight glasses a day, but drinking water could help to clear toxins from your system and dilute concentrations of sugar and protein. Two things insurers are looking for since they may be signs of diabetes or poor kidney function.1 Being well hydrated also makes it easier to draw blood and provide a urine sample. Too much salt can lead to dehydration and make your urine too concentrated.

Tip #2: Say no to alcohol

Alcohol can adversely affect your blood sugar levels and blood pressure, especially if you’re diabetic,2 and make you dehydrated. Skip it for at least 24 hours before your exam to avoid high alcohol readings in your labs.

Tip #3: Make sure to fast

Your last meal should be at least 12 hours before your exam. Otherwise, your glucose and triglyceride levels could be high, indications of diabetes and high cholesterol.3 You can have a little water in the morning, but not too much.

Tip #4: Skip the espresso

There’s no harm in a cup or two of coffee each day. But excessive caffeine use can raise your blood pressure if you’re especially sensitive to it.4 Avoid caffeine for at least an hour prior to the exam to maintain a normal reading.

Tip #5: Give your workout a rest

Exercise is a good thing, but maybe not before your medical exam. Consider avoiding too strenuous a workout (the kind where you sweat) at least 12 hours before your test. This can result in protein in the urine, which is associated with kidney problems.5 

Maintaining good health is a critically important lifetime goal. If you’re already making it a priority, you can still take steps to improve the outlook of your life insurance medical exam. After all, life insurance is an important part of fulfilling your responsibility to loved ones.

1“Urine Test.” WebMD. September 9, 2014.

2“Diabetes and Alcohol.” WebMD. February 2, 2016.

3Fredericks, Jonae. “Why Can't You Eat or Drink Before Blood Work?” Livestrong. August 16, 2013.

4Sheps, Sheldon G. “High Blood Pressure.” Mayo Clinic. August 5, 2014.

5Martel, Janelle. “Protein Urine Test.” Healthline. November 30, 2015.