Current and Past Health History

The life insurance company wants to know how you look on the inside!

There are multiple requirements that a life insurance company will look at when making a decision to accept the risk of placing a life policy on an applicant.  This exam and visit can be completed either at your residence, place of business or the exam company’s office, and will consist of some or all of the following.  


  • Health and Lifestyle Questions – This is the detailed questionnaire used to capture past and current health and lifestyle data about the applicant.  Once the underwriter reviews the application forms, if there are any responses to health history that are of concern, they might order your medical records.

  • Urine Specimen – The 3 items being tested for are sugar, cotinine (nicotine), any indications of drug usage.  These are 3 critical components of health and lifestyle indicators. The insurance company is looking for kidney disease, diabetes or potential for diabetes, all indicators of heart disease, and any condition that could shorten your life expectancy.

  • Blood Specimen – The primary search here is for glucose and cholesterol levels (HDL/LDL and ratio), which serve as two more key indicators regarding current health and potential future health risks.  You’ll also be tested for the HIV virus; this is an indicator regarding AIDs and other immune deficiencies.

  • Height/Weight – During the exam you will stand on a scale and have your height measured.  Your height and weight are important factors for the life insurance company underwriter and one of the top reasons applicants receive a different rate then they were originally quoted if the measurements significantly differ from what was reported.  Major fluctuations in weight can be a concern for the life insurance company, as repeated weight changes cause strain on the heart and other organs, impacting potential life expectancy.

How to Prepare for the Best Results

The life insurance company is only getting one look at you; plan on making it the best you possible.  When planning to take this exam, there are several steps you can take to enhance your results.  

  • A couple of days prior you should consider reducing or eliminating alcohol usage
  • Drink more water than normal
  • Do not exercise vigorously the evening before or day of
  • Watch what you eat; for example, poppy seed bagels can give a false reading for opiates!
  • Many cold medicines can negatively impact the lab results as well.

For a more complete breakdown and detail, read What Do Life Insurance Medical Exams Look For?

Potential Additional Requirements

Depending on an applicant’s age, medical history and amount of coverage applying for, there is a list of other sources of information the life insurance company may ask to review:

EKG – this can be completed by the examiner during the initial exam visit

Personal Medical Records – copies of your history of prior health conditions, and even current ailments and treatment

Motor Vehicle Report – what is your driving record?  A DUI is considered an increased lifestyle risk for the life insurance company

A Physical might be conducted by a doctor who works for the life insurance company

Financial Statements – this is usually requested for very large amounts, Business Life Insurance needs and/or much older applicants.


One of the biggest surprises a life insurance applicant has is when they learn the significance of heredity during the underwriting decision process. There are many health conditions that can occur based on your family’s genetics, thus making family history a very relevant component in the underwriting process.  Some of the most common medical conditions that are taken into consideration are cancers and heart ailments. With the advent of medical technology, the concerns for these have waned over recent years; however, it is still taken into consideration in the underwriting process.


Do you like jumping out of an airplane? Deep sea scuba diving? Climbing Mount Everest? Speed Racing? Thinking about obtaining your pilot's license?

All of these sound like fun, but guess what, the life insurance company isn’t too excited to see these activities on the application.  Hazardous hobbies are not deal breakers, but they more than likely will impact the carrier of choice and the rate you will ultimately qualify for. Remember, the underwriting process is too assess the risk of death and the potential payout of a claim. The carriers do not mind paying out claims; this is their business.  But they do need to make sure they’re accurately calculating your risk.

What About the Privacy of All my Personal Information?

Do not worry – none of this personal information can be obtained without your knowledge and consent, thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (also known as HIPAA).  You will be signing a release form which provides your doctor permission to release your medical records to the life insurance company.  None of the information obtained is ever shared outside of the life insurance company.  Lastly, most of the carriers can provide you with a copy of your lab results.  This can be very educational if you have never reviewed information about how you look on the inside.

How can you get started?  Learn more about life insurance, run a calculation to see how much life insurance is right for you, even take one minute and get a preliminary quote.  Or, reach out to one of our experienced life insurance representatives today.