Basic body statistics

One of the first health questions you’ll be asked will help a carrier gauge your risk factors for obesity: you’ll need to provide your height and weight.

These answers will be used to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which is one way of analyzing your overall body fat. You may also be asked whether you have lost or gained a notable amount of weight recently. This threshold varies from one carrier to the next, but you may find that insurers are interested to know if your weight has changed by more than 10% or so in the last year.

You’ll often be asked to indicate how healthy you view yourself to be (“Do you think you are in poor, average, good, or excellent health?” for example), especially when you’re getting a quick, initial quote online.

Personal medical history

Having a history of medical conditions and treatments won’t automatically preclude you from buying life insurance coverage, in most cases. However, your potential carrier will want to know about any medical concerns that you are dealing with or have dealt with in the past.

Life insurance providers want to know about key medical concerns. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiopulmonary conditions (heart disease, blood pressure, COPD, etc.)
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS

You’ll also be asked about any prescription medications you currently take, surgeries you’ve had, and in some cases, surgeries or treatments that were recommended to you (even if you refused them in the end).

Just because you’ve been diagnosed with and/or treated for a medical condition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still apply for a new life insurance policy. Depending on the company and your specific medical history, however, the carrier may decide to require a paramedical exam prior to issuing the policy. They may also adjust your premiums accordingly, or even reject your application altogether, in some cases.

Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use

You can expect to be asked about your present and past use of nicotine-containing products, alcohol, and other drugs.

In some cases, you may simply be asked whether you currently use tobacco or whether you’ve used it in the last three years. This use refers to smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and even vaping.

You’ll likely be asked how often you drink alcohol, as well. And while not directly related to your health, you can expect to answer whether or not you’ve ever been arrested for DUI.

Lastly, most carriers will ask about prior drug use, including illicit drugs and those that are now legal in certain states (such as marijuana). You’ll usually need to disclose any history of drug treatment, as well.

Family health history

Even if you don’t have any notable health conditions, you present a higher risk to life insurance carriers if you have a family history of certain medical conditions. So you can expect to be asked about those.

Carriers will want to know if any close relatives — such as siblings, parents, aunts or uncles, cousins, or even grandparents — died at a young age (often 60-65 or younger). You’ll also be asked whether they had a history of health conditions involving:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Blood pressure

Mental health history

Expect to be asked about your history of any mental health diagnoses, prescriptions, or treatments. Some carriers will specifically ask you about mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. while others may just ask if you’ve every been treated for a mental health concern.

Having a mental health diagnosis and/or taking prescription medication to treat it doesn’t mean you’ll be denied for life insurance coverage. Carriers do, however, want to ensure that you are successfully receiving treatment for any conditions.

Paramedical exam

In some cases, you may be asked to submit to a physical examination when buying life insurance coverage, called a paramedical exam. Some carriers require paramedical exams of all applicants, some only require them for term life customers, while other carriers never require them; your experience will depend on the type of coverage and who you buy from.

These exams are usually pretty simple, and the carrier will often send a certified nurse to your home or place of work to conduct the exam, free of charge. The paramedical exam may involve a mixture of the following:

  • Measuring your height and weight
  • Taking your pulse and blood pressure
  • Asking certain medical questions, sometimes to confirm answers you have already given
  • Taking blood and/or urine samples

These blood and urine samples, if taken, can help your carrier get a better idea of your health. They can help rule out certain medical conditions (or precursors) as well as tobacco/drug use.

High-risk questions

There are a few other things that you’ll commonly be asked when applying for a new life insurance policy, which aren’t necessarily related to your direct health. The answers can help carriers assess whether you’re at a higher risk of dying and can impact your rate.

These include asking about any dangerous hobbies or occupations you may have, as well as your driving history (if you have a history of traffic citations, accidents, and/or DUIs).

How these health questions affect the life insurance application

The life insurance application process may look different from one carrier to the next. Some ask a range of in-depth questions to adequately gauge your risk level, while others simply want an idea of your overall health. Some carriers will also require a paramedical exam before writing your policy, while others offer coverage to certain applicants without the need for a medical exam.

The answers you provide to these health questions will aid the carrier in determining how much coverage to offer you and how much to charge for premiums. In some cases, the answers may trigger the need for an in-depth exam or additional questions or, depending on the situation, could result in a denial.

Will I be denied life insurance coverage if I lie?

It’s no secret: the better your personal and family health history — and the less “risks” you take, such as smoking or engaging in dangerous hobbies — the better your life insurance premiums will usually be. But it’s important to still disclose any and all pertinent information to your potential carrier when applying, even if you know it’ll impact your application.

If an applicant lies while buying life insurance coverage, and the carrier finds out immediately, it can result in a denial of coverage. Even worse, though, is if an applicant lies (especially about important medical information) and the carrier doesn’t find out right away.

Let’s say that a carrier writes a life insurance policy based on incomplete information, and then the insured person passes away 18 months later from a heart attack. Before paying out the death benefit, the carrier requests certain medical records and finds that the insured individual had a history of heart problems that they failed to disclose. In this case, the carrier could choose to deny the family’s life insurance claim altogether.

If you’re buying life insurance coverage to protect your loved ones, make sure that you are as truthful as possible when answering application questions. The last thing you want is for your family to file a claim after you pass away, only to be denied in the end.

Final Thoughts

Buying term life insurance can be a relatively simple process, especially if you’re shopping through a platform like LeapLife. Regardless of how much insurance you’re looking to buy, though, you can expect to be asked certain health-related questions along the way.

The answer to these questions can help carriers determine how much coverage to offer you and what they need to charge in terms of premiums. Answering these questions as completely and honestly as possible allows you to buy secure coverage that you know will protect your loved ones for years to come.

If you’re looking to find affordable term life insurance coverage to protect your loved ones, LeapLife can help. Quickly get matched with competitive plans in just minutes online, with no need for a medical exam if you qualify.