Published October 01, 2013
When applying for a life insurance policy, you may be required to undergo an insurance medical exam (IME), which is used to determine your premium. This exam is done in your home by a health care professional who is hired by the insurance company. In addition to the exam, you will also have to provide information about your medical and family history. The following outlines what you can expect from the medical exam process.
The IME Process
A paramedical professional will gather your medical history, height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and possibly blood and/or urine samples. Additional tests will be ordered based on your age and the policy amount desired.
Blood tests are used to detect the presence of antibodies or antigens to the HIV virus, cholesterol and related lipids, liver and kidney disorders, diabetes, hepatitis, prostate antigens and immune disorders. Urine tests are used to detect the presence of nicotine, medications and illegal drugs.
Exams do not include sensitive issues, such as breast or prostate exams.
If there are any additional questions after the exam, you may be asked to submit more information.
After the results are received by the insurance company, you will be given a risk rating, either flat or table, for your medical history and conditions. For example, an underwriter would give a flat rating to someone who just had surgery because the situation is temporary, and someone with high blood pressure would receive a table rating. In general, table ratings increase premiums because they are permanent or somewhat permanent conditions.
Test results are not shared with you unless you specifically request it, either in a letter with your application for insurance or sent directly to the insurance company following the exam.
In the event you are declined by the insurer due to a health risk, your insurance agent can argue the rating on your behalf.
It’s important to know that your IME results are shared with the Medical Information Bureau. If you decline a life insurance policy after an exam and apply with another insurer at a later date, your application may raise a red flag.
Best Rx Before the Exam
Some things to consider before having an IME include:
- Request a morning exam—it’s the least stressful time of the day.
- Get a good night’s rest the night before the exam.
- Do not drink alcohol the day prior to the exam.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages for at least an hour prior to the exam.
- Don’t eat salty or high-fat foods for at least 24 hours prior to the exam.
- Do not engage in strenuous exercise for 24 hours prior to the exam.