Nine things you should think about before taking a life insurance paramedical examination

By Michelle Matlock, Life Quotes, Inc.

When you apply for life insurance, you will most likely have to take a medical exam.

Individual life insurance companies have a number of tools at their disposal when it comes to rating policies, and one of those tools is medical underwriting. Since the basis of insurance involves assessing risk, health status plays a critical role in the underwriting process.

What to expect

Paramedical examiners are licensed health professionals that insurance companies hire to perform medical examinations on potential policyholders. When you apply for life insurance you will be required to answer a series of medical questions, or if you apply for a policy at an insurance website, you can fill out a questionnaire online. The second part of the application is a medical form that is completed by your examiner. Examinations are generally performed in the privacy of your home or place of business.

Most paramedical exams require examiners to collect a urine sample and blood draw. You will also be asked to provide your driver’s license and social security number. Typically an examiner will accept alternative forms of identification such as a military ID, passport or state issue identification cards with a photo ID. This information will be used to fill out the lab ticket. The lab uses your complete blood count (CBC), to rule out a number of conditions such as leukemia, cancer or HIV. You may also be required to take a liver function test, or a Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin (CDT) test, which is used to rule out alcoholism, cirrhosis and other liver diseases. Lab technicians also check your cholesterol level, which will be used to evaluate your risk for heart attack or stroke.

In addition to urine and blood samples, examiners will check your blood pressure, pulse rate, and measure your height and weight. In some cases, you might be required to take an X-ray or treadmill test. Some exams might require checking your “timed vital capacity” (TVC). This is a breathing test that determines how well your lungs are functioning. They may also require some applicants who smoke or have a history of heart disease to have an electrocardiogram (EKG), a test that records electrical changes in the heart.

Questions your examiner will ask you include:

1. Name and address of personal physician?

2. Date and reason last consulted?

3. What treatment was given or medication prescribed?

What you should do

While some folks find paramedical examinations a little daunting, the extent of a paramedical exam varies by insurance company.

Also, some companies require less information than others and have a shortened version of a paramedical exam. But be warned— if you are a smoker, your mortality rate is often higher than nonsmokers, and insurance companies usually require a more thorough medical examination for tobacco users.

“If your agent isn’t prepping you for your exam then they are not doing the right thing,” says Ryan Pinney, a brokerage director and insurance risk specialist for Pinney Insurance Center, Inc. in Roseville, Calif. “There are so many things that can mess up your lab results that people don’t consider.”

Pinney offers some sage advice that will help increase your odds of doing well on an examination.

1. Don’t consume alcohol for 72 hours prior to your exam.

2. Don’t take your exam if you are dehydrated.

3. Don’t take ibuprofen or aspirin because this will create elevated liver function.

4. If you exercise or work out regularly, take a break for a day or two prior to the exam. “When you work out your muscles breakdown and that can tweak the outcome of your lab,” says Pinney.

5. Don’t eat fatty foods for at least two days before your examination. “If you have an exam coming up and you must choose between a triple cheeseburger or salad, go with the salad. Even if you don’t have high cholesterol, fatty foods will temporarily heighten your cholesterol levels,” notes Pinney.

6. Take your exam first thing in the morning don’t wait until later in the evening. “Your blood pressure is lower in the morning because you’ve been sleeping for 6 to 8 hours. It’s never a good idea to get stressed out at work, fight rush hour traffic and then take your exam,” Pinney recommends. In addition, Pinney says when you sleep your back compresses, so you are also a little taller in the morning. “This can help you when it comes to measuring your height and weight.”

7. Wear your tennis shoes. “When your height and weight is measured you don’t have to take off your clothes or shoes. But I discourage wearing steel-toed boots or a tool belt because depending on the item this could make you 35 pounds heavier. The examiner is not required to tell you to remove those items,” says Pinney. Pinney adds that you are also not allowed to keep your high heels on at a paramedical examination.

8. Never volunteer information. “Let the examiner ask the questions,” says Pinney. “When an examiner asks you if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease this is not a good time to tell him you haven’t and then mention you’ve had chest pains lately. If the insurance company wants to know more details, the underwriter will contact you.”

9. When the examiner asks you a question, don’t lie. “Do not try to outsmart the insurance company,” says Pinney. “Any misrepresentations can be considered insurance fraud on a more serious level. If you omit information or lie, once the insurance company finds out, you will be denied coverage and your application will be rescinded.”

This article was originally published at Life Quotes, Inc.

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