What to Expect when Applying for Life Insurance

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Before applying for life insurance, it can help guarantee that your dependents have the support they need to replace your earnings in the event of your death.

But how will you approach obtaining coverage?

And what can you do to determine the best potential rate? Understanding the life insurance process can help you perceive the coverage you need at an affordable price.

Key takeaways: Before Applying for Life Insurance

  • It is essential that you tell the truth during the applying process or your beneficiaries may be denied death benefits.
  • There are “no exam” plans, but they normally cost more and have a below face price.
  • Most life insurance plans require you to clarify medical questions and pass a physical exam.

Preparing your life insurance needs

There are two principal kinds of life insurance policies: term life insurance, which presents coverage for a specific period of time, and permanent life insurance, which affords coverage for your whole life.

A local insurance agent can help you discover more about your options.

If you choose to obtain life insurance, you’ll need to decide how much coverage you’ll require after you die, and how much you’ve already insured through individual assets or group term insurance (such as a stated policy).

Summary Before Applying for Life Insurance

The value of life insurance coverage you will require depends on various factors, including your spouse’s earning capacity, the age of your dependents, your combined financial resources, and if there is any debt you may have.

Medical concerns on a life insurance demand

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You will want to apply for life insurance.

The questionnaire will ask for essential information such as your address and your name, and your employer.

It will also ask for the following personal information:

  • Date of birth;
  • Height;
  • Weight;
  • Lifestyle (e.g., smoking, alcohol use, exercise);
  • Financial information, including your yearly income and net worth.
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Although it may be tempting to lie regarding your weight or other health difficulties, it is essential, to tell only the truth.

If the insurance company discovers that you lied regarding your health or lifestyle, it may raise your premium, cancel your policy, and/or refuse your beneficiary’s death benefits claim.

Some life insurance companies will accept your responses to health-related questions, such as what medicines you are taking or what surgeries you had, on the application.

Such life insurance without exams, such as assured life insurance and simplified life insurance, is normally more expensive and has a cheaper face value than insurance that needs a medical exam.

Life insurance medical exams

applying for life insurance
Young female caregiver helping senior woman walking downstairs at home

Most corporations and policies ask for a personal medical exam.

A life insurance agent will prepare to meet with a paramedic (a licensed medical professional hired by the insurance company) at your office, home, or clinic determined by the insurance corporation.

The paramedic will most likely be there during the exam:

  • Take your medical history (including medical conditions, surgeries, and any prescription medications)
  • Ask about the medical history of your immediate family
  • Measure your blood pressure
  • Listen to your heartbeat
  • Check your height and weight
  • Get a blood sample
  • Take a urine sample.
  • Ask about lifestyle habits that may affect your health (e.g., exercise, smoking, alcohol use, recreational drugs, frequent travel, high-risk hobbies)

You may need additional tests depending on your age, the type of policy you want, and the amount of coverage you are applying for. Additional tests may include an EKG, chest x-ray, and/or treadmill test.

The insurance company’s underwriter will then review your application and the results of the medical exam.

They may request your doctor’s medical records to learn more about any medical conditions you may have and any treatment you have received.

This information helps them determine what risk you pose to the company financially and how much to charge you for coverage.


If you lie about your medical condition, the insurance company may not only deny you coverage, but it may also “flag you,” which means that other insurers will know you were denied coverage because you lied.

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After your application and physical exam are reviewed, the company will either approve or deny your request to purchase coverage.

This process can take days or weeks, depending on whether you submitted your application in full, how long it will take to get lab results, whether the company is requesting information from your doctor, etc.

If your coverage is denied

If you “fail” a medical exam and the insurance company refuses to cover you – or if it offers to cover you at a higher rate because of the results of your exam – you have several options.

You can take out group term life insurance through your employer, which often does not require a medical exam, ask your insurance broker if there is a company that will work with your medical status, or try a waiver policy for exams.

If you’ve been offered a policy but aren’t happy with the rate, you can purchase it now and then ask to be reviewed in the future (and try to improve your health during that time).

And, of course, you can contact more than one insurance company to try to find the best possible life insurance policy for your circumstances.

Ways to lower your premium

While there’s nothing you can do about two of the three main factors affecting your premium (age and family medical history), there are steps you can take about the third: lifestyle. You can lower your premium if:

  • Quit smoking. As a non-smoker, you are likely to live longer, which means the life insurance company will have more years to collect your premiums before you may have to pay the policy when you die.
  • Lose weight. Losing weight often leads to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes. All of these improvements in your health can increase your insurance risk.
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. Drinking can be a potential health risk. Life insurance companies will check your application, driving record, and physical examination to get an idea of your drinking habits. Drinking less alcohol or stopping drinking altogether reduces your risk to the company, and therefore, you will likely be rewarded with a lower premium.
  • Improve your driving. Insurance companies may increase your premiums if you have multiple traffic violations.
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Other non-lifestyle ways to reduce premiums include:

  • Switching from permanent to term life insurance. Depending on your age and how long you plan to need life insurance, you may want to consider switching to a term policy. Before making the change, review your current coverage cancellation policy.
  • Changing insurers. You can get similar or better coverage for less money.
    • Eliminating riders. Riders are optional policy terms that pay extra money to you or your beneficiaries. Rider types include: Accidental Death Benefit Rider – pays your beneficiaries if your death is caused by an accident.
    • Children’s Term Life Insurance Passenger – pays in the event of the death of a child insured under your life insurance policy.
    • Premium Passenger Waiver – pays the premium in the event of permanent and total disability.
    • Life benefit rider – pays a portion of your death benefit in advance if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, or if you need long-term care or nursing home services.
    • Payor rider – waives your premiums if you die or become disabled before the dependent child with coverage reaches a certain age
  • Look for “no-load” or “low-load” policies. These policies are often cheaper because insurance agents charge a flat fee rather than a high commission.
  • Ask about payment discounts. You can get a discount if you pay your bill in full annually rather than monthly. Insurers can also give you a discount for automatically withdrawing payment from your current account.
  • Reviewing your credit report. Insurers can review your credit report when determining your premium amount. Paying your bills on time, what’s on your report, assures the company that you’re likely to pay your premium on time and in full.
  • Choosing a company that has experience working with people with your condition. If you have a medical condition, a broker can help you find a company that will work with you and offers a better rate.
  • Review your Medical Information Bureau file. Insurers share health information about claimants through the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). Request a free copy of your file from the MIB website and review it; incorrect information can negatively affect your premium.