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Finance for Parents

Life Insurance Health Exam: What Do I Need to Know?

By Kaycie TyllMar 19, 2020

Sometimes, life can feel like a test: a test of wills when your kid resists bedtime, a test of wits when you’re trying to juggle a ridiculous schedule of extracurricular activities.

And sometimes, life insurance can come with tests of its own. 

Most life insurance policies are medically underwritten, which means that they take your health into account when determining how risky you are to insure. While some companies like Fabric will try to offer you coverage immediately after getting your application, that isn’t always possible.

(What is life insurance, anyway?)

So, in some cases, underwriters may ask you to take a brief health exam. This can depend on the state you live in, the underwriting requirements of the policy you’re applying for and on the underwriting team’s ability to make a final decision without an exam. 

How Does the Health Exam Work?

In many cases (such as if you apply through Fabric), the company can send a qualified medical examiner to your home or work—around your schedule—at no cost to you. That can even include odd hours like nights and weekends.

Generally, your medical examiner, sometimes called a paramed, will ask questions about your medical history, will take height and weight measurements, and a blood and urine sample. Plan for the appointment to take 30 to 45 minutes.

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Your exam could (but won’t necessarily) include the following:

Paramedical Report (20 minutes)

  • This entails a qualified examiner asking you about your complete medical history and your family’s medical history. It includes your examiner taking your vital signs (height, weight, blood pressure, pulse—and for men only, chest measurements) and a urine specimen. 

  • You’ll need to provide any names, addresses and phone numbers for your doctors. 

  • You’ll be asked about the dates, reasons and diagnoses for past visits to your doctor(s) within the last five years. 

  • You’ll need to provide the dosage and duration of any medications you’re currently taking. To make it easier, you might want to just bring any bottles with you to your appointment. 

Blood Sample (10 minutes)

  • Some insurers require that you have your blood drawn. This could be from your arm or from your finger. Only sterile, disposable needles and supplies will be used. 

  • Your lab results will be sent directly to the underwriting department to be used in determining if coverage can be offered to you.

  • If you’d like, you can request to see your blood results. 

Electrocardiogram (15 minutes)

  • Also known as an EKG or ECG, this is a painless procedure required for a subset of applicants. The examiner will place electrodes on the skin of your chest, arms and lower legs. 

  • Once the electrodes have been placed, you’ll just need to lie flat, in a relaxed position.

  • Your EKG will need to take place in a location without any large electrical appliances running. (Some appliances can cause distortions in the EKG tracings). It’ll also need to take place somewhere that privacy is possible, as you’ll need to partially disrobe. 

Physical Exam (45 minutes)

  • The examiner may also perform a brief physical exam, which will require you to partially disrobe. 

  • The parameters of this exam are defined by the insurance company, and the examiner should let you know what these are when they call to confirm your appointment.

Treadmill EKG (60 minutes) and X-rays (15-30 minutes)

  • These are not mobile tests and therefore are not a part of the exam for many applicants. 

  • If either of these tests is needed, the underwriting team can help you make an appointment at a doctor’s office or clinic that’s convenient for you. 

Other Services

  • In some instances, additional services may be requested or required by your life insurance company. 

  • If this is the case, the examiner will explain what’s required when calling to confirm your appointment. 

All information obtained during the exam should be strictly confidential and your test results will be sent only to the underwriting department to be used in the underwriting process.

Is There Anything I Should Do to Prepare for My Health Exam?

It’s generally a good idea to avoid smoking, caffeine and strenuous physical activity for two hours before the exam. You’ll probably also want to avoid alcohol for 24 hours prior to your exam, in addition to things that could potentially provide a false positive on a drug test, like cold medicine, poppy seeds, vitamin B12, sleeping pills and tonic water. 

Do aim to drink a glass of water about an hour before the health exam, though, as you may be asked for a urine sample.

You can make a potential blood draw easier if you wear a short-sleeved shirt or a shirt with sleeves that can be easily rolled up. And if you require a large blood pressure cuff or a scale that exceeds 300 pounds, it’s a good idea to tell that to the examiner when confirming your appointment over the phone, or send a support message to the insurance company in advance.

You generally shouldn’t need to fast before your appointment, though in some specific cases you may be asked to do so for the sake of certain blood panels. If this is necessary in your case, your examiner should tell you so when confirming your appointment. (If you need to fast, you are still allowed to drink water.)

Plan to have your government-issued driver’s license or picture ID on hand. The examiner may ask to see it when he or she arrives. 

Last but not least, try to relax for at least an hour before your exam. After all, you don’t want your blood pressure to skyrocket right before your appointment!

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After the Exam

Once you’ve completed your health exam, it takes about five to seven business days for your results to come in. After the underwriters have received and looked over your info, they’ll either reach out with additional questions or requirements, or you’ll be able to receive a final decision. If that includes an offer for coverage, you’ll receive your confirmed price, along with any other relevant information. 

In most cases, you can request a copy of your health exam results for your own records, too. 

If your term life insurance policy includes a provision that allows you to convert to a whole life insurance policy without additional underwriting, then you shouldn’t need another health exam to do that conversion. In that case, your insurance company should be able to use your original health exam. 

At the end of the day, this isn’t intended to be a stressful ordeal. You might not even need a health check at all. Just keep your cool and remember: this could be the first step in helping to protect the people you love.


Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.


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Written by

Kaycie Tyll

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Fabric Instant is an Accidental Death Insurance Policy (Form VL-ADH1 with state variations where applicable) and Fabric Premium is a Term Life Insurance Policy (Form ICC16-VLT, ICC16-VLT19, and CMP 0501 with state variations where applicable). Policies are issued by Vantis Life Insurance Company. (Vantis Life), Windsor, CT (all states except NY), and by Vantis Life Insurance Company of New York, Brewster, NY (NY only). Coverage may not be available in all states. Issuance of coverage for Fabric Premium is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of Vantis Life.

Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC (FIA) is an insurance agency licensed to sell life, accident, and health insurance products. FIA will receive compensation from Vantis Life for such sales. The NAIC Company Code for Vantis Life is 68632. See the Terms of Use for additional information regarding FIA.

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