Ready to buy life insurance? Not so fast – first you need to qualify.
Typically, you have to undergo a medical exam to help the insurer estimate your life expectancy and determine your rate. The longer you're likely to be around to pay premiums, the less they're likely to charge you for coverage.
Insurance companies hire data crunchers called actuaries to determine how long you might be around. As long as their equations are right – which they are because they have been using them successfully for over a century – they make predictable profits. So, we must take our life insurance medical exam knowing that numbers will govern our insurance costs.
Now, here's how to achieve the best numbers on that exam. My 15 tips can help you lower the cost of insurance and increase your ROI by getting the best health rating possible.
Remember getting a good rating will lower the cost of insurance, therefore increasing your return on your investment (ROI), up to 20%!
In the hours and days before the exam, do this to help improve your results.
- Drink Plenty of Water: For better results, prepare by drinking a lot of water starting one week before your appointment. It helps to clean toxins from your system. That week, I would make an effort to drink eight glasses a day. Being well-hydrated also makes it easier to draw your blood.
- Schedule the exam to be done at your home. A life insurance exam is typically performed by a paramedic in your home or office, at the insurance company's expense. It takes about 30 minutes. To help you relax schedule the exam at your home. During the paperwork portion, you'll be asked for a photo ID and a list of your current and former doctors, including addresses and phone numbers. You'll also be quizzed about the state of your health, including current therapies, medications and vitamin supplements, and about whether you smoke, drink, use drugs or engage in dangerous pastimes, such as sky diving or caving.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Eight hours if you can, especially if you are borderline for blood pressure. Avoid Stress!
- No shellfish or poppy seeds: Some underwriters say don't eat shellfish, probably to avoid a high cholesterol levels, and poppy seeds, because they can test positive for opium. I would not sweat over a bagel with a few poppy seeds on it though.
- Don't Smoke! This may be the best way to get the biggest discount, up to three times what a smoker would pay. Somebody who has smoked their entire life and then stops smoking for three months – they're considered a non-smoker. Smoking the night before or the day of the exam can also elevate your blood pressure. If possible, give the urine specimen before the blood pressure check because the elimination of fluids tends to lower blood pressure moderately. Also don't use chewing tobacco, snuff, a nicotine patch or nicotine gum. Do not lie on your application about your smoking history, but the lab results only test for nicotine currently in the system. Insurers will also ask you if you smoke. You can lie, which they may not check on unless the policy is for more than $1 million. But remember it's a contract, so if fraud is found within the two-year contestability clause of the contract, it can be declared void, and your heirs wouldn't collect. Claim inquiries aren't always about fraud, but determining the legitimacy of a claim, just like the dreaded IRS audit.
- Fast during the 12 hours before your physical. Schedule the exam for a weekday and not a Monday or after a vacation. A weekend or a vacation of indulging in fatty foods and alcohol can boost cholesterol levels. Don't eat overnight or at least two hours before the exam. Your final meal the previous night should be healthy and well-balanced. If possible do not drink coffee, up to four hours before the exam, a small amount of water is fine the hours before the test.
- Lose Weight: Don't try to lose weight fast. That will mostly get rid of water weight. But losing one to two pounds per week over a few months, or hopefully over a year, can help you drop from being a standard risk to getting a preferred rate. Getting a “preferred rate” for being healthy and thus a good insurance risk can lower premiums and increase your ROI substantially.
- Don't Drink Alcohol: Avoid alcohol for at least 12 and preferably 48 hours before the exam, because it can elevate blood pressure and adversely affect elements of the blood work. High blood pressure can be the difference between a standard and preferred rate. If you have only one risk factor, a good agent will be your advocate. arguing with the underwriter on your behalf that you're otherwise healthy and take care of yourself.
- Blood Pressure Positioning: There is one simple technique you can use to lower your blood pressure, thus making you appear less at risk for heart attack, stroke or kidney failure. If your blood pressure tends to run a little high, once the blood pressure cuff is on, raise your arm level to your heart, and you'll see a drop of about 10 points. If you're at 130, it will go down to about 121 millimeters of mercury. In that position, the heart doesn't have to work as hard. When you hold your arm at that level, it doesn't take as much effort to move the blood. If you're borderline and part of it is nervousness, lie down and put your cuffed arm to heart level.
- Cut Back on the Java. Limit caffeine consumption 48 hours before the exam – and definitely no caffeine that morning. It increases blood pressure and pulse rate and can provoke an irregular heart rate. This means staying away from coffee and tea and some soft drinks, cold remedies and pain medications.
- Limit Your Salt and Sugar: Salt can raise blood pressure by allowing the body to retain fluids, so limit its use in the three to four days before an exam. If you are not healthy and may be borderline diabetic, your blood sugar is going to come out better if you're not eating a lot of sugar.
- Don't Exercise: At least don't go to the gym the morning of the exam, and preferably 24 hours before. Cardiovascular workouts can cause inaccurate levels of cholesterol and protein in the urine, which can be another risk factor that can push you into a higher rating classification. When people do have protein in their urine, the insurer will always recheck the urine.
- Relax: Avoid Stress! You've probably had this happen at the doctor's office: You're nervous about having your blood pressure taken, so your blood pressure reads high the first time you take it. Wait a few minutes and take it again, and it goes down. Get a good night's sleep, schedule the exam at your house and take a few minutes to relax before your blood pressure is recorded. If that doesn't work, ask for it to be rechecked at the end of the exam.
- Learn more: Knowledge is power the saying goes. So, find out why life insurance is worth the effort. An Essential Financial Tool
- Consult me for assistance prior to your exam for further information. Contact Palma Financial Services, Inc.
Remember, life insurance underwriting also includes your medical history. Insurers are expecting average people to apply for coverage, not super-healthy people. Still, following these steps could help lower your rates a bit if you're on the border of having high blood pressure or other factors.
There is Always Next Year
If you do not get the grade you need on your exam, all that you have to do is fix it and reapply a year later.
The insurance company will lower the cost of insurance. If you can quit smoking, the rates will go down for the other risks too, such as blood pressure.
Palma Financial Services, Inc. is here to help you through your life insurance selection and exam process. Successfully removing the stress in this process is just one reason why our clients recommend us throughout Silicon Valley and the Greater East Bay. Learn more about us here: