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Your life insurance company asks you for blood and urine tests – why? Are they testing for drugs? Is this a physical exam? What do they look for?

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This goes through the minds of most applicants. Why are blood and urine tests a part of every medical exam? What do they look for?

While we’ll get into the specifics below, let’s touch on why insurance companies need these tests first because it’s important. Insurance companies risk their financial security when they insure you. They are insuring your life. If/when you die, they agree to pay your beneficiaries the face amount of your death benefit. If you have specific health indicators or diseases, they may not insure you or charge higher premiums due to the higher risk of premature death and an earlier payout.

A lot is riding on the blood and urine tests, so let’s dive in and learn more.

What Information Do Insurers Look for in Blood and Urine Tests?

As discussed, insurance companies look for indicators that you’re a high risk. Specifically, they look for diseases like:

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  • HIV and/or STDs
  • Heart issues, including heart disease and high cholesterol
  • Diabetes indicators
  • Kidney disease indicators

Your blood and urine test results also confirm the information you provided on your application. This includes data about specific prescription drugs and lifestyle habits, such as smoking and drinking.

Being honest helps:

Always tell the truth on your application because chances are the insurance company will find out the truth otherwise. For example, if you take medication for anxiety, don’t hide it because your blood and urine tests will say otherwise (and they don’t lie). The same is true if you smoke or drink – it will show up in your results, leaving you with a denial not only for the conditions but also for lying.

How are the Tests Performed?

Most insurance companies send a trained paramedic or examiner to you. They conduct the tests at home, at work, or anywhere you are comfortable. If you’d prefer to go to an office, inform your insurance company, and they’ll notify you of the locations.

This is important:

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Before the examiner begins, you’ll sign a HIPAA authorization. This enables the examiner to conduct the exam and determine who can see your information and results. Only authorized personnel may access your information; only those you name may receive the results. Insurance companies must follow strict privacy practices.

The paramedical exam includes answering some questions about your health history and a general check of your vitals. You’ll then provide the examiner with a fresh urine sample, and they’ll take 3 vials of blood to send to the lab.

Results usually take a week or two and go directly to your insurance company. Your insurance agent can share the results with you so you understand the decision and/or premiums they charge.

Who can Authorize and Schedule the Tests?

Your insurance agent will inform you if you need blood and urine tests. You can’t go to your doctor or use recent blood test results from your doctor’s office.

Only you can schedule the exam. Your insurance agent will have the examiner contact you to make an appointment, especially if the examiner comes to you.

Who Pays for Life Insurance Blood and Urine Tests?

The insurance company covers the cost of these tests. They figure the costs into the premiums charged. Even if you choose insurance with another company or they turn down your application, you don’t owe anything for the blood and urine tests.

How to Prepare for the Life Insurance Blood Test

Preparation isn’t mandatory, but a little work ahead of time may improve your chances of approval. They’re testing your overall health to determine if you’re a reasonable risk.

No matter which life insurance company you use, you will have to fast for 8 – 12 hours before the tests. Try scheduling your appointment first thing in the morning, so most of those fasting hours occur while you’re sleeping.

Make healthy food choices a week or so before your test. Eating foods high in good fat may help raise your good cholesterol. Avoiding fatty and sugary foods helps lower your glucose levels, which high levels indicate diabetes.

Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses) in the days leading up to your test. This helps detoxify your body and makes it easier for the examiner to get your blood.

What Shouldn’t You Do Before Tests?

Certain foods and nutrients may trigger a false positive for drugs, excessive proteins, or kidney disease indicators. Try eating only whole foods in the days leading up to the exam, but definitely avoid the following:

  • Excessive caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Excessive salt
  • Harsh exercise
  • Marijuana (at least 30 days before your exam)

Women should also avoid scheduling the exam during their period, as this could throw their levels off.

What if you Get Denied because of your Test Results?

If you’re denied coverage, don’t worry, there are other options.

First, determine the reason. Ask the insurance company why they denied you and request a copy of your test results from the company that performed the tests. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, talk about it with your examiner. For example, if you recently had a physical with your doctor and something doesn’t align, ask for a second test.

The insurance company may also have alternatives.

For example, if your results were just outside their norm, you may switch from permanent life insurance to term life since even minor health issues affect the premiums. If you have markers for specific conditions, such as diabetes, consider asking the agent (or another company) about pre-diabetics policies, as many companies offer them.

If these options don’t work, check out your alternatives.

Alternatives to Blood and Urine Tests

Some people are averse to blood and urine tests. Some people know they won’t pass the exam and want to avoid it. Others are afraid of needles. Whatever the reason, there are alternatives, but they cost more.

If you’re in good health and don’t want the blood and urine tests, ask about accelerated underwriting policies. These policies don’t do the ‘normal’ medical exam but instead use your medical records, prescription records, credit reports, driving records, and behavioral algorithms to determine your risk. These policies have higher premiums than policies with medical exams but are not as high as no-medical exam policies.

Here’s the deal:

If you aren’t in good health and worry about passing any type of medical exam or looking into your medical history, consider either:

Simplified Issue Insurance

If you have health problems but nothing major like HIV, heart disease, or diabetes, you may qualify for a simplified issue policy. Insurance companies don’t require a medical exam but ask about your medical history. As long as you don’t have indicators of major diseases, you may qualify without the medical exam.

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Guaranteed Issue Insurance

If you know you can’t pass even the health questions, the guaranteed issue policy gives insurance to anyone who applies. You’ll find lower policy limits and much higher premiums for the guarantee, though.

If you’re in good health, there’s no reason to pay the higher premiums. The urine and blood tests aren’t invasive – they are the same tests you’d take at the doctor’s office. When I applied for life insurance a few months ago, I chose to have the examiner come to me. Since I work at home, she came during my lunch hour. She reviewed the questions with me in just a few minutes and took my vitals.

Here’s my story:

Next were the blood and urine tests. Since I drank 6 – 8 glasses of water for the few days before my exam, I had no problem providing a urine sample. The examiner provided the cup and was very sanitary about the process. The final step was the blood test. I was a little nervous, but it took at most 3 minutes to complete. Before I even had time to worry, it was over. I was glad I opted for the fully underwritten policy rather than paying the higher premiums.

I received my results in 2 weeks. Everything was fine according to what the insurance companies looked for. I was accepted for the insurance I wanted and the premiums I could afford.

Bottom Line

Blood and urine tests are an essential part of the life insurance process. You must complete the tests for the best rates and coverage amounts. If you have questionable health issues or know you won’t pass the medical exam, consider one of the alternatives, but make sure you shop around. Premiums increase when you don’t back up your application with tests proving your overall health. Consider why you need life insurance and what you can afford before choosing.


Meet Aaron H., a senior life insurance agent from California with 15+ years of experience. With a major in finance, excellent analytical and communication skills, and a passion for helping clients find personalized solutions, Aaron is a trusted advisor in the industry. He stays up-to-date on the latest trends and developments by attending webinars and workshops, reading industry blogs, and writing informative blog posts on this website. Aaron also has a keen understanding of SEO and online marketing, which he uses to help his clients reach a wider audience and get the coverage they need. He cherishes spending quality time with his wife, two children, and elder parents.

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