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What Do Life Insurance Medical Exams Test For [5 Categories]

What do life insurance medical exams test for?

The life insurance exam can seem like a daunting undertaking to some. As a result, we thought we would help demystify the experience by shedding light on what the life insurance medical exam tests for.

With that in mind, you may benefit from reading our article exploring the best life insurance companies for more in depth reading on how we go about obtaining the best life insurance rates available for our clients.

Exploring What Life Insurance Medical Exams Test For

Heart and ArteriesCholesterol, HDL, LDL, LDL/HDL Ratio, Cholesterol/HDL Ratio, Triglycerides, Diuretic in urine, and Beta Adrenergic Blockers
Kidney and BladderLeukocyte Esterase, Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Urine PH Screen, Hemoglobin Screen, Creatinine, Proteinuria, Urine Creatinine, Protein/Creatinine Ratio, and Microalbumin
LiverAlkaline Phosphatase, Aspartate Amniotransferase (AST), Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT), Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT), Total Bilirubin, Total Protein, Albumin, and Globulin
PancreasUrine Glucose, Fructosamine, and Hemoglobin A1c
OtherSerum HIV, Cotinine, and drug tests

Now before we get into the specifics of what life insurance medical exams test for we would like to address the exam itself or you can simply jump to what life insurance medical exams test for

Want to make sure you are ready for your exam? Read our article on how to ace your life insurance physical exam: 6 money saving tips. This article covers everything from the food to eat before your exam, what to refrain from prior to the exam, and tips for the morning of your life insurance health exam.

The process of obtaining coverage consists of first choosing a product from the different types of life insurance policies. If you choose a life insurance product that requires a medical exam then the next step after filing out an application is for an examiner to come to your home and conduct an exam. You can avoid having to take an exam by choosing no medical exam life insurance. We work with companies that offer up to $1,000,000 in coverage and up to $2,000,000 no exam life insurance for second to die life insurance.

Not sure if no exam life insurance is right for you? Read our article on the advantages of no exam versus exam life insurance. You can get up to a one million dollar no exam life insurance policy if you have superior health.  For addition information regarding which insurance companies we feel are currently offering the best no medical life insurance options, please visit our article:  Top 10 No Medical Exam Life Insurance Companies. This may be the best option for those who need protection fast to cover an SBA loan or for a divorce settlement.

If you choose to take an exam the examiner will meet you at home, your place of business, or you can come by the exam office. The exam consists of the examiner taking your height and weight, blood pressure, urine sample and blood sample. At times an EKG will also be required for older clients or for clients looking to get a large amount of life insurance coverage. The examiner will also inquire into who your primary care physician is as well as any other doctors you have seen recently. Finally, the examiner will request your see driver’s license for identification purposes. Check out our 6 tips to acing the life insurance medical exam for more.

Upon completion of your life insurance health exam, the examiner may have some additional application questions to go over with you. The examiner will ask questions about your health and lifestyle which will probably be a repeat of what your agent already asked you. One reason they do this is to be thorough but another reason this is done is to look for inconsistencies. Inconsistent answers raise red flags with the life insurance underwriter who may request additional information such as physician statements.

A typical life insurance medical exam will take between 15-30 minutes and between 30-45 minutes if an EKG is required (typically for clients 60 and up and for those qualifying for larger face amounts).

Once your physical for life insurance is completed your lab results will typically be available for personal review within the next 7-14 days.

Your lab specimens are sent to a lab company which prepares your labs for the life insurance underwriter. The underwriter will review your life insurance laboratory results and offer you a rate class based on the results of your labs. See our Life Insurance 101 page for more on rate classes.

You policy will then be sent to you for review as well as any additional delivery requirements.

So with that said,

The two main ingredients that are examined are your blood and urine. Which leads us to the question:

What do life insurance companies test blood and urine for?


The 5 categories life insurance companies test blood and urine for:

  1. Heart and Arteries
  2. Kidney and Bladder
  3. Liver
  4. Pancreas
  5. Other

Heart and Arteries – this represent your cardiovascular system

  • Cholesterol – fatty substance in your body needed to help keep things lubricated. There are good and bad types of cholesterol. If you have too much bad cholesterol in your blood it can stick to arteries causing blockage in your arteries leading to complications such as heart attack or stroke. Life insurance companies vary in how much total cholesterol is allowed. Some companies only allow total cholesterol of 200 for the top rate class although most have moved the parameters out to as high as 300.
  • HDL– High-Density Lipoprotein is known as your “good” cholesterol because it protects your arteries from bad cholesterol (LDL) building up in your arteries. Ideally men want above 40 HDL and women want above 50 HDL.
  • LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein is “bad” cholesterol that accumulates in arteries leading to blockage. A common cure for LDL blockage is the placement of stents.
  • LDL/HDL Ratio– LDL divided by HDL is used to determine risk for heart disease. The lower the ratio number reflects a lower risk for heart disease.
  • Cholesterol/HDL Ratio-measures total cholesterol divided by your HDL. A number below 5 is good with some companies offering a bonus if your ratio is 4.5 or below.
  • Triglycerides – fat (lipid) found in the blood. Ideally, levels below 150 are superior. Above 150 and you will probably be out of luck for the best life insurance rate class.
  • Diuretic In Urine – high blood pressure medications act as diuretic and life insurance medical exams look for the presence of diuretics to discover if you may indeed be taking a HBP medication.
  • Beta Adrenergic Blockers – test looking for potential medications taken by people with arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and other heart defects.

Kidney and Bladder – removes the waste products from urine.

  • Leukocyte Esterase – life insurance medical exams screen for the presence enzyme which may point to infections of the kidney or bladder.
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) – used to determine a person’s overall health. Normal ranges between 10-25 are desired.
  • Urine PH Screen – tests how acidic the urine is. Normal ranges are between 4 and 8.
  • Hemoglobin Screen – used to discover if hemoglobin is present in the urine which may indicate kidney or urinary tract infection.
  • Creatinine – High levels point to possible kidney disease. Levels between 0.7 to 1.5 are normal.
  • Proteinuria (protein in urine) –may point to the presence of kidney disease.
  • Urine Creatinine – levels between 25-250 are normal. Too much can point to kidney disease.
  • Protein/Creatinine Ratio – urine protein/creatinine ratio (UP/CR) between 0.0-0.20 is ideal.
  • Microalbumin – testing for the presence of this protein. Below 0.30 is normal. Elevated levels point to kidney disease.

Liver –filtration system for your blood which produces proteins and cholesterol. 

  • Alkaline Phosphatase – an enzyme in your blood. Too much can be a sign of liver or bone disease (such as Paget’s disease). Ideal readings range from 30-100.
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) – high levels of this enzyme may be a warning sign of liver, muscle, or heart disease. A level below 40 is ideal.
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) – enzyme that can signify liver disease if elevated. A level below 45 is ideal.
  • Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT) – enzyme that increases with heavy alcohol consumption or liver disease. Below 65 is normal.
  • Total Bilirubin – high bilirubin can signal gall bladder or liver disease. Normal levels are .3 to 1.8.
  • Total Protein – ranges from 6-8 are normal.
  • Albumin – low levels reflect poor nutrition and the potential for various diseases. Normal ranges are between 3.8 and 5.2.
  • Globulin – Elevated or decreased levels point to a variety of potential issues. Normal ranges are between 2.1-3.5.

Pancreas – produces hormones such as insulin which help regulate blood sugar levels and produces enzymes that aid in the digestion of food.

  • Urine Glucose – life insurance medical exams test for glucose in the urine which may point to diabetes.
  • Fructosamine – measures blood sugar levels over the past two to three weeks. You want your levels to be somewhere between 1.5 to 2.5.
  • Hemoglobin A1c – measures blood glucose over the last 90 days. A reading below 5.7 is considered normal. A reading between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered pre-diabetic. A client with a reading of 6.5 and higher is considered diabetic for life insurance purposes.


  • Serum HIV – HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Cotinine – the main byproduct of nicotine, which alerts carriers to potential tobacco use. There is no definitive answer on how long nicotine stays in your system. However, the primary means life insurance companies use to discover nicotine is through a urine test. The typical timeline on how long nicotine remains in your system can be 2 days or up to 3 months.

Some additional things life insurance medical exams test for

Life insurance companies are not messing around. A background check may also be made inquiring into any:

The more life insurance coverage you apply for the more information about you the underwriter will seek. The key is to be as honest as possible but to also be prepared. The last thing you want is to be declined for life insurance. Speaking of being prepared, this next section will deal with getting ready for your life insurance exam.

Why should I be concerned with what a life insurance exam tests for?

Knowledge is power. Knowing what the exam tests for may give you an edge so that you can obtain a better rate class than had you not had this information. And on certain life insurance policies, such as those used to fund buy sell agreements, irrevocable life insurance trusts or key person business insurance, a better rate class may mean thousands of dollars in savings.

And above all else, make sure you have options!

The key to achieving the best rate and finding the cheapest life insurance is to go with the best company for your specific health and lifestyle profile. There is no “best” life insurance company. The truth is there are a ton of companies to choose from. That is where we come in.

About TermLife2Go

We are not a life insurance company. We are comprised of seasoned life insurance professionals whose sole purpose is to find you the best company based on your specific needs and wants. With so many life insurance companies to choose from, we can help narrow down your choices and provide you with options of the carriers with specific niches that provide more liberal underwriting for your health or lifestyle. Our job is to know the various niches and place you with the company tailored for you.

So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today or enter your information for free life insurance quotes today!

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