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Your life insurance medical exam: Should you schedule it strategically?

The answer might surprise you

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Although some life insurance products, including Haven Simple by Haven Life, can be purchased without a medical exam, if you’re in good health it’s often worth applying for a medically-underwritten one that requires a paramedical exam anyway to get the best possible rates. (Why is that? Life insurers want certainty where they can find it. If you’re in good or excellent health, you’re a good bet for the insurer, and you’ll be eligible for more favorable rates for your policy.)

So if you are going to take a life insurance medical exam, should you try to schedule it to your advantage? Let’s just say there are times when you might be in better shape than others. After your best friend’s wedding? You might need a few days to recover. Preparing to run a 10k? You might be in the best shape of your life. Even certain times of day might find you in better health than others.

So should you factor that in to when to schedule your life insurance medical exam? The answer is yes… and also no. To find out more, keep reading.

In this article:

The Yes

Your lab results play a significant role in the life insurance “rate class” you’ll be put into. In general, the better your health, the better your rate class. And the better your rate class, the less you’ll pay for coverage. That being the case, there are a few things you should do to make sure your results are as good as they can be.

First, make sure you’re hydrated, so your kidney and liver functions are at their best, and don’t exercise within the previous 24 hours, so your body isn’t in recovery mode. “We’ve seen people whose values were off because they’d recently done a hard workout,” says Qianqian Li from Haven Life’s customer success team.

One more interesting tidbit: “Most times, people know not to drink alcohol before their labs, but you’d be surprised.” So yeah, you probably shouldn’t schedule your life insurance exam shortly after your best friend’s wedding, even if that wedding got you thinking about the concept of “forever,” really caring for and being responsible to another person, and all the other thoughts that lead people to get life insurance.

The No

However, your labs are only part of the medical information that will be used to determine your rate class. Insurers also use information from the Medical Information Bureau, which will show up no matter when you take your exam.

“Underwriters like to see a stable set of values from the last one to two years,” Li says. So, for example, if you’ve lost a lot of weight in the past 12 months, we’ll be asking some additional questions to better understand the cause.

What all this means is that while it is better to make your lab results as good as they can possibly be, doing so is not some kind of magic bullet that will get you the rate class you want.

Final answer

So what should you do, beyond following the general rules for exams of all kinds? (I.e, don’t be drunk, dehydrated or tired.) If you’re been adopting a healthier lifestyle, getting your cholesterol under control or losing weight, should you wait a year before getting coverage, so that your new “healthy person” lab results will be counted in full? No, you should not.

There are two reasons not to do that: First of all, in general, the younger you are, the less you’ll likely pay for life insurance. And unless you’re Benjamin Button, you’ll never be younger than you are today. And because life insurance premiums stay the same as you age, you’ll pay that lower rate for the duration of your life insurance policy.

But more importantly, the longer you wait to get life insurance, the longer you’ll go without having a policy in place. (Duh.) Even if you’re getting healthier and healthier, you might experience an accident between now and when you plan on applying. (We certainly hope not, but it happens.) And even the seemingly healthiest among us can experience an unexpected diagnosis that might make coverage significantly more expensive, or even completely unavailable. Again, we hope that doesn’t happen to you, but it’s certainly happened before.

In sum, if you’re thinking about getting life insurance, there’s no time like the present. Chances are, you’ll want to take a medical exam as part of the process — and when you do, just be sure not to schedule it for the morning after your best friend’s wedding or a company holiday party.

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About Michael Davis

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Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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