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How to Pass a Life Insurance Medical Exam

So you’ve done the hard part. You’ve applied for your quote and filled in an application and now…

You’ve been called for a life insurance medical exam with your GP or a nurse screening.

Your first question is probably ‘why?’

Your second is likely ‘what are they gonna do to me?’

Well, reader, strap on your seatbelt and buckle in.

Why Do You Have to do a Medical?

Honestly, there’s nothing sinister about it.

The insurer isn’t trying to trick you or catch you out.

If you have a clean bill of health, your application will sail through as the insurer will consider you to be low risk.

However, if you have issues with your health – a chronic illness or high BMI, for example – your insurer will want to make sure they know what they’re dealing with so they can more accurately assess your case.

Okay, so they’re not not trying to catch you out, but insurance is a business so you have to think of it as them trying to manage the risk of you making a claim.

I know, I know – it’s all very capitalist scum of them, but put that thought aside for now, and let’s focus on how to pass this medical exam which isn’t nearly as bad as you might be thinking.

No one is about to put sensors on your nips and make you run until you fall over, okay?

man running on treadmill

There may be absoloutely nothing wrong with you but due to your age and the amount of cover you require, you have breached non-medical limits.

If that’s the case, you have nowt to worry about apart from making time in your busy schedule to do the exam.

What is a Life Insurance Medical Exam?

You might think that the medical exam sounds like an awful physical test. (Remember the trauma of the bleep test in school? Yeah? It’s nothing like that.)

The insurer wants a full view of your health, so they’ll send a questionnaire to your GP (or an independent GP).

The GP will fill in information on a bunch of stuff, including:

  • Your family history – and any history of illness.
  • Personal details – the usual stuff: date of birth, gender, etc. etc.
  • Your medical history – so have you had or do you have any conditions or issues that might raise the risk of your claiming on your Life Insurance policy? (That’s a long-winded way of saying ‘dying’, by the way.)
  • General appearance. Does your GP have any reason to suspect that you’re not well based on looking unwell, i.e. if you’ve said that you drink or do drugs, have you possibly understate how much?
  • Measurements – height, weight, that kind of thing.
  • Respiratory system.
  • Gastrointestinal tract.
  • Nervous system.
  • Urinary system.

As you can see, it’s comprehensive, and some of those words are scary – especially the last four which are pretty important to keeping you up and running.

At your medical exam, your GP will get info on all of that, but it doesn’t involve nearly as much prodding and poking as you might think.

What is a Nurse Screening?

Instead of a GP exam, you might only need to go for a nurse screening, which is less invasive.

It will usually consist of some questions about your lifestyle, your medical history and your close family.

Measurements will be recorded of:

  • Height/Weight.
  • Hip/Waist.
  • Blood pressure
  • Lung function.

A urine specimen will also be collected and tested for blood, glucose or protein.

So yeah: you’ll have to pee in a cup, but no one is gonna be watching you do it and it’s not as if nurses don’t handle many cups of pee a day, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

The screener usually doesn’t take any longer than half an hour and you won’t have to do any awkward undressing.

So now you know what to expect, let’s see how you can best prepare to pass your Life Insurance medical.

How To Pass a Life Insurance Medical Exam – 10 Tips

It’s pretty straightforward, really.

The easiest way to pass a Life Insurance medical is to lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle.

You don’t have to be a star athlete or anything, but think about it like an episode of Operation Transformation and kill any bad habits you have in the weeks beforehand.

Approach it right and you could set yourself up to be much healthier in general, which is always a good thing.

So in the weeks leading up to your medical, make sure to:

1.  Lose weight

Right or wrong, there’s no getting around the fact that insurers love tall, skinny people.

Life is easier for tall, skinny people. Life Insurance is too. (How’s that for a tag line?)

You can’t do much to increase your height in a few weeks bar this. (And yes, it’s a real thing I kid you not.)

But you can lose weight safely in a few weeks.

Now, I’m not saying that losing weight is a sure-fire way to get cheaper insurance or anything, especially if your weight is considered in the ‘normal’ range anyway.

However, if you have a sneaking suspicion that your BMI is higher than it should be and that’s why the insurer has called you for a nurse medical, you should schedule the medical for a few weeks into the future.

Take it as an opportunity to eat a little healthier or to get more active.

You’d be surprised how far adding an extra 30 minutes of exercise to your day will go.

Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, steadily, and you could have dropped a stone by the time you do your medical.

And yes, even losing a small amount, say 5-10 pounds, will help.

You’ll feel better, be healthier, and ultimately get cheaper cover, so it’s really worth it.

2.  Change your diet (or live like a health freak)

Again, there’s a caveat here. If you already eat healthily, you don’t need to swap the odd treat for kale crisps (life isn’t worth living if you’re counting kale crisps as a treat).

Think of it more like the factors that might increase your blood pressure or cholesterol. So:

  • Limit salt.
  • Cut down on alcohol.
  • Reduce sugar intake.
  • Eat more wholegrain foods, fish and vegetables.

3. Avoid stressful situations

Easier said than done, in lots of cases. I suggest:

  • Turning off Joe Duffy.
  • Stop watching football.

No, but seriously: high blood pressure will raise red flags for any insurer so try and de-stress.

Maybe take up yoga or go for a walk in the evening after work to decompress.

At the very least, leave your work at the office door.

4. Sleep well

Eight hours.

No excuses.

Put away the blue screen of joy (your phone) at least a half hour before you tuck in for the night.

These next tips kick in right up to your exam, so:

5. Take it easy/don’t do any exercise a couple of days beforehand

Exercise can elevate blood pressure and increase protein in your urine, so take it as an excuse to put your feet up and watch telly.

6. Don’t eat for 24 hours before the exam

It keeps your weight down and your blood clean.


On the day of your exam:

7. No caffeine

Put down the coffee, tea, coke and especially the vodka red bull.

You don’t need me to tell you why.

8. Dress light

Remember what I said about how insurers love tall, skinny people?

Don’t wrap yourself up in layers of heavy jumpers.

Dress light, drop a few pounds; lose a few pounds off the price.

Play the insurers at their own game, essentially.

9. Stand tall

Shoulders firm, strong back, suck in a breath and let them take a mostly accurate version of your measurements.

Seriously, every little helps.

10. If nervous, ask your GP to take your blood pressure at the end.

Ever heard of White Coat Syndrome?

It’s also called White Coat Hypertension and leads to raised blood pressure because you’re nervous.

My mother has it, so in the GP’s office her blood pressure is sky high but once she’s asked to wear a blood pressure monitor at home, she’s grand.

Ask the GP to take your blood pressure at the end of the exam and you’ll be sorted.

Over to you…

Try not to worry about the exam.

You’ve no reason to worry if you’ve used a specialist broker who has gone through your medical issues with you and recommended the insurer who is most sympathetic to your condition.

But if you have just gone with the cheapest quote, it’s still not too late to change your mind.

Going with the cheapest initial quote usually ends up in a premium increase.

The quote was cheap because it assumes you have no health issues.

Unfiortunately, you’re not going to get within an asses roar of that quote if you have a health condition and have been called for a life insurance medical exam.

If you’d like some guidance on which insurer is best based on your medical condition, please complete this short form and I’ll be right back.

Thanks for reading,

Nick | Protection Broker of the Year 🏆

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