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Life Insurance Medicals Explained

Russell Cain
Russell Cain Updated: 10 May 2020

Life insurance is one of the best ways you can plan for your family’s financial security should you become seriously injured or ill or pass away. However, some Australians are hesitant to purchase this financial safety net. One of the main reasons for this because they don’t want to go for a medical exam.

You might be scared of what the exam could reveal, or have a profound fear of needles, but most people simply consider the process inconvenient and a waste of time. The good news is that you can get life insurance without a medical exam.

Generally, life insurance medicals aren’t mandatory in Australia. However, there are exceptions where you might have to undergo an exam to complete your insurance application.

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What is ‘no medical life insurance’?

Usually, life insurance without a medical exam refers to term life insurance policies which you can purchase without needing to undergo a medical exam and/or blood test.

When you apply for a life cover policy, you’ll be asked to complete an application form that includes both personal and health information. Based on the information you’ve provided, the insurer will then assess your application, and if your answers fit their specific underwriting guidelines, they’ll offer you a life insurance policy.

Can I get life insurance without taking a medical exam?

Yes, generally, you can get term life insurance without undergoing a medical exam, and you’ll usually only need to answer a few medical questions. However, your premium may be higher based on your answers, as well as if it’s a direct, retail or a group policy. Whether you need an exam is also dependent on the insurer’s underwriting guidelines, for example, if you have a pre-existing medical condition or apply for a very high amount of coverage the insurer may request an exam.

If you have a pre-existing condition and the insurer requests that you go for a medical exam and/or blood tests, you can check to see if they will accept a copy of your doctor’s report on your condition and possibly avoid the exam altogether.

Direct vs retail life insurance

Generally, the following applies to direct (non-advised) and retail (advised) life insurance policies.

Direct Life InsuranceRetail Life Insurance
Also referred to as non-advised life insurance. You can apply for via the telephone, online or it might be available through your bank.Also known as advised life insurance, which can be purchased face-to-face or over the phone.
You usually won’t receive any financial recommendations or advice which could influence or possibly improve your purchasing decision.Advice from a broker will usually be provided, and they’ll complete a 15 minute to an hour’s session with you to help you make an informed decision.
Quick and easy to apply, with nil or minimal medical information required. Typically underwritten at claim time, this is referred to as retro-underwriting and could lead to uncertainty during claim time.Extensive underwriting during application. Requires your medical history and might include blood tests and perhaps a medical exam if you have a pre-existing condition or apply for a high amount of coverage.
Generally more expensive than retail (advised) policies.Might be more affordable with fewer exclusions due to being fully underwritten.
Limits the maximum amount of cover you can purchase.You can choose the amount of cover you want.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of non-exam life insurance?

Many people prefer streamlining the underwriting process because of its convenience. In addition to the shorter application time and ease of acceptance, many people specifically seek out life insurances quotes with no medical exam because they:

Should your insurer request a medical exam, due to your medical history or because you’ve applied for a significant amount of coverage, then it might be more favourable for you to undergo a medical exam and/or blood tests, especially if you want:

While you might prefer not to disclose your medical history and family health issues, or be subject to a medical exam, the lengthier underwriting process provided by retail life insurance companies allows you to be more confident in the insurer’s decision to offer you cover at a lower rate.

What to expect in your life insurance medical exam

The extent of your medical examination depends on a range of details, including your personal details, like your age and gender, the medical information you provided and the life insurer’s underwriting guidelines. Generally, you can expect the doctor or nurse performing the medical exam to:

  • Measure your height and weight,
  • Take your blood pressure and pulse,
  • Collect blood and urine samples (if required)
  • Review your health and lifestyle responses provided on your insurance application

Things that could negatively affect your premium price include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and glucose levels, high BMI and any indications of nicotine, tobacco or drug use.

8 Tips to help you prepare for your medical exam

Anything you can do to prepare beforehand will make your exam go quicker.

  1. Schedule your exam early in the morning as many exams require you to fast for 6+ hours.
  2. Have your paperwork ready; this usually includes your identification document and a list of your former doctors and their contact details.
  3. Prepare a list of all your medications because the examiner will usually ask about your medical history.
  4. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine to get accurate blood pressure readings.
  5. Stay well-hydrated to make it easier for them to draw your blood.
  6. Get a good night’s sleep on your medical exam day and try to avoid physical exercise as this might elevate protein levels in your urine and increase blood pressure.
  7. Dress lightly. It’s awkward to remove layers of clothing to get an accurate body mass index (BMI)
  8. Don’t be a hero. Let the examiner know if you have a fear of blood or needles, especially if you tend to faint when blood is drawn.

It’s incredibly important that you read through your product disclosure statement (PDS) and familiarise yourself with what exactly you are and aren’t covered for.

Compare life insurance quotes with no medical exams

Because each life insurance company is different, they are going to look at your application differently. To find a company that will work with you to get a policy suited to your specific needs and circumstances you might want to compare a variety of quotes before making a decision and seek the advice of a specialist.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can an insurance company require me to submit to a medical exam before granting me a life insurance policy?

    Yes, an insurance company may ask you to submit to a medical exam before finalising your application for life insurance. However, this is usually required if you are a much older applicant, are applying for a high coverage amount, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
  • How does your medical history affect your life insurance?

    Your medical history is one of the factors that’s taken into consideration when an insurer underwrites your life insurance application. The information provided will help the insurer to evaluate the risk of you submitting a possible future claim. For instance, if you’ve had serious medical issues in the past, you’re likely to be a higher risk. This will be reflected in your premium price and the exclusions and waiting periods listed in your policy documents.
  • How does my family’s medical history affect my life insurance?

    Your family’s medical history is generally also required during application time. This information could impact your life insurance rates and acceptance, especially if your immediate family members (your parents’ and siblings’) have a history of cardiovascular diseases, death due to cancer, or diabetes, to name a few.
  • What happens after I’ve provided my medical history?

    Once you have provided all the information that the insurer requires, they will assess your application and advise you of their decision in writing. If your application is accepted you will be sent a Policy Schedule which will describe the details of your cover.

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