Applying for Life Insurance? Here's What to Expect
Life insurance is an important part of your estate planning strategy. You can use it to provide money for your children’s education, cover your funeral expenses, and leave money behind for loved ones. Understanding what to expect and what you need in order to apply can help make the process easier.
We discuss below what you need to complete the application, what your medical examination might include, and what to do if you don’t pass the health requirements. Keep in mind that there are several factors that will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality, and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.
Information Needed for the Life Insurance Application
If you could just pick a policy and pay the premium, buying life insurance would be simple.
However, there are a few more steps to consider in the process. To start, you’ll need to choose between permanent and term life insurance. A permanent life insurance policy covers you for your entire life, while term life insurance applies for a set period of time. Additional steps and considerations include:
- Calculating how much coverage is needed (based on your spouse’s earning potential, your children’s ages, current debt levels, monthly expenses and more).
- How to pay for the policy (annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly).
- Other life insurance policies you may already have. If you already have life insurance and are applying for more than one policy, the insurer may question why you need additional coverage.
- Your annual income.
- Your net worth, including assets such as real estate, stocks and cash assets.
Even though you will likely be required to undergo a medical exam as part of the application process, you should still expect medical questions on the application, such as those relating to the following:
- Date of birth
- Lifestyle habits
If you smoke, drink or have other lifestyle habits that the insurer considers a risk, it may impact your eligibility for life insurance or the price you pay for your policy.
What Can I Expect During the Medical Exam?
The medical exam required by insurers varies. However, you can expect to undergo an in-person medical exam at a location approved by the insurance company. For some, this is the most uncomfortable part of the process.
During the exam, the medical professional will guide you through the requirements, which may include:
- Documentation of your medical history (including surgeries, prescription medications and other details)
- Details about your family’s medical history
- Current blood pressure
- Current heartbeat characteristics
- Height and weight
- Blood and urine samples
- Questionnaire or interview about lifestyle habits, such as drinking, exercise, smoking, recreational drug use, travel and certain risky hobbies
There may be other tests depending on what policy you choose, your age or the amount of coverage needed. These could include a chest x-ray, an EKG or a treadmill (stress) test.
What If the Insurance Company Denies My Application?
Your options if an insurer denies your application depend on the reasons for the denial. If you were turned down due to health risks, you can seek a policy that doesn’t require a medical exam, which, however, can cost more money. You can also seek life insurance through your employer during an open enrollment period. These policies often don’t require a medical exam. Additionally, you can wait, work at improving the health conditions under your control and try again later down the road.
Your insurance agent can help you choose the policy that works best for you and allows you to leave a legacy for your beneficiaries. In the meantime, consider making healthy lifestyle choices so that you can support your dependents for a long time to come. This will help keep your premiums down and give you as much life insurance as your budget allows.