5 March 2014 0 Comments

How Lab Results Affect Premiums

shutterstock_164724209When you apply for a life insurance policy the insurance company has you take a medical exam.  Providing blood and urine samples is included.  These bodily fluids are sent to independent medical laboratories for analysis that provides the insurance companies with a great deal of information used in determining the correct premium to be charged.

Many years ago, only urine samples were submitted.  Then, with the advent of AIDS, blood testing was added.  The result has been much lower premiums for those who are in good health and more accurate premiums for those whose lab results indicate a reason for concern. Here are some of the potential indicators that are of interest to insurance companies:

Blood Chemistry

Risk factors for heart attack or stroke
Liver damage/cirrhosis
Alcohol abuse
Use of illicit drugs
Bone conditions
Impaired kidney function
Chronic infections
Certain cancers


Kidney disorders
Use of tobacco products
Use of illicit drugs
Presence of blood

These tests are required even if lab work recently completed by your own physician is available.  This allows insurance companies to maintain quality control and also test for things usually not included during a normal checkup such as alcohol and tobacco use and AIDS.

Reliability of lab results

Are the test results always accurate?  Is it possible that your lab work got mixed up with someone else’s?  Of course there is a potential for false positives or for a break in the test’s chain of control, but this rarely happens.  Often applicants refute positive test relating to tobacco and alcohol use.  Tobacco use is detected by the presences of cotenine in the urine.  Total abstinence from smoking for 5 days is required before the cotenine level is acceptable as a non-tobacco user.  Alcohol abuse is detected in blood testing.  There are various tests used; CDT is the most reliable.  Another test, GGT, might also be used, but it has a much greater chance for false positives than the CDT, so if you are refuting a GGT result, ask for a retest using CDT.  But, first be honest with yourself.  Both tobacco and alcohol abuse is often understated by applicants, possibly because of an attempt to conceal use from a spouse.

If a totally unexpected potential problem comes to light, consult your own doctor with the test results from the insurance company.  More than once I have had applicants first discover the presence of hepatitis or cancer as the result of their insurance company lab tests.

What to do when your application for life insurance has been declined will be my next topic.

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