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How do life insurance urine tests work?

A medical exam urine test is the easiest and least invasive way to prove your good health and lower your insurance premium.

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Most life insurance policies come with an extensive medical questionnaire so that your health and medical history can be factored into the price of your premium. And to prove that your answers are accurate, your insurer may require that you take either a full medical exam or some kind of medical test. If yours only requires a urine test, knowing what to expect can help make the process less intimidating.

Why do some life insurance companies require a urine test?

The amount you pay for your premium is based on the risk you pose to the company, and with life insurance, the risk is that you’ll die before the policy has matured. Your medical conditions and relative health all factor into the amount you pay, or whether the company wants to insure you at all. A urinalysis test is a way to check for certain medical conditions and ensure you’re not abusing drugs.

Do all life insurance medical exams require a urine test?

No. Insurance companies all have different requirements for buying a policy. In addition to urinalysis, the following are some of the more prevalent medical tests required to determine your insurance rate:

  • No test required. Some companies don’t require any form of medical exam to buy a policy, or have certain policies that don’t require an exam. Typically, the premiums on those policies will be higher than you might pay for a company that does require testing.
  • Full medical exam. For some policies, you may be required to take a full medical exam, which includes filling out a medical history questionnaire, talking to a nurse and giving blood and urine samples.
  • Blood test. A life insurance blood test typically looks for any underlying medical conditions, tobacco use, cholesterol levels and drug use.
  • Hair follicle test. These tests are rare, as they only test for drug use. But if you have drug recovery in your medical history, your insurer may require this test before setting your premium.
  • Saliva test. Companies usually only require a saliva test to check for recent drug use. It’s more common for employer drug testing than life insurance medical exams.

What are life insurance companies looking for in a urine test?

Your insurer is looking for confirmation of what you’ve claimed in your medical questionnaire and to make sure you’re not engaging in any dangerous or unhealthy behaviors that might put your life at risk. Some of the more prominent checks include:

Cholesterol and other health data

Your medical condition and medical history affects your life insurance premium. A basic urine test can check for substances that indicate underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney disease or infection. These findings probably won’t cause the insurer to refuse your policy, but a pre-existing condition may raise your premiums.

Drug use

The test will check for any prescription medications to make sure you’re taking the appropriate doses and not taking drugs for health conditions you haven’t disclosed. But your urine will also be tested for illegal drug use, which — if detected — will likely cause your application to be denied. Depending on the company where you are applying, marijuana use may not disqualify you, and probably won’t spur an increase in your premiums as long as it’s legal in your state.

Nicotine

Smokers are considered to be such high-risk applicants that they have their own category for life insurance underwriting. If you claim to be a non-smoker, a urine test will reveal whether you lied on your application. But, if you are, review how smoking affects your life insurance.

When should I expect a life insurance urine test?

The life insurance company pays for the test, but you’re in charge of scheduling it. Once your insurer makes the request, you can schedule the test for whenever your medical center has an opening that works for you. The test should only take 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

What else is included in a life insurance medical exam?

In addition to the hair, blood and urine tests, your medical exam will check your overall wellness using a physical exam, in which the technician will:

  • Record your height and weight
  • Take your blood pressure
  • Run an electrocardiogram, if you’ve reported heart issues
  • Take fluid and hair samples
  • Test your cognitive skills
  • Measure your cholesterol

How do I prepare for a life insurance urine test?

In truth, there’s not a lot to do to prepare for a urinalysis test, but reading through the dos and don’ts below can help you do your part to avoid any mistakes or delays down the road.

What to do before a life insurance urine test

The following tips can help make the day go smoothly:

  • Drink plenty of water. You don’t want to go overboard, but adding a couple of glasses of fluids the day of the test will ensure you’re ready to give a sample when the time comes.
  • List your prescriptions. Come prepared with a list of your prescriptions and their doses to make sure the test doesn’t flag something that’s already part of your medical history.
  • Don’t forget supplements. Include any vitamins or supplements you’re taking. Even vitamins as mundane as vitamin C can sometimes interfere with the test.

What not to do before a life insurance urine test

You may want to avoid the following in the days prior to your test:

  • Too much caffeine. Indulging in your normal cup of coffee probably won’t affect your test, but too much caffeine or energy drinks could increase your blood pressure and mess with your results.
  • Heavy exercise. The days before your urine test are probably not the time to step up your exercise game. High-level workouts can increase the protein levels in your urine, which can mimic kidney problems.
  • Too little water. Dehydration can concentrate your urine, which again can throw off the levels that the urinalysis is testing for and mimic a health condition.
  • Drugs. To avoid mistakes, properly dose your prescription drugs and be prepared to produce your prescription should your insurer require it.
  • False-positive foods. Yes, eat enough poppy seeds and you can test positive for opiates, but your favorite bagels aren’t the only food that can trigger a false positive. Teas with ingredients like hemp oil or coca, snack bars that include hemp seeds and any cocktail with tonic in it can cause false positives. And while most modern tests have upped the threshold to account for these errors, it’s probably a good idea to change out your diet a few days before the test.
  • Over-the-counter drugs. Ibuprofen, cold medicines and sleep aids have all led to false positives. Obviously take what you need to get through the day, but if you do have to take high doses of the medicines, let your tech know so that info can be noted.

Can I get a life insurance policy without a urine test?

If you don’t want to take a urine test, most insurance companies have options for policies you can purchase without one. But just because a medical exam isn’t required doesn’t mean the insurer won’t ask for a test if something comes up during the application process. Here are your non-exam options:

  • Simplified issue. You still have to answer questions about your medical history, but as long as you don’t have any major health conditions, a simplified issue life insurance policy doesn’t require any medical exams.
  • Guaranteed issue. The guarantee in guaranteed issue life insurance is that you won’t need a medical exam to get a policy. But you pay for that privilege. These policies are expensive, have low payout caps and are often purchased by seniors to deal with end-of-life expenses.
  • Group life insurance. If you get life insurance from your employer as part of a group life insurance policy, you won’t have to get a medical exam. But it’s a short-term benefit, usually only active while you’re employed at the company, and usually has a low payout.
  • Accelerated underwriting. A few start-up insurance companies are using algorithms populated with publicly-available data, such as your credit score and driving record, and data you provide, such as your medical records and prescription drug history, to set your premium and offer instant approval term life insurance.

Compare life insurance companies

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Sproutt
18 - 60 years old
$50,000
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Bestow
21 - 54 years old
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Everyday Life
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Fabric
25 - 60 years old
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Bottom line

A urine test is a painless, fairly noninvasive way to prove the accuracy of your medical history and get a cheaper life insurance premium. But if you’re concerned about the results or don’t want to subject yourself to a medical exam, shop around for a policy that doesn’t require urinalysis.

Frequently asked questions about urine tests

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