What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance

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Contributor, Benzinga
December 10, 2021

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Applying for life insurance can be stressful, confusing and even a little scary. Knowing what to expect can help set you up for success and put your mind at ease. 

Here’s what you need to know about applying for life insurance before you begin the process.

Life Insurance Medical Exam

When applying for life insurance, you will most likely be required to undergo a medical exam during the underwriting process. Your medical history and current health play a huge role in the insurance company’s determination of your rate.

During the exam, you will answer a series of questions about your health, lifestyle and social habits. These questions will generally be about your medical history, your family’s medical history, prior doctor visits and any underlying medical conditions you have or may have.

You will then go through a routine physical exam during which your height, weight and blood pressure will be measured. This exam will be almost exactly like your standard check-up you receive each year except that you won’t need to pay for it.

You will also likely need to provide a blood and a urine sample. The blood sample will check for things such as cholesterol and glucose levels as well as blood-borne diseases (like HIV and hepatitis). 

The urinalysis will check for the same sort of things, as well as remnants of creatinine and illegal substances. If you are older or applying for a large amount of coverage you may be required to get an EKG. Male applicants over the age of 50 will undergo a prostate-specific antigen test.

Life Insurance Personal Coverage Needs

Once you’ve decided to take out a life insurance policy, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much coverage you should get. Your life insurance should be enough to cover your salary, dependents, debts and other expenses and financial obligations incurred after your passing. 

The amount of life insurance you can claim is dependent on your income and overall net worth.

You can calculate a good amount of life insurance for you by subtracting your assets from your financial obligations. 

Another way you can calculate the amount you should apply for is by multiplying your annual salary by the number of years you have left to work before retiring.

Phone Interview

Before moving onto the underwriting process when applying for life insurance, you will have to undergo a phone interview. You will usually need to undergo a phone interview even if you’re applying for coverage online. The phone interview is a requirement for insurance companies and will usually last only 15 to 30 minutes.

The phone interview is for the insurance company to get an accurate idea of your health, habits and hobbies. While most of your answers will later be verified, it’s important that you answer honestly. 

Your insurance company will ask you questions about your job, your financial and physical assets and any outstanding financial obligations that you have. You will also be asked about your medical history, your family’s medical history, any medications you take and any previous conditions or procedures you’ve undergone.

You can make the life insurance phone interview seamless and quick by having all of your financial history and records on-hand before the date arrives. Have your social security number, financial records, medical records, doctor names and phone numbers and a list of what exercise and activity you do ready to relay to the insurance agent.  

Information will you Need to Have on Hand

The following is a comprehensive list of everything you should have on hand when you apply for life insurance: 

  • Driver’s license and Social Security number
  • Financial statements including income and net worth
  • Dates of any medical treatments, surgeries or diagnoses 
  • Current prescription names and dosages 
  • Names and phone numbers for all current doctors 
  • A record of your family’s medical history 
  • A list of all activity and exercise you partake in
  • Any other facts about your health such as the date you quit smoking or weight gain and losses  

Non-medical Life Insurance Questions

Most life insurance coverage will be determined by your medical history. However, your life insurance company also needs information on other aspects of your life when you are applying for coverage. These often questions relate to your age and occupation. If you work in a high-risk industry, you can expect to pay more for your coverage.

Your hobbies will also be asked about. It is better to be honest about all your hobbies, whether they include scuba-diving and hunting or gardening and painting. If you frequently engage in hobbies that are physically riskier or more taxing, you may pay more for your insurance coverage. 

You will also be asked about your driving record. Your insurance premiums may go up if you have any traffic violations or other blemishes on your record.

Can You Prevent Insurance Coverage Rejection?

There are a few reasons why an insurance company might deny you coverage. These reasons can include everything from your physical health to your personal lifestyle choices and from your age to your driving record. The 1st thing to do when you get denied coverage is to find out the reason why, if possible.

If you are denied life insurance coverage from 1 insurance company, it doesn’t mean that you can never have life insurance coverage. The first thing you can and should do after you’re rejected is apply with a different insurance company. 

While the general process of applying is pretty similar across the board, insurers still go through different underwriting processes and assess factors differently. This means that it’s possible to be denied for coverage from 1 insurance company and offered a full, affordable policy with another.

The medical exam portion of the life insurance application is usually the most common reason for rejection. If you suffer from a chronic illness, you’re likely to be rejected for coverage — especially if it is an incurable illness that becomes worse over time. If the company assesses your health issue to be too high of a risk, they will deny you coverage.  

You can also appeal the decision the company came to in rejecting you. For this, you will need evidence that can help your case to be gathered and ready before you contact the insurance company. 

Some examples can include things like updated medical records (if you were able to lower your cholesterol or improve another area of your health) or a certificate confirming that you’ve completed a safe driving course (if you have multiple violations on your driving record). 

Another option you have after getting rejected is to try applying for a different policy. For example, if you were rejected for permanent coverage, you can try and apply for term life coverage instead. 

Tips to Reduce Your Life Insurance Premium

The best way to save money on life insurance is to take great care of your health. Here are a few tips you can use to improve your physical health and lower what you pay for life insurance.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking can lead to a myriad of health risk factors that can increase what you pay for life insurance, ranging from hypertension to lung cancer. If you need 1 more reason to quit smoking, this is it.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising regularly offers a wide selection of health benefits, ranging from losing weight to controlling blood sugar levels. Aim for 30 minutes of increased heart rate each day to get all of the benefits that come with fitness.
  • Watch your alcohol consumption. Though a bit of red wine can be good for your heart, overindulging in alcohol can cause serious negative health effects. If you’re a man, try not to consume more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day. If you’re a woman, 1 drink a day is considered healthy.

Working to sustain a healthy lifestyle will help you lower your insurance premiums, enjoy more energy throughout the day and sleep better at night. 

Compare Life Insurance

Still shopping for the right life insurance coverage? Consider applying with a few of our favorite insurance providers below.  

Apply for Life Insurance

The biggest mistake that men and women make when applying for life insurance coverage is waiting too long to sign onto their policy. As you get older, health conditions are more likely to emerge, and you may end up paying more for your coverage than you would have if you applied earlier. 

If you think you might need life insurance in the future, start searching for a policy and comparing your options today. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I skip the life insurance phone interview?


No. The phone interview portion of the life insurance application is almost always required.


How long does it take to apply for life insurance?


The amount of time that it will take to get approval for your life insurance policy will vary depending on the insurance provider you choose. Some insurance companies are able to underwrite policies in as little as 24 hours while others take several months to finalize a policy.


Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.