Losing Weight for Your Life Insurance Exam

Last Updated: April 6, 2019

Clients often ask us, “Should I lose weight or diet before my life insurance health examination?”

“Maybe if I shed a few pounds before my exam, I’ll get a lower rate on my life insurance policy.”

While we understand this logic, it’s not likely to save you any money. If you are thinking about dieting or losing weight before your life insurance exam, read this article first.

Quick Article Guide:

  1. Should I Lose Weight or Diet Before I Take My Life Insurance Exam?
  2. Why Is It a Bad Idea to Lose Weight Before My Insurance Exam?
  3. How Exercise Can Cause Elevated Liver and Kidney Functions
  4. Life Insurance Weight Tables for Best Rates
  5. How Can I Approve My Rate Class If I’m Considered Overweight?
  6. The Best Way to Set Up Your Exam for Life Insurance

Should I Lose Weight or Diet Before I Take My Life Insurance Exam?

A lot of Americans could stand to lose a few pounds, but is the week before your life insurance exam really the best time to do so?

Life insurance rates are determined by an individual’s overall health and lifestyle, but most people are surprised to learn that an individual’s overall height and weight have less bearing on their final insurance rating than one might suspect. Life insurance companies offer the best rates to clients at “healthy weights”; they’re not screening for supermodels. If you’re hospitalized down the road and lose 20 pounds, the insurance companies want you to be able to do so without the weight loss creating its own set of problems.

Most life insurance companies are generally pretty liberal with an applicant’s build, and some companies actually offer more lenient weight allowances as we get older. In fact, some companies will even offer their top “Preferred Plus” rates to someone who is considered to be as much as 30 or 40 pounds overweight.

Life insurance companies evaluate each applicant based on their overall health, not just their height and weight. If you don’t have any serious health issues, or if you have an overall healthy and active lifestyle, some companies won’t penalize you for being considered overweight.

Why Is It a Bad Idea to Lose Weight Before My Insurance Exam?

Some of our clients insist that they will get in shape before their exam, even going to the gym as much as possible to prepare weeks ahead for their exam despite our warnings. Most people are unaware that insurance companies will factor in half of your weight loss if your doctor’s records indicate that you’ve lost more than 10 pounds.

As an example, if you’ve lost 12 pounds in the last 12 months, the life insurance company you apply with will only give you credit for losing 6 pounds. This is to prevent people from losing weight for an insurance exam. Life insurance companies anticipate that most people will regain the majority of the weight they’ve lost within a few months of completing their insurance exam.

Losing weight is excellent for your health, but rapidly losing weight or suddenly beginning a vigorous exercise routine can temporarily stress your organs, creating abnormal lab results. For most people, the stress is temporary, but abnormal lab results will not clear up for at least a month or two. We’ll explain these some of these issues in the next section, Elevated Liver and Kidney Functions.

If you’ve had lap band or bariatric surgery, the life insurance companies will consider your weight loss as permanent once your weight has been stable for at least a year. Before approving your life insurance policy, the insurance company you apply with will postpone the approval of your application for 12 months after the surgery has been completed. This is to ensure that the surgery was completed successfully and that there are no complications.

How Exercise Can Cause Elevated Liver and Kidney Functions

liverWhen you apply for life insurance, the life insurance company you apply with will collect a urine and blood sample to evaluate your liver and kidney functions. This lab work can be thrown off by heavy exercise, especially if the applicant hasn’t exercised regularly for some time.

Cardio and weight lifting can trigger “false positives” for protein and other levels. Jump-starting an exercise program after years at a desk or couch can put your body in shock and cause your liver and kidney functions (particularly your creatinine levels) to temporarily rise above normal levels. If this shows up in an insurance exam, they’ll often send you back to your doctor to determine the cause (at your expense) or postpone consideration of your application for 3 to 12 months.

Rapid weight loss can be a symptom of many health issues, including cancer. So while you’re excited about fitting back into your skinny jeans, elevated creatinine levels are actually one of the most common reasons that men between the ages of 30 and 60 are postponed or declined for life insurance. High creatinine can also be caused by supplements or something innocuous, or by excessive drinking, smoking, too much salt in your diet, or even kidney failure.

Life insurers may have hundreds of thousands dollars at stake, so they’re going to err on the side of caution. For them, it is better to find another customer rather than accept an unknown risk. This is another reason that losing weight for your life insurance exam may not be a good idea, especially if it is done rapidly or as part of a crash diet.

Life Insurance Weight Tables for Best Rates

Below is a weight chart from an “A+” rated life insurance company that is extremely liberal for clients with a less than perfect “build.” The build of an applicant is determined by their height to weight ratio. The taller an applicant is, the higher their weight allowance.

Preferred Best Weight Allowances Ages 18 – 85:

HeightMale/Female Ages 18-64Male/Female Ages 65-85
4'10"Up to 143Up to 158
4'11"Up to 148Up to 163
5'0"Up to 153Up to 168
5'1"Up to 158Up to 174
5'2"Up to 164Up to 180
5'3"Up to 169Up to 186
5'4"Up to 174Up to 192
5'5"Up to 180Up to 198
5'6"Up to 186Up to 204
5'7"Up to 191Up to 211
5'8"Up to 197Up to 216
5'9"Up to 203Up to 223
5'10"Up to 209Up to 229
5'11"Up to 215Up to 236
6'0"Up to 221Up to 243
6'1"Up to 227Up to 250
6'2"Up to 233Up to 256
6'3"Up to 240Up to 264
6'4"Up to 246Up to 271
6'5" Up to 253Up to 278
6'6"Up to 259Up to 285
6'7" Up to 266Up to 292
6'8" Up to 273Up to 300
6'9" Up to 280Up to 307
6'10"Up to 286Up to 315

Keep in mind that build is one of many factors that determine your overall life insurance risk group, or “rating.” Cholesterol, blood pressure, medications or illnesses, family history, driving record, etc. are all factored in. In addition, if you’re in excellent health, the life insurance companies may offer you credits to get a better rate class, even if you are a few pounds over the guidelines shown here.

How Can I Improve My Rate Class If I’m Considered Overweight?

Here are some ways to receive “credit” to improve your rate class if you are outside of the height and weight requirements below:

  1. No tobacco use in the last 10 years aside from an occasional cigar. (Up to 12 cigars per year is acceptable as long as you test negative for nicotine during your exam)
  2. Having a favorable cholesterol ratio of 4.5 or less. (This number is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol by your HDL)
  3. No unfavorable family history. (Both of your parents survived to the age of 75 or older and your siblings did not have heart disease or cancer before age 60)
  4. Normal lab results for liver function. (Life insurance companies evaluate your GGT score to make sure you are not an excessive drinker)
  5. Exercising regularly or completing an annual physical each year. (One of my clients was offered credits because she has 2 dogs that she walks each day)
  6. Having a cardiac test completed in the last 2 years with normal results. (These tests are usually recommended after the age of 50 to ensure normal heart function)
  7. An NT Pro BnP score of under 100 if you are over the age of 60. (This test is usually performed to rule out heart failure)

Unfortunately, only a handful of life insurance companies offer these crediting opportunities to reduce your life insurance rates. This is one of the many reasons why we recommend working with an experienced agent who represent multiple companies. By having access to underwriting guidelines from dozens of companies, we’re able to match our clients with the company that is the best for their specific age, health and lifestyle. Does one size fit all?  Far from it! This is why our agency represents 63 highly-rated life insurance companies.

The Best Way to Set Up Your Exam

When scheduling your in-home life insurance physical, make sure you set up your exam just like you would set up an exam for blood work from your doctor’s office. The best results are achieved when you have not eaten or drank anything but water for at least 8 hours prior to your exam. This why we always recommend a morning exam, no one wants to be hungry all day! Eat a light dinner the night before and complete your exam first thing the following morning.

Morning exams tend to provide lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers, and a slightly lower weight. Make sure you avoid any type of workouts or weight lifting for 24 hours. We want you to be rested and relaxed, and working out before an exam can cause elevated blood pressure. Also, make sure you avoid alcohol or sugary drinks for 24 hours before your exam. A glass of orange juice can have a huge effect on your blood sugar levels.

medical exam

Our examiners are typically available Monday-Saturday from 8am to 6pm, 12 months of the year, to make sure we can accommodate to your schedule. Our examiners will also come directly to your home or office for convenience, or you can go directly to their local office. The insurance company pays for the medical exam, and it is performed by an independent third-party that is licensed by the insurance industry. Some of the larger, or well-known, life insurance physical companies are APPS, EMSI, and Exam One (Quest Diagnostics).

We Can Help!

If you’re shopping for life insurance, or if you would like to shop the market to find the lowest rates available, give us a call today at: 855-902-6494 or request a free instant life insurance quote online below. Our agents will be able to help you find the best life insurance options available saving you time and money.

Collectively, our life insurance brokerage has more than 50 years of experience and we’ve helped thousands of clients with their life insurance needs. Our agency is licensed throughout the United States and we work directly with more than 60 highly-rated life insurance companies. Our agents are experts at guiding people like you through the life insurance exam process, but most importantly, our agency is owner-operated and our agents do not have sales quotas. We’re large enough to serve, but small enough to care.

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