How to prepare for a life insurance medical blood test

06 December 2022

While it’s possible to get life insurance with no medical examination, in fact over 82% (84% in 2022) of people who apply get an immediate decision without the need for further underwriting or medical evidence, but some life insurance applicants will be asked to undergo an assessment by a doctor or nurse, which can include a blood test. Fortunately, preparing for a blood test is less daunting than you might imagine, so if you’re feeling apprehensive, we hope you’ll appreciate this guide to life insurance blood tests.

Why do some medicals include a blood test?

Whymight I need a blood test for life insurance

When you apply for life insurance, we want to make sure that we can offer you a life insurance policy at the right price. The purpose of a blood test is to screen for health indicators to give us the best picture of your overall health and any factors that may increase the chances of a life insurance claim being made.

What do life insurance blood tests look for?

A blood test can reveal:

  • The performance of organs such as the kidney, liver or thyroid
  • Markers for diseases such as diabetes, cancer or coronary heart disease

If you have travelled to a foreign country that has a risk of Hepatitis B/C we may also look for this in a blood test.

If there is any indication from the blood test that you face an increased risk of death, it may affect our ability to offer life insurance, or you may simply face higher premiums. On the other hand, if the blood test results don't indicate a significant health risk, it won't affect your premiums. However, it’s worth remembering that blood tests are just one potential element of a medical. We may request to see your medical records – with your consent – and you might be asked to take part in any of the following:

  • A smoker test
  • HIV test
  • Resting Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Exercise Electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Urine test.

But of course, pre-existing medical conditions are just one factor that determines whether you will be offered life insurance, so the results of a blood test – or any other life insurance test – are not the only aspect we will take into account before making a decision on an application. Other factors include your age, family medical history, lifestyle, smoker status, alcohol consumption, occupation and hobbies, plus your height and weight.

How to prepare for a blood test

Ahead of your life insurance blood test, you’ll be given specific instructions about how to prepare, which may differ depending on the type of blood test you’ve been invited to. Here are some general pointers on preparing for a blood test:

  • You may be advised to avoid eating or drinking (except water) for up to 12 hours in advance. Coffee, for example, can interfere with blood test results as it contains caffeine.
  • You may also be asked to avoid taking certain medicines.
  • It may be advisable to avoid alcohol in the 1-2 days before your test.
  • You should avoid smoking a cigarette before a blood test, as this may affect the results. And of course, your smoker status can impact your life insurance.
  • It’s a good idea to wear warm clothing, as colder temperatures may make it harder for the health professional to locate your veins.

Life insurance blood test tips

If you’re someone who gets nervous about medical examinations, you’re certainly not alone. Here are just some ideas for how you might be able to reduce your anxiety levels ahead of a blood test for life insurance.

  • Communicate your feelings. Health professionals are used to seeing patients with varying levels of concern about needles, so by letting them know your feelings, they can hopefully provide some reassurance.
  • Bring a friend. If you need some extra support, taking a friend or family member along could help you feel better about the blood test.
  • Look away from the needle. It might sound obvious, but if you have any concerns about the needle itself, focusing your gaze elsewhere can provide a welcome distraction.

What happens during a life insurance blood test?

The most common reasons we may ask for a blood test is due to a medical disclosure during your application or where the level of risk is particularly high, so for example this could be if the amount of cover you have asked for is very large or your age at the time of applying. Blood tests are usually carried out by a nurse and there will be no cost for you to pay.

During a blood test for your life insurance application, a nurse or doctor will take a blood sample from a blood vessel located in your arm (usually the inside of the elbow or wrist). They may put a tight band known as a tourniquet around your upper arm in order to slow the blood flow, which makes it easier to locate a vein. The health professional will then clean the area where the injection will occur, before taking a blood sample using a needle and syringe. You may feel a pricking sensation at this point, though it’s not supposed to feel too painful. The nurse or doctor may then use a cotton wool pad to put pressure on the affected area, and might apply a plaster.

For more information, you can read about what happens during a blood test on the NHS website.

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