Do you need a medical to get life insurance?

If you’re avoiding taking out life insurance because you think the application will involve a medical, you might be surprised to hear it’s not always needed.

But if your insurer does ask for more information about your health, here’s what usually happens — and why it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get cover.

Is it usual to need a medical to get life insurance?

Most people who apply for our cover don’t need a medical. However, if you are applying for a large amount of cover you may be asked to attend a medical with either a nurse or a doctor.

Remember, though, everyone’s application will be looked at individually. If you are asked to have a medical, it’s so we can learn more while we assess your application. It doesn’t automatically mean your application won’t be accepted.

What health questions will you be asked when you apply for life insurance?

When you apply, you’ll be asked questions about your lifestyle and health. These include how much alcohol you drink, your weight and height, and if you smoke. 

You’ll also usually be asked about your family’s medical history, and if you have any pre-existing conditions. That means any symptoms, medication, advice, treatment or diagnostic tests for a disease, illness or injury you had before taking out the policy. 

If you were adopted and don’t know your biological family’s medical history, you can tick a box on the form, and it won’t affect your application.

You may also be asked about recent overseas travel, to find out if you’ve travelled to countries where there may be a health risk.

What makes you more likely to need a medical?

Your age and how much cover you’re applying for are key factors as to whether we will ask you to complete a medical.

The truth, and nothing but the truth

It might sound obvious, but it’s important to answer the medical questions, and all other application questions, correctly and truthfully. If you don’t, it may invalidate your policy. That means it may be cancelled, or the insurer might not be able to pay out when a claim is made, if you didn’t tell us something when you applied that comes to light later. Or you may be declined at application stage, if new information is found when your application is referred to an underwriter for assessment. So honesty is always the most sensible policy.

What happens when we need more information about your health?

If you apply for our term life insurance and we can’t make an instant decision about if we can offer you cover, we’ll refer your application to our underwriters, so they can look at it in more detail. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need a medical; it might just mean we ask for one of the following:

Information from you

If we need a bit more information about a condition you have told us about on your application.

GP’s report

With your permission, we’ll ask your doctor for a medical report. This is so we can get more information about your health, your current treatment, any past conditions, and any medical conditions in your family. We’ll usually ask for reports to be sent electronically, to speed things up.

Mini screening

This is a simple screening done by a nurse at your home or workplace. They’ll usually just take your blood pressure, height and weight measurements, to work out your BMI, and carry out a urine test. A test to confirm your smoker status may also be completed.

Nurse phone call

We might ask a nurse to call you to ask a few questions about your application answers. This phone call won’t usually last more than 10 minutes.

Medical examination

 It usually involves a few detailed questions by a doctor and a full examination, including heart, chest, blood pressure and a urine test. It’s nothing to worry about, and you’ve probably had a similar health check before.

We’ll cover the cost and arrange it for you. It can be at your home, workplace, or at a medical centre — wherever and whenever suits you best.

What happens to your application while we’re getting this information?

If we need to get more medical information, we’ll get things moving as quickly as we can, and update you along the way.

While we decide on your application, you get our Protection Promise . This means you’re covered as soon as you’ve applied, free of charge, for the cover amount you’ve applied for, up to £500,000. This lasts until we’ve made our decision, you withdraw your application, or up to 90 days after we’ve confirmed your protection promise cover has started.

Are there types of life insurance where you don’t need a medical?

For some whole of life policies like our over 50s life insurance, you won’t be asked to have a medical before you’re accepted, regardless of your health. For these policies, the payout on a valid claim is guaranteed, provided you continue to pay your premiums. Although acceptance is guaranteed, we’ll only pay out the full assured lump sum if you pass away after the first year of your cover, or if you pass away as the result of an accident during the first full year. If you pass away in the first year and it isn’t because of an accident, we’ll pay back premiums already paid, but not a lump sum. There’s no cash in value at any time.

To apply for our over 50s life insurance, you won’t need to answer any health questions — you’ll be accepted, if you’re eligible to apply. Your premium is based on your age and how much cover you’d like.

Just bear in mind that, as the payout is guaranteed, premiums for whole of life policies tend to be higher than for term policies. 

The most important thing is to get the type of cover that’s right for you and your family in the years to come, beyond your application. To help you weigh up the pros and cons, here’s an overview of our different types of life insurance. 

Interested in life cover?

Here are some of the ways we can help protect what's precious to you.

Life articles

Take a look at our latest news and guides.