You’ve performed countless medical exams. Of course, you’ve been examined as a patient as well. But what about a disability insurance medical exam? For new doctors entering practice, this is probably a first.
When applying for physician disability insurance, you will need to undergo a paramedical exam. While not as detailed as a standard medical exam, there is still a lot at stake. The results of this exam will help determine how much you pay for your coverage. In rare cases, it may even dictate whether or not you even qualify.
Insurance is all about risk. The younger and healthier you are, the less risk you pose to an insurance company. After all, its offering to replace your income in case you can no longer work due to a injury or illness.
So naturally, a major portion of the underwriting is assessing your health. Let's walk through what you can expect at your first paramedical exam.
Once you've submitted your insurance application, the insurer will schedule a paramedical exam. It will be performed by an independent third party and paid for by the insurance company.
A paramedical exam is quite similar to a physical checkup. It should only take about 30 minutes. Most technicians used by disability insurers even make house calls.
During the exam, the technician will:
- Take your height, weight and body mass index.
- Check your pulse and blood pressure.
- Draw blood and request a urine sample to check for certain conditions.
- Ask questions about your personal health and lifestyle.
Your answers here will be used to confirm the health information you provided in your application. They could also reveal other medical concerns that affect your risk level. This portion will probably sound familiar these are the same questions you ask your patients. They will include:
- Family medical history.
- Pre-existing conditions.
- Medications you’re taking.
- Alcohol and tobacco usage.
During this Q&A session, your honesty is key. Stretching the truth now could impact your ability to receive benefits later.
A paramedical exam isn't one you can ace by studying for hours. However, you can still set yourself up to obtain the best possible results. In order to do so, it will help to avoid these things leading up to your big test:
- Alcohol and tobacco.
- Sugar and caffeine.
- Salty, high-cholesterol foods.
- Over-the-counter medication.
- Vigorous exercise.
If you’ve been injured or getting over an illness, consider rescheduling. Even a slight ailment can have a negative impact on test results.
Following your exam, the results and your medical records will be sent to the insurance underwriter. Your personal physician will also be asked to fill out an attending physician’s statement.
The underwriter will use this information to assess your risk of filing a claim. This includes analyzing your overall health, including the presence of serious conditions such as:
- High cholesterol.
- Sleep apnea.
- Back and joint disorders.
- Mental health conditions.
Unlike life insurance, these conditions will not typically prevent you from obtaining coverage. But they may justify exclusions and limitations in your policy.
Exclusions and limitations help insurance carriers mitigate their risk of paying claims. This allows them to zero in on illnesses and injuries resulting from high-risk conditions and activities.
If you receive disability coverage with an exclusion, the insurance company will still insure you. However, it will add language to your policy that states what they will not cover. This may include:
- Certain body parts.
- Specific conditions.
- Disabilities resulting from certain activities.
For example, say you're passionate about mountain biking. While still providing coverage, the insurer company may choose not to pay you benefits if this activity leads to disability.
Based on your overall risk assessment, you will receive an offer with a premium amount. If you accept the offer, the insurance company will issue your policy.
If you feel your exam results are not an accurate reflection of your health, you may request a second exam. If you don’t like the offer you receive, you may be able to use the exam results to apply with another insurer.
As you know by now, disability insurance is more expensive for older individuals and those with health issues. In order to secure the lowest rates, all physicians should purchase coverage when they’re younger and in optimal health.
You can't ace your disability insurance medical exam. But like any test, there are plenty of things it helps to know going in, such as:
- What's on the exam.
- The best ways to prepare.
- How the results will impact you.
- Next steps to take based on your results.
And above all --- your honesty now is key to getting the most out of your policy down the road.
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Joel Palmer is a writer and personal finance expert who focuses on the mortgage, insurance, financial services, and technology industries. He spent the first 10 years of his career as a business and financial reporter.