Carriers

A blood draw for a life insurance application is simple, but once the specimen arrives by air, courier or commercial delivery at the testing laboratory, things get quite impressive behind the scenes! Here’s a look from start to finish at how some underwriting decisions start with a simple blood draw. 

risk assessment specimen collection

Specimens are obtained during a paramedical exam at an applicant’s home, work or exam site. The specimen’s journey starts when a trained examiner places a barcode on the specimen tube and all necessary documents including the kit box. Each barcode is specific to that life insurance applicant and helps to ensure all the required tests are reported back on the correct applicant.

specimen transport

Specimens make their way to our Quest Diagnostics laboratory in Lenexa, KS or St. Louis, MO by courier, mail or plane. Upon arrival, a laboratory technician scans the kit’s airbill, automatically loading the information into our computerized tracking system.

specimen tracking

Once checked-in, the specimen is unboxed by the technician, who carefully ensures that all specimens include the applicant’s first and last names. All identifiers on all tubes and kits must match both the applicant and the lab requisition. As the technician scans the barcodes on the individual specimens, they are officially loaded into inventory. At the same time, the technician inspects the condition of each kit component and records it in our system.

risk assessment specimen testing

A conveyor belt speeds specimens into our state-of-the-art testing laboratory. Each specimen type is routed to the proper analyzer; our laboratory’s equipment allows for both speedy and accurate results.A portion of the specimen stays in refrigerated storage at our facility just in case additional testing is needed: 28 days for blood, and 21 days for urine. As soon as all testing is completed to the insurance company’s requirements, results are transmitted as requested to be reviewed for underwriting.

result reporting

Typically, 24 to 48 hours after specimen arrival at our lab, results are received by the carrier (depending on the test profile). For carriers participating in our Inside Look® program, their applicants typically receive their online laboratory results 5-7 days after their paramedical exam.

Every day, thousands of life insurance specimens complete this journey from draw to laboratory testing to results delivery. Behind every one of them is a real person looking out for their family.

heart disease risks

The heart is a tiny but powerful organ whose work is indispensable to the rest of the body. This 1-pound organ pumps nearly 2,000 gallons of blood every day. This Heart Month, we examine three contributing factors insurers can consider when reviewing a life insurance applicant’s laboratory and medical history.

Smoking contributes to one-third of coronary heart disease deaths

Smoking has multiple health risk factors. In addition to lung and throat cancer, smoking can also lead to coronary heart disease, stroke and/or raised blood pressure. According to American Heart Association, smokers have a higher mortality risk than non-smokers and on average, die more than 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

In a recent analysis, we discovered that 6.5% of all ExamOne life insurance applicants tested positive for cotinine from 2017 to 2019. Further, we saw a 36.4% non-disclosure rate–meaning cotinine-positive applicants denied their tobacco use, something we refer to as ‘smoker’s amnesia.’ We also found that smokers had an increased risk of positivity for other drugs of abuse:

High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

It is estimated that tens of millions of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and most do not have it under control. It can lead to heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for Americans.

Our examiners are trained to take three blood pressure readings during the paramedical exam. Per Mayo Clinic recommendations, documenting a blood pressure reading multiple times helps verify accuracy. Additionally, if an applicant is or has been prescribed a blood pressure medication, results will be found in a prescription history report (up to seven years look-back). This provides insurers with information including the prescribing doctor, prescription adherence, a drug summary and prescription detail.

An elevated A1c could indicate an applicant is prediabetic or diabetic.  

It’s estimated that in 2018, 34.1 million adults aged 18 years or older—or 13.0% of all US adults—had diabetes and over 21% were unaware. Many times, applicants may be unaware they have this condition because they have not been tested and/or diagnosed. In fact, 34% of applicants with tested A1c values of 6.5 or higher stated they did not have diabetes during their telephone interview or on their application. The CDC also states that the risk of death from heart disease for adults with diabetes is higher than for adults who do not have diabetes.

The heart is a vital organ. By keeping it healthy, individuals reduce the likelihood of developing a chronic medical condition(s) later in life. Insurers can use real-time health data and laboratory results during the risk assessment process to better understand potential health risks for their life insurance applicants.

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Expanding exam centers across the country for more appointment options

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Seven facts for life insurers to know about vaping

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Is vaping impacting an individual’s health and the corresponding effect on life insurance? Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced their investigation of severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes (also known as vaping). And tragically, multiple deaths linked to vaping have been reported across the country. These are a few […]

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