Why Would You Be Denied Life Insurance During a Mouth Swab Test?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

When you sign up for a life insurance policy, you'll need to fill out a comprehensive application that satisfies a number of legal and medical requirements. Among other things, your prospective insurer will take steps to ensure that you're healthy and competent. In order to prove that this is the case, you'll need to submit to a range of medical tests.

In addition to the written application and questionnaire that you'll be asked to fill out at your initial consultation, you'll also need to meet with a medical professional. This individual is typically a trained doctor and may be employed or retained by the insurance company that's issuing your policy. He or she will subject you to a three-part medical exam that should take no more than 90 minutes. The exam's three parts include a round of in-person questioning about your health habits and diet, a series of simple blood and oral-swab tests, and a cursory physical examination that may require you to engage in some light exercise.

During the course of this exam, you'll be expected to follow your doctor's instructions and answer all of his or her questions in a truthful manner. In most cases, prospective life insurance customers find it easy to comply with these expectations. For exam-takers who might be reticent to cooperate in full, most insurance companies take steps to safeguard their testing procedures. The battery of chemical tests that comprises the second part of a life insurance medical exam is one of these safeguards.

Although a mouth-swab test is regarded as somewhat less accurate than a blood or urine test, it's adequate for the purposes of the typical life insurance exam. Mouth-swab tests are painless and non-invasive. Crucially, they can test for a wide range of potential health issues.

The results of your mouth-swab probably won't cause your insurer to deny your application for insurance. However, the information that the test reveals may cause your premiums to rise by a substantial amount. In particular, the presence of nicotine or other drug metabolites in your saliva can indicate that you habitually use tobacco or illegal drugs. This revelation could easily double the cost of your insurance policy.

In addition, your prospective insurer is likely to compare the results of your mouth-swab test with the answers that you provided on your written health questionnaire. If the results of the test conflict with your answers, your insurer could impose an additional financial penalty or deny your application outright.

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