With very few exceptions life insurance applications are accompanied by a physical exam and blood and urine tests. Occasionally the issue of a blood draw can complicate things with people whose veins are hard to find or those that are just plain freaked out by needles.

The two options that are available for someone who simply refuses to have blood drawn would be simplified issue life insurance (no exam), or in lieu of a blood draw which generates a couple of vials of blood to be tested, a few companies will allow a “finger stick” which generates far less blood and narrows what the company can test for simply due to volume.

First let’s put this in perspective by using a sample client. A man in his early 50’s. Trying to quit but still actively smoking. Good health and family history. He just had a horrible experience with a blood draw when he had shoulder surgery a few years back. If we did a full exam and blood draw his price for $250,000 of 15 year term insurance would be about $1500 annually.

To go with simplified issue insurance where there is no exam and no blood or urine specimens, the best price on the same amount and term length would be $3892 annually. Taking this course of action to avoid giving blood would cost about $2400 more per year for 15 years. I don’t know, but I’m thinking I could figure out some way to give blood to save $36,000 over the life of the policy.

The other option, the finger stick, will generally not be allowed for preferred rates, so in this case the person would be looking at standard smoker rates and the best of those with a company that will accept a finger stick would run $2600 annually, an additional $16,500 over the life of the policy.

So, what does a company lose by not doing a finger stick versus a full blood draw? One of the losses is a lipid panel, cholesterol, triglycerides, hdl, ldl, etc. They are also lacking the blood it takes to run liver and kidney function tests. No PSA test. That is a lot of health information that the insurance company is going to forgo a glance at, and the less information they have to help determine potential mortality, the higher the price. Obviously with a simplified issue policy there are no tests and not even an examiner who gets to look you over, so the company is assuming risk without full information (remember Reagan, “trust, but verify”), so again an even higher price.

One option that can occasionally save the day is that those who are hard blood draws and are scared to just let any old nurse working for an exam company do it, may have a favorite nurse at their doctor’s office who can get the blood on behalf of the exam company. There are some guidelines that have to be followed, but sometimes it works.

Bottom line. The best rates for life insurance come with the best, and most, possible information for the insurance company to scrutinize. A few tips for those that have a hard time giving blood. Drink more water than usual in the 12 hours leading up to the exam and, if you’re up for it, do some push ups right before the blood draw.