Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So Why Do Insurance Providers Take Saliva Samples

Tobacco users statistically have a shorter life span than non-users.

If you are overly cautious about privacy issues or medical exams, you may cringe at the idea of giving a saliva sample when you apply for life or health insurance, but this is standard practice for most policies of these types. In fact, your insurer may ask for a urine or blood sample in addition to the saliva. If you understand the insurer's mentality, you may feel better about the test.

Health Assessment

Insurance is about transferring risk from yourself to an insurance company in exchange for an appropriate premium. Health insurance companies take the risk of paying your medical bills when you get sick. Life insurance companies take the risk of paying a financial benefit when you die. In both cases, the companies want to assess your health before deciding how much money to charge for the insurance, or whether to issue the insurance at all.


If you are applying for life or health insurance coverage in a group policy such as through your employer, you may not need to have a medical test because group policies tend not to be medically underwritten. Participants in small groups may have to complete a medical questionnaire, but individual testing is uncommon. However, individual policies have no group to help spread the risk, so insurers always include a thorough medical questionnaire and often medical testing for individual applicants.

Purpose of Testing

An insurance company performs medical tests for two main reasons. The first is to verify the things you said on your application are true, and the second is to find any additional medical problems that may influence its decision. You may be tempted to lie, or stretch the truth, on your insurance application to avoid premium surcharges. The insurance company knows this, so it performs the medical tests to ensure it receives accurate information.

Common Saliva Test Purpose

Saliva samples can be tested for a number of things, including hormones in the body and even, to some degree, drugs. Exactly what your insurer will use your saliva test for may vary depending on the insurer and its policies. However, most of the time a saliva sample is tested at least for nicotine use. Tobacco use influences an insurer's decision about you. Testing for cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine that is found in tobacco products, helps the insurer know whether to charge you a higher rate as a tobacco user.

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