Unity Life of Canada
March 2007
Underwriting Article
Medications and Liver Function Test Results
Blood Profile is one of the more common age and amount requirements submitted to support an application
for insurance. A routine part of the Blood profile is a Liver Function Test. The results of this Test provide
a common reason for an application for life insurance to be declined or postponed, i.e. elevated Liver Func-
tion Test result(s) with the applicant having no apparent medical history to explain why the results would be
How do you explain this to your client? What does an abnormal test result mean? Is there something seriously wrong with your client? Why has your client’s doctor not informed the client before now? These are just a few of the questions that come into mind under these circumstances. Elevated liver function test results may be caused by alcohol abuse, hepatitis or some other serious liver disease. However, it is also just as possible that these elevated results are not caused by any serious dis-order but by using some types of medication. In “Getting It Issued”, written by U.S. underwriting professionals Hank George and John J. Krinik, they state “medications and homeopathic concoctions can provoke abnormalities affecting blood profile test compo-nents”.1 They go on to say that “the underwriter must always be told of all medications and related reme-dies being taken by the proposed insured”.2 But a common question asked is: “Does my client have to list all over-the-counter medications being taken?” As an answer, consider these: • Ibuprofen can elevate one liver function test; Motrin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, when taken daily for long periods of time, increases a per-son’s risk of developing elevated liver function test results. As do the following prescribed medications: • Dilantin, a drug often prescribed for epilepsy; • Coumadin, a blood thinner used in the treatment for prevention of heart attacks, strokes or blood clots; • Phenobarbital, also used in the treatment of epilepsy but can also used as a sedative to relieve anxiety; Large quantities of herbal preparations. All of the aforementioned have been linked to possible reasons for abnormal liver function tests. The underwriter, in the absence of knowing any medication being taken, will not be able to determine the cause of the abnormalities and this increases the likelihood that the application may be declined. You, the broker, must “make sure that you have questioned your client thoroughly about the use of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (the professional association of pathologists in the U. S. who set the standards for lab tests) publishes an 800-page manual titled Effects of Drugs on Clinical Laboratory Tests.”3 Please provide as much information as possible to your underwriter. He or she will then be able to assess the risk more clearly. For more information about the book, “Getting It Issued”, please reference The National Underwriter Com-pany online store at For further details on this or any other Underwriting Article published by Unity Life of Canada, please contact Merv Gillson, V.P. & Chief Underwriter. 1 Getting It Issued - Second Edition Hank George and John J. Krinik, 2000, The National Underwriter Company, p.62. 2 Ibid, p. 62. 3 Ibid, p.52 Underwriters and brokers are a team when it comes to getting insurance on your clients.
*** Help your underwriter understand your client and let’s get those cases issued faster. *** 100 Milverton Drive, Suite 400, Mississauga, ON L5R 4H1 Tel: 905-219-8000 1-800-267-8777 Fax: 905-219-8121


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