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Fast Life Insurance: Where to Find Instant Coverage

Buying life insurance is getting easier and quicker. With some companies, people who qualify can get covered in minutes.
Dec. 18, 2020
Insurance, Life Insurance
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When you’re used to ordering everything online and getting it fast, buying life insurance can seem painfully old-school.

Until recently, if you wanted a lot of life insurance at a low price, you typically had to fill out paperwork, undergo a medical exam, give a urine sample or get blood drawn, and then wait 30 to 90 days to get a policy.

But that’s changing. Some companies are making the process of getting life insurance easier. Applying online for instant life insurance takes only a few minutes, and coverage can range into the millions of dollars, without the need for a medical exam.

What is instant life insurance?

Instant life insurance refers to coverage that’s quick to apply for and doesn’t require a medical exam. But these policies aren’t like guaranteed issue life insurance, the small and pricey products marketed to seniors. Instead, instant life insurance typically uses a process called “accelerated underwriting” to estimate rates. An insurer funnels data about you into algorithms to calculate your risk of dying early. This process often provides enough information for the company to make a quick decision and offer competitively priced coverage on the spot.

How it works

  1. You typically apply online by answering some questions about yourself and your health.
  2. With your permission, the company retrieves information about you from a variety of databases. For example, it can find out what medications you’ve taken by checking prescription databases. It can check your motor vehicle record to see if you’ve had any driving violations. And it can check data from the MIB Group to determine if any health conditions came up when you applied for individual health or life insurance with other companies. Owned by its member insurance companies, MIB maintains a database of information from insurance applications.
  3. In general, you learn whether you’re approved within minutes of submitting the application.

No one who’s approved for coverage has to take a life insurance medical exam. However, coverage isn’t guaranteed, which means you may not qualify for a policy based on factors like your health, lifestyle or age.

Types of life insurance underwriting

When shopping for an instant term life policy, you may see terms like “automated underwriting,” “accelerated underwriting” and “simplified issue,” which often mean similar things.

Automated underwriting refers to the lack of human involvement in the approval process.

Accelerated underwriting implies a fast application process through the use of algorithms and increased data points.

Simplified issue underwriting traditionally uses fewer data points than accelerated underwriting to determine whether to issue you a policy and how much you’ll pay.

In general, policies that use more data are able to provide more competitively priced policies with higher coverage amounts. If the insurer uses only a few data points to assess risk, the cheapest rates may not be available.

» MORE: Preferred or standard: How life insurance categories affect your rates

Instant life insurance with an exam

Some companies use accelerated underwriting to fast-track consumers through the application process but reserve the right to request a medical exam if needed. This means you might be approved instantly or asked to complete additional steps before getting an answer. Applicants who are accelerated through the process without an exam receive the same price and product as if they had taken an exam.

Where to find instant life insurance policies

Here are some instant term life insurance policies that offer quick, yes-or-no answers and don’t require a medical exam.

Premiums are likely to vary widely, because some use more data than others to determine your eligibility and price. As always, it’s useful to compare life insurance quotes before buying coverage.

CompanyInstant life policyPolicy details
Haven Life

5.0 NerdWallet rating
Haven SimpleAge range: 20 to 55

Coverage: $25,000 to $500,000
State Farm

4.5 NerdWallet rating
State Farm Instant Answer TermAge range: 16 to 45

Coverage: $50,000
Ethos

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Ethos Simplified TermAge range: 20 to 70

Coverage: Up to $500,000
Erie Insurance

4.0 NerdWallet rating
ERIExpress LifeAge range: 18 to 55

Coverage: $10,000 to $500,000
Bestow

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Bestow Term PolicyAge range: 21 to 55

Coverage: $50,000 to $1.5 million
Brighthouse Financial

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Brighthouse Financial SimplySelectAge range: 25 to 50

Coverage: $100,000 to $2 million
Shelter Insurance

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Shelter Express TermAge range: 18 to 60

Coverage: $50,000 to $100,000
Fidelity Life

2.0 NerdWallet rating
Fidelity RAPIDecision ExpressAge range: 18 to 65

Coverage: $25,000 to $100,000

Methodology: Life insurance ratings

NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims, and complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.

These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews.

Insurer complaints methodology

NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

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