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
- You typically apply online by answering some questions about yourself and your health.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
|Company||Instant life policy||Policy details|
|Haven Life||Haven Simple||Age range: 20 to 55
Coverage: $25,000 to $500,000
|State Farm||State Farm Instant Answer Term||Age range: 16 to 45
|Bestow||Bestow Term Policy||Age range: 21 to 55
Coverage: $50,000 to $1.5 million
|Ethos||Ethos Simplified Term||Age range: 20 to 70
Coverage: Up to $500,000
|Erie Insurance||ERIExpress Life||Age range: 18 to 55
Coverage: $10,000 to $500,000
|Brighthouse Financial||Brighthouse Financial SimplySelect||Age range: 25 to 50
Coverage: $100,000 to $2 million
|Shelter Insurance||Shelter Express Term||Age range: 18 to 60
Coverage: $50,000 to $100,000
|Fidelity Life||Fidelity RAPIDecision Express||Age range: 18 to 65
Coverage: $25,000 to $100,000
Methodology: Life insurance ratingsNerdWallet’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.