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Options for No Medical Exam Life Insurance

You can get life insurance without a health check, but the convenience can come at a higher price.
Feb. 3, 2021
Insurance, Life Insurance
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Nobody likes taking life insurance medical exams. If you’re in good health, it seems like an inconvenience. If you’re not in good health, you’re probably worried about the impact of the results on your rate.

That’s why life insurance without the medical exam has such an appeal. But the cost of skipping the exam may not always outweigh the benefits.

What is no medical exam life insurance?

No medical exam life insurance refers to policies that don’t require a physical exam to qualify for coverage.

In general, a life insurance medical exam involves getting your weight and height checked, supplying blood and urine samples, getting your blood pressure checked and perhaps taking other tests, such as an electrocardiogram. Insurers use the results to help decide whether you qualify for coverage and to set your premium rate.

Without the exam, insurers rely on other data to assess the risk of insuring you, such as your answers to health questions and your prescription history.

Prices for life insurance policies without medical exams can vary widely. Some are geared toward people in poor health who want to avoid any medical questions, while others focus on young, healthy people who want a quick application process.

Here’s more on each type of no medical exam life insurance.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Summary: Guaranteed acceptance or guaranteed issue life insurance policies are generally small whole life insurance policies — typically under $25,000 — marketed to older people to cover final expenses like funeral costs. There are no health questions and the application process is relatively easy. Approval is guaranteed if you’re within the eligible age range, such as 45 to 85. These policies tend to have graded death benefits, which means the full death benefit typically isn’t paid out within the first few years of the policy unless you die of accidental causes.

In general, guaranteed issue life insurance is more expensive for healthy people than policies that require a medical exam.

Who it’s for: Primarily middle-age and older adults whose health would disqualify them from getting life insurance with full medical underwriting.

Where to find guaranteed issue life insurance

CompanyPolicyDetails
Ethos

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Guaranteed Issue Whole LifeIssue age: 65 to 85

Coverage: $10,000 to $25,000
Mutual of Omaha

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Guaranteed Plus Whole LifeIssue age: 45 to 85

Coverage: $2,000 to $25,000
AAA

3.0 NerdWallet rating
Guaranteed Issue Whole LifeIssue age: 45 to 85

Coverage: up to $25,000
Gerber

3.0 NerdWallet rating
Guaranteed Life InsuranceIssue age: 50 to 80

Coverage: $5,000 to $25,000
AIG

2.5 NerdWallet rating
Guaranteed Issue Whole LifeIssue age: 50 to 80

Coverage: $5,000 to $25,000

» MORE: How to get life insurance if you have a medical condition

Simplified issue life insurance

Summary: Simplified issue life insurance policies don’t require a medical exam, but you may need to answer a short health questionnaire during the application process. The most common questions are about your medical history, recent hospitalizations, and height and weight, according to LIMRA, a life insurance research group. Companies may also ask about your drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

Insurers sometimes request additional data, such as your prescription drug history, motor vehicle record and information from previous life insurance applications. Approval for a policy isn’t guaranteed. Many types of life insurance, including whole and term life insurance, are available as simplified issue policies. The maximum amounts of coverage available are limited, usually $500,000 or less, depending on the company. Coverage is typically more expensive than a policy that requires a medical exam if you’re young and healthy.

Who it’s for: People who don’t mind answering health questions, but want to skip the exam and get coverage quickly.

Where to find simplified issue life insurance

CompanyPolicyDetails
Haven Life

5.0 NerdWallet rating
Haven SimpleIssue age: 20 to 55

Coverage: $25,000 to $500,000
USAA

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Simplified Whole Life InsuranceIssue age: up to 85

Coverage: $20,000+
AARP

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Easy Acceptance Life InsuranceIssue age: 50 to 80 (AARP members)

Coverage: Up to $25,000
State Farm

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Final Expense PolicyIssue age: 50 to 80

Coverage: $10,000
Ethos

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Simplified Issue Term LifeIssue age: 20 to 70

Coverage: $50,000 to $500,000 (ages 20-45), $50,000 to $350,000 (ages 46-70)
Nationwide

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Nationwide YourLife SimplifiedIssue age: 0 to 80

Coverage: $10,000 to $50,000
John Hancock

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Simple TermIssue age: 20 to 60

Coverage: up to $500,000

Instant-approval term life insurance

Summary: Some life insurance companies follow a streamlined approach called accelerated underwriting to make buying a policy easier and faster. In fact, 3 out of 4 insurers in the U.S. and Canada offer an accelerated underwriting process, according to a study by LIMRA.

Accelerated underwriting uses algorithms to determine whether you qualify for coverage and helps insurers set rates. The application process for instant life insurance often includes a few health questions. Then, the insurer gathers data, such as your driving record, prescription drug history and information from previous life insurance applications, which the algorithm uses to calculate the risk of insuring you.

Depending on the results, a medical exam may still be required, and approval isn’t guaranteed. However, these policies are competitively priced compared with coverage that always requires a medical exam. Coverage amounts are often higher than simplified issue policies as insurers collect a broader range of data on you.

Who’s it for: Healthy people who want a quick application process.

Where to find instant-approval life insurance

CompanyPolicyDetails
Erie Insurance

4.0 NerdWallet rating
ERIExpress LifeIssue age: 18 to 55

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

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Bestow Term PolicyIssue age: 21 to 55

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

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Brighthouse SimplySelect Term LifeIssue age: 25 to 50

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

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Shelter Express TermIssue age: 18 to 60

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

2.0 NerdWallet rating
RAPIDecision Express TermIssue age: 18 to 65

Coverage: $25,000 to $100,000

Group life insurance

Summary: Life insurance available through your employer is often called group life insurance. Rates are set for the group as a whole, and the employer typically pays all or most of the premium. Basic coverage amounts paid for by an employer are often small, generally one to two times your annual salary. You don’t have to take a medical exam to enroll in free workplace policies.

Your employer may also offer the chance to buy additional coverage. These policies — sometimes called supplemental life insurance — may require medical information or the completion of a medical exam to qualify for coverage. Because rates are based on the group as a whole, people who are young and healthy may be able to get cheaper policies outside the workplace.

Who it’s for: People who want free coverage or who can’t buy a policy on the open market.

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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