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Options for No Medical Exam Life Insurance

You can get life insurance without a visit to the doctor, but the convenience can come at a higher price.
Aug. 10, 2020
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. However, insurers may ask you questions about health or use data from your medical records during the application process.

A life insurance medical exam usually 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, as well as your premium rate.

Prices for life insurance policies without medical exams vary widely. Some are geared toward people in poor health, while others are available to younger, healthy people only.

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 marketed to older people to cover final expenses like funeral costs. Typically, there are no health questions and approval is guaranteed.

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

ProsCons

  • Easy application process as you don’t have to take a medical exam or answer health questions.

  • Guaranteed approval if you are within the eligible age range. Most policies are available to those between 40 and 85.


  • Small coverage amounts, typically under $25,000.

  • Graded death benefits, which means the full death benefit typically isn’t paid out within the first few years of the policy.

  • Generally, more expensive for healthy people than policies with full medical underwriting.

» 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 insurers typically require you to answer a short health questionnaire. 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 term and whole life, are available as simplified issue policies. The maximum amounts of coverage available are limited, usually $500,000 or less, depending on the company.

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

ProsCons

  • Quicker application process as insurers don't require medical exams.

  • Answer only a few health questions to qualify for coverage.


  • Approval isn't guaranteed.

  • Limited coverage amounts.

  • Typically, more expensive than a policy that requires a medical exam if you’re young and healthy.

» MORE: 3 good reasons to buy no-exam life insurance

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, three out of four insurers in the U.S. and Canada offer an accelerated underwriting process, according to a study by LIMRA.

Accelerated underwriting uses sophisticated algorithms to determine whether you qualify for coverage and helps insurers set rates. The application process for instant life insurance policies often include 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.

Haven Life, Ladder, Bestow and Ethos use accelerated underwriting to offer instant-approval term life insurance online. Up to $1 million of life insurance without a medical exam is available for younger, healthy people.

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

ProsCons

  • Faster application process.

  • Competitively priced compared with life insurance that requires a medical exam.

  • Higher coverage amounts available than with guaranteed and simplified issue life insurance policies.


  • A medical exam is still required for those in less-than-perfect health.

  • Approval isn’t guaranteed.

Group life insurance

Summary: Life insurance available through your employer is called group life insurance. The rates are set for the group as a whole, and the employer typically pays all or most of the premium. 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.

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

ProsCons

  • Employers pay all or part of the premium for the basic level of coverage.

  • Supplemental life insurance without a medical exam may also be available.


  • Basic coverage amounts provided by an employer are often small, typically only one to two times your annual salary

  • Paying for additional coverage may be more expensive for younger, healthy people who can get coverage outside the workplace.

» MORE: Pros and cons of group life insurance through work

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