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
|Ethos||Guaranteed Issue Whole Life||Issue age: 65 to 85
Coverage: $10,000 to $25,000
|Mutual of Omaha||Guaranteed Plus Whole Life||Issue age: 45 to 85
Coverage: $2,000 to $25,000
|AAA||Guaranteed Issue Whole Life||Issue age: 45 to 85
Coverage: up to $25,000
|Gerber||Guaranteed Life Insurance||Issue age: 50 to 80
Coverage: $5,000 to $25,000
|AIG||Guaranteed Issue Whole Life||Issue age: 50 to 80
Coverage: $5,000 to $25,000
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
|Haven Life||Haven Simple||Issue age: 20 to 55
Coverage: $25,000 to $500,000
|USAA||Simplified Whole Life Insurance||Issue age: up to 85
|AARP||Easy Acceptance Life Insurance||Issue age: 50 to 80 (AARP members)
Coverage: Up to $25,000
|State Farm||Final Expense Policy||Issue age: 50 to 80
|Ethos||Simplified Issue Term Life||Issue age: 20 to 70
Coverage: $50,000 to $500,000 (ages 20-45), $50,000 to $350,000 (ages 46-70)
|Nationwide||Nationwide YourLife Simplified||Issue age: 0 to 80
Coverage: $10,000 to $50,000
|John Hancock||Simple Term||Issue 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
|Erie Insurance||ERIExpress Life||Issue age: 18 to 55
Coverage: $10,000 to $500,000
|Bestow||Bestow Term Policy||Issue age: 21 to 55
Coverage: $50,000 to $1.5 million
|Brighthouse Financial||Brighthouse SimplySelect Term Life||Issue age: 25 to 50
Coverage: $100,000 to $2 million
|Shelter Insurance||Shelter Express Term||Issue age: 18 to 60
Coverage: $50,000 to $100,000
|Fidelity Life||RAPIDecision Express Term||Issue 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 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.