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Life insurance policies that don’t require a medical exam
It’s possible to get life insurance without taking a medical exam — but you’ll pay more for coverage.
A health exam is required for traditional life insurance policies, but traditional isn’t the only option on the market. Depending on your insurer, you may only have to answer a health questionnaire, or you could get coverage with no questions asked. But no-exam policies are expensive, and coverage is limited.
What is no medical exam life insurance?
No medical exam life insurance works the same way as a regular policy, but it usually lets you skip the process of getting a medical examination and instead assesses your health via a simple questionnaire. Other types of no medical policies don’t even require a questionnaire.
Types of no medical exam life insurance
There are a few types of life insurance policies which don’t require a medical exam. Generally, the difference between policies lies in how much information the insurance company requires from you for approval.
Simplified issue life insurance
With a simplified life insurance policy, most companies offer a term policy but some have simplified permanent policies as well. You won’t have to undergo a doctor’s exam, but you’ll need to answer some questions about your medical history. Approval isn’t guaranteed, but if you are approved, your policy could be issued within days. Typically, there is a 2 year waiting period for the full death benefit to be payed out when you die. If you were to die within 2 years, your beneficiaries would only receive a payout worth the total amount of premiums you payed until that point.
Guaranteed issue life insurance
Also known as guaranteed acceptance life insurance, this type of policy is open to anyone. It forgoes both the medical exam and health questionnaire, and insurers can’t refuse coverage. Typically, guaranteed issue policies are permanent life policies that are capped at small amounts, like $50,000. They’re often marketed to seniors as a way to cover funeral costs and end-of-life expenses, but the usual cap to apply is age 75.
Instant-approval term life insurance
Some insurance companies offer term life policies online with accelerated underwriting. Often, only people who are relatively healthy and under a maximum age are eligible for instant approval. Depending on the provider, you’ll need to answer a few questions about your health and family medical history. If the insurer needs more information or wants to investigate your health further, they may ask for a phone interview or request a medical exam. These types of policies generally have a maximum coverage amount, like $500,000. If you require more coverage you’ll likely have to undergo a medical exam.
Group life insurance
Group life insurance is offered through the workplace as part of your employee benefits. If your employer participates and you want to enroll, you usually won’t have to fill out a health questionnaire or take a medical exam. The employer typically pays all or most of the premium – making this a cheap and easy way to get life insurance. While it’s convenient, group life coverage may top out at one to two times your annual salary, or sometimes only pays out a paltry $25,000, which may not be enough coverage for your needs.
How does no medical exam life insurance work?
The process is very simple. Usually these types of policies require you to provide some basic personal information, like your name and contact information, followed by answers to a health questionnaire. This is usually done online, but may also be available over the phone. Keep in mind, that guaranteed issue life insurance policies don’t even require that you fill out a health questionnaire.
What’s on the questionnaire?
With no medical life insurance, there’s usually minimal medical underwriting when you apply. Generally, you’re required to answer questions relevant to your health — details like if you’re a smoker or heavy drinker, your height and weight, and your recent medical history.
For the most accurate rate, it’s important to answer all questions as best as you can. And be honest – if your insurer discovers you lied on an application, they’ll likely deny your beneficiaries’ claim later on.
Questions you might be asked
- Who’s your primary care doctor?
- When was the last time you saw your doctor?
- Are you currently taking any medication?
- Have you recently had surgery?
- Do any health conditions run in your family?
- Do you currently have or have recently been treated for any number of health disorders (like heart disease, cancer, depression etc.)
- Do you drink alcohol? If so, how frequently?
- Do you smoke? If so, how much?
What if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, most insurers will exclude it automatically, unless you apply after you’ve been fully recovered from it for a certain number of years.
For milder and treatable conditions, like asthma or diabetes, some policies may allow you to undertake additional medical tests in order to further examine your current health condition and determine whether or not they can cover you. If you are covered, your policy will be considered “rated,” which means you’ll pay higher premiums.
Can I add riders to my policy?
It depends on your insurer. Some carriers won’t allow you to customize your no-exam policy with riders, while others may offer common riders such as:
- Accidental death benefit. Your beneficiaries receive an additional amount if your death is caused by an accident of some kind.
- Critical illness. Gives you a payout if you get diagnosed with a critical illness while your policy is active.
Pros and cons of no medical exam life insurance
- Short approval. No medical exam policies are typically issued within hours or days. To compare, traditionally underwritten policies can take sometimes take 8 weeks to be approved.
- Convenient application. Depending on the policy, you may not need even need to fill out a health questionnaire, which cuts down on the application time.
- No medical exam. You don’t have the hassle of booking and undergoing a medical exam.
- Expensive. Without a complete picture of your health, insurers are taking a risk – so they charge higher rates to compensate for that.
- Limited to small amounts. No medical exam policies are usually capped at low amounts, like $50,000 – which may leave you under-insured.
Who should consider a no medical exam policy?
If these situations apply to you, a no medical exam policy might make sense:
- You need life insurance right away – for example, to satisfy a court order.
- You have a serious health condition that may otherwise disqualify you for coverage, like cancer.
- You have a chronic health condition that you’re not able to manage well, like diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You simply want your policy to pay for your funeral and end-of-life expenses.
- You’re uncomfortable around doctors or needles.
Who should avoid no medical exam policies?
In these cases, you might be better off applying for a traditionally underwritten policy:
- You’re in excellent health. With life insurance, your health is your biggest asset. If you’re healthy, you could pay a lot less if you allow your insurance company to take that into account by undergoing a medical exam.
- You need a large policy. No exam policies are limited to small amounts, like $50,000 — but you could buy a traditional policy worth millions.
Compare no medical exam life insurance
No medical exam policies are ideal for people who have a serious health condition working against them, as well as those who need coverage quickly or don’t want to see a doctor. While these policies can be issued within hours or days, the coverage is capped and you can expect to pay a much higher premium.
Before buying coverage, compare life insurance providers and policy features.
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