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Should I get temporary life insurance?

Get coverage while waiting on your medical test results, but not everyone is eligible.

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Whether this is your first insurance policy or you’re changing insurance companies, there will likely be a gap between when you apply for life insurance and when you get your final rate and sign the contract. Scheduling your medical exam, waiting on the results and finalizing the underwriting process can take anywhere between four to eight weeks in some cases. But some insurers offer temporary life insurance coverage (TLIC) so that you’re covered while you wait.

What is temporary life insurance?

Temporary life insurance is similar to a test drive of your insurance policy while underwriting is in process. While you’re supplying documentation and medical tests, you pay your premiums and get the coverage you’re applying for on a temporary basis. If something happens to you before your actual insurance policy is finalized and signed, your family can make a death benefit claim for the full amount of your temporary coverage.

Can anyone get temporary life insurance?

Before you’re offered TLIC, your insurer will ask you medical and health questions. If you have a disqualifying medical condition, you won’t be offered temporary coverage. Your age may also make you ineligible, depending on which insurance company you’re working with.

As with any life insurance policy, if you lie on your application, your coverage can be revoked, and your death benefit claim can be denied.

How does temporary life insurance work?

If you qualify for temporary insurance, you’ll receive an offer from your insurer as part of the application process. Follow these steps to start the TLIC process:

  1. Apply for life insurance. Once you’ve selected the policy and insurer you want to work with, start the application process.
  2. Ask about TLIC. If your insurer offers TLIC, you’ll get an offer in the form of a temporary life insurance receipt, which provides the terms of your coverage. Your temporary insurance payout will typically be equal to the amount of the policy you’re applying for. But insurers tend to cap this coverage at or below $1 million.
  3. Sign your TLIC agreement. Once you read over the terms of your temporary insurance, sign the agreement to activate it. Signing this doesn’t mean you have to accept the finalized term or whole life insurance policy.
  4. Submit your payment. Typically, your premium will be the estimated premium for your final insurance policy. Once you submit a payment, you’re covered. If you die after making a payment, your family can make a claim for the full death benefit amount.
  5. Schedule your medical exam. Temporary insurance is only meant to cover you during the stipulated amount of time you have to get your medical exam and finish the application for underwriting. This time period is usually 90 days or less.
  6. Receive your finalized insurance policy. Once your underwriting is complete, you’ll either receive the final terms of your insurance policy or be declined for coverage. If you choose to sign, your temporary insurance coverage ends and your new coverage begins. If you’re declined for coverage, your temporary insurance ends. You can choose to refuse the final terms or cancel your temporary coverage and application at any time.

How much does temporary insurance cost?

Temporary insurance will typically cost you the estimated monthly premium that you’ll pay for your final insurance policy. With most life insurance companies, the money you spend on temporary life insurance goes toward your first month’s premiums.

If you decide to cancel your coverage, you can typically apply for a refund of your temporary insurance premiums.

Pros and cons of temporary life insurance

Pros

  • Peace of mind. The life insurance application process can be long and stressful. Temporary coverage offers peace of mind while you wait for underwriting to approve your application.
  • Seamless coverage. Once your application is approved and you decide to sign the contract, your temporary coverage transitions into your final policy without a gap in coverage.
  • No cost to you. Whether you end up insured or not, the money you spend on temporary coverage returns to you, either as a premium payment on your new policy or as a full refund.

Cons

  • Coverage caps. If you’re applying for a larger policy, your temporary policy’s payout may fall short of your coverage needs. Insurers tend to cap temporary policies at $500,000 or $1 million.
  • Not offered to everyone. Even if you eventually get coverage from the insurer, you may still be denied temporary coverage for a health issue that comes up in your questionnaire.
  • Can be revoked at any time. Your temporary insurance may come with the caveat that the carrier can revoke your temporary coverage at any time and for any reason.

Compare companies that offer temporary life insurance

Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Medical Exam Required
Sproutt
18 - 60 years old
$50,000
$5,000,000
No
This life insurance broker combines technology and the human touch to match you with a policy tailored to your needs.
Policygenius
18 - 85 years old
$10,000
$10,000,000+
Depends on provider and policy
Compare affordable quotes from 12+ A-rated life insurance companies side-by-side.
Bestow
21 - 54 years old
$50,000
$1,000,000
No
Affordable 10- and 20-year term life insurance policies with instant quotes and no medical exams.
Everyday Life
20 - 75 years old
$100,000
$10,000,000
No
Build a customized laddering strategy to target specific financial responsibilities and save on term life.
Fabric
25 - 60 years old
$100,000
$5,000,000
Depends on policy
Get affordable term life insurance with accelerated underwriting or no-exam coverage up to $1,000,000. Available in all states except CA, NY and MT.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

If you qualify for temporary life insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the offer. Even if your temporary coverage isn’t equal to the policy amount you’re applying for, it’s better than nothing and gives you peace of mind in the four to eight weeks it can take to underwrite your official policy. The worst case scenario is ending up with a few weeks of coverage on a policy you decide you don’t want and waiting five to 10 days for your refund.

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