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Be honest: You’re not wild about all the poking and prodding during a medical exam for a life insurance policy. Fortunately, more and more life insurance companies are ditching their requirements for a medical exam and offering coverage without it. This is known as no-exam life insurance.
Instead of an exam, a life insurance company will often rely on other medical and personal information that it can gather about you.
No-exam life insurance is popular thanks to its convenience and speed, says Matt Burke, director of operations for life insurance, disability insurance and advanced planning at insurance marketplace Policygenius. The coverage especially appeals to younger, healthier people, he says.
If you’re looking for the best no-exam life insurance, here’s what to know.
Instant No-Exam Life Insurance
Just as you can buy everything from cars to groceries online, no-exam life insurance policies may be purchased quickly online.
With an instant policy, you can learn within a few seconds or a few days (depending on the provider) whether you’ve been approved for coverage. There may be no medical exam, but that doesn’t mean the insurer won’t find out a lot about you. Insurers can access a bounty of information through services that collect and distribute data, including:
- Electronic health records
- Your prescription drug history
- Your MIB Group report, which contains information on your individual life insurance applications in the last seven years and other data
- Your driving record
- Public records such as criminal history
- Risk scores that combine information, such as credit and driving history
Permission to access this data (when required) is given by you when you submit the application. (Read the fine print.)
Among the options for instant no-exam term life insurance are:
- Brighthouse SimplySelect. This policy is available through Policygenius and was co-developed by the two companies. The maximum no-exam coverage is $2 million, available in terms of 10, 20 or 30 years.
- Ethos. Maximum no-exam coverage is $1 million with terms of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
- Fabric. Fabric focuses on financial protection for parents. No-exam coverage is available up to $1.5 million in term length choices of 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years.
- Jenny Life. Jenny Life was created with a focus on life insurance for moms (they also sell coverage for dads). Maximum no-exam coverage is $1 million with term choices of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
- Ladder. Ladder’s policy allows you to change your coverage amount any time as your life insurance needs change. Maximum no-exam coverage is $3 million. Term length choices are 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years.
- Lincoln Financial TermAccel. The maximum no-exam coverage is $1 million with term lengths of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
- Sagicor Life. The maximum no-exam coverage is $500,000 for instant coverage of people ages 18 to 65, and up to $1 million for instant coverage of people ages 18 to 45. Term length choices are 10, 15 or 20 years.
The term lengths offered and maximum coverage amounts can vary by age, but generally no-exam life insurance is available to people under age 60.
“Life insurance prices get more expensive as you get older, so buying while you’re young and healthy is a good way to lock in a more affordable rate—and you’ll be more likely to qualify for a no-exam policy,” Burke says.
While no-exam life insurance policies provide convenience, their maximum coverage limits are generally much lower than policies that require a medical exam. A young parent who wants to buy life insurance for income replacement, for example, may very well need more than $1 million in coverage.
Some no-exam policies have pricing that is competitive with fully underwritten policies that require a medical exam. Whether you want instant life insurance or don’t mind a medical exam, be sure to obtain quotes from several life insurers.
Make sure to examine the benefits being offered as well. An instant no-exam policy can be enticing, but don’t trade off coverage benefits that you might regret not having later. Ask these questions about a no-exam life insurance policy:
- Is there an accelerated death benefit? This allows you to tap into your own death benefit if you develop a terminal illness.
- Can you convert the term life to a permanent life insurance policy? This gives you the option to switch to a permanent policy later, especially if poor health prevents you from buying a new policy in the future. For example, you might be able to convert to a universal life insurance policy until age 70 (deadlines and conversion options will vary by company).
- Is the policy guaranteed renewable? This option will let you continue the coverage past the level term period. Renewals will likely be at a much higher price, but the option lets you maintain coverage if you still need life insurance.
- Can you change the coverage face amount? Some policies let you decrease coverage, which is a good option to have if your life insurance needs decrease later. Ladder’s life insurance lets you increase or decrease the face amount as many times as you like, without a fee.
No-Exam Life Insurance from Traditional Companies
The availability of no-exam life insurance is on the rise among traditional insurance companies as well. Using a process called accelerated underwriting, they can process life insurance applications without a medical exam in only several days and issue coverage. This is especially true for younger and healthy applicants. If you’ve had health issues, you will still likely need a life insurance medical exam.
Concerns that might prompt a medical exam include:
- Serious illness or medical conditions such as heart issues
- Heavy smoking
- Heavy drinking
- Certain prescription drugs
- Advanced age
An experienced independent life insurance agent can find no-exam options for you and help you determine if a no-exam policy will get you the best coverage and pricing. In some cases you’ll be better off doing a medical exam and a more traditional application process.
Guaranteed Issue and Simplified Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue and simplified issue life insurance offer yet another option to snag a no-exam policy. These types of life insurance are often geared toward people who have serious health issues or who want only a small policy to cover funeral expenses. You may see them advertised on TV as life insurance you can’t be turned down for.
Guaranteed issue policies are generally best for people who want life insurance but have exhausted all of their other options because of poor health. This kind of coverage might be a fit if you:
- Have medical conditions that make it difficult or impossible to buy other types of life insurance
- Have only a very small budget for life insurance
- Don’t mind having a low amount of coverage, such as $25,000
- Don’t mind having a graded death benefit, which means beneficiaries don’t get the full payout if you pass away within the first two or three years of owning the policy
Simplified issue policies also don’t require a medical exam. You may have to answer a few questions about your health, and you could be turned down. Some simplified issue policies may have a graded death benefit.
But you’ll likely get a quick answer about whether your simplified issue application has been approved. Coverage may be limited to $100,000 or $250,000—not enough for a person with a young family who’s buying life insurance.
John Egan is a freelance writer, editor and content marketing strategist in Austin, Texas. His work has been published by Experian, Bankrate, National Real Estate Investor, U.S. News & World Report, Urban Land magazine and other outlets.