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Traditionally, buying a life insurance policy isn’t known for being a speedy process. But times have changed. If you’re turned off by a life insurance medical exam and lengthy wait times for approval, you have options.
Some insurance companies have significantly accelerated up the life insurance shopping experience. You can find policies that forego the medical exam and are competitively priced compared to traditional life insurance policies. Called no-exam life insurance, these policies are competitively priced when compared to traditional life insurance. You could be approved within minutes or up to three days.
We rated providers based on price and coverage benefits to narrow the field to five top choices.
Highlights: Brighthouse SimplySelect offers up to $2 million in no-exam coverage for policyholders between the ages of 25 and 50. You can get term lengths of 10, 20 or 30 years.This policy offers excellent rates and the best benefits among the insurers on our list, including the ability to convert to a permanent life insurance policy. After the term expires, there’s a guaranteed renewal to age 95, although rates may be higher.
Potential drawbacks: You may not purchase a policy after you turn 50, the youngest maximum age on our list.
Highlights: Receive up to $1 million in no-exam coverage. Jenny Life offers a generous range of eligible ages, from 18 to 70. You can also receive an accelerated death benefit if you were deemed to have average health (called standard) or better during application. After the term expires, you’re offered guaranteed renewal up to age 95; rates are not guaranteed.
Potential drawbacks: You may not convert this term life policy to a permanent policy. Term lengths available include 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
Lincoln Financial TermAccel
Highlights: Lincoln Financial TermAccel offers up to $1 million in coverage for policyholders ages 18 to 60. Term lengths range from 10 to 30 years. This policy can be converted to a permanent life insurance policy and you have the ability to reduce your coverage amount after three years. You’ll also be eligible for guaranteed renewal up to age 95; rates won’t change for the first three years of renewal.
Potential drawbacks: Rates aren’t as good when compared to other insurers on our list, plus you’ll be charged an annual policy fee of $80 to $90.
Highlights: Sagicor Life offers up to $500,000 for instant coverage for policyholders ages 18 to 65. You can receive up to $1 million in coverage if you’re 45 or younger. Term lengths are 10, 15 or 20 years. You can convert this term policy to a permanent policy, and it includes an accelerated death benefit. After the term expires, you may renew up to age 95.
Potential drawbacks: Although there are two maximum coverage tiers, the $500,000 max tier is low compared with other insurers on our list.
Highlights: Ladder offers the highest maximum no-exam coverage of any insurer on our list at $3 million. What’s more, you can change your coverage amount at any time. Term lengths available are for 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years.
Potential drawbacks: Ladder charges potentially higher rates than other insurers on our list, and you do not have the option to convert your term life policy to a permanent one. There’s also no accelerated death benefit, nor a guaranteed renewal after the term expires.
What Is No-exam Life Insurance?
No-exam life insurance reduces the time and hassle required to purchase life insurance. Regardless of age, health, gender and other factors, any adult can apply for no-exam coverage.
Typically, life insurers insist that you undergo a medical exam as part of the application process. The exam normally involves gathering information such as your height, weight and blood pressure, and providing blood and urine samples.
A no-exam life insurance policy skips the medical exam. But to avoid the exam, you might wind up paying higher premiums and getting lower coverage limits with no-exam life insurance than you would with traditional life insurance.
In a lot of cases, the entire process of applying for no-exam life insurance happens online. Additionally, you may get an immediate decision about whether an insurer has approved or rejected your application.
Who Should Consider No-exam Life Insurance?
No-exam life insurance could be particularly appealing if you suffer from a serious medical condition, such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, that you fear could jeopardize your chances of qualifying for a traditional life insurance policy. Your options may be limited in this situation, but there are some insurers that provide limited coverage in these instances. No-exam life insurance also could be an attractive option if the thought of a medical exam makes you squirm.
Such coverage also could be a good alternative if your age might prohibit you from obtaining affordable traditional life insurance. Age ranks among the biggest factors that determine how much you pay for traditional life insurance. In other words, the older you are, the more expensive traditional life insurance probably will be.
You might also consider buying no-exam life insurance simply because you want to ensure final expenses, like burial costs and end-of-life debts, are covered after you die without jumping through hoops to get a traditional policy.
Forms of No-exam Life Insurance
No-exam life insurance policies can be either term life (covering you for a set period of time, such as 20 years) or whole life (covering you as long as you’re alive). Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance.
Fully Underwritten No-exam Life Insurance
Some life insurers use personal data about you as a substitute for a medical exam and can offer rates that are comparable to life insurance with an exam. For these policies you generally need to be young and healthy for approval.
When you apply for a simplified issue policy, you must answer some basic questions about your health. But the list of questions won’t be as long as the list of questions asked of applicants for traditional life insurance. The life insurer will still collect information about you, such as prescription drug history and driving record..
Armed with this information, an insurer determines whether to approve or reject your application. If you’re in pretty good health and under age 50, approval likely won’t be an issue.
Simply put, a guaranteed issue life insurance policy guarantees coverage, generally requiring no information about your health. But guaranteed issue coverage often is capped at $25,000. Plus, the coverage normally comes with super-high premiums.
Generally, guaranteed issue policies are geared toward seniors or people in poor health who merely want to cover final expenses.
We evaluated no-exam insurance policies based on the following criteria:
Price (50% of score): We averaged the life insurance rates for females and males in excellent health at ages 30, 35, 40 and 45 for $500,000 in term lengths of 10, 20 and 30 years. (Not all companies in our evaluation offer all term lengths.)
Coverage options and benefits (50% of score):
- Maximum no-exam coverage amount: Companies with higher no-exam coverage amounts earned more points. The maximum coverage can sometimes be lower if you apply at a higher age.
- Availability of a 30-year term length: A long term length is crucial for younger buyers who need coverage through their working years. Your term length options may be shorter if you apply at a higher age.
- Ages eligible for a no-exam policy: Companies offering no-exam policies to applicants over age 50 earned more points.
- Accelerated death benefits: This important feature lets you access part of your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
- Other living benefits: Companies that included additional living benefits beyond an accelerated death benefit earned more points. We did not include life insurance riders in the scoring.
- Conversion to permanent life: Companies that give you the option to convert your term life policy to a permanent life policy earned more points.
- Guaranteed renewal: This option allows you to extend your coverage after your initial level term period expires. For example, at the end of a 20-year term. Renewal rates can be much higher, but it provides extended coverage to someone who may no longer qualify for a new policy because of health issues.
- Ability to change face amount: Insurers that offer the flexibility to change the coverage amount earned more points.
Sources: Bestow, Ethos, Fabric, Haven Life, Jenny Life, Ladder, Life Quotes and Policygenius.
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.