You can get life insurance with no medical exam.
If that’s appealing to you, make sure you understand how these policies work and the trade-offs they sometimes involve.
No medical exam life insurance is possible but there are a few things to keep in mind. In this article, I’ll explain the different types of life insurance that don’t require a medical exam and provide examples of companies that sell each kind of policy.
Table of Contents
- Can You Really Get Life Insurance With No Medical Exam?
- Pros and Cons of the 4 Types of No Medical Term Life Insurance
- Simplified Issue Life Insurance
- Instant Approval Life Insurance
- Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
- Group Life Insurance
- What’s Involved in a Life Insurance Medical Exam?
Can You Really Get Life Insurance With No Medical Exam?
You can find life insurance policies that offer no medical exam.
What the industry calls a “no-med” life insurance policy is becoming a more common product offering with the emergence of “insuretech” startups.
“I love that someone can go on their phone, know they should buy a policy and get it done right then and there,” money expert Clark Howard says. “No exam life insurance takes what could be a six-week process of applying and turns it into a 10-minute one.”
Traditionally, life insurance companies have required customers to submit to medical exams in order to assess how much of a risk a person is to insure and to set the price of monthly premiums accordingly.
However, some companies allow you to forego a medical exam and instead ask you questions about your family’s medical history, your prescription history, your driving record, your criminal record and whether you consume drugs and alcohol. The companies corroborate your answers with publicly-available data when possible.
Some companies skip those steps entirely and compensate for their risk by charging you higher rates or limiting your coverage options.
It may be a good idea to consider a life insurance policy with no medical exam if:
- You have pre-existing medical conditions that may make it difficult to get coverage.
- You hate needles (or doctors).
- You’re a notorious procrastinator.
If you need life insurance coverage, you shouldn’t let a medical exam be the only reason why you don’t apply for it.
Pros and Cons of the 4 Types of “No-Med” Term Life Insurance
There are several types of life insurance that don’t require medical exams: guaranteed issue, simplified issue, instant approval and group life insurance.
We’ll explain each of them.
First, here’s a chart to help you understand the pros and cons of each type.
|Simplified Issue||• Limited health-related questions on application|
• Fast purchasing process
|• Usually more expensive than other policies
• Somewhat limited coverage amounts ($500,000 or less)
|Instant Issue||• Prices competitive with traditional life insurance|
• Very high coverage amounts
|• Approval not guaranteed
• Some applicants still need medical exam
|Guaranteed Issue||• Super easy application|
• Approval possible despite age or medical issues
|• Coverage amounts typically less than $25,000
• Expensive, small whole life policy
|Group||• Free or nearly free for employees|
• Helpful for older or less healthy individuals
|• Small coverage amounts
• Not transferable outside of employment
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
Company Examples: Haven Life Insurance Agency
By not requiring a medical exam, simplified issue life insurance offers a faster application process than traditional life insurance.
Simplified issue products usually limit coverage to $500,000 or less. There’s no guarantee you’ll get approved. Typically, these policies are more expensive — sometimes much more expensive — than traditional term life insurance policies. This helps balance the additional risk that insurance companies incur since they don’t get data from a medical exam.
Simplified issue applications do ask plenty of health-related questions. That includes questions about your medical history (including prescriptions and recent hospitalizations), your family’s medical history, your use of drugs and alcohol, your driving record, previous life insurance applications and your height and weight.
So while it offers no-exam life insurance coverage, you’re still required to inform it of any medical condition or history. Take care to be transparent on your application. If you lie, omit information or mislead, it does constitute insurance fraud, which voids your contract.
Instant Approval Life Insurance
Company Examples: Bestow, Fabric, Haven Life, Ladder
Also called “accelerated underwriting,” instant approval life insurance typically grants you a decision on your application within minutes.
Companies are able to offer such fast decisions by using your personal data in place of medical exams, running it through sophisticated algorithms to assess you as a risk.
The good news is that the application process is fast and convenient, and the pricing can be competitive with companies that do require medical exams. Instant approval products also tend to allow for higher coverage amounts than simplified issue products.
However, approval isn’t guaranteed. Some people who apply for instant approval may be asked to submit to a medical exam.
The application for this type of life insurance can be pretty invasive. Companies need plenty of your personal data to replace what they’d learn through a medical exam. In most cases, companies require your permission to access that data. It can include not only your medical records but also prescription history and even property deeds, criminal records, tax filings, professional licenses, bankruptcy documents and more.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Company Example: AIG, State Farm
Like the name suggests, if you apply for this type of no-med life insurance, you’re guaranteed to get accepted.
This is actually whole life insurance — not term life — with smaller coverage amounts (usually less than $25,000). Insurance companies often market this product as “final expense” insurance designed to pay for funeral and burial costs.
Like simplified issue, guaranteed issue tends to be more expensive than life insurance policies with full underwriting. Companies with guaranteed-issue products aren’t privy to any knowledge about your health.
Sometimes the death benefits for these policies are “graded.” If you die within a few years of purchasing the policy, your beneficiary may not get a full payout bur instead the total amount of the premiums you paid plus interest.
If you have serious health issues, you may not be able to get approved for other types of life insurance. Guaranteed issue may be a good way to provide some type of benefit to your family after you’re gone.
Group Life Insurance
Company Example: Prudential
You may hear people calling this supplemental life insurance. Some employers provide group life insurance for free or nearly for free. You don’t have to take a medical exam to enroll.
The insurer considers factors such as the number of people and the age range of the group before setting a rate. Depending on the insurance company, you may need to disclose medical information or even submit to an exam, but usually you won’t.
The coverage amount for group policies typically is one to two times your annual salary. If the policy pays out more than $50,000, you’ll have to pay taxes on any premiums that your company pays, as the IRS considers that to be income.
These policies are not transferable. You lose them if you leave your job.
What’s Involved in a Life Insurance Medical Exam?
If you’re like I was when I first started researching life insurance companies, you may not know what’s involved in a life insurance medical exam.
It typically involves:
- Drawing blood
- Providing a urine sample
- Measuring your height/weight
- Calculating your BMI
- Checking your blood pressure
- Checking your heart rate
- Potentially submitting to an electrocardiogram (EKG)
Sometimes life insurance medical exams involve going to a doctor’s office. Some insurance companies will send someone to do your exam at your residence or at your place of employment. Sometimes companies also will allow you to delay your exam for weeks or months, providing you with temporary coverage until you complete it.
If you’re healthy, medical exams often work in your favor by proving that you’re a lower risk and therefore deserve cheaper monthly premiums. But a traditional life insurance policy will require a medical exam as opposed to a no medical exam life insurance policy.
If you’re young and healthy, consider how much money you may save over the course of a 20- or 30-year policy by submitting to a medical exam.
However, the no-med options have gotten much better.
“The prior era of no exam medical policies were junk because they were really expensive,” Clark says. “But today, they’re in the same range as the traditional policies. And they’re so easy to apply for.”
No-med life insurance may be a good product for you if you:
- Need life insurance and you won’t buy it otherwise
- Can’t qualify for traditional life insurance
- Find a company with a competitively-priced instant approval product
No matter what type of life insurance you buy, there are a few landmines to avoid. You don’t want to:
- Buy from a company without a stable long-term financial future, as judged by its A.M. Best rating (you want a rating of A+ or A++)
- Make an impulse buy after a sales or marketing pitch
If you need help finding the right option, our list of the best term life insurance companies is a good place to start.