For many, purchasing a life insurance policy is one of those financial tasks you know you should do, but are reluctant to move forward because of the requirement for a medical exam. Fortunately, getting life insurance without a medical exam is possible, both through an employer or independently. But it doesn’t come without a cost. Understanding your options could help you make the best choice for you.

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What is no-medical-exam life insurance?

No-medical-exam life insurance is exactly what it sounds like: a life insurance policy that does not require a physical for underwriting approval. No-exam life insurance is generally more expensive and may be limited in its coverage options, since the insurance company is taking on a greater risk by insuring someone without knowing their medical history.

It’s also worth noting that if you get life insurance without a medical exam, your policy may include a waiting period. For example, with some types of permanent policies, your death benefit may not pay out in full until you have held your policy for two full years. However, many life insurers offer to reimburse at least 110% of the value of your accrued monthly premiums if you pass away before your waiting period expires.

Types of no-exam life insurance

Consumers have several options for obtaining life insurance without a medical exam. These options include simplified issue, guaranteed acceptance, group life insurance and term insurance, to name a few. However, keep in mind it is up to the individual carrier, and not necessarily the type of insurance policy. You will need to confirm with each individual provider that a no-exam option is offered.

Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue life insurance policies ask applicants to complete a health questionnaire that is typically short and focuses on getting a general sense for your overall health. The industry’s standard upper limit on coverage is generally $500,000, but the amount varies by insurance company.

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance policies are typically more expensive, but can be appealing because health status is not used to determine eligibility. Also known as guaranteed issue or final expense insurance, guaranteed acceptance life insurance policies are often used to cover burial and other end-of-life costs. Guaranteed issue whole life is generally available up to $50,000, but some companies restrict it to lower amounts.

Group life insurance

Group life insurance coverage is typically offered in the form of an employer-sponsored plan and is part of a company’s benefits package. The employer holds the master policy and controls decisions, whereas employees are certificate holders if they opt in to coverage. Because of this, group life insurance often does not require a physical and the premium is discounted. Typically, the coverage limits for this type of insurance will be capped fairly low, though you often have the option to purchase additional insurance if you complete a medical questionnaire.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is the type of policy that is only in effect for a certain amount of time. If you pass away during the term, the death benefit will be paid out to your beneficiaries. After the term ends, your policy will expire unless you have purchased a policy that has the option to convert or renew. You can not borrow against these types of policies, which makes them much less expensive versus other types of life insurance products. Numerous providers offer no-exam options for term life insurance but you will need to fill out an application that may include medical questions.

How to get life insurance without a medical exam

There are many ways to find life insurance policies that do not require a medical exam. First, if you work for someone else, you should inquire whether group life insurance is offered. If not, numerous providers offer no-exam medical policies and you will often see these companies advertised on television, in the mail or online. You may want to consider asking friends and family members which company they have used and if they would recommend a provider with a no-exam option. A quick internet search may also help you find companies that offer life insurance policies without a medical exam.

How much does no-exam life insurance cost?

It is important to note that you will typically pay more for no-exam coverage compared to someone who buys the same level of protection and gets a medical exam. In fact, most guaranteed issue life insurance policies can cost up to twice as much as a policy that requires a medical exam. That is because your insurer takes on a risk when they issue you a policy without knowing much about your health history and current level of wellness.

Insurers pass the increased risk on to you in the form of higher premiums. Generally, trying to secure cheap life insurance without a medical exam makes the most sense if you know you have a pre-existing health condition that will be identified during a physical. It’s important to note, however, that even policies that do not require an exam will usually require that you respond to a health questionnaire. You should answer all questions honestly, as your application may be denied if the insurance company determines that you lied in your application. If you are generally healthy, you can usually purchase cheaper coverage by getting a physical as part of the life insurance underwriting process.

To begin the process of finding the best life insurance policy without a medical exam at a price that meets your budget, you might want to get quotes from at least three insurers. That way, you can compare your options and make sure you get the most affordable coverage possible for you.

Frequently asked questions

    • Yes, you can purchase more than one life insurance policy. You can also have an employer-sponsored option and one you purchase privately. Having more than one life insurance policy can actually offer a strategic option for your finances and making sure your beneficiaries receive maximum benefit.
    • As mentioned, term life is a policy where you pay premiums for a specified period of time, and the death benefit is only in effect during this time period. A whole life policy remains in effect for your entire life as long as you pay your premium  in most circumstances. Whole policies also offer some kind of cash value account.
    • Obtaining life insurance coverage without a physical depends on the type of life insurance you want to purchase. Simplified issue life insurance is generally available once you reach age 18, although parents can also purchase it for their minor children. However, you may need to wait until you are 45, 50 or older to get guaranteed issue life insurance. You might want to review age limits from specific insurers to find the best life insurance coverage without a medical exam.