Obtaining life insurance can feel like a complicated process, especially if the thought of a medical exam puts you off. The good news is you don’t always need an exam to get covered. No-medical-exam life insurance is becoming more popular and easier to get, potentially making it a great option for many people. In this article, we’ll break down what no-medical-exam life insurance is, how it works and why it might be a good fit for you. With Bankrate’s trusted advice, you can feel confident in navigating your options for life insurance without a medical exam.

What is no-medical-exam life insurance?

No-medical-exam life insurance is a type of policy that allows you to obtain coverage without undergoing a medical exam. The underwriting process, which is a crucial part of buying life insurance, plays a significant role in determining whether a medical exam is required and how much your policy will cost. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of underwriting and their requirements:

  • Traditional underwriting: This method typically requires a medical exam, including blood tests and a physical. It’s thorough and helps the insurer accurately assess your health and set your premium rates.
  • Accelerated underwriting: With accelerated underwriting, a medical exam may not be necessary. Insurers use data and algorithms to quickly evaluate your risk, often relying on your medical history, prescription records and other personal information.
  • Automated underwriting: This process uses technology to assess your application quickly – instantly, in some cases. While it can sometimes bypass the need for a medical exam, it often relies on the data you provide and other electronic health records.
  • Simplified underwriting: Simplified underwriting usually skips the medical exam in favor of a health questionnaire. This makes the process faster, but it has the potential to lead to higher premiums since the insurer has less detailed information about your health.
  • Guaranteed issue underwriting: This type offers the most straightforward path to coverage with no medical exam or health questions required. It’s typically available to individuals who might struggle to qualify for other types of insurance but often comes with higher premiums and lower coverage amounts.

Not all insurance companies offer no-medical-exam policies, and not everyone will qualify for them. It’s important to explore your options and understand the specifics of each underwriting process to find the best life insurance that fits your needs.

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Types of no-exam life insurance

When looking into life insurance without a medical exam, you have several options to consider. However, whether a medical exam is required often depends on the insurer and their underwriting process rather than the type of policy. Here are the common types of no-exam life insurance and what you can expect with each.

Simplified issue life insurance

  • Medical exam? Not required
  • Health questionnaire? Yes

Simplified issue life insurance typically involves filling out a health questionnaire instead of undergoing a full medical exam. The questionnaire is generally brief, focusing on your overall health and medical history. Coverage limits for simplified issue policies usually max out around $250,000, though this can vary by insurer. While no medical exam is required, the health questions help the insurer assess your risk and determine if you’re eligible.

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance

  • Medical exam? Not required
  • Health questionnaire? Not required

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance, also known as guaranteed issue or final expense insurance, does not require a medical exam or health questionnaire. This type of policy is designed for older individuals who may have health issues that make it difficult to qualify for other insurance policies. Because there is no health screening, premiums are typically higher, and coverage amounts are lower, typically capped at around $25,000. This type of insurance is often used to cover end-of-life expenses.

Group life insurance

  • Medical exam? Not typically required
  • Health questionnaire? Sometimes required for additional coverage

Group life insurance is often provided by employers as part of their benefits package. In this arrangement, the employer holds the master policy, and employees can opt-in to receive coverage. Typically, no medical exam is required to join a group life insurance plan, making it accessible to a wide range of employees. Policies are usually lower cost, if not free of charge, due to the group rate, and coverage limits are often modest. Employees may have the option to purchase additional coverage, which might require completing a health questionnaire.

Term life insurance

  • Medical exam? It depends
  • Health questionnaire? Yes

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified period, such as 10, 20 or 30 years. If the policyholder passes away during the term, the death benefit is paid to the beneficiaries. Many insurers offer no-exam term life insurance policies, though applicants usually need to fill out a detailed application that includes health-related questions. These policies are often more affordable than permanent life insurance because they do not build cash value. The lack of a medical exam speeds up the approval process, making it a convenient option for many.

Permanent life insurance

  • Medical exam? Only for non-guaranteed policies
  • Health questionnaire? Not required for guaranteed issue options

Permanent life insurance includes whole life and universal life policies, which are designed to provide coverage for your entire lifetime and potentially accrue cash value. While it’s less common to find no-exam options for permanent life insurance, some insurers do offer them, particularly through guaranteed issue underwriting. These policies may come with higher premiums and lower coverage amounts due to the absence of a medical evaluation.

How to get life insurance without a medical exam

There are several ways to obtain life insurance without a medical exam. If you’re employed, your first step could be to check if your employer offers group life insurance as part of your benefits package. Group life insurance typically does not require a medical exam, making it an easy and accessible option.

If group life insurance is not available or sufficient, you might consider guaranteed issue life insurance. This type of policy does not require a medical exam or health questionnaire and is generally available to anyone, though it usually comes with higher premiums and lower coverage amounts.

Another approach is to shop around for insurers that offer traditional term or whole life insurance with an accelerated or automated underwriting process. These policies use data and algorithms to assess your application quickly, often eliminating the need for a medical exam. If you are determined to be ineligible for the no-exam option, they may simply re-route you to the traditional underwriting process, and coverage may still be attainable.

Your individual risk factors, type of policy you choose and the amount of coverage you need will significantly impact your premium. Taking the time to explore your options and compare quotes can help you secure the right coverage.

Best companies with no-exam life insurance options

Not all companies offer life insurance without a medical exam. Those that do have their own limitations and restrictions. Speaking with a licensed insurance agent may help you determine the best no-exam life insurance or if you could potentially qualify for a policy with a medical exam at a lower rate. To start your research, you might consider these carriers with advertised no-exam policy options.

  • Prudential: This carrier advertises no-medical-exam policy options, but availability may vary by individual and policy type.
  • Mutual of Omaha: Mutual of Omaha offers guaranteed issue whole life insurance that does not require a medical exam or health questions. This type of policy is particularly geared towards covering end-of-life expenses.
  • AIG/Corebridge Financial: AIG life insurance, now Corebridge Financial, offers a no-exam simplified issue life insurance option underwritten primarily by the American General Life Insurance Company.
  • MassMutual: While you may need an initial medical exam to get coverage, Mass Mutual advertises a guaranteed insurability rider which may allow you to increase your death benefit coverage without another health exam.
  • State Farm: Shoppers looking for term life insurance coverage without a medical exam may find what they’re looking for with the carrier’s Instant Answer Term Insurance.
  • Ladder: Ladder offers term life insurance policies without requiring a medical exam for coverage amounts up to $3 million. Applications for coverage under this amount can often be approved within minutes. However, for policies between $3 million and $8 million, a medical exam might be necessary.
  • Banner: Banner offers accelerated underwriting that can approve policies without a medical exam, often within 48 hours after a phone interview. This applies primarily to term life insurance policies.

How much does no-exam life insurance cost?

The cost of no-exam life insurance can vary depending on the type of policy you choose. Here’s an overview of what you can expect:

  • Guaranteed issue and simplified issue life insurance:
    • Guaranteed issue: These policies do not require any health questions or medical exams, making them accessible to anyone. However, because the insurer takes on more risk, premiums are typically higher, and coverage amounts are lower.
    • Simplified issue: These policies skip the medical exam but do require a health questionnaire. The lack of a full medical evaluation means higher premiums compared to traditional policies, though they are generally less expensive than guaranteed issue policies.
  • Term life insurance with accelerated underwriting:
    These policies often do not cost more than those requiring a medical exam. If an applicant doesn’t qualify for the accelerated underwriting process, they are typically rerouted to traditional underwriting and may need a medical exam. This helps keep premiums competitive while providing a quicker and more convenient application process.
  • Group life insurance:
    Often provided by employers at no cost for a base coverage amount, making it an economical option. Employees can purchase additional coverage at group rates, which are typically lower than individual rates but increase with age, usually in five-year increments. Additional voluntary coverage might require completing a health questionnaire.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes, it is possible to have more than one life insurance policy. Many people opt to have multiple policies to cover different needs. For example, you might have a life insurance policy through your employer and purchase an additional individual policy. This approach, known as “laddering,” involves holding several policies with different coverage amounts and term lengths.

    Laddering can be an effective financial strategy. It allows you to match coverage with specific financial obligations, such as a mortgage, college tuition or other debts, ensuring that each is covered appropriately. As your financial needs change over time, laddering provides flexibility. For instance, you might start with larger coverage when your financial responsibilities are highest and gradually reduce it as those obligations are met.
  • When comparing term vs. whole life insurance, the main differences lie in the duration of coverage and the additional benefits each policy offers. Term life insurance policies last for a specified period of time, and the death benefit is only in effect during this time period. If you die during the term and the conditions of the policy have been met, your beneficiaries will receive a payout. If you outlive the term without renewing or converting the policy, the policy will expire. A whole life policy is designed to last your entire life as long as you pay your premiums and meet the terms of the policy. Whole policies also offer a cash value component and may earn dividends.
  • In some cases, you can, but it is up to the company as to whether they offer online quotes or not. A few insurers work almost entirely online and offer quotes and online applications through their website. Other insurers require you to talk to an agent to get a quote. You will usually know if you can get an online quote by checking your chosen company’s website for online quoting tools.
  • Instant approval life insurance is a type of policy that can be approved almost immediately after you apply, often within minutes. This process uses technology and algorithms to quickly assess your application based on the information you provide, such as your age, health and lifestyle. Instant approval policies typically do not require a medical exam, making them a convenient option for those seeking quick coverage. However, eligibility and coverage amounts may be more limited compared to traditional life insurance policies that involve more thorough underwriting processes.