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By Nathan Golden and Ruben Ramos
Updated: May 14, 2021 4:26 PM ET

No exam life insurance allows you to apply for coverage without the physical exam associated with the underwriting process of a traditional policy. These policies offer a fast and easy way to get coverage, but they are not for everyone.

Read our guide to learn more about how no exam life insurance works and if it’s the right fit for you. You can also find more information on our best life insurance companies page.

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What Is No Medical Exam Life Insurance?

No exam life insurance is a policy that doesn’t require you to go through a medical test to obtain coverage. Instead, buyers are asked to answer medical questions or allow the insurer to access their health records as part of the underwriting process.

Types of life insurance policies with no medical exam

Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue policies require you to complete a health questionnaire to determine your insurability. You should expect questions regarding your:

  • past and current health conditions
  • biological family’s health conditions
  • job and hobbies
  • habits

Most simplified issue policies cap the maximum coverage amount at $500,000. The price of your policy will vary depending on the policy’s size and term length, as well as your age and sex. At times, a phone interview may be required before receiving approval.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of whole life insurance policy that doesn’t require medical exams or health questionnaires. Approval is guaranteed as long as you meet a specific age requirement — usually between 50 and 85 — and have no current severe medical condition such as cancer. For example, AIG’s guaranteed issue whole life insurance policy must be ages 50 to 85.

This type of non-medical exam life insurance plan includes a graded death benefit. The total death benefit amount will not be paid out if the policyholder dies within the first few years after buying the policy.

Guaranteed issue policies are offered in much smaller amounts than other non-exam life insurance coverage options, usually not exceeding $25,000.

Accelerated underwriting policies

Accelerated underwriting provides life insurance options for people with good health without a medical exam. After completing a health questionnaire, the insurer will extract information from medical, credit, driving, and other third-party records to underwrite your policy and determine your premium. You can get a fully underwritten policy — of up to 1 million.

Perfect-health applicants can find these no-exam policies through companies like Haven Life and Bestow Life which specialize in online policies for younger adults. To qualify, candidates should have no severe medical conditions (such as cancer or diabetes), no family record of heart disease before the age of 60, a history of safe driving, no felonies or convictions, as well as not having filed for bankruptcy in recent years.

How Does No Exam Life Insurance Work?

A traditional life insurance policy requires medical underwriting, which is the process of examining your medical history. Insurance companies will ask you to disclose personal information such as weight and height, blood pressure, and other lifestyle and medical history information during this process. You might have to provide a urine sample.

With a no exam life insurance policy, life insurance companies take a gamble insuring you without a medical exam. That’s also why no exam life insurance rates are typically higher.

Who is eligible for no exam life insurance?

Eligibility for no exam life insurance policies will ultimately depend on the life insurance company. Companies may decline coverage for exceeding the age limit or having a severe health issue, such as cancer.

When you skip the medical exam, underwriters rely on your medical records to assess your eligibility. With your permission, they will also seek data from:

  • A Questionnaire: To answer questions about your current health, smoker status, as well as family medical history
  • Databases: Underwriters can find details about your prescriptions in databases as well as results from previous life insurance health exams
  • Driving Records: Insurers research your speeding tickets and at-fault wrecks. A history of dangerous driving can increase your premiums
  • Your Doctor: Underwriters may request an attending physician’s statement from your primary care doctor

What are the benefits of no exam life insurance?

No exam life insurance not only offers quick access to coverage, but it also may cover you if you don’t qualify for a traditional life insurance policy with a medical exam, have poor health, or just prefer the convenience of not having to take an exam.

What are the downsides of no exam life insurance?

No exam life insurance costs more than standard term life insurance unless you’re in near-perfect health and go with an InsureTech company that uses technology to assess your health history based on you and your family’s medical history.

If you’re young and healthy and need to increase your term life insurance policy to protect your growing family, you can obtain a better rate with a fully underwritten policy that requires a health exam.

What are the costs?

Because every life insurance applicant is unique, the cost difference of a no-exam life insurance policy varies widely among different life insurance providers. There is no simple standard percentage increase when you opt for no exam coverage. The costs will ultimately depend on how much life insurance you need. However, the following guidelines tend to be true when companies issue policies.

No exam life costs more when:

  • You’re Young & Healthy: No exam will cost more unless you’re shopping with an InsureTech company such as Haven Life or Bestow Life. This is why it’s not recommended for young and healthy applicants under 45, since they can obtain much better rates with a medical exam life insurance policy.
  • You Need a Larger Policy: The more coverage you need, the higher the pricing. Since you usually can’t find more than $500,000 in coverage without the exam, you should get fully underwritten coverage for extensive policies.

No exam is a better value when:

  • You Smoke: Smokers already pay higher premiums even with an exam, so skipping the exam won’t inflate them much more. Younger smokers who are getting a small policy could pay less by skipping the exam
  • You’re Older: The price hike for non-traditional coverage grows smaller for older applicants, especially when you’re buying final expense coverage

How to Avoid Getting Turned Down for a No Exam Life Insurance Policy?

An insurance company could deny your no exam life insurance application based on your age and pre-existing medical conditions. Applicants who have COPD, diabetes, or other medical conditions often struggle to find policies because insurance carriers worry about their life expectancy.

To avoid getting denied for a no exam life insurance, you can:

Talk to an insurance agent

Every insurance company takes a different approach to underwrite no exam policies. Ask an independent life insurance agent for help finding the right life insurance quotes for your condition, as they can have access to as many as 10 or 12 companies at a time.

Look into guaranteed issue coverage

Guaranteed issue life insurance is aptly named. Almost every person who applies is guaranteed approval because the insurer does not ask many — if any — health questions. However, insurance agents call this “last resort” life insurance for a reason:

  • Low Coverage Amounts: up to $25,000 in coverage but not more
  • Premiums Are High: higher premiums for smaller amount of coverage
  • Coverage Is Delayed: 2 to 3 years waiting period before the policy payout

Consider group life insurance

Many employers offer life insurance as an employee benefit. Sometimes you don’t even have to pay the premiums. You can opt in without the insurer checking your medical history. It’s a nice perk, but this group life insurance coverage has limits:

  • Low Coverage: group policies can’t offer the same coverage level compared to simplified issues or a fully underwritten personal life insurance product
  • Temporary Coverage: lose coverage if you change jobs

The Bottom Line

At most, no exam life insurance will offer up to $1 million in coverage. The question you need to ask yourself is whether that amount will be enough to meet your life insurance needs and cover your loved ones. Experts suggest getting enough life insurance to replace your annual income for 10 to 12 years.

However, not all policyholders need coverage for income replacement. No exam life insurance can provide enough insurance if:

  • You’re getting a loan, and your lender requires life insurance as collateral
  • You’re estate planning and wish to provide liquidity for your heirs
  • You’re an empty nester, your mortgage is paid off, and you have no dependents

If you’re in good health and time is not an issue, you can apply for a fully underwritten policy, which usually will get you a better rate in comparison. If not, no exam life insurance policies will provide quick and hassle-free coverage for those that can’t or prefer not to go through the medical checkups required by most types of life insurance.

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