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Lots of people ask, "Can I get life insurance without a medical exam?"
No-exam life insurance policies have the ability to let you skip the in-person medical exam. There are several types of life insurance plans without a medical exam. Some come with a higher price tag or limited coverage, and others don’t. So make sure you understand the different options to find the protection you need.
Traditionally, the process of applying for life insurance looked something like this:
Decide on the type of insurance you want, such as term vs. whole life
Figure out how much coverage is right for you
Apply online or through a life insurance agent, answering questions about everything from your job to your hobbies to your health (here's a walkthrough of a typical application and the kinds of questions it asks)
Undergo a medical exam, which generally involves a health professional doing things like taking your height, weight, blood pressure and drawing a blood sample, plus talking to you about your health history
Wait while your exam results are sent back to life insurance underwriters, who are the people tasked with assessing how risky it'd be to insure you
Receive a final price for how much it'd cost for you to get life insurance through that provider, or if the underwriters have determined that they won't be able to insure you
You decide if you want to accept your life insurance offer or not
What, then, is no medical exam life insurance?
Strictly speaking, it isn't really a type of insurance so much as a feature of certain plans. When people talk about "no-exam life insurance," they're referring to policies that don't necessarily require you to undergo a life insurance health exam in order to be offered coverage.
In some cases, these policies still may be medically underwritten, which means that they take your health into account when deciding whether to offer you coverage and at what price. The big difference is that they may learn about your health from your medical records and from your answers on the application rather than through a new exam.
There are two main reasons people get no-exam life insurance: convenience and poor health. When it comes to convenience, some types of policies are actually geared toward the healthy end of the spectrum, asking health questions and providing the same kind of rates as you could find with policies that do have health exams. The real incentive here is to skip the bother of an exam and get insured faster.
The other category of no-exam life insurance is actually aimed at an opposite demographic: those with poor health who might otherwise struggle to get coverage. Guaranteed life insurance policies might not even ask about your medical history at all. This category of no-exam life insurance tends to be more expensive and have lower coverage amounts than "regular" term life insurance. Most healthy people would not choose to go this route solely for convenience, as the policy may not be as cost-effective or fit their needs.
The exact details can vary, but broadly speaking, a medical professional will come to a location of your choosing, such as your home or office.
These exams are nearly always free and provided to you by the insurance company. Similar to a standard physical, the exam might last roughly 30 to 60 minutes and include some or all of the following, depending on your age and health history:
Ask you questions verbally about your health
Take your height and weight
Calculate your BMI
Check your pulse and blood pressure
Draw a blood sample
Take a urine sample
Conduct a brief physical exam
Have you undergo an electrocardiogram (EKG)
Ask you to do a treadmill stress test
Conduct other health services, depending on your situation
Learn more about how life insurance health exams work.
When deciding whether to offer you coverage and at what price, insurers calculate your risk of, you know... dying. That obviously depends on many factors, but chief among them is how healthy you are.
Underwriting is the process of crunching the numbers to determine your risk levels for insurance purposes. That involves looking at a lot of different data points. Historically, most insurers have asked for a health exam as part of the life insurance application so they can gather yet more information on your medical situation.
These screenings could reveal things like high cholesterol, tobacco use, HIV/AIDS and many other conditions.
Insurance companies have recently become more able to offer term life insurance online with no exam by using other data sources and high-tech algorithms to measure risk in alternative ways.
Kevin Mahoney, a Certified Financial Planner, usually works with couples who either have a young child or are expecting to start a family soon. In other words, they’re exactly at a life stage where thinking about life insurance becomes especially important.
For many couples, though, Mahoney says, life insurance becomes the task they know they should deal with, but can’t bring themselves to tackle. If you are afraid of needles or have a phobia about visiting the doctor, no-exam insurance is a way to finally help make sure your family is covered, without the anxiety.
“They’re pushing it to the back burner, and part of it is that traditionally they couldn’t just sign up online. They have to go through all these other hoops. It’s a tough sell for me to get them to focus on that and make sure that they’re taking steps in a timely manner to get a policy,” he says. “Enter the no-exam option where suddenly this becomes much more seamless.”
Another reason folks might choose no-exam life insurance is if they would struggle to gain coverage through more traditional means. For example, being a smoker can deeply affect your life insurance rates and coverability. If you have a preexisting health condition or a risky occupation that would make it difficult to gain coverage through normal, medically underwritten insurance, you might explore guaranteed or simplified coverage, which don't have health exams. These options might also be attractive if you need insurance immediately or if you only need a low coverage amount for something like final expenses. That said, it’s important to remember that no-exam insurance isn’t just for people in poor health. Accelerated term life, in particular, can make a lot of sense for those in excellent health.
More than ever, consumers have a greater ability to buy term life insurance without a medical exam.
Not all life insurance providers offer accelerated underwriting, but this express approach is gaining popularity in the industry. It's allowing providers to offer term life insurance with no medical exam required.
You submit detailed information about your health history, as well as financial and lifestyle information (e.g. bankruptcies, DUIs) and they use algorithms and predictive models to crunch the data you’ve provided. If your health and credit are in good shape, the insurance provider may be able to approve your application immediately, without a human underwriter going through it.
With medically underwritten term life insurance, this is as close to instant life insurance as it gets.
Even if these advanced algorithms can’t make you an offer right away, companies like Fabric will do their best to get you a final answer without that physical exam. For example, that might include asking for your doctor’s records or reviewing your prescription history, and asking you follow-up questions.
The result can be a fully underwritten term policy with a simpler application and faster approval time. With Fabric, for example, it’s possible to skip a health exam if you’ve applied for less than $1.5 million in life insurance coverage and you meet all other qualifications.
One benefit, of course, is you don’t have to pee in a cup or get your arm poked! What’s more, coverage and costs are competitive with policies that require health exams, unlike some of the other types of no-exam life insurance that we discuss below.
According to Brian Greenberg, CEO of True Blue Life Insurance, “Fabric has the best of both worlds. An online application platform that can approve customers for life insurance without an exam, and the option to provide more health information if you are not able to get approved right away. Other companies decline applicants if they are not able to qualify right away.”
Accelerated underwriting isn’t its own kind of insurance. It’s just an express option for the application to an otherwise typical term life policy. The downside is that not everyone will qualify. Some insurance providers may not offer this option for smokers or people who have health conditions (or even a family history of serious issues like heart disease or cancer).
Life insurance without a medical exam is a great solution for some families, but it’s not always the best solution for everyone. Here are the main benefits of a no-exam term life insurance policy:
|Convenience||You may not qualify if you are not very healthy|
|Speed||You may not qualify if you are older|
|No waiting period for coverage (sometimes)||May not be available from every provider or in every state|
|Getting life insurance is less daunting when there are fewer hurdles to jump through||You generally need to submit the application before finding out if you can be approved instantly—or if an exam is still required|
If you qualify for accelerated term life insurance, you can often get the best of both worlds: low prices and high coverage, and a convenient application process. A lot of healthy people who apply for insurance through Fabric can take advantage of this option.
In addition to the express underwriting option that some companies like Fabric offer for term life insurance, there are other kinds of no-exam insurance out there. While no-exam term life insurance is largely targeted toward relatively young and healthy applicants, some of these other types are more targeted toward those who would struggle to get term life insurance with accelerated underwriting.
Simplified issue life insurance is still partially medically underwritten, but is a more lenient option for people with health issues that might interfere with their getting a no-exam term life policy.
Guaranteed issue life insurance is a backup plan for folks with significant age or health limitations who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a medically underwritten policy. This type of insurance essentially accepts everyone and doesn’t do medical underwriting; the downside is that it is typically more expensive and has lower coverage limits.
Here’s how to figure out what kind of no-exam life insurance is the best fit for you.
Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
Fabric by Gerber Life exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
Information provided is general and educational in nature and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, financial, legal, or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. We make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use, and disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information.
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