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We all take on unpleasant tasks for the sake of our families sometimes, from digging out sink gunk to tackling taxes. In some cases, that can include getting poked and prodded for a health exam as part of the life insurance application process.
But if you can do the responsible thing without the discomfort, so much the better! 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.
Strictly speaking, this 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.
Some versions of no-exam life insurance are aimed at those with poor health who might otherwise struggle to get coverage; other types of policies offer similar rates to policies that do have health exams.
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. They might do some or all of the following:
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.
“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.”
Particularly in a pandemic situation, more and more families are attracted to ways they can help protect those they love while socially isolating. And for many, that means a term life insurance policy without a medical exam.
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.
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 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).
Who might consider this type of no-exam insurance: Relatively young and healthy people who want the best rates but would rather skip the inconvenience of a medical exam if they can.
In addition to the express underwriting option that some companies like Fabric offer, there are other kinds of no-exam insurance out there. These are the main types of life insurance that you can get without a medical exam.
Simplified issue life insurance is a kind of policy you can generally apply for with less detailed health information than regular term life insurance. Plus, as a rule, simplified issue insurance does not require a physical exam.
This kind of policy can be a good fit for people who have a harder time qualifying for traditional term life insurance due to age or health, but want a moderate level of coverage. Unlike with guaranteed issue, you should still expect to answer at least some basic health questions on the application or in a phone interview.
The main downsides to simplified issue life insurance are:
Premiums are typically higher than fully underwritten term life insurance. That includes accelerated underwriting options. Policy costs vary, but it’s not uncommon to see a 60 to 70% jump in price for simplified issue compared to term life, especially for higher coverage amounts.
Coverage limits. Traditional term life policies can offer up to $1 million or even more in coverage. Most simplified issue policies cap out around $300,000. That may not be enough coverage for many families with a mortgage and kids’ education to consider.
The healthier you are, the likelier that you’ll pay more compared to term life. That’s because simplified issue providers know less about you and are therefore taking a higher risk by offering coverage. As a result, they raise their premiums accordingly. If you can demonstrate good health, you could get a preferred rate with regular term life.
Who might consider this type of no-exam insurance: People who want an absolute assurance that they won't be asked to take a medical exam and are willing to pay more for the privilege. Also, people who might have trouble qualifying for more traditional life insurance.
With guaranteed issue life insurance, everyone can get accepted, even if they have serious health issues. This can be a good option for people with major health issues who need coverage for final expenses.
Expect fairly high premiums (e.g. $100 to $300 per month) and low coverage amounts, often maxing out around $25,000. In most cases, guaranteed issue life insurance will not pay out the death benefit if you die within two or three years of getting a policy (except for accidents). Instead, your loved ones will get a return of the premiums you’ve paid to date, usually with about 10% interest added on.
Considering the high premiums, low payout and waiting period, you might find that it makes more sense to choose another form of life insurance or even self-insure to cover final expenses like funeral costs.
Who might consider this type of no-exam insurance: People who may not qualify for medically underwritten insurance and who don't have very high coverage needs. That might include wanting to cover final expenses or small debts instead of leaving those expenses for loved ones to deal with.
If your workplace offers life insurance, you may not have to go through a medical exam to qualify. The main downsides of relying on group insurance through work to cover your life insurance needs are:
You may not get adequate coverage. Basic group life is typically close to the equivalent of your annual salary. That’s probably not enough to cover your family’s financial needs if you pass away.
If you lose your job, you could lose the insurance. Your coverage is more secure when it doesn’t depend on you staying at one particular job.
If you can get life insurance at work for free, you may as well take it! You probably shouldn’t plan to make it your only source of coverage, though.
This type of insurance covers you only in the case of accidental death. In other words, you'd be covered if you were to pass away from an accident such as a car crash but not if you died due to an illness like cancer.
A common variation on this type of policy is accidental death and dismemberment insurance. It's the same idea as accidental death insurance, plus coverage if you become accidentally dismembered in some way.
Because this kind of insurance protects against accidents but not health-related concerns, applicants are approved regardless of health, as long as they meet the age requirements.
This type of insurance tends to be affordable because it has more limited coverage than a traditional life insurance policy.
Here's more on accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
Who might consider this type of no-exam insurance: Insurance for accidental death and other related losses is often attractive to young people; if you're between the ages of 25-44, you're statistically more likely to die from an accident than from an illness.
Life insurance without a medical exam is a great solution for some families, but it’s not always the best solution for everyone. The main benefits of a no-exam policy are:
Convenience. The whole process is simply easier when you're dealing with life insurance without a physical.
Speed. Insurance providers aren’t waiting on lab results, so you can get approved faster.
No waiting period for coverage (sometimes). Depending on the type of no-exam policy, you may receive an offer for coverage immediately. With accelerated underwriting, you might be offered coverage with a medically underwritten policy right away, though if not you may need to wait while your application goes through the underwriting process. With policies that have limited underwriting, you may receive instant coverage rather than waiting for an underwriter to review your case.
Fewer barriers. Whether due to a pandemic or for other reasons, some people simply don’t want to take the medical exam. If skipping it makes securing life insurance less daunting, that’s a good thing.
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.
That said, not everyone has access to accelerated term life insurance. If your health or finances don’t meet requirements, insurance providers rely on an in-person medical exam to get the information they need for a thorough assessment. Insurance providers may not offer the same options in all states, so where you live could also affect your access.
When it comes to life insurance with no medical checks for just about everyone, an important benefit is access itself. Said another way, you're paying for the ability to get the insurance in the first place.
Simplified issue insurance and guaranteed issue insurance can come with much steeper premiums than typical term life insurance and set lower limits on coverage. It’s worth doing research first to see if you qualify for a typical term life policy, even if that means getting a medical exam.
“I don’t want people shortchanging themselves on coverage just because they want to skip that step,” Mahoney says.
Prices can vary greatly based on several factors such as:
What kind of policy are you applying for? For the most part, simplified issue and guaranteed issue policies will be more expensive than policies that are medically underwritten.
How much coverage are you applying for? The higher your face amount (that's another word for your coverage amount), the more expensive your policy.
How long is your term length? The longer the term length, the pricier the policy.
What are your age, gender, health and other personal details? Because life insurance policies are priced according to your levels of risk, your individual situation will determine whether you're offered coverage and for how much.
Below are sample rates for a 30-year-old, non-smoking male in Texas in excellent health (in other words, the best risk class) according to Fabric's term life insurance quotes.
|10-year term||15-year term||20-year term|
Note that this is only an example and that your real rates are likely to vary. Additionally, this hypothetical man in Texas may be able to skip the health exam because he meets the various parameters of our algorithms, but not every applicant through Fabric will be able to skip the exam.
That will depend on the insurance provider. If you apply for a policy through Fabric, you might be able to skip the medical exam if you’ve applied for less than $1 million in coverage and you meet all other qualifications.
This will vary from person to person, but here are a few example scenarios.
Want the best possible price? A medically underwritten policy is probably your best bet, especially if you're young and healthy. In some cases you may not be able to skip the medical exam, but if you apply with a company that offers accelerated underwriting, you may be able to have the best of both worlds (a solid price plus skipping the exam).
Want to be 100% certain you won't have to take an exam? In that case, you might opt for a simplified issue policy. These will cost more than traditional life insurance policies, but there won't be an exam, period.
Want coverage right now, without even a chance of waiting? In many cases, accelerated underwriting means that you can be approved and receive an offer for coverage right away for medically underwritten insurance. Still, in other cases your application might make its way through the underwriting team for assessment. If you want coverage right this instant and don't want to risk the wait, you might consider guaranteed issue insurance.
Want coverage even though your health isn't good? Depending on your condition, you might choose between simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance if you have major medical conditions that would otherwise stand in the way of your securing coverage.
Want a high coverage amount? Medically underwritten life insurance may offer higher coverage limits than simplified or guaranteed issue. If you want an especially high amount (for example, over $1 million), you may not have an option to skip the health exam.
There are several companies that sell no-exam term life insurance. And, you know, it'd be weird if we didn't mention that Fabric is one of them.
Check out our term life insurance with no medical exam, if you qualify.
When social distancing makes it tougher to get around, handling life insurance without an exam becomes more appealing. Does that mean you should opt for life insurance with no physical rather than schedule a home visit from a medical professional? What if you’re struggling to free up time and energy to think about life insurance at all?
Mahoney says, “I try to be sensitive to the realities that people face on a daily basis. If we’re talking about a couple where one parent has lost a job and they have kids at home all day every day, I think life insurance is a high-priority item. If they’re spending all their time just trying to complete unemployment applications online, these are things that can suck up all the available time in a day.”
In other words, all you can do is the best you can. If you find yourself putting off this important financial to-do item because you simply can’t set aside the time to deal with a potential health exam, then no-exam insurance may be a fit for you—or at least a company that offers accelerated underwriting, like Fabric, so you at least have a chance at skipping the exam.
Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
This material is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific financial advice or to serve as the basis for any decisions. Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want a easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.
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Accidental Death Insurance policies (Form VL-ADH1 with state variations where applicable) and Term Life Insurance policies (Form ICC16-VLT, ICC19-VLT2, and CMP 0501 with state variations where applicable) are issued by Vantis Life Insurance Company (Vantis Life), Windsor, CT (all states except NY), and by The Penn Insurance and Annuity Company of New York (NY only). Coverage may not be available in all states. Issuance of coverage for Term Life Insurance is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of Vantis Life.
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