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Term Life Insurance With No Medical Exam: How Does That Work?

By Jessica Sillers Aug 25, 2020

In this article

What Is No Medical Exam Life Insurance?

What Does a Life Insurance Medical Exam Entail?

Why Do Many Insurers Require Medical Exams?

Why Get Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam?

How Accelerated Term Life Insurance Works

Other Types of Life Insurance With No Medical Exam

Pros and Cons of Accelerated Term Life Insurance

Pros and Cons of Simplified and Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

What's the Cost of No-Exam Life Insurance?

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

What Is No Medical Exam Life Insurance?

Traditionally, the process of applying for life insurance looked something like this:

  1. Decide on the type of insurance you want, such as term vs. whole life

  2. Figure out how much coverage is right for you

  3. 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)

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

What Does a Life Insurance Medical Exam Entail?

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.

Why Do Many Insurers Require Medical Exams?

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.

Why Get Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam?

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.

How Accelerated Term Life Insurance Works

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.

If you get approved right away

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.

If you aren't approved on the spot, you may still be able to skip the exam

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.” 

If you aren't able to skip the line

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.

Other Types of Life Insurance With No Medical Exam

In addition to the express underwriting option that some companies like Fabric offer, there are other kinds of no-exam insurance out there. Many of these might be considered instant life insurance because applicants don't need to undergo a full medical underwriting process and could in some cases be approved on the spot.

Below are the main types of life insurance that you can get without a medical exam:

Simplified issue insurance

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, even though it is still partially medically underwritten.

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. These questions are likely to cover your medical history, family medical history and current health. You might be required to submit your medical or pharmaceutical records.

The main downsides to simplified issue life insurance are:

  1. 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.

  2. Coverage limits. Traditional term life policies can offer up to $1.5 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.

  3. 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 prioritize convenience and speed of approval. Specifically, those who want an absolute assurance that they won't face the headache, hassle or delays associated with a medical exam and are willing to pay more for the privilege. Also, people who might have trouble qualifying for more traditional life insurance due to existing health issues.

Guaranteed issue 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. These policies are often geared toward seniors who want a guarantee that their family will receive some money to defray costs like their final expenses.

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.

Group life insurance

When people talk about "group life insurance," they are typically referring to the insurance offered through your job as an employee benefit. This kind of coverage is usually guaranteed issue, since it's a benefit they'd want to offer to their employees in general (not just the healthy ones!). So, to a large extent, group life insurance is another way to get no-exam life insurance coverage. In many cases, you might get this coverage without any additional cost out of your paycheck, so accepting what you'd get for free is largely a "sure, why not" situation.

The main downsides of relying on group insurance through work to cover your life insurance needs are:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Accidental death insurance

This type of insurance covers you only in the case of accidental death (AD). 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 (AD&D) insurance. It's the same idea as accidental death insurance, plus coverage if you become accidentally dismembered in some way.

Here's the rundown of AD vs. AD&D insurance, with the pros and cons.

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.

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. 

Pros and Cons of Accelerated Term Life Insurance

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:

  1. Convenience. The whole process is simply easier when you're dealing with life insurance without a physical.

  2. Speed. Insurance providers aren’t waiting on lab results, so you can get approved faster.

  3. 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.

  4. Fewer barriers. 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 may 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.

Pros and Cons of Simplified and Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

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 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.

What's the Cost of No-Exam Life Insurance?

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
$250,000 $11.45/mo $13.52/mo $17.77/mo
$500,000 $15.58/mo $16.86/mo $22.89/mo
$750,000 $20.11/mo $22.03/mo $31.07/mo
$1 million $23.31/mo $27.20/mo $39.19/mo

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the maximum life insurance without an 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 $1.5 million in coverage and you meet all other qualifications. 

What kind of no-exam life insurance is right for me?

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 $1.5 million), you may not have an option to skip the health exam.

How can I buy term life insurance online with no medical 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.

Is now the right time to buy life insurance online with no medical exam?

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.

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.

Fabric by Gerber Life offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.

Written by

Jessica Sillers

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Term Life Insurance Policy Series ICC22 2205-4004 WSA and Accelerated Death Benefit Rider policy series ICC22 2205-2623 WSA (and state variations where applicable) issued by Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Cincinnati, OH which operates in DC and all states except NY, and distributed by Gerber Life Agency, LLC using Fabric Technologies. Gerber Life Agency, LLC is an affiliate of Gerber Life Insurance Company (est. 1967). All are members of Western & Southern Financial Group (Western & Southern). 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. Product provisions, availability, definitions and benefits may vary by state. Payment of benefits under the life insurance policy is the obligation of, and is guaranteed by, the issuing company. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer. Products are backed by the full financial strength of the issuing company.

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