8 gifs to walk you through the life insurance shopping process

Colin Lalley 1600


Colin Lalley

Colin Lalley

Insurance Expert

Colin Lalley is the Associate Director of SEO Content at Policygenius in New York City. His writing on insurance and personal finance has appeared on Betterment, Inc, Credit Sesame, and the Council for Disability Awareness.

Published March 10, 2017|4 min read

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We get it. You’re busy. Your life is full of memes, Snaps, and 140-character news updates that are already outdated by the time you think of a funny reply. You barely have time for words, nevermind decoding the entire life insurance shopping process.

But life insurance is important. And at PolicyGenius, we don’t want you to have any excuses for not buying it. So in the event that you don’t have time to read about how to shop for life insurance

...we’ve gone through the trouble of collecting eight gifs that will walk you through the process.And if you do want to do a little more reading once you’ve got the gist of it, don’t worry: we go into some details, too.

Calculate your coverage

First things first: Figure out how much coverage you need.How do you do this? It’s a simple matter of totalling up:

  • Debt. You don’t want to stick your loved ones with credit card payments or unpaid student loans.

  • Everyday expenses. How much would it cost your significant other to raise the kids alone?

  • Future plans. You might be dead, but some people still have college and retirement in their future.

Those are the costs you need to make sure are covered if your family can’t rely on your income anymore.A simple spreadsheet and abacus calculator smartphone will do, or you can use the PolicyGenius coverage calculator — we’ll help you determine the coverage amount and term length that you’ll need for a full financial safety net.

Compare policies and carriers

Once you figure out what sort of coverage you need, you’ll get some free quotes. The next step is to compare the policies that fit your need, and the carriers themselves. Here’s what to look for:

  • Policies. The main consideration here will be price and term length. What is the premium you’ll be paying monthly or annually, and does that fit into your budget? Will the policy be in place for as long as you need it to? You’ll also want to make sure that the policy comes with any riders you may want, like an accelerated death benefit rider or a child rider. These can change the price of your policy, so be prepared for that.

  • Carriers. Not all life insurance companies are created equally. Some let you change beneficiaries online, while some make you mail in a form or make a phone call; some offer more competitive rates for people with complicated health histories; some have an application timeline that’s twice as fast as what you’ll find elsewhere. Point being, the company you choose will be in charge of your policy for the next 20 or 30 years, so pick one that you’re comfortable with.

You can compare quotes side-by-side for an apples-to-apples look at what policies are available to you, and head over to our life insurance company reviews to see what features apply to which carriers.


Once you decide on a policy, you’ll have to fill in a little more information that the life insurance company needs, like income and Social Security and driver’s license numbers, but isn’t it satisfying to just picture it as pushing a big red button?

Complete your medical exam

After you apply, you’ll likely have to take a medical exam, aka paramedical exam, aka health exam.Have you ever gotten a standard physical from your doctor? If so, you already know what to expect.If you haven’t, it’s a pretty basic checkup. A technician will come to your home or office at the time of your choosing, which is convenient. Besides checking your height and weight, there will also be blood and urine tests involved. These are used as drug tests, but will also let the insurer check for diabetes, high cholesterol, or other health issues so they can properly assess your health status.

Bonus gif: Or don’t!

That’s right: You might not even have to take the medical exam. Accelerated underwriting is a process by which you can get a term life insurance policy without taking the medical exam. Instead, the underwriter uses third-party data from motor vehicle reports and the MIB (not that MIB, the Medical Information Bureau). Check out our primer on accelerated underwriting for more information and the process and qualifying for it.

Have your phone interview

You can do most of your life insurance application online, but you’ll mostly likely still need to do a phone interview at some point. The good news is that it should only take 20-30 minutes and consists of pretty straightforward information about your health history and hobbies (to make sure you aren’t jumping canyons on motorcycles in your spare time).This, together with the information from third-party sources and (potentially) the medical exam, are used to classify you – let the insurer know how risky you are to cover. If there’s a high probability you’ll die during the term of your policy, your premiums will be more expensive.

Wait for approval

Accelerated underwriting really speeds up the application process, but traditionally buying life insurance can take up to eight weeks. The delay usually comes into play when the insurer needs more health information to determine your policy’s final rate. Use this time to take a trip or learn a new hobby.While you’re waiting around, the underwriter is hard at work calculating your premiums:

Receive your policy and final rate

After the underwriter crunches the numbers, you’ll be sent your policy with the final rates. Review the policy to make sure you understand it (fair warning, they usually don’t come with gifs), sign it, and return it to the carrier. That’s it: You officially have life insurance.

Sigh with relief

You did it! The hard part is over. Throw a party! Argue about the proper pronunciation of "gif"! Pay your premiums on time!Whatever your next steps are, you can do them knowing that if the worst were to happen, your family would be taken care of.Have any questions about the insurance shopping process? Get in touch with one of our licensed experts!

Insurance Expert

Colin Lalley

Insurance Expert

Colin Lalley is the Associate Director of SEO Content at Policygenius in New York City. His writing on insurance and personal finance has appeared on Betterment, Inc, Credit Sesame, and the Council for Disability Awareness.