I need extra life insurance. What's the best way to get it?

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I need extra life insurance. What's the best way to get it?

So you bought life insurance and, well, life happened. You had another kid, acquired a bit more debt, experienced a major uptick in salary, etc. and now your coverage’s weak. Or maybe you just didn’t buy enough to begin with. (It happens. A lot, actually.) Bottomline: You need more.

Unfortunately, life insurance isn’t something you can just order off Amazon. In fact, upping coverage isn’t even as simple as calling up your insurer and asking them to boost your death benefit. According to our Geniuses, almost all increases will have to go through medical underwriting again. So, if you need extra life insurance coverage, the best way to get it is to shop around.

Why do I need to take another medical exam to get more life insurance?

To put it bluntly, life insurance coverage — and the premiums you’ll pay for it — are based on how likely you are to die while the policy is in-force. The paramedical exam is the big way insurers assess this risk. And since older people are, well, closer to death, you by default pose more of risk now than you did when you first took out the policy — especially if quite some time has passed.

Plus, your health status could have changed between now and your first exam. Maybe you’ve gained weight or developed a chronic illness. A life insurance company wants to know these things, and by extension, how much risk they’re taking before they’ll agree to give you a policy and set their prices.

Are there any ways to increase coverage without taking a medical exam?

There are a few instances where you can forgo another medical exam and simply add life insurance to an existing policy. Let’s say you added a guaranteed insurability rider to your original policy. That extra allows you to increase the size of your death benefit at preset times, usually when you reach a certain age or your policy’s been in-force for X numbers of years, or during major life events, like marriage or the birth of a baby. And, if you have a conversion rider on your term life insurance policy, you can convert it to a permanent life insurance policy sans medical exam.

But there are usually limits associated with those riders, beyond the obvious ones already mentioned. A guaranteed insurability rider, for instance, typically only lets you raise your coverage up to a preset amount. Plus, it’s sometimes simply more cost-effective to take out a new policy, particularly when it comes to using a conversion rider. Whole life insurance, as you may know, is much more expensive than term life insurance. You can find more on the differences between the two here.

Bonus tip: There is such a thing as no medical exam life insurance. These policies tout higher premiums than traditional ones, because the insurer is essentially taking a chance on you. But, if you’re trying to buy additional coverage at an old age or with a serious health condition, it’s worth looking into.

And, if you’re young and in perfect health, you might qualify for accelerated underwriting, which lets you potentially skip the medical exam, too, though, assuming you’ve had your policy awhile, this probably won’t apply.

Increasing term life insurance

Taking another medical exam is annoying, for sure, but don’t be too mad about it. If you are in good health, shopping around for additional coverage is in your best interest, too. Here’s a quick refresher on how.

  • Figure out how much coverage you need. As prior experience has demonstrated, this part is trickier than it sounds. We recommend a “needs analysis” that takes into account five major financial obligations, including debt, childcare, college savings, income support and burial expenses, plus your current savings. We’ve also got a life insurance calculator that can help you figure it out. Remember to account for the policy you have if you intend to keep it.
  • Research insurers. Some insurers go a little easier on certain groups of people. So, for instance, if you kicked a nicotine habit, you might want to look into the best insurers for former smokers. Or, if you’re on the older side, you might want to request quotes from the best insurers for baby boomers. You can find the best life insurance companies for other demographics here.
  • Compare quotes. Of course, at the end of the day, finding the best policy for you involves shopping around. We can help you compare life insurance quotes across insurers.
  • Get ready for your medical exam. It’s not as stressful as it sounds. You can find a quick refresher on what exactly to expect here.

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