The pros and cons of skipping the life insurance medical exam

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The pros and cons of skipping the life insurance medical exam

So you’ve decided to buy a term life insurance policy. That’s great! You’re ready to research policies, determine your budget, compare plans, and apply.

But then, during your application process you notice that there’s a mandatory medical exam on most of the policies that fit your needs. And you...don’t have time for that, or want to go through the process. So you don’t apply, you don’t compare, you don’t research, you don’t have life insurance, and your family is still floating without a financial safety net.

Wait! Come back!

What if I told you that you could skip the life insurance medical exam entirely? That you could get the protection you need without the poking and prodding and peeing into a cup?

It has its own set of positives and negatives, but getting a life insurance policy without going through the medical exam is possible. Here’s how.

How to skip your life insurance medical exam

We’ll cover whether or not a life insurance policy that doesn’t require a health exam is a good fit for you in a bit, but it’s nice to know how, exactly, you’re able to do this. After all, you should know all of your options, right?

Several insurers allow you to get a no-medical exam or accelerated underwriting policy.

  • A no-medical exam policy is just what it sounds like: there’s no medical exam. Which, obviously, is why we’re talking about it in this article. A simplified issue life insurance policy is an example of this. Basically, you answer a short health questionnaire rather than going through the whole medical exam hassle. It’s also more expensive than a traditional policy (which we’ll get to in a bit).
  • An accelerated underwriting policy cuts out the health exam by relying on third-party information sources, like motor vehicle, MIB, and prescription checks. That way, the carrier is still getting a full picture of how risky you are to insure, but without the typical lag time that comes with a medical exam.

Not all carriers (or policies within an individual carrier) will allow you to skip the medical exam, so make sure you know before you get too deep into the shopping process if the plans you’re looking at allow it.

The pros of skipping the life insurance medical exam

So, skipping your health exam sounds great. After all, it’s one less thing to do. But what do you actually get out of it?

  • It’s less of a hassle. Truthfully, the medical exam isn’t too bad in this regard: A technician will come to your home or work, you can schedule the 30-minute appointment on your own time, and it’s free. But it’s still something you have to get set up, and something you have to take time out of your day to complete. No one’s going to complain about taking something off their plate, so if you could do that, why not?
  • It saves you time. You might have heard that the life insurance application can take up to eight weeks before your policy is in force. That’s primarily because of an insurer requesting an Attending Physician Statement, or APS. An APS is a look at your medical history from your doctor’s perspective; if the carrier needs more information or has questions about your health that the medical exam results don’t answer, they might request an APS. Going back and forth between the insurer and your doctor can add 5-6 weeks alone to the application process.
  • You get to skip the medical exam. Obvious, right? But maybe you just don’t want to take the exam, and simply avoiding it – not saving time or hassle – is the goal. You’ll get blood taken during the exam, and it could be that you don’t like needles (a lot of people don’t, and 10% of the population suffers from trypanophobia, aka a fear of needles, and may avoid seeking medical treatment because of it).
  • You’re too unhealthy to get competitive life insurance rates. Life insurance carriers are a lot better than they used to be about getting coverage – even competitive rates – for people with chronic illness. But if you’re unable to get affordable rates because of a health condition, such as obesity, foregoing the medical exam might help you get slightly better rates.

The cons of skipping the life insurance medical exam

This all sounds pretty good, right? So why doesn’t everyone just avoid the health exam altogether?

  • It could be more expensive. You might get lower rates by skipping the medical exam rather than risk having poor health conditions uncovered. But for most people – especially healthy people who’d pass the medical exam with no trouble – you might pay extra for the convenience of bypassing the exam. Accelerated underwriting doesn’t add any additional cost to your life insurance rates, but no-medical exam policies can raise your premiums significantly.
  • You’re missing out on a free physical. You may not like going to the doctor, but in this case the doctor comes to you. A physical is a great way to get a baseline for your current health, and can help uncover medical issues like high cholesterol before they become real issues, letting you tackle them sooner. With the life insurance medical exam, you’re getting all of this for free. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
  • You might have to take it anyway. Skipping the medical exam saves you time and a headache. But you might end up having to take it regardless. Insurers will move you past the medical exam stage only in certain circumstances, like plans up to a certain coverage amount or term limit, or make them only available to certain health classifications. Accelerated underwriting policies might require an APS if the insurer still has questions after going to third party sources, and even a simplified issue policy might require a medical exam if you’re in especially poor health. This means that you’re in the same place you would’ve been otherwise, but it could have a slightly aggravating toll if you weren’t expecting to have to do the exam in the first place.

If you’re going to try to skip the life insurance medical exam, you’re better off going with an accelerated underwriting policy. It’s far cheaper than a simplified issue policy, since the insurer is able to more accurately assess the risk you pose since they use a number of sources rather than relying on you answering a health questionnaire.

But if you do have to end up taking the medical exam, don’t let that dissuade you from getting a life insurance policy. It’s not a huge headache in the grand scheme of things, and the most important thing is that you get financial protection for your family. Get to skip the exam? Great. Have to take it? It’s worth the peace of mind.