Cost & Coverage
We make it easy to compare and buy insurance.LEARN MORE
The life insurance application process takes a long time. If you're young and healthy, accelerated underwriting can help you skip ahead to the finish line.
The underwriting process is a health assessment that helps set the cost of your life insurance policy
Accelerated underwriting uses available data rather than relying on medical exam results
Not everyone will be eligible for accelerated underwriting based on health and other factors
Applying for life insurance takes just a few minutes. Plug in some basic information, get quotes online, and schedule a call with an agent or representative to go over your policy selections.
But going from choosing a policy to getting that policy in force can take much longer. In fact, the average time from application to coverage is between four and eight weeks. That’s because you need to go through underwriting, the process during which the life insurance company verifies the information in your application and determines your final premium.
During underwriting, the carrier will look at how much risk you pose to the company that you’ll die and they’ll have to pay out. That means getting a detailed picture of your health and lifestyle, including talking to your doctor and asking you to take a medical exam.
If you don’t want to go through all that, or if you just want to get life insurance coverage sooner, then you need accelerated underwriting life insurance. This can bring the underwriting process down to a couple of weeks – or, in some cases, a couple of days. Life insurers do this by using readily available data instead of medical records and exam results, which can take a long time to retrieve and review.
Read on to everything you need to know about accelerated underwriting, including the companies who offer it and how you can qualify for it.
During underwriting, the insurer will gather information about you using a number of different sources. Your medical history and your hobbies will play a significant role in determining not only your premium rates but also whether you’re eligible for life insurance coverage at all. Especially unhealthy people or people with unusually dangerous hobbies may be declined coverage or have to pay higher premiums.
After underwriting is completed, the insurer will use the information to classify you and set your premium rates based on that classification.
Although much of the underwriting process is your insurer’s responsibility, there are a few things that you have to do as well.
Policygenius is the easy way to compare life insurance.
"Policygenius… guides consumers to figure out what kind of insurance they need and offers them options."
– The Wall Street Journal
It’s in the insurer’s best interest to confirm that you are who you said you were on the application, so it will take some of these steps to get the information it needs.
These steps take time. Just getting the APS can take four to five weeks; it’s probably not at the top of your doctor’s to-do list, and they can take a while on paperwork anyway, so by the time they get to the request and the underwriter is able to review it, weeks have gone by.
The way accelerated underwriting speeds up the process is by avoiding some of the more onerous medical steps – namely the APS request, which can take the longest to complete. The best part is that accelerated underwriting doesn’t cost you anything extra or raise your premiums.
You may have to accept a lower coverage amount, as many accelerated-underwriting life insurance plans cap out at $500,000 in coverage. Traditional-underwriting life insurance policies often go as high as $2 million.
When you apply with a carrier that offers accelerated underwriting, you’ll have an initial medical interview over the phone, during which you’ll be asked about various elements of your health.
The insurer will also check the MIB database, pull your motor vehicle report, and run a prescription check. This will give the insurer a pretty full picture of your risk.
If the medical interview and various database checks are good, then you move on to the next step. But if this process turns up any serious medical conditions, you’ll be required to take a medical exam, just like the one you take when applying for life insurance with regular underwriting.
If the results of your medical exam show a more complex health history, the insurer may order an APS after all. While this is a bummer if you were trying to speed up the process, between 50% and 60% of accelerated underwriting applicants are approved without having to submit additional lab tests or an APS.
Not everyone qualifies for accelerated underwriting. If you’re a smoker or a skydiver, you may not be eligible (although every insurer has different eligibility rules). Your family health history will be taken into account, and some heritable health conditions will automatically disqualify applicants.
Note that if you fall into one of these disqualifying conditions, you may still be eligible for life insurance, but you will have to go through traditional underwriting instead. Talk to a licensed representative at Policygenius to find a policy from a life insurance company that works with your particular health profile and coverage needs.
You’ll qualify if you’re not too overweight or underweight. Most insurers have a build chart that checks a range of weights against each height, similar to the body mass index (BMI). For example, if you’re six feet tall and between the ages of 18 and 44, Principal accelerated underwriting considers you eligible if you weigh between 130 and 214 pounds, which spans from underweight to very overweight on the BMI.
While simply having health issues won’t necessarily disqualify you for accelerated underwriting, more serious conditions will automatically result in the denial of your application. While every insurer uses different standards, typical excluded medical conditions include:
Your family medical history is a good indicator of the types of conditions for which you may be at risk. You may not be eligible if a parent or sibling died of a serious medical condition, including stroke, diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease.
Some insurers will reject your accelerated-underwriting application if you regularly use tobacco products, but others will allow it if you’re willing to pay a higher premium. Tobacco products could include everything from chewing tobacco to e-cigarettes. You may have to be tobacco-free for a certain period of time, such as 24 months.
Marijuana use within a certain time frame before applying could also result in a denial of your application, in which case you’ll have to go through traditional underwriting. How every insurer handles marijuana use whether for a traditional or accelerated application depends on how often you use THC products. Marijuana enthusiasts who don’t qualify for accelerated underwriting may still be eligible for full underwriting.
To qualify for accelerated underwriting, you have to fall within the insurer’s age requirements. A typical eligible age range is 18 to 60. Many insurers will insure you even into your 80s, but premiums in retirement age may be prohibitively expensive. Make sure you’re getting affordable life insurance by locking in your premiums when you’re young and healthy, whether you apply for accelerated underwriting or not.
You may need to have good credit to qualify. Some insurers will reject your application if you have a recent history of bankruptcy.
Insurers apply a risk assessment to applicants who’ve broken the law. While you’ll be able to qualify for accelerated underwriting with a misdemeanor or other minor charge on your record, more serious charges could result in disqualification.
That means no
Some insurers require you to be a U.S. citizen to qualify, but it will depend on the insurer and their underwriting guidelines. Other insurers will allow permanent residents to get accelerated-underwriting coverage.
If you’ve applied for life insurance in the past and were rejected, you may have to go through traditional underwriting instead. The same is true if you’ve been declined for health insurance or disability insurance.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
Was this article helpful?
Security you can trust
Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
Copyright Policygenius © 2014-2019