Medical vs. no-medical exam life insurance

No-medical exam life insurance has one major benefit that fully underwritten life insurance doesn’t—you get to skip the medical exam.

Nupur Gambhir


Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent in New York.

Published August 4, 2021|2 min read

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The medical exam is a key component of the life insurance application—it allows insurers to verify your medical history and set your premiums. This is often referred to as “fully underwritten” life insurance.

But, as more no-medical exam life insurance options become available, you may choose to forgo this step in the application process and still pay competitive premiums. No-medical exam policies offer all the same perks of a fully underwritten term life insurance policy, without one major step—the medical exam. 

If you’re trying to decide between fully underwritten and no-medical exam life insurance, we’re here to help. 

Key Takeaways

  • Most no-medical exam policies offer even cheaper coverage than fully underwritten policies 

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can follow social distancing protocols by getting a no-medical exam policy 

  • If you are eligible for no-medical exam life insurance, you can get fast and cost-effective coverage

Let’s compare…

...the cost 

Not only is no-medical exam coverage comparable to fully underwritten life insurance, it’s often even cheaper. Take a look at the graph below that shows prices for medical and no-medical policies that offer $500,000 in coverage for a 20-year term:

AGESEXMedical examNo-medical exam

Methodology: Prices shown are based on non-smoker males and females in Preferred health rating as of August 2021. This calculation is a composite of the 11 carriers that offer medically underwritten and no-medical policies through Policygenius, including AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica.

You’ll notice that no-medical exam life insurance costs even less than a fully underwritten policy. 

…the application process 

Getting a fully underwritten policy requires the following steps:

  • Initial application via phone interview

  • In-person medical exam

  • An attending physician’s statement (APS) if insurers require additional information about your health

  • Receive an application decision

No-medical exam applications, on the other hand, take away the medical exam component—which means less time and commitment spent on the application process, and more time to spend with loved ones. long it takes to get an application decision

Typically, the life insurance application process for a fully underwritten policy takes five to six weeks, from start to finish. Some no-medical exam policies, on the other hand, can offer you coverage the day after you apply. And while not all no-medical exam life insurance policies offer that immediate coverage, you can still expect to get an application decision sooner than a fully underwritten policy—in under four weeks (at the most). 

When it comes to getting fast coverage, no-medical exam life insurance takes the cake. 

Choosing between medical and no-medical exam life insurance

When trying to decide between medical and no-medical exam life insurance, there are a few factors to weigh:

Eligibility - If you’re in relatively good health, you’re probably eligible for no-medical exam life insurance. Still, there are some disqualifying factors, and if you don’t qualify you’ll have to get a fully underwritten policy. 

Cost - If a no-medical exam policy isn’t more affordable than a fully underwritten policy, it is at the very least comparable. 

Taking the exam - Do you have time in your busy schedule to take the medical exam? If you don’t want to take time out of your day to participate in the medical exam, you should opt for no-medical exam life insurance. 

COVID-19 precautions - Social distancing and avoiding transmission will be easier with a  no-medical exam application during the ongoing pandemic.

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What type of coverage should you get? 

When it comes to deciding between a medically underwritten policy or no-medical exam life insurance, no-exam insurance is the clear winner. Not only does taking a medical exam out of the equation speed up the application process, but the prices are comparable (or even better) than fully underwritten policies. 

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between medical and no-medical exam life insurance?

Medical life insurance requires a medical exam to get coverage, while no-medical exam life insurance looks at your previous medical records instead.

Is medical or no-medical exam life insurance cheaper?

The cost of medical and no-medical exam life insurance is comparable, though no-medical exam life insurance can be even cheaper.

Is the medical exam required for life insurance?

A medical exam is only required for fully underwritten life insurance. No-medical exam life insurance policies do not require a medical exam in order to get coverage.

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