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No medical exam life insurance

No medical exam life insurance allows you to provide previous medical records in lieu of the traditional medical exam to get life insurance coverage.

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Published September 14, 2020

For many people, the medical exam is one of the most headache-inducing parts of the life insurance application process. Also called the paramedical exam, this 30-minute physical isn’t difficult — a technician or nurse will accommodate you at your home or office — but it’s still an extra step that many applicants would like to avoid.

It’s possible to avoid it with a no medical exam life insurance policy. Whether you’re buying term life or whole life insurance, there are options that allow you to skip the medical exam and quickly buy life insurance with almost no waiting period.

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What is a life insurance medical exam?

When you apply for life insurance, you’re required to go through the underwriting process, which typically includes:

This is known as fully underwritten life insurance.

The insurance company handles most of the process and will arrange the medical exam. During the medical exam, a nurse or technician will take your blood pressure, and your height and weight. You’ll also be asked to give blood and urine samples.

Why do insurance companies make you take a medical exam? Because the cost of life insurance is largely dependent on your health, the more health problems you have, the riskier you are to insure, and the more you’ll pay for your policy. During the underwriting process, life insurance companies try to get a complete picture of your medical history and level of risk.

What is no medical exam life insurance?

No medical exam life insurance policies don't require the standard medical exam that most traditional life insurance companies need to make you an offer. Guaranteed issue policies only necessitate the initial phone interview, which will walk through your medical history and financial standing. If you are eligible for the policy after the phone interview — most people are — you'll receive a policy offer and won't have to take any additional steps aside from signing your policy papers and paying your first premium.

Term life insurance policies that don't require a medical exam are comparable to a medically underwritten life insurance policy and substitute the medical exam with a thorough evaluation of your medical history, including your previous labs, prescription history, surgeries, and any diagnoses.

The chart below shows how a few different types of no medical exam life insurance coverage compare to traditional term life insurance:

No medical exam life insurance quick comparison

TRADITIONAL TERM LIFENO MEDICAL EXAM TERM LIFESIMPLIFIED WHOLE LIFEGUARANTEED ISSUE
Cost$$$$$$$
Waiting periodAverageFastFastVery fast
Coverage$25,000 - $10 million$50,000 - $2 millionLess than $50,000Less than $50,000
TermUp to 30 yearsUp to 30 yearsPermanentPermanent
AgesUp to 85Up to 65Ages 45 - 85Ages 50 - 85

The above information is based on quote averages of policies offered by Policygenius as of September 2020. Quotes provided by our 11 partner life insurance companies: AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica.

→ Learn more about term life insurance here

Who should get no medical exam life insurance?

There are various no medical exam policies — some for individuals in good health, and others for individuals who may be ineligible for a traditional life insurance policy. The price of no medical exam life insurance can also greatly vary: It may be virtually the same price as a medically underwritten policy, or it may be much more expensive because it’s targeted to unhealthy individuals who pose a higher risk. It all depends on your individual life circumstances.

Here are some examples where no medical exam life insurance could make sense:

  • You’re in relatively good health.
  • You're abiding by social distancing mandates and cannot take an in-person medical exam
  • You’re a 30-year-old male smoker with no other medical conditions. By skipping the exam, you might get a better rate than with a traditional policy.
  • You’re a 55-year-old with moderate risk who doesn’t qualify for traditional life insurance.
  • You’re a 75-year-old senior with health issues looking to use the death benefit to cover burial expenses.
  • You don’t have time to complete the underwriting process and want to be covered quickly

People with a high net worth who need a large financial security net above $2 million should not get no medical exam life insurance. A traditional life insurance policy can reach well into the millions, while one without a medical exam may be limited to one or two million.

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Term life insurance with no medical exam

It’s completely possible to get a term life insurance policy without taking the medical exam and still get optimal coverage at a competitive price. Two separate policies — Lincoln TermAccel and Brighthouse SimplySelect — offer term life insurance coverage that is comparable to medically underwritten life insurance policies, though the application process is no less thorough.

Lincoln TermAccel

Lincoln TermAccel is a competitive policy for individuals in good health — though if you have a more complicated medical history, it may be harder to get approved for coverage. Policies are available to individuals 18-60, with some age restrictions for 30-year terms and smokers.

How does Lincoln TermAccel work?

Lincoln TermAccel offers all the perks of a term life insurance policy — without an in-person medical exam for individuals 18-60. Instead, the insurer conducts a phone interview that is followed by a deep dive into your insurability via your prescription history, motor vehicle report, and medical history. Most of the time, this is enough information to warrant an application approval (or denial), but additional labs might be required if something in your background check is flagged as a risk.

The entire process takes about two to three days — compared to the usual wait time of four to six weeks for a traditional life insurance policy.

The policy is especially valuable to people who may not get an affordable no medical exam policy elsewhere. Marijuana smokers who don’t work in the industry can get competitive rates and smokers have a better chance of getting coverage than they would with other accelerated life insurance policies.

Even though the application process for a Lincoln TermAccel policy usually doesn’t require a medical exam, the coverage you can get is comparable. Term length offerings include 10-, 15-, 20-, or 30-year terms and the death benefit amount can be anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million. Policyholders have the option to convert their coverage into a whole life insurance policy at the end of its term. Other supplemental coverage options include the accelerated death benefits rider, children’s life insurance rider, and waiver of premium rider.

How much does Lincoln TermAccel cost?

Lincoln TermAccel premiums are some of the lowest in the industry. According to Policygenius quoting data, here’s how much you can expect to pay with a Preferred health classification for a $500,000 policy:

Monthly premiums for women

AGEAVERAGE MONTHLY PREMIUMS
25$17.31
35$19.09
45$39.54
55$88.72
60$149.65

Monthly premiums for men

AGEAVERAGE MONTHLY PREMIUMS
25$20.42
35$22.36
45$50.22
55$120.73
60$211.44

Brighthouse SimplySelect

Brighthouse SimplySelect is a no medical exam term policy that offers coverage comparable to a traditional term life insurance policy almost immediately. You can get a term length of 10, 20, or 30 years and up to $2,000,000 in coverage.

The application process forgoes the medical exam but includes a phone interview and a review of the following information:

  • Previous physicals and labs
  • Pharmacy records
  • Prior diagnoses and procedures
  • Medical billing records
  • Credit history
  • Driving history
  • Relevant public information such as criminal history or bankruptcy

Your financial justification for a policy will also be reviewed — and the death benefit amount will depend on your age and income. Within 24 hours of your phone interview, you’ll know if your application has been accepted, rejected, or if it has been “referred to the underwriter”. If your application is accepted, you’ll sign off on the policy via DocuSign and your coverage will be active. If it’s referred to the underwriter, the insurance company needs to ask you some additional questions before they make a decision.

The Brighthouse SimplySelect policy comes with supplemental riders. This includes a term conversion rider, which allows you to convert your coverage into a whole life insurance policy at the end of its term. You can also add an accelerated death benefit rider, which pays out some of the death benefit while you’re still alive if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

How much does Brighthouse SimplySelect cost?

Check out the graphs below to get an idea of how much you might pay for a Brighthouse SimplySelect policy. Your actual premiums will vary depending on your individual circumstances.

Average premiums for women:

AGE$750,000$1,000,000$2,000,000
25$24.98$30.75$53.81
30$26.26$32.46$57.22
35$30.11$37.58$67.47
40$41.00$52.95$98.21
45$61.49$80.28$152.87
50$97.23$129.81$251.93

Average premiums for men:

AGE$750,000$1,000,000$2,000,000
25$32.67$41.00$74.30
30$33.95$42.70$77.72
35$35.87$46.12$84.55
40$50.60$64.05$120.42
45$80.71$104.19$200.69
50$139.63$171.66$335.63

Methodology: Sample monthly premium rates based on 20-year term life insurance policy for a non-smoker in Preferred health rating; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in September 2020.

Accelerated underwriting life insurance

Another way you can get life insurance with no medical exam is through accelerated underwriting. In recent years, accelerated underwriting has become more popular among life insurance companies, but is not offered by all insurers. With this service, you can get a traditional term life policy at the same cost, but on a fast track. However, if the insurance provider notices any red flags or irregularities, they might ask you to take the medical exam, as would happen in a standard life insurance application process.

When creating a snapshot of your health, accelerated underwriting uses traditional data sources (like the previously mentioned Medical Information Bureau, motor vehicle reports, prescription history, health records, and electronic lab data), plus some non-traditional information to build out your risk profile and set premiums prices.

According to the Society of Actuaries, these new data sources can include:

  • Clinical lab data
  • Credit profiles
  • Predictive models
  • Facial analytics
  • Behavioral economics

There are still some limitations to accelerated underwriting. You must be a non-smoker in good health, and certain conditions, like cancer and untreated diabetes, can automatically disqualify you.

But, if you do successfully qualify with accelerated underwriting insurance, you will have a fully underwritten policy at no increased cost.

Permanent life insurance with no medical exam

You can also get permanent life insurance without taking a medical exam.

Unlike term insurance, permanent life insurance policies don’t expire; they last as long as you pay the premiums.

Whole life insurance with no medical exam

Also called simplified issue whole life insurance, this permanent policy is useful for applicants who need a low level of coverage, as this death benefit is a lot lower than a term policy with no medical exam and usually maxes out around $50,000.

Applicants need to be in sufficiently good health to qualify; there’s a medical questionnaire and history check involved, just like with the no medical exam term life policy. That also means that not everyone who applies will be eligible. Pre-existing conditions may require a more thorough look at your health.

Unlike standard whole life insurance, no medical exam whole life insurance doesn’t come with a cash value component that acts like an investment.

Read our full guide to simplified issue whole life insurance.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

For seniors who want to skip the medical exam, but pose too high of a risk to qualify for simplified issue policy, guaranteed issue whole life insurance may be the best option.

As the name suggests, your application is virtually guaranteed to be accepted as long as you are able to pay the premiums. However, the benefit amount is much smaller—usually only enough to cover end-of-life expenses, which is why it’s sometimes called burial insurance or final expense life insurance.

Guaranteed issue policies can be used for:

  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Other end-of-life expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Outstanding debt like credit card bills

You also typically need to be an older applicant to qualify. For example, AIG offers guaranteed life insurance up to $25,000 for people ages 50 to 85 years old, while Mutual of Omaha covers up to $40,000 for those aged 45 to 85 years old.

There is no medical exam and no questionnaire — if you can pay the premiums, you can get coverage. These premiums are much higher than with other policies. Depending on the life insurance company, you may still qualify even if you have a pre-existing condition.

For these reasons, guaranteed issue life insurance is considered a last resort for seniors. There’s almost always a better choice in terms of cost and coverage, but for applicants too old or too unhealthy to qualify for another type of insurance, it can provide them that much-needed coverage.

→ Read our full guide to guaranteed issue life insurance.

How much does no medical exam life insurance cost?

The cost of a no medical exam life insurance policy varies by insurer and policy type. Some no medical exam life insurance policies, such as instant decision life insurance policies, are even cheaper than traditionally underwritten policies — and for the same amount of coverage. These policies still conduct thorough evaluations of your medical history. But no medical exam life insurance policies that assume a certain amount of risk — such as guaranteed issue life insurance policies — may end up costing you more.

No medical exam life insurance policy riders

Riders are additions or modifications to a life insurance policy that give the policyholder flexibility or extra coverage options. No medical exam policies typically have the same riders available to them as standard policies, though this varies by life insurance company. Here are some common riders you may want to add to your no medical exam insurance policy:

Accelerated death benefit rider

In the event you become terminally ill, this rider will allow you to access part or all of the death benefit in advance and use it to pay for expenses like medical care. Proof of life expectancy under six months or 12 months is typically required.

Disability income rider

A disability income rider provides monthly payments to replace your income if you become disabled or unable to work. This acts similar to disability insurance, so some shoppers choose to add it as a rider to their life insurance instead of buying a second policy to protect against disability.

Policygenius recommends getting disability insurance because it’s the most cost-effective way to protect your income from illness or injury.

Term conversion rider

Adding a term conversion rider to your policy allows you to convert a term life insurance policy to a whole life insurance policy at the end of the term. This is a common rider in most term life insurance policies.

→ Read more about converting a term life policy to a whole life policy.

No medical exam life insurance and coronavirus

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s understandable if you prefer to get a policy that doesn’t require going out and getting a medical exam. While a no medical exam life insurance policy can be costlier and might not always offer optimal coverage, you have a few policy options that don’t necessitate a medical exam.

You'll find a few different options for terms, which are just the different life insurance plans that an insurer offers.

INSURANCE COMPANYTERMS OFFEREDAGES OFFEREDCOVERAGE AMOUNT AVAILABLE
BrighthouseSimplySelect 10, 20, 3025-50$100,000-$2 million
LincolnTermAccel 10, 15, 20, 3018-60$100,000-$1 million
Mutual of OmahaTerm Express 20, 3018-50$25,000-$300,000
51-65$25,000-$250,000
Term Express 10, 1518-50$25,000-$300,000
51-60$25,000-$250,000
61-70$25,000-$150,000
SBLIN/A18-60$100,000-$500,000
TransamericaTrendsetter LB Term 10, 15, 20, 25, 3018-60$25,000-$249,000
Trendsetter Super Term 10, 15, 20, 25, 3018-60$25,000-$99,999
61-70$25,000-$50,000

Methodology: Quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius as of September 2020.

It’s important to note that getting a policy that doesn’t require a health exam still requires recent medical records and doesn’t necessarily shorten the life insurance application process. If you want a faster turnaround time after you apply for coverage, you’ll have to get a plan with Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, or another policy that has accelerated underwriting. An accelerated application also doesn’t require a medical exam, but not everyone qualifies.

No medical exam temporary insurance coverage

If, after speaking with a life insurance broker, you realize that a policy that requires a medical exam is your best option — or you simply want to ensure that you’re covered while you await a decision on your life insurance application — you don’t have to sacrifice the optimal amount of coverage for your safety and health if you don’t want to go out and get a medical exam.

You can opt-in for temporary life insurance coverage, which is the coverage you get during the life insurance application process so that if you die, your beneficiaries still get some death benefit. This would enable you to postpone the medical exam portion of the underwriting process until the coronavirus outbreak subsides.

Most life insurance companies still require the completion of the medical exam for temporary coverage to go in force, but Policygenius works with three life insurance companies that offer this supplementary coverage without a medical exam:

To activate temporary coverage with either of these insurers, you’ll simply need to provide your payment information and sign the application for the broker.

You could see some limitations on your temporary coverage without taking a medical exam, but you’d still have some life insurance protection to protect your loved ones during the pandemic.

About the author

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she has worked in marketing and business development for travel and tech. She has a B.A. in Economics from Ohio State University.

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.

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