Cost & Coverage
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No-exam-life insurance can be more expensive than traditional life insurance with a medical exam, so it’s not optimal for everyone. But it can be a great benefit for those who have don't qualify for traditional insurance coverage.
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 available that allow you to skip the medical exam and quickly buy life insurance with almost no waiting period.
No-exam-life insurance has the potential to be considerably more expensive than traditional life insurance with a medical exam, so it’s not optimal for everyone. However, it can be a great benefit for those who have trouble qualifying for traditional insurance coverage.
When you apply for life insurance, you must go through the underwriting process, which includes:
This is known as fully underwritten life insurance.
The insurance company handles most of the process and will require a medical exam (also called the paramedical exam). In what’s essentially a health physical, 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 unhealthy you are, the riskier you are to insure, and the more you’ll pay for your policy. During the underwriting process, the life insurance companies try to get a complete picture of your medical history and risk.
No-medical-exam life insurance comes at a higher cost, since without the exam the insurance company takes on a greater risk because they haven’t fully assessed your health. The chart below briefly demonstrates a few different types of life insurance coverage that don’t require a medical exam.
|TRADITIONAL TERM LIFE||NO EXAM TERM LIFE||NO EXAM WHOLE LIFE||GUARANTEED ISSUE|
|Waiting period||Average||Fast||Fast||Very fast|
|Coverage||$25,000 - $10 million||$50,000 - $300,000||Less than $50,000||Less than $50,000|
|Term||Up to 30 years||Up to 30 years||Permanent||Permanent|
|Ages||Up to 85||Up to 65||Ages 45 - 85||Ages 50 - 85|
The price of no exam life insurance can greatly vary, as can the savings. It may be virtually the same price as a fully underwritten policy, or it may be much more expensive because it’s targeted to unhealthy individuals who pose a higher risk.
Compare policies yourself, talk to an expert to find out which one is right for you, or take a look at our life insurance company reviews to see which policies are offered by our carriers.
Policygenius can help you with all of the above. You can get started by comparing life insurance quotes across providers and talking to a licensed expert.
Also known as simplified issue life insurance, this type of insurance lets you skip the medical exam in favor of a health questionnaire instead. The insurance company will also use your medical records for a history check.
But there’s a caveat: If an issue comes up in the health questions or the medical check raises a red flag, the insurance company can then require you to take the exam to get a more accurate assessment of your health.
No-exam life term insurance is only for relatively low-risk individuals, and even then only for those who have moderate coverage needs.
No-exam term life insurance can also be more expensive than a traditional term policy depending on your health.
Here’s a look at what an average 30-year-old male (nonsmoker) living in California would pay for a 20-year no-exam policy versus a traditional term policy with an exam:
|COVERAGE AMOUNT||MONTHLY COST - NO EXAM||MONTHLY COST WITH EXAM||PRICE INCREASE|
The prices for traditional term life insurance are based on quotes from Transamerica.
But for someone who wants a small coverage amount and isn’t in tip-top health, you’ll actually save by avoiding the medical exam.
For instance, if the hypothetical 30-year-old mentioned above were a smoker, here’s what the price comparison for a 20-year policy would look like:
|COVERAGE AMOUNT||MONTHLY COST - NO EXAM||MONTHLY COST WITH EXAM||PRICE INCREASE|
The figures for no-exam life insurance are based on quotes from Mutual of Omaha
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.
Also called simplified issue whole life insurance, this policy is useful for applicants who need a low level of coverage, as this death benefit 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-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-exam whole life insurance doesn’t come with a cash-value component that acts like an investment.
For more information, see our full guide to simplified issue whole life insurance.
For seniors who want to skip the medical exam, but pose too high of a risk to qualify for simplified issue life insurance, guaranteed issue whole life insurance may be the best option. As the name suggests, acceptance is virtually guaranteed. However, the benefit amount is much smaller—enough to cover end-of-life expenses, which is why it’s sometimes called burial insurance or final expense life insurance.
Guaranteed issue life can be used for:
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 carrier, 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.
For more information, see our full guide to guaranteed issue life insurance.
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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 carriers. With this service you can get a traditional term life policy at the same costs, 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 non-traditional information to build out your risk profile and set premiums prices.
According to the Society of Actuaries, these new data sources include: Clinical lab data Credit profiles Predictive models Facial analytics Behavioral economics There are still some limitations to accelerated underwriting. You must be in 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.
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 carrier. Here are some common riders you may want to add to your no medical exam insurance policy:
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.
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. But Policygenius recommends getting disability insurance because it’s the most cost-effective way to protect your income from illness or injury.
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 term life insurance policies.
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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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.
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