How to get life insurance with no medical exam

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.


Elissa Suh

Published April 3, 2019

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.

Read on:

What is a medical exam?

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.

What is life insurance without a medical exam?

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.

Waiting periodAverageFastFastVery fast
Coverage$25,000 - $10 million$50,000 - $300,000Less than $50,000Less than $50,000
TermUp to 30 yearsUp to 30 yearsPermanentPermanent
AgesUp to 85Up to 65Ages 45 - 85Ages 50 - 85

Reasons you should get no exam life insurance

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.

When you might consider no exam life insurance

  • If you’re a 30-year-old male smoker who is otherwise healthy. By skipping the exam, you might get a better rate than with a traditional policy.
  • If you’re young and looking for a low coverage amounts. No-exam life insurance caps out around $300,000.
  • If you’re 55-year-old with moderate risk who doesn’t qualify for traditional life insurance.
  • If you’re a 75-year-old senior with a health issues looking to use the death benefit to cover burial expenses.
  • If you absolutely don’t have time and want to be covered quickly. Skipping the exam shortens the approval process, but at the cost of higher premiums. Traditional life insurance with the medical exam is almost always cheaper if you’re healthy.

Who should not get no exam life insurance

  • Healthy individuals. If you’re in top physical form, you’ll end up paying a penalty for not going through the full underwriting process. For a healthy applicant, a no-exam policy can be up to 80% more expensive than a normal fully underwritten policy.
  • People who need a large financial security net. A traditional life insurance policy can reach well into the millions, while one without a medical exam will be much smaller.

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.

No-medical-exam term life insurance

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:


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:


The figures for no-exam life insurance are based on quotes from Mutual of Omaha

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 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.

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 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:

  • 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 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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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 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.

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 carrier. 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

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.

Term conversion rider

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.

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