Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue life insurance offers a small amount of permanent life insurance coverage to those who don’t qualify for other policies and doesn't require a medical exam.

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Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

&Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

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Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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If you’re older or have certain health conditions, you might find it hard to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy. But life insurance can provide vital financial protection for your family and cover end-of-life expenses like funeral or burial costs.

Simplified whole life insurance, also called simplified issue life insurance, is a type of final expense insurance. Simplified issue policies are a form of no-medical-exam life insurance that can benefit seniors or people with certain pre-existing conditions. However, premiums are high and the coverage availability is low. We only recommend getting a simplified issue life insurance policy if you absolutely have to.

Key Takeaways

  • Simplified issue life insurance does not require a medical exam.

  • Simplified issue is more affordable than other final expense insurance, but not term or whole life.

  • Certain medical conditions, such as a terminal illness or some types of cancer, will disqualify you from simplified issue life insurance.

What is simplified whole life insurance?

Simplified whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance, meaning it lasts your entire life. But it offers more bare-bones coverage than whole life insurance and is reserved for individuals 45 and older.

If you apply for simplified issue life insurance, you'll forgo the medical exam and instead answer a few questions about your health. The shorter process gets you almost immediate coverage, but because the health evaluation isn’t as thorough, insurers set a higher premium for a lower coverage amount.

But there are still disqualifying conditions for simplified issue policies that can prevent you from getting coverage. In that case, a guaranteed issue life insurance policy may be your only option. If your age and health warrant a better health classification, and thus better premiums, final expense life insurance is probably not for you.

How simplified whole life insurance works

If approved, you’ll be able to secure up to around $50,000 of coverage for your beneficiaries to support any financial needs.

Some simplified life insurance requires you to hold the policy for at least two years before it will pay the death benefit. If you should pass before then, your beneficiaries will be refunded the amount you’ve paid in premiums.

Unlike traditional whole life insurance, simplified issue policies don’t always have a savings component called a cash value that builds over time.

Qualifying for simplified issue life insurance

While simplified issue life insurance doesn’t involve a medical exam, you have to fall into a certain age requirement (between age 45 to 85) and answer some medical questions.

What disqualifies you from getting simplified issue life insurance?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might not qualify for simplified issue whole life insurance:

  • Are you currently bedridden, in a long-term-care facility, or nursing home?

  • Do you require a wheelchair, electric scooter, or oxygen equipment?

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with or treated for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, congestive heart failure, diabetic coma, an organ or bone marrow transplant?

  • Do you have a terminal medical condition?

  • In the past 12 months, have you been diagnosed with heart disease or had heart surgery?

  • Have you been advised to have a surgical operation or diagnostic testing that isn’t routine?

  • In the past two years, have you been diagnosed with any form of cancer?

Even if you answer yes to the above, you’d still qualify for guaranteed issue whole life insurance and likely be able to get insured if you need it. Talk to a licensed agent or broker to find out what type of life insurance will work for you. 

Here are the simplified life insurance offerings from Policygenius' partner life insurance company, Mutual of Omaha, as of December 2021:

Simplified issue whole life insurance policy comparison

Death benefitAges offeredCoverage offered
Standard (Level): Two-year suicide & contestability period45 to 85$2,000 to $40,000 (in WA, $5,000 to $40,000)
Graded: Only pays a 110% refund of premiums paid if death occurs within the first two years45 to 80$2,000 to $20,000 (in WA, $5,000 to $20,000)

The second policy offers a graded death benefit, which means the insurer will only pay out the death benefit if you die after owning the policy for two years.

Life insurance riders

Like all life insurance policies, simplified issue life insurance can be customized to meet a policyholder’s needs with add-on features called riders. Riders add extra coverage and will increase the cost of monthly or annual premiums. Some popular riders include:

  • Accelerated death benefit rider: Allows policyholders to use the death benefit payment early in the case of terminal illness to cover necessary medical costs.

  • Long-term-care rider: If the policyholder requires long-term care that his or her health insurer won’t pay for, such as nursing home or at-home care, this rider covers the cost.

  • Disability waiver of premium: If a policyholder can't pay premiums because of loss of income stemming from a disability, this rider waives payments until the policyholder recovers.

→ Check out our full guide on life insurance riders

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Average cost of simplified whole life insurance

Simplified whole life insurance gives you more coverage at a lower price point than other types of final expense insurance like guaranteed issue, since it covers applicants who are considered moderately risky to insure. 

A 45-year-old non-smoker would pay $75.67 to $92.53 for a $40,000 simplified issue policy with level benefits, compared to $47.52 to $60.52 for a $500,000 term life policy lasting 20 years.

Pros and cons of simplified issue life insurance

Pros of simplified issue life insurance

No medical exam

This will save you the time of having to get the results processed, and you won’t have to worry about scheduling the appointment. It can also work out for you if you think your current health will make it harder to qualify for coverage.

Fast coverage

Because you’re skipping the medical exam, you can get coverage more quickly with a simplified issue plan. Typically you’ll be covered within days, as opposed to the weeks (or longer) with a standard insurance plan.

Cheaper than guaranteed issue whole life

If you’re set on not taking a medical exam and your only alternative is a guaranteed issue plan, the cheaper option is almost always going to be a simplified issue plan.

Cons of simplified issue life insurance

Costlier than a standard life insurance plan

With a standard plan, the insurer is doing their due diligence and get a comprehensive look at your medical status and history. They have a pretty good idea of how risky you are to insure and can provide a more accurate quote. With the limited information they get from a standard issue plan, insurers err on the side of caution and charge more.

Limited coverage

Again, the insurer knows relatively little about you, and they don’t want to cover you with a million-dollar policy. The highest coverage amount you can get is $40,000 to $50,000.

Not as customizable

If you go with a simplified issue plan, you may find that your rider options are more limited than with other plans.

How is simplified whole life insurance different from guaranteed issue life insurance?

  • Simplified issue life insurance: This is ideal for seniors or those who can’t qualify for a more traditional life insurance policy, but who are only at moderate health risk. A detailed medical questionnaire is required.

  • Guaranteed life insurance: This is the right choice for those who can’t qualify for simplified issue. No medical questions are asked and almost no one is turned down.

If you can qualify for a simplified whole life policy, you’ll be able to secure a larger coverage amount for a lower monthly premium than you would with guaranteed life insurance, so it’s well worth it to fill out that medical questionnaire.

Simplified issue life insurance and coronavirus

If you’re trying to obtain life insurance without taking the medical exam during the COVID-19 outbreak, simplified issue life insurance might be available as one of your options, though this should only be as a last resort.

While it’s always better to have some life insurance coverage as opposed to none at all, you should only buy a simplified whole life policy if there are no other policy options available to you. If a no-medical-exam life insurance policy or application expediency is of the essence during the pandemic, consider opting for temporary coverage or accelerated underwriting life insurance.

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Is simplified issue life insurance right for you?

If you’re looking to get coverage quickly, don’t want to take the medical exam, and otherwise can’t qualify for a more traditional policy, simplified issue insurance is your best bet. But if you have the choice, you should probably take a pass on simplified insurance to get the most out of your life insurance. 

Who needs simplified issue life insurance?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that isn’t listed above and have an urgent life insurance need, simplified issue life insurance ensures your loved ones have some financial protection. You may need simplified issue life insurance if:

  • You're between the ages of 45 and 85.

  • You have a condition, like type 1 diabetes, that makes traditional life insurance more expensive.

  • You don't qualify for other types of life insurance.

  • You have an immediate need for life insurance coverage.

If you're able to wait to get life insurance coverage and qualify for a different type of policy, you'll pay less with traditional life insurance coverage. And if you're in good health, you can get cheaper coverage within the same timeline from an instant decision life insurance policy.

Frequently asked questions

What is simplified issue life insurance?

Simplified issue whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that provides a small amount of coverage if you don’t qualify for traditional life insurance. No medical exam is required, but certain health conditions and age restrictions will disqualify you from getting a policy.

What’s the difference between simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance?

Simplified issue is cheaper, but has more restrictions for who can get a policy. Guaranteed issue life insurance is more expensive but easier to qualify for.

How much coverage can you get with simplified issue whole life insurance?

Death benefit amounts for simplified issue life insurance range from approximately $2,000 to $50,000.