Temporary life insurance

Temporary life insurance is short-term coverage you can buy during the life insurance application process before your actual policy goes into effect.

Nupur GambhirAmanda Shih author photo


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.


Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is an insurance editor and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent at Policygenius in New York City. Her work has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Jetty, and J.D. Power.

Updated January 6, 2021|4 min read

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When you apply for life insurance, it can take five to six weeks (and sometimes longer) to receive your final offer and pay your first premium. To guarantee financial support for your loved ones during that period, ask your life insurance provider if they offer temporary life insurance.

Temporary life insurance, sometimes referred to as a temporary insurance agreement (TIA) is a type of short term life insurance offered only during the life insurance application process. If you die before your final application is approved, the temporary policy pays out to your beneficiaries. Temporary coverage is only available while you wait for your final policy to go in force and can’t be purchased separately.

Key Takeaways

  • With a temporary policy, if you die after applying for life insurance but before your policy becomes active, your beneficiaries receive a payout

  • The payout is usually equal to the coverage amount for which you applied, up to a limit

  • Temporary life insurance premiums are based on your initial life insurance quote

  • Coverage generally lasts 60-90 days and expires once your final policy is active

How does temporary life insurance work?

Temporary life insurance provides coverage before your term or permanent policy becomes active. When applying for temporary life insurance coverage, you’ll be asked questions about your physical health, just as you are for coverage under the base policy. Some medical conditions may disqualify you for temporary coverage, even if you’re still eligible for coverage under your main plan.

The death benefit of a temporary policy is typically equal to the amount of coverage for which you’ve applied, up to a limit (usually $1,000,000). Your temporary life insurance coverage begins after you receive your temporary insurance receipt.

Temporary life insurance coverage ends after one of the following occurs:

  • A certain number of days passes after the application is filed, usually 60-90 days.

  • After you request a refund for the premium or terminate your proposed coverage.

  • You are declined for coverage.

  • Your policy goes in force.

If you die by suicide during the temporary life insurance period, your beneficiaries may be denied benefits. The same is also true if you misrepresent your health and die due to a condition that would’ve otherwise made you ineligible for temporary life insurance coverage.

Why buy temporary life insurance?

If you don’t currently have life insurance and die before your policy's effective date, your loved ones won't receive any financial support. Temporary life insurance protects your family during that coverage gap.

However, if you need your actual policy in force as soon as possible, you should consider no medical exam life insurance or instant decision life insurance, which speed up the application process by skipping a medical exam. These policies have their own limitations based on coverage amounts, age, and health status, so work with an independent insurance agent to find the best type of life insurance for your situation.

How much does temporary life insurance cost?

When you apply for life insurance, you receive a quote for coverage based on your personal characteristics, medical history, and coverage needs. Your temporary life insurance premium is based on this initial quote.

Your initial quote and temporary policy premium may not necessarily reflect the premiums for your final policy. Your actual premiums are determined during underwriting and can be higher or lower than your original quote if the underwriter finds new information that would impact how they measure your risk. Once your provider sets your final premiums, the payment you made for temporary life insurance will be credited toward the first month’s premium for your actual policy.

→ Learn more about the life insurance underwriting process

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How each insurer treats temporary coverage

Each life insurance company treats temporary coverage differently and offers a different amount of coverage. Check out the table below to get an idea of how much temporary coverage you could get from the top life insurance companies. Note that some restrictions may apply based on your age, location, health, and the amount of coverage for which you applied.

AIGOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
Banner LifeOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
BrighthouseOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
Lincoln FinancialOffers up to $500,000 in coverage
Mutual of OmahaOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
Pacific LifeOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
PrincipalOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
ProtectiveOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
PrudentialOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
SBLIOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage
TransamericaOffers up to $1,000,000 in coverage

Methodology: Based on carrier guidelines provided by 11 life insurance carriers that offer policies through the Policygenius marketplace (AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI and Transamerica).

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Temporary life insurance and coronavirus

If you are applying for life insurance during the current COVID-19 outbreak and want to postpone the medical exam, you can opt for temporary coverage until the outbreak subsides and you resume the underwriting process.

Most life insurance companies 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 these insurers, you’ll simply need to provide your payment information and sign the application for the broker.

Is temporary life insurance worth it?

You're buying life insurance for a reason — to protect the income you supply for your dependents. A temporary life insurance policy ensures that your loved ones can still get a death benefit even if you die before completing the life insurance application process. If you won’t have coverage while you wait for your underwriting decision, a temporary policy is an affordable way to protect your loved ones and prevent coverage gaps.

Temporary life insurance FAQ:

What is temporary life insurance?

Temporary life insurance is short term life insurance. It pays out to your beneficiaries if you pass away between the time that you apply for life insurance and when your final policy becomes active.

Should I get temporary life insurance?

If you want to ensure your loved ones are covered while you wait for your life insurance offer, a temporary policy is a good option.

How much does temporary life insurance cost?

Your temporary life insurance premium is based on the initial quote you receive when you apply for life insurance, though your final premiums may be somewhat higher or lower after underwriting.

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