What is the free look period?


The free look period is a limited time when you can cancel your life insurance coverage without penalty and get a refund of any premiums paid.

Amanda Shih author photo

Published October 27, 2020

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When you buy a new life insurance policy, the coverage agreement will include information about the free look period, a specific window during which you can cancel your policy with no penalty and receive a refund of your premiums.

The free look period allows you to change your mind for any reason. e.g., if you no longer need your policy or decide you want to work with a different life insurance company. To cancel your life insurance during the free look period, contact your insurer. If you decide to keep it, then continue to pay your premiums as normal.


  • Free look periods vary in length depending on state regulations and your insurer, but are typically 10-30 days

  • You cannot be charged a fee for canceling during the free look period and will have your initial premiums returned

  • Cancellations after the free look period forfeit any premiums you’ve already paid, but only come with a penalty if you have permanent life insurance

How long is the free look period?

The length of the free look period varies depending on your state and your life insurance company. Most state insurance departments mandate a free look period of at least 10 days, but your insurer may offer a period longer than the minimum requirement.

When the free look period begins also varies. It can start on the day your policy is in force, the day you receive the policy paperwork (also known as the issue date), or the day your insurance company sends your policy by mail (if they are doing so). Check your policy or ask your insurance agent to confirm when yours ends.


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What to do during the free look period

“It’s rare for customers to cancel their policies during the free look period,” says Policygenius senior operations manager Matthew Burke. However, canceling during this period is the only way to get all of your initial premiums refunded.

You can cancel for any reason, but according to Burke, people may cancel because a new employer provides them with coverage or because their financial needs have changed. Once you’ve done your research, you have two main options:

Keep your policy

If you like your policy as is, congratulations! There’s nothing to do except continue paying your premiums on time to keep the policy in force. If the policy doesn’t feel like the perfect fit, you may be able to make some adjustments after you’ve had it for a year or more, like increasing or decreasing the death benefit or applying for reconsideration if you’ve maintained significant health or lifestyle improvements that would lower your premiums. Your agent or broker can help you decide what’s best for your situation.

Cancel your policy

If you have a term life policy you can cancel your coverage by stopping the payment of any future premiums or calling your insurer directly. If you decide to cancel after the free look period ends, you won’t be penalized, but you won’t get any premiums back either. If you have whole life insurance, call your insurer to cancel, and make sure to do it during the free look period to avoid a penalty.

Note that while you are allowed to own multiple life insurance policies, it’s simplest to wait until your current policy is canceled before shopping for a replacement. If you apply for the same amount of coverage at a new insurer, they may think that you’re trying to buy more life insurance than you need and decline your application.

It’s important to make the right decision when buying life insurance. The free look period exists to ensure that you feel confident in your insurer and coverage before you commit and that you’re protected if you don’t.

What is the free look period FAQ:

What is the free look period for life insurance policies?

The free look period is a set time at the start of your policy during which you can cancel coverage without penalty and receive a return of any premiums you’ve paid.

When does the free look period begin?

It varies by insurance company. Your free look period could begin the day your policy becomes active (its "effective date"), the day you receive the policy paperwork (its "issue date"), or the day your insurer mails you the policy paperwork.

How long is the free look period for life insurance?

The length of time ranges from 10-30 days, and exact timeline varies based on your state and insurance policy. Your insurance agent or policy paperwork will have the most accurate information for your coverage.

Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a life insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a passion for making complex topics relatable and understandable, and has been writing about insurance since 2017 with specialities in life insurance cost and policy types. She's previously written for Jetty and LegalZoom.