What is the free look period?


The free look period is the first 10-30 days of your life insurance policy, when you can cancel your coverage without penalty and get a refund of premiums you’ve paid.

Amanda Shih author photoNupur Gambhir


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.


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.

Updated April 1, 2021|3 min read

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When you buy a new life insurance policy, the policy contract will include information about the free look period, a specific window during which you can cancel your policy without penalty and receive a refund of your premiums. This period usually ends after 30 days, though some insurers have a shorter free look period of 10 days. The specific details of your policy’s free look provision can be found in your policy contract. 

The free look period allows you to change your mind for any reason — if you no longer need your policy or decide you want to buy coverage from a different life insurance company, for example. To cancel your life insurance during the free look period, you will need to contact your insurer. If you decide to keep your life insurance coverage, then continue to pay your premiums as normal.

Key Takeaways

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

  • During the free look period, your initial policy premiums are refunded if you cancel your coverage and you won’t be charged a surrender fee

  • Policy 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. Every state insurance department mandates a free look provision of at least 10 days in life insurance contracts, though many require an even longer free look period. Additionally, your contract may include a free look provision longer than the minimum requirement.

When the free look period begins also varies by insurer. It can start on the day your policy is in force, the day you receive the policy paperwork, or the day your insurance company sends your policy by mail or electronically. Check your policy or ask your insurance agent to confirm when your policy’s free look period begins and ends.

How the free look period works

“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:

Cancel your policy

If you have a term life insurance policy, you can cancel your coverage by discontinuing premium payments. But if you’re canceling within the free look period or want your premiums refunded, you’ll need to call your insurer. 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. 

To cancel a whole life insurance policy, call your insurer to cancel. Make sure to cancel during the free look period to avoid paying a penalty

Keep your policy

If you like your policy as is, all you have to do is continue paying your premiums on time to keep the policy in force. But if you find that your policy is too expensive, you may be able to make some adjustments after you’ve had it for a year or more. For example, you can apply for a rate 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.

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What happens after the free look period 

After your policy’s free look period has ended, you can still cancel your coverage, but you won’t be refunded any premiums. The only instance where an insurance company will refund your premiums is if you prepaid them. For example, if you opted for annual payments as opposed to monthly payments, you will be refunded for the months that you no longer have life insurance coverage. 

It’s important to make the right decision when buying life insurance. If you don’t feel confident in your insurer and coverage, the free look period allows you to cancel your policy before you’re locked in for the long term. 

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 refund of any premiums you’ve paid.

When does the free look period begin?

Your free look period could begin the day your policy becomes active, the day you receive the policy paperwork, or the day your insurer mails you the policy paperwork. The start date of your free look period depends on your insurance company.

How long is the free look period for life insurance?

The free look period ranges from 10-30 days. The 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.

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