What is the free look period?

The free look period is the first 10 to 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 photoHeadshot of Policygenius editor Nupur Gambhir


Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

&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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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 first premium. The period usually ends after 30 days, but can be as short as 10 days.

The free look period allows you to change your mind for any reason. To cancel your life insurance during the free look period, simply contact your insurer. If you want to keep your life insurance coverage, then you continue to pay your premiums as normal.

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 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 anytime by discontinuing premium payments. But if you’re canceling within the free look period, 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. 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 ends, 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. 

Frequently asked questions

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 to 30 days. The exact timeline varies based on your state and insurance policy.