Everything You Need to Know About No Exam Life Insurance
Updated: Oct 10
Many life insurance policies require you to undergo a medical exam as part of the application process. The exam is how insurance underwriters get detailed information about your health, and from that point, they calculate your rate and the cost of your life insurance premium. But if you dont like the idea of being poked and prodded by a stranger, if youre scared of needles, or if you just dont have the time, youll be happy to know that there are no exam life insurance policies that allow you to skip the medical exam and still get coverage. Read on to learn more about how life insurance without medical exams work and to find out if its the right option for you.
What is No Medical Exam Life Insurance? No medical exam life insurance is exactly what it sounds like life insurance that doesnt require you to take a medical exam. If youre just starting to look into life insurance, you may not understand why some policies require a medical exam and others dont. Lets break it down: Traditional life insurance policies, both term and whole, require a medical exam as part of the application process. The exam includes a standard physical, plus a blood test and urine sample. Some applicants may be asked to undergo an EKG or stress test. In addition to the exam, youll need to fill out a detailed questionnaire about your health and medical history (and might even need to share your medical records). The point of the exam and health questionnaire is for the insurer to get an accurate picture of your health history.
Life Insurance Underwriters and Statistics Life insurance underwriters then compare your health stats against those of millions of people to determine your statistical life expectancy. For example, according to the CDC, Overall mortality among both male and female smokers in the United States is about three times higher than that among similar people who never smoked. Therefore, people who smoke are always given higher rates than non-smokers. Smoking makes such a difference in mortality predictions, in fact, that life insurance companies have entirely different premium tables for smokers and non-smokers. Similarly, people who are obese are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. Therefore, they are usually given higher life insurance premiums than people who are within the normal weight range (see our article on life insurance and BMI here). Now it is easy to understand: excellent health means better rates & lower premiums while poor health means worse rates and higher premiums. With no exam life insurance, the insurer is allowing you to forgo the medical exam, and the company itself is forgoing its ability to make an accurate prediction of your mortality. For this reason, most no exam policies have certain limitations (which well discuss more below).
The Benefits of No Exam Life Insurance No exam life insurance is growing in popularity among consumers, for several reasons. No exam policies:
Allow you to skip the medical exam, which is important for people who feel uncomfortable during medical exams or have a fear of needles
Dont require you to stop what youre doing and make time for a physical
Are convenient some applications can be completed entirely online
Are easy to get approved for, especially if you have serious medical conditions
Are approved much faster than traditional policies, sometimes even immediately
Who is Eligible for No Exam Life Insurance? Who Needs It? With all the benefits of no exam life insurance, you may be wondering, why doesnt everybody get this type of insurance? Why do life insurance companies even bother with the other types of policies if no exam insurance is so great? While no exam life insurance does, in fact, have many benefits, it also has a higher price tag. Since insurers arent able to get a complete picture of your health, they are unable to assess their risk accurately. When the life insurance companys risk goes up, so does the cost of the policy. While anyone can apply for no exam life insurance, those who are looking for more affordable options would be better advised to go the medical exam route.
Who is No Exam Life Insurance Best Suited For? If any of the statements below describe you, no exam life insurance can make a big difference in your life.
Youre scared of doctors and/or needles
You have no time to schedule an appointment
You can afford to pay higher rates for the convenience of a quick application and approval process
You need life insurance quickly
You have serious medical issues and have been turned down for other types of life insurance The last point is an important one. Some people are willing to go through the inconvenience of a medical exam or come face to face with their fears in order to get lower rates on life insurance. But what if youre willing to undergo the medical exam but then get rejected based on serious health conditions? If youve been denied coverage by various life insurance companies and for different types of traditional policies, no exam life insurance can be a lifesaver. In some cases, it can be the only way to secure coverage for funeral expenses and ensure that this specific financial burden doesnt fall on your loved ones.
Types of No Exam Life Insurance No exam life insurance is a broad category that includes several types of policies, some term and some whole. Term life insurance is valid for a specific period of time, or term, while whole life insurance has no expiration date its valid for the policyholders entire lifetime (it's a type of permanent life insurance). Traditional term and whole life insurance policies require underwriting. As youll see below, certain types of no exam life insurance require a certain amount of underwriting, while others dont require any at all. Here well discuss several types of no exam life insurance available and who they are best for.
Simplified Issue Simplified issue is a type of no exam life insurance thats available as both term and whole policies. Both types require a simplified, shortened underwriting process, hence the term simplified issue. This means that youll be required to answer several questions about your health, but not as many as traditional life insurance requires. To learn more about your health without asking invasive questions or performing a medical exam, insurers gather information about you from third-party sources, including medical and pharmaceutical databases and DMV records. When you apply for simplified issue, you agree to this type of background check. By collecting information from third-party sources, the insurer doesnt inconvenience you and, at the same time, it gets a lot of relevant information that can help underwriters more accurately assess your life expectancy. Since your health plays a large role in determining acceptance and the amount you pay in monthly premiums, simplified issue is the hardest type of no exam policy to qualify for. If youre in relatively good health and under age 50, you should have no problem getting approved. If you have medical complications, qualifying will be harder.
Guaranteed Issue As opposed to simplified issue, which not everyone can qualify for, guaranteed issue life insurance guarantees approval to everyone who applies (hence the name, guaranteed issue). Guaranteed approval without a medical exam sound too good to be true? While the offer is indeed real, its also very expensive. With guaranteed issue, the insurer has absolutely no way to cover its risk. Therefore, these types of policies come with several conditions:
Limited coverage - Usually up to $25,000
A waiting period - If the policyholder dies within the waiting period (usually two to three years), only the premiums will be refunded, often plus a few percentage points. With all of these conditions, why would someone get guaranteed issue? Guaranteed issue can be applied for entirely online and offers immediate approval. But more important than that, for some people its the only way to get coverage (and offer their loved ones a death benefit). If you have serious medical conditions and have been denied coverage for other types of policies, you will still be able to qualify for guaranteed issue.
Final Expense Final expense is a type of permanent no exam life insurance, and it can come in the form of simplified whole or guaranteed whole. The purpose of both types is to ensure that your funeral and burial/cremation costs will be covered. Simplified whole life insurance, as in its term counterpart, requires partial underwriting, which means that not everyone will qualify. It also means that the cost will be less than guaranteed whole, which grants approval to (almost) everyone. Guaranteed whole differs slightly from guaranteed issue in that it usually includes several knockout questions that may disqualify you (usually about terminal or critical illness). The benefit of applying for final expense insurance as opposed to straight-up guaranteed issue is that premiums can be slightly lower and there is no waiting period. (A waiting period would defeat the purpose of final expense insurance, which is to cover the cost of end-of-life expenses).
Group Group life insurance is usually offered through an employer. Approval doesnt depend on your health at all, but rather on your employment with the company. Theres no real downside to group life insurance, since premiums are partially or wholly covered by your employer. However, coverage is usually limited or related to your salary, which means that its not likely to be sufficient for your needs. Therefore, group life insurance should be considered supplemental, or extra, and its recommended that you have another life insurance policy in place that is sufficient for your needs. To learn more about supplemental life insurance, you can read this excellent Forbes article.
Accelerated Underwriting While not strictly a no exam policy, accelerated underwriting offers the option to skip the exam but only in some cases. Heres how it works: when you apply for an accelerated underwriting policy, the insurer will tell you if you qualify to skip the medical exam on the spot. Insurers are able to do this by using sophisticated technology to collect information about you from third parties (the same thing they do for simplified issue). The whole process takes just a matter of minutes. During that time, the insurers algorithms are scanning your records to determine whether you are in good enough health to skip the medical exam. If the algorithms determine that this is the case, you can skip it. If not, you will be asked to undergo a medical exam and you can decide whether to comply or whether to look for a different type of no exam policy. Given the nature of accelerated underwriting, the ideal candidate is someone who is in very good health. The benefits of accelerated underwriting are that you get to skip the medical exam, plus your rates are likely to be more on par with those of traditional life insurance policies.
How Much Does No Exam Life Insurance Cost? The cost of no exam life insurance, like most life insurance policies, is based on several factors. These include:
Amount of coverage
Length of policy (only applicable to term)
Family health history
Dangerous jobs/hobbies While the cost of no exam life insurance is highly individualized, we can offer some general rules of thumb.
Guaranteed issue will always be the most expensive type of no exam policy, since the insurer doesnt request any health information from you
Accelerated underwriting and simplified issue term life insurance are the most competitively-priced policies, since they involve a certain amount of underwriting
The healthier you are, the lower your premiums will be (for policies that request health information)
Smokers always get higher rates than non-smokers
Pre-existing health conditions will always impact the final cost To get an idea of how much your life insurance policy can cost, you can use our term life insurance calculator and get an instant quote for free in a few seconds.
How Much Life Insurance Can You Get without an Exam? The question of policy amount is an important one, and as with cost, it depends on several factors. General limits are as follows:
Simplified issue and accelerated underwriting typically offer up to $500,000 or $1 million in coverage
Guaranteed issue is usually capped at $25,000 or $50,000
Group life insurance coverage is usually related to your annual salary With the exception of guaranteed issue, your health will also play a role in the amount of coverage you can get. The rule of thumb is that the healthier you are, the lower your premiums and the more coverage you can get.