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If you’ve been putting off getting affordable life insurance because you hate visiting the doctor’s office, then you might find this insider’s guide to no-exam insurance the solution to your problem.
Get the tips and tools to learn how you can get insured without seeing a single lab coat.
If you’re ready to get started shopping for affordable, no-hassle life insurance, enter your ZIP code in our free quote tool above and get started today.
What is no-exam life insurance?
Applying and qualifying for life insurance can be a long and time-consuming process. For some consumers, getting life insurance squared away quickly can be critical. Required medical exams and blood work can add weeks to the application process and cause major inconveniences for consumers that may not have time.
Most insurers today have found a way to fast-track the application process by offering no-exam life insurance. Offered for term insurance or whole life policies, no-exam insurance eliminates the need for a physical exam or blood work.
Instead, underwriters review the information provided on your application and conduct their own investigation to determine if you qualify.
Determining if no-exam life insurance is for you will depend on your personal situation. If you’re young and healthy, an insurance provider may reward you by submitting for fully underwritten insurance, and you might be rewarded with cheaper coverage.
In all cases, the insurer will require that you submit honest information regarding your health and personal and family medical history before they provide you a quote.
This is important to remember because no-exam insurance isn’t the same as guaranteed acceptance life insurance. Guaranteed acceptance life insurance means that an insurance company will not deny coverage for any reason. Because of this, though, it’s costlier insurance, and your benefit amounts will be capped.
With no-exam insurance, you’ll still be evaluated and an underwriting process will determine your insurability.
Underwriters will have access to your application, will conduct background checks, and review your driving record. If further information is required, your underwriter can even follow up with a direct interview to verify any information before you’re approved.
No-exam insurance is popular with consumers today. Let’s face it: shopping for life insurance isn’t the most exciting thing to be doing, so getting through the process as fast as possible might be worth it. As the video below explains, putting off buying life insurance may not be the smartest thing to do.
Cost of Coverage for No-Exam Life Insurance
Life insurance is cheaper when your health risks are lower. When you’re younger and healthier you have the advantage of getting affordable life insurance without much hassle, regardless of whether you submit for a medical exam.
As you age, it becomes more important that insurers are able to uncover any risks you may have before writing your policy. This is why insurance companies have historically requested applicants to complete a physical exam and submit bloodwork.
Today, some insurers are willing to forego having consumers submit to a physical exam to get insurance. This is a win for both the insurance company and the consumer.
For the insurance company, the ability to have customers underwritten and insured faster means more business. For the customer, they can get insurance in days and sometimes hours rather than waiting for weeks.
Of course, you should consider that submitting to a full underwriting process could save money in the long run. This is simply because no-exam insurance carries a higher risk.
When people submit to a medical evaluation, previously undetected health issues could be discovered, which means the insurance company can use the information to provide better pricing.
With no-exam insurance, having a bigger pool of consumers who may have unknown issues means higher risk. Because insurance companies are taking on more risk, they’ll charge higher premiums.
If you’re looking for permanent insurance with a higher amount of death benefit, no-exam insurance might limit the amount of coverage you can get.
For seniors looking for insurance, coverage amounts can be capped at $50,000 or lower. For example, Colonial Penn Life, which specializes in coverage for seniors, provides permanent whole life insurance with no exam, but the maximum coverage you can buy is $50,000.
If you’re healthy and are looking for higher benefits, you may be required by your insurer to complete a full medical evaluation. No-exam insurance is a good option if you’re looking for a quick insurance solution and don’t mind paying more for the coverage.
No-Exam Insurance vs Fully Underwritten Insurance
An underwriting process is required before an insurance company will provide you with an actual rate. Although sample rates are available, your own rate class will only be determined after your application has been evaluated.
A full underwriting process can seem long, involved, and even invasive. The underwriter’s goal is to assess risk and balance people that have higher risk exposure with those that have lower risk exposure within the same rate classification.
By doing this, the underwriter achieves a price that more people will choose while also creating a manageable risk for the insurance company to maintain coverage for its customers.
For underwriters to provide proper risk assessments, the more information available, the better. Underwriters will review your application answers, speak with your broker and even pull public records with your driving history or medical information that might have been submitted to the Medical Information Bureau.
With no-exam insurance, all the steps above are still completed. However, since the insurer doesn’t require an exam or bloodwork, the underwriter builds your risk profile with only the information that’s made available.
The type of coverage for no-exam insurance depends on the provider. Most providers offering no-exam term coverage will provide the same term coverage options as they do for fully-underwritten insurance.
These terms are typically 10, 20, or 30 years. Some insurers also offer renewable term coverage, which requires annual renewal.
No-exam insurance will also usually provide additional rider options. Riders come at an added premium cost but can be useful in covering odd occurrences your basic policy doesn’t cover. The most common riders are:
- Accidental Death – This is an additional benefit paid along with your policy coverage in the event of accidental death.
- Waiver of Premium – This rider will allow you to maintain coverage if you are disabled and can’t make premium payments.
- Disability Income – Your insurer will pay your annual income if you become disabled and can no longer work. Some riders will pay only if you become disabled due to an accident.
- Child Protection Rider – This is coverage that’s extended for the life of your children.
- Return of Premium Rider – If you complete your term, your premiums paid minus fees and expenses are returned to you.
No-exam insurance solutions can be just as robust as fully underwritten insurance. In some cases when there are questions around your health from your application, an insurer may not qualify you for insurance unless you complete a medical evaluation.
If you’d like to see if you qualify for affordable life insurance, enter your ZIP code here and get an instant quote.
Accelerated Underwriting & No-Exam Life Insurance
With the traditional application process, an underwriter won’t start evaluating your application until a medical exam is complete. For that to happen, you have to complete your application, which could require some time for you to gather all the required information, and then set up a medical exam. For the insurer, there are costs, time, and resources that need to be considered.
Your insurance agent will provide you with options for scheduling a medical exam and pay for the exam and lab costs. Since most of us would like to finish the insurance application as quickly as possible, adding days or even weeks to find time to complete your medical exam is not optimal.
When you submit to a medical exam, you’ll usually need to have some blood drawn, and it takes at least a few days to get lab results. During this time, you’re still uninsured.
By bypassing the need for a medical exam, you can get insurance almost instantly.
For situations in which the underwriters would not have been able to begin work for days or weeks, they can immediately receive your application, conduct their review and conclude their risk analysis.
For younger and healthier applicants, underwriters might be able to provide an almost instant qualification and quote. For some applicants, blemishes in your driving history or items noted in your medical questionnaire may require some follow-up.
In these cases, an underwriter may want to consult with you for more information by phone. However, a medical review would still be unnecessary.
To keep the process moving quickly, you should be candid and straightforward when answering any questions. You want to make sure the insurance company has the right information to give you an accurate quote and that you don’t provide any reasons that might disqualify your plan.
Misrepresentations of any kind, whether intentional or not, could be a problem.
Alternatives to No-Exam Life Insurance
If you’re looking for the most affordable rate you can get for term or whole life insurance, you may want to apply for fully underwritten insurance, which requires a medical evaluation.
If you’re younger and are looking into a longer-term solution or any permanent life solution, getting a physical may be worth the hassle. Even saving a few dollars per month on a premium can add up over a lifetime.
If you’re concerned with how to prepare for your exam, the video below from Quest Diagnostics can help you get ready.
If you’re unsure whether you might qualify for fully underwritten insurance, you can check with a few providers to see if any pre-existing conditions might disqualify you. You might learn that a few lifestyle changes can set yourself up for a lower rate.
For example, if you’re a smoker, quitting smoking might lead to a much cheaper rate. The table below provides sample rates for non-smoking males.
|Age||$500,000 / 10-Year||$500,000 / 20-Year||$500,000 / 30-Year|
This next table provides the quotes for the same age — male candidates who are otherwise healthy but use nicotine products including cigarettes, vapes, and cigars.
|Age||$500,000 / 10-Year||$500,000 / 20-Year||$500,000 / 30-Year|
As you can see, rates are almost double for smokers. This should be a huge incentive to quit.
Other lifestyle changes that could help you get a more affordable rate are diet and exercise. Although you’ll submit your height and weight on a no-exam application, when you apply for fully underwritten insurance, your doctor will request bloodwork which will provide the insurance company with extra indicators like cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
High cholesterol and blood sugar levels could indicate health problems down the road, such as heart disease and diabetes. Returning a clean bill of health to the insurance company means a lower risk, which in turn means a better rate.
Consult with your insurance agent to see what medical information you’ll need to provide for fully underwritten insurance. If you have pre-existing conditions that might disqualify you for fully underwritten insurance, you might save time by looking for no-exam options.
If no-exam options are still not viable, you may be able to shop for insurance through your employer.
Although you’ll still need to submit medical information to qualify, many company benefit programs subsidize costs, making an employer life insurance option more affordable than no-exam insurance.
Finally, if you’re concerned that you might not qualify because of pre-existing conditions, you may try setting up a financial nest egg to self-insure. Instead of paying monthly premiums to an insurer, you can put away the same amount in an investment fund that offers a decent and safe return.
With proper planning and with the help of a good financial advisor, you can accrue enough in your fund to provide coverage for your loved ones later on.
Of course, self-insurance means that you are unprotected in the near term. Most people won’t go this route unless they are financially secure for the longer term.
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Types of No-Exam Life Insurance
There are a few specific types of no-exam insurance.
As you’ll see from the detailed summary for each type below, you can get coverage immediately, but the cost of coverage will be higher than fully underwritten insurance, and the benefit amounts are capped. Some types of no-exam insurance are offered only as whole life policies.
Graded Death Benefit Life
Coverage that is offered with graded death benefits doesn’t require a medical exam. The insurer scales coverage from the near term for a defined period, usually three years.
Insurance coverage payout is scaled up from the first year until full coverage is achieved. By doing this, the insurer can be confident you won’t have immediate health concerns that could trigger an immediate payment for the policy.
The way the benefit increases over the three years can vary. Initial benefits can range from between 25 and 33 percent of the total benefit in year one, between 50 and 75 percent in year two and full coverage in year three and after.
Policies offer graded benefit coverage of death from only natural causes.
If an accidental death occurs, the policy would need to have bought an accidental death rider for any benefit to be paid.
Many graded benefit policies include the accidental death rider.
Graded benefits help protect insurance companies that provide quick guaranteed insurance for older applicants from immediate payouts and large losses.
For consumers, if you don’t have any immediate concerns for your health but don’t want to be bothered by having to complete a medical exam or answer health-related questions, getting a graded policy means you’ll be protected for the long term.
Of the types of no-exam insurance, graded benefits are likely the most affordable. However, you can still be denied coverage based on health history or other concerns.
Simplified Issue Life
Another type of insurance that features no exam is simplified issue life. As the name implies, the insurer is looking to expedite the underwriting process to make it as easy and quick as possible to qualify you for life insurance.
Aside from the medical exam, insurers try to streamline any paperwork requirements. Although you’ll still have to answer questions regarding your family history, current health, and your consumption of alcohol and tobacco, your insurer is looking to review your application and qualify you as quickly as possible.
For simplified term insurance, you aren’t guaranteed to qualify.
Providers offer simplified issue insurance as either term life or whole life permanent insurance. In some cases, the term life could be offered as renewable term life, meaning your costs could change almost yearly.
If you’re looking for long-term options, it might be worth submitting to a full underwriting process, as the simplified issue policy will be costlier.
However, in some cases, you may already have a base policy in place. You may opt to pay for a simplified issue life policy to supplement coverage you acquired from your employer or may have bought when you were younger,
Level Final Expense
Final expense insurance is intended to help people who may be older or who might have health concerns get coverage to pay for any debts, funeral expenses, or other limited costs at the time of their passing.
Death benefits are usually limited to between $5,000 and $25,000. Coverage is typically easy to obtain but can be expensive.
Final expense insurance is a consideration for people who don’t have a nest egg and want to unburden their families with any costs that could occur at the time of their passing.
This insurance is not intended to pay off a mortgage or leave an inheritance. Instead, it could provide a benefit that will help a loved one with burial expenses or small debts.
Level final expense denotes that the benefit paid will remain level and will never change over time. Coverage is permanent, so whether a policyholder purchases a policy and passes within one year or 20 years, the benefit won’t change.
Because insurers expect to pay out a benefit earlier, the insurance premiums are expensive.
Offered as guaranteed issue whole life insurance, insurance offered with graded death benefits is a primary type of no-exam insurance.
This type of insurance provides permanent life insurance, and all applicants qualify. However, there may be a waiting period before your coverage goes into effect.
For example, AIG offers a whole life insurance policy that guarantees acceptance for any applicants from ages 50 to 85. You can buy coverage for amounts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
Coverage is offered with no medical exam or health questionnaire requirement, but the AIG program’s coverage doesn’t become effective until year three.
If a person gets coverage and dies a non-accidental death within the first two years, the policy will only return any premiums paid plus 10 percent. From the third year and after, full coverage is effective and the beneficiary will receive the full benefit if a death occurs.
This type of insurance is expensive but is easiest to get. Like level expense, it’s intended for lower coverage amounts to help someone cover their final expense costs. Large benefit amounts are not offered.
Since an applicant is never denied coverage, this type of insurance is often considered by people who have disqualifying factors that prevent them from getting other types of coverage.
|Age||$15,000 Death Benefit: Male||$15,000 Death Benefit: Female|
The chart above gives provides some sample rates to show how expensive guaranteed acceptance insurance premiums can be for non-smokers for just $15,000 in benefit.
Graded Death Benefits & No-Exam Life Insurance
Policies that have graded death benefits are usually intended for specific purposes, while no-exam insurance can apply to a larger set of life insurance offerings.
Although policies with graded death benefits don’t require a medical evaluation, you should realize that even when your policy is activated, you aren’t immediately covered with full benefits.
With whole or term life insurance that’s offered with no-exam, you’re covered when you buy your policy and begin paying premiums.
What are graded death benefits?
Graded death benefits are important to highlight. Policyholders should realize they aren’t eligible for full coverage for some time.
Policies offer graded benefit coverage for death from natural causes. If an accidental death occurs, the policyholder would have to have purchased an accidental death rider for any benefit to be paid.
Many policies that pay graded death benefits include an accidental death rider at no additional cost. Check with your agent to see if your policy includes this rider.
Types of Policies That Might Have Graded Benefits
There are two specific types of policies that have graded death benefits. As mentioned earlier, guaranteed acceptance whole life and level final expense insurance will have graded benefits.
How Graded Benefits Work
Graded benefits can work in two different ways depending on the type of policy.
For graded whole life policies, the grading period is typically three years. If the policyholder dies within the three-year period, the insurance carrier will pay a predetermined percentage of the full benefit. For example, a structure for graded benefits could be:
- Year 1: 30 percent of the benefit
- Year 2: 70 percent of the benefit
- Year 3: 100 percent of the benefit
So if a policyholder takes out a policy for $100,000 and dies in the first year, the beneficiary would only receive a payment of $30,000. In year two, the payment would be $70,000.
However, after three years and for the rest of the policyholder’s life, full coverage will be paid.
Final expense graded benefits work in a different way. With final expense insurance, there is typically a two-year waiting period before any coverage is available.
If a natural death occurs within the two-year period, premiums paid will be distributed to the beneficiary with a nominal percentage paid above the premium, like 10 percent.
Again, the policy is only applied for natural death. Accidental death can still be covered but you should understand the definition of accidental death as defined by your provider.
For example, a policyholder takes out a policy for $5,000 in benefits but that has a two-year waiting period. Monthly premiums are $20 per month. If a policyholder dies within six months, the policy will return $120 (6 x $20) and $12 (10 percent of $120), or a total of $132.
Buying No-Exam Life Insurance
There are a few things to avoid when it comes to buying no-exam insurance. First, if you’re young and healthy and have time to get a physical, then it’s definitely worth your time and effort to do so.
Spend some time considering how much insurance you need and what type of insurance is best for you. The video below offers some helpful items to consider.
Since you expect to be making payments for such a long time, you’ll want to save as much in premium payments as possible. Even a few dollars will add up over time.
For example, let’s say a healthy 25-year-old male can get a $500,000 benefit for a 30-year term policy from Nationwide for a level premium payment of $41.39 per month.
However, if he opts to not take a medical evaluation, the company quotes him a premium of $45 per month.
- 25 Year Old Male with an Exam – $41.39 over a $500,000 30 Year Policy
- 25 Year Old Male without an Exam – $45.00 over a $500,000 30 Year Policy
The difference of $3.61 may not seem like much per month. However, over time, it adds up.
- Each Month – $3.61
- Each Year – $43.32
- Over 30 Years – $1,299.60
The difference of $1,299 over 30 years may still not seem like much to you. But using a simple compound interest calculator shows that $43.32 invested at 3 percent interest for 30 years returns $105.15.
Performing the calculation each year for just the first 10 years adds up to over $1,000.
Another pitfall is rushing into a policy without doing your homework. Whether it’s fully underwritten insurance or no-exam, many people fail to compare enough quotes. A common rule of thumb is to obtain four quotes or more for similar insurance before you make a purchase.
Finally, work with your financial advisor and insurance agent to make sure you aren’t purchasing too much or too little insurance.
Consider that although your needs today may be complex, one day your mortgage may be paid off, your kids might be out of college, and you won’t have a second car payment.
Can I get affordable life insurance without a medical exam?
In the world of life insurance, there are standard providers and substandard providers. Each of these carriers attract a different targeted niche and offer a different menu of financial products. As a consumer, you should be able to differentiate one product from another after you’ve learned how applications are underwritten. Here’s your guide to life insurance underwriting and policies with ‘no medical’ requirements so that you can decide if these specialty products are right for you.
How Life Insurance Companies Classify Insureds and Determine Rates
As with all for-profit companies, life carriers are in business to make money. Since companies are offering hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars in life benefits, the rate makers must do their research to evaluate and estimate how long a specific client will live. This is why companies use several different rate classes to evaluate an application, estimate life expectancy and then to determine an applicant’s personal rates.
What are the most common rate classifications?
A rate classification is what insurance companies use to place an applicant into a category where there is clearly defined premium rates. The rate class is essentially an applicant’s risk level when that risk level falls into a common category. Here are the most basic risk classifications that are used in the industry:
- Preferred Plus: The most affordable risk class that is associated with excellent health, normal weight, and no other family risk factors that could affect life expectancy.
- Preferred: Rating for applicants with excellent health who might have a minor health issue or a family history.
- Standard: Offered to people with normal life expectancy that might have some medical issues. Standard applicants can be overweight or have pre-existing conditions that disqualify them from a preferred class.
- Preferred Smoker or Smoker: Tobacco users receive their own classes because of the unique risks that smoking presents. If you’re in good health other than being a smoker, you could receive a preferred rating. Otherwise, you’ll be a standard tobacco rating or table-rated because of other health issues.
Why are medical exams such an important part of the underwriting process?
If you’ve ever applied for your own standard individual life insurance policy, you’ve probably been asked to attend a paramedical appointment where the service provider checked your height, weight, urine, blood, and saliva. Having your fluids collected can feel a bit intrusive, but the purpose behind the medical exam is very important in the industry when it comes to determining accurate rates.
Without medical exams, insurers would have to trust all of the information that you disclosed on your application.
The only thing the company could possibly find is medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed of in the past. Since many medical conditions have yet to been diagnosed, companies need for applicants to undergo a medical exam to look for red flags. Requiring the medical exam gives the company the ability to look at your habits and whether or not they affect your own life expectancy compared to the national average.
Is it possible to find life insurance without taking a medical exam?
It might not be easy to find a standard guaranteed term policy that doesn’t require a medical exam, but there are products in the substandard market that might appeal to you if you’re adamant about skipping the exam. Substandard insurers offer products to higher risk applicants in exchange for higher premiums.
Why are the premiums for no medical life insurance higher than standard premiums?
If you solicited a quote for a standard 20-year term and another quote for a no medical policy, you would find that the premiums are almost always guaranteed to be higher for the no medical product. This is true even when you’re young and in good health. The primary reason for this is because the applicant doesn’t authorize the carrier to collect medical records or specimens for testing. Therefore, the carrier must go on your word and charge a higher premium to cover the added risk.
The Benefits of Being Young
If your parents purchased a permanent cash value policy on you while you were a minor, you might already have coverage in place. Some of these permanent plans or child term life riders give you the right to buy coverage by converting the benefits into a standalone term life plan. Some companies will go as far as to offer young applicants applying for term insurance with low death benefits coverage at a standard rate without a medical exam.
The Drawbacks of Annual Term Insurance
Most ‘no medical’ life insurance policies are called annual terms.
When you apply for an annual term you can forgo the exam requirement but your rates will go up every year as you age.
Since rates are reviewed each year, it’s common for an annual term to skyrocket once you reach a certain age. A comparison of rates between level terms and annual terms shows this fast climb.
Who can benefit from no-exam life insurance?
If you need your life insurance to be issued quickly, choosing a policy that doesn’t require full underwriting might be ideal. The policies are issued in a short amount of time so that you can get that immediate coverage you need.
Pros & Cons
No-exam insurance is a good option for those who don’t want to share medical history information or don’t have the time for lengthy approval processes.
If you have health concerns you won’t gain much by going the no-exam route because you can’t hide information from the insurance company.
Check out the pros and cons below to see if no-exam insurance is for you.
- No-exam insurance makes the application process easy since medical exams or blood work are not required
- You can obtain an approval quicker with a faster underwriting process
- No-exam insurance is cheaper than guaranteed acceptance insurance
- With no-exam insurance, your full death benefits available upon approval except for final expense and guaranteed acceptance
- No-exam insurance is more expensive than fully underwritten insurance
- With no-exam insurance, coverage amounts could be limited and you may not get all the insurance you need
When it comes to life insurance, the more information you provide your insurer, the more accurately your insurer will classify you in a rate pool. It is always in your best interest to be put in the correct rate pool to avoid paying for too much or too little insurance.
With no-exam insurance, insurance companies are finding innovative ways to get you insured easily and quickly.
If you’re a consumer that wants to be insured and be done with the process, no-exam may be a bit more expensive, but the convenience and ease of application might be worth the extra expense over time.
If no-exam insurance sounds good and you are anxious to get a quote, enter your ZIP code in the FREE quote tool below and start comparing rates today.