Life Insurance

No Medical Exam Life Insurance: Cheap Term & Whole Life Insurance Without a Physical

No Medical Exam Life Insurance: Cheap Term & Whole Life Insurance Without a Physical

Not all life insurance policies require a medical exam. If you need coverage fast, no-exam coverage may be the best option for you.

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No medical exam life insurance — also called simplified issue — offers coverage without physicals, blood tests or urine tests. If you need coverage on short notice or have pre-existing conditions that would make it hard to pass a medical exam, simplified issue term life insurance can be a convenient and affordable alternative.

No medical exam life insurance policies

No medical exam life insurance policies are available for both term and whole life insurance, but the death benefits for whole life coverage are typically limited to $50,000 or less — that's ten times less than the typical limit for term life benefits. If an insurer offers no medical exam coverage with a higher death benefit, it typically means that the medical exam depends on your responses to health questions.

For example, Pacific Life offers executives up to $3 million in life insurance coverage without a medical exam, but only if you pass a medical interview with no significant issues.

When applying for no medical exam insurance, you'll be asked several questions about your health and medical history and your responses will be used to determine whether you qualify for coverage. The list of questions changes according to insurer, meaning you may be rejected by one company only to find coverage at another.

Regardless of what questions you're asked, honesty is important. Insurers can cancel your policy during the first two years of coverage without a refund if they find that you lied or misrepresented anything. Keep in mind that even without a health exam, insurers still have a variety of ways to confirm the information you provide. Insurance companies regularly check your responses against:

  • Prescription databases
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles
  • The Medical Information Bureau
  • Physician statements

No medical exam term life insurance

If you don't qualify for fully underwritten life insurance but need more than $50,000 in coverage, your best option is a no medical exam term life policy. Term policies are also among the cheapest forms of no medical exam insurance. No medical exam policies offer term lengths up to 30 years and can typically be purchased up until you turn 75, though some insurers restrict term lengths based upon your age.

When shopping for simplified issue term life insurance, you should make make sure that a policy is described as "level term" or as having "guaranteed level premiums" for the term length. These phrases mean that the term life insurance quotes you receive reflect the price you'll pay for the entire length of the policy.

Some insurers offers a product called no medical exam term insurance where quotes based upon your age group (typically a 5-year period, such as ages 50-54). With these products, the term length is essentially just one year and premiums increase each time you enter a new age group, meaning they become incredibly expensive over the course of 15 or 20 years.

As an example, let's say you're a 45-year old male and want $150,000 of coverage for 20 years. New York Life offers coverage according to your age, so you would be quoted:

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Even though your initial no medical exam term life insurance quote was for $119, the average you would pay over the term is $182 per month. Over the course of 20 years, that means you’re paying $15,120 more than if you found a level term policy for $119 per month. Level term policies are usually more affordable since premiums can vary based upon factors other than age, and the insurer can better price your risk profile.

Another product you’ll want to look out for when shopping for no medical exam term life insurance is accidental death insurance. Accidental death insurance is a legitimate product that is similar to term life insurance, but only pays a death benefit if you pass away due to an accident. Since only about 5% of deaths are due to accidents, premiums are cheap and coverage often doesn't require a medical exam. However, accidental death coverage does not apply to natural causes of death such as strokes and heart attacks.

No medical exam whole life insurance

No medical exam whole life insurance is typically used as a form of final expense insurance, as coverage is lifelong and death benefits are generally limited to a maximum of $25,000 or $50,000. This means your beneficiaries may receive a large enough payout to cover your funeral, other end-of-life costs and potentially a small loan. However, it’s not a large enough death benefit to cover a mortgage or provide income replacement for an extended period of time.

If you want final expense insurance and are unable to qualify for traditional coverage, simplified issue whole life insurance will be less expensive than a guaranteed acceptance policy.

Should I buy no medical exam life insurance?

No medical exam life insurance is more expensive than fully underwritten coverage and typically provides fewer options, such as the ability to increase your death benefit or convert a term policy to permanent coverage. In addition, the medical exam is free, typically lasts less than 30 minutes and can take place at your home or work. This is why we don't recommend no medical exam life insurance if you can qualify for traditional coverage.

Consider a no medical exam policy if:

  • You have pre-existing medical conditions that have been diagnosed in the past 2 years
  • You have a significant pre-existing condition, such as diabetes
  • Both of your parents died before age 60
  • You have DUIs or other significant issues on your driving record in the past 2 years
  • You have a record of drug or alcohol abuse in the past 5 years
  • Your job is particularly high-risk, such as being a firefighter
  • You have high-risk hobbies, such as base jumping or outdoor rock-climbing

If any of these scenarios apply to you, we recommend first looking for an insurer that offers fully underwritten coverage for your situation, as insurance companies all have different restrictions. Independent insurance agents represent multiple companies and are familiar with each insurer's underwriting requirements, so an agent may be able to help you find the insurer that accepts your health profile.

No medical exam life insurance is also handy if you need instant life insurance in order to secure a person or business loan, a common requirement from institutional lenders. No medical exam policies often provide same day coverage, or may take up to five business days, while traditional policies can take several weeks for approval. In these cases, we recommend getting no medical exam coverage then applying for a fully underwritten term policy. This way you can satisfy the bank or other lender’s immediate requirements but minimize your long term costs.

No medical exam vs guaranteed acceptance life insurance

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance is similar to no medical exam coverage in that you don't need to take a physical or blood and urine tests in order to apply. The main difference is that there are no health questions for guaranteed issue life insurance, so anyone that falls within a particular age range will be accepted. This makes guaranteed issue policies even more costly than no exam insurance, but they're still a good alternative if you can't qualify for no medical exam coverage.

Every insurer has its own standards and questions for no exam life insurance applicants. However, you should probably consider a guaranteed acceptance policy if:

  • You’re on dialysis
  • You’re restricted to a wheelchair or in a nursing home
  • You’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition, such as diabetes, in the past 2 years
  • You have HIV or kidney disease

Guaranteed issue policies are only available for whole life insurance and coverage is typically limited to less than $25,000. Therefore it's typically intended as final expense insurance, offering a large enough death benefit to cover a funeral and other costs associated with your passing. There are no alternatives for term life insurance without providing some personal information.

No Medical Exam Term Life Insurance
No Medical Exam Whole Life Insurance
Guaranteed Acceptance Whole Life Insurance
Typical Maximum Coverage$500,000$50,000$25,000
Length of CoverageTerm lengths up to 35 yearsLifetimeLifetime
Medical UnderwritingHealth questions & database checksHealth questions & database checksNone
Waiting PeriodNoneNone2-3 years

Since guaranteed acceptance policies offer life insurance coverage without health or medical questions, they generally have a two to three year waiting period. If you pass away during this period of time, the insurer will not pay the full death benefit to your beneficiary. Instead, they provide your beneficiary the amount of money you've paid in premiums plus interest (usually 6-10%).

No medical exam life insurance policies usually have no waiting period, but the company will investigate the circumstances of your death if it occurs during the first two years of coverage. If they find any evidence that you died from suicide or provided any misleading medical and personal information during the application process, they can deny the claim and your beneficiaries won't receive a payout.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.