No medical exam life insurance — also called simplified issue — offers coverage without a physicals, blood test or urine test. If you need insurance on short notice or have a preexisting condition that would make it hard to pass a medical exam, simplified issue life insurance can be convenient and affordable.
No medical exam life insurance policies
No medical exam policies are available for both term and whole life insurance. One key difference between term and whole life is that the death benefits for whole life coverage without an exam are typically limited to $50,000, whereas term life benefits without an exam can be twice that.
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. Each insurer has their own list of questions, meaning you may be rejected by one company but find coverage at another.
A life insurance policy that doesn't require any medical screening and doesn't ask for responses to any health questions is called guaranteed issue or guaranteed acceptance.
Regardless of what 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 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 and need more than $50,000 in coverage, your best option is a no medical exam term life policy. Term policies are among the cheapest forms of no medical exam insurance and are offered in lengths up to 30 years. They can typically be purchased until age 75, but some insurers restrict term lengths based on age.
When shopping for simplified issue term life insurance, you should make sure the policy is described as "level term" or has guaranteed level premiums for the term length. These phrases mean the life insurance quotes you receive will reflect the price you'll pay for the entire length of the policy.
Some insurers offer a no medical exam term insurance product where quotes are based on your age group (typically a five-year period, such as ages 50–54). With these renewable policies, the term length is essentially one year, and premiums increase each time you enter a new age group. This means the policy becomes incredibly expensive over the course of 15 to 20 years.
As an example, let's say you're a 45-year-old man and want $150,000 of coverage for 20 years. New York Life offers coverage according to your age, so the monthly premium would increase each time you enter a new age bracket.
Even though your initial quote was for $119, the average you would pay over the term would be $182 per month. Over 20 years, you'll have paid $43,680.
If you had a level term policy and paid $119 per month, you would pay $28,560 over the course of 20 years instead — a savings of $15,120. Level term policies are usually more affordable because premiums can vary based on factors other than age, so the insurer can better price your risk profile.
Another product you’ll want to look out for when shopping for life insurance is accidental death insurance, which is similar to term life insurance but only pays a death benefit if you die as the result of an accident. Because only about 5% of deaths are caused by accidents, premiums are cheap and coverage often requires no medical exam. However, accidental death coverage does not apply to natural causes, such as stroke or heart attack.
No medical exam whole life insurance
No medical exam whole life insurance is typically used as a form of final expense insurance, because the coverage is lifelong and death benefits are generally capped at $25,000 or $50,000. After your death, your beneficiaries may receive a payout large enough to cover your funeral, other end-of-life costs and potentially a small loan. However, it won’t be enough to pay for a mortgage or provide income replacement for an extended period.
If you want final expense insurance and do not 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?
We don't recommend no-exam insurance if you would likely qualify for traditional coverage. No medical exam life insurance is more expensive than fully underwritten coverage and typically provides fewer options. For example, you usually can't increase your death benefit or convert a term policy to permanent coverage. In addition, the medical exam for traditional coverage is free, typically lasts less than 30 minutes and can take place at your home or work, so it’s a fairly easy process if you would likely qualify.
However, you should consider a no medical exam policy if:
- You have preexisting medical conditions that have been diagnosed in the past two years
- You have a significant preexisting 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 two years
- You have a record of drug or alcohol abuse in the past five 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 an insurer that accepts your health profile.
No medical exam life insurance is also useful if you need instant life insurance to secure a personal or business loan, which is a common requirement from institutional lenders. No medical exam policies often provide coverage the same day or may take up to five business days, whereas traditional policies can take several weeks for approval. In these cases, we recommend getting no medical exam coverage and 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 versus guaranteed acceptance life insurance
Guaranteed acceptance life insurance is similar to no medical exam coverage, in that you don't need to get a physical or provide blood or urine tests to apply. The main difference is that there are no health questions for guaranteed issue life insurance, so anyone who 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 don’t qualify for no medical exam coverage.
Each insurer has its own standards and questions for no-exam life insurance applicants. In general, 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 two years
- You are HIV positive
- You have kidney disease
Guaranteed issue policies are only available for whole life insurance, and coverage is typically less than $25,000. It's usually intended as final expense insurance, offering a death benefit that’s enough to cover a funeral and other costs associated with your death. 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 coverage||Term lengths up to 35 years||Lifetime||Lifetime|
|Medical underwriting||Health questions and database checks||Health questions and database checks||None|
|Waiting period||None||None||2–3 years|
Because guaranteed acceptance policies offer life insurance coverage without health or medical questions, they generally have a two- to three-year waiting period, during which the insurer will not pay the full death benefit to your beneficiary. Instead, they’ll provide your beneficiary with the amount 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 within the first two years of coverage. If they find any evidence that you died from suicide or provided any misleading medical or personal information during the application process, they can deny the claim, and your beneficiaries won't receive a payout.