I remember my life insurance medical exam. It was relatively painless, but if it would have taken longer than 30 minutes or required me to sit in a waiting room, I might not have gotten the coverage I needed. What can I say? I know myself.
The need to take a medical exam can understandably encourage people to push “buy a life insurance policy” further down their to-do list. The health exam itself is not a big deal, but it’s a hurdle that takes time out of your day. It gets personal. And frankly, no one likes needles.
These days, there are several options available for buying term life insurance online. Some online life insurance providers have made progress in using sophisticated underwriting algorithms to remove the need for a medical exam among certain qualified applicants. Other digital options ask minimal health questions online and adjust premiums to offers 100% no medical exam policies. And still others don’t require you to answer any health questions at all.
What’s the catch? As you can imagine, prices vary considerably depending upon the type of life insurance policy you buy online.
If you’re in the market for life insurance and want to know whether you should consider buying a no-exam policy, you need to do a bit of research to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money while also being honest with yourself about whether you’re willing to take time out of your day for a medical exam.
To help you pick the right policy for your needs, let’s understand what your options are.
Types of life insurance policies with no medical exam
Simplified issue life insurance
Simplified issue policies typically require applicants to fill out a short questionnaire in the underwriting process, with a few health-related questions. No medical exam is needed to apply and get a coverage decision.
Since an insurer knows less about you, the applicant, without full insight into your lifestyle and health history, you are generally going to pay more for coverage than you would with a medically underwritten term life insurance policy. A good thing to remember when shopping for coverage: Generally, the more an insurer understands about you, the more affordable coverage can be.
Additionally, with simplified issue policies, maximum coverage amounts are usually limited to $500,000 or less. Here are some examples of the cost of coverage for a Haven Term Simplified policy, issued by C.M. Life Insurance Co., a MassMutual subsidiary, for nonsmokers.
|Age||Gender||Face amount||Term length||Monthly premium|
Who it may be a good fit for
While a 100% no-medical-exam life insurance policy like Haven Term Simplified will usually cost more per month than medically underwritten coverage, it may be a good option for those who know they absolutely do not want to take an exam. It’s important to note that issuing the policy or paying its benefits depends upon your insurability, based on your answers to the health questions in the application, and your truthfulness.
Medically underwritten life insurance
Medically underwritten life insurance policies are often the most affordable types of coverage. These policies take into consideration your age, lifestyle choices, and personal and family health history to determine eligibility and pricing that’s personalized to you. Medically underwritten coverage also offers the most robust range of coverage options, from $100,000 to several million dollars.
Thanks to innovations in underwriting, some medically underwritten policies – like the Haven Term policy – can be purchased without a medical exam for a subset of applicants that qualify to skip it. Once a customer submits an application, they will be instantly notified as to whether they qualify to skip the medical exam or not. Keep in mind that it’s always very important to be honest in the application process. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the answers you give in the application and your truthfulness.
Medically underwritten term life insurance is generally pretty affordable. Here are some examples of the cost of coverage for nonsmokers in good and excellent health for a Haven Term policy, issued by MassMutual.
|Age||Gender||Health||Face amount||Term length||Monthly premium|
Who it may be a good fit for
The majority of medically underwritten life insurance policies today still need a medical exam. If you know the right amount of life insurance coverage for your family is a face amount of $500,000 or more and you don’t mind taking a medical exam if it saves you money each month, then medically underwritten coverage is probably a good fit for you. And who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who qualifies to skip the medical exam.
If I need to take a medical exam, what happens?
The life insurance medical exam aids in giving the life insurance company as accurate a picture of your health as possible. This helps the company avoid making assumptions about you, which is a good thing and generally saves you money.
The health exam might seem intimidating, but it’s actually a pretty straightforward process. With the Haven Term policy, the exam itself takes about 20 to 30 minutes and the paramedical examiner who’s conducting the exam can meet you at your home, your work or the exam office. At Haven Life, we find that most customers prefer to have a paramed come to their house for the exam.
The life insurance company pays for the exam, so it doesn’t cost you anything other than a little of your time. To start things off, the paramedical examiner might ask you some questions about your family’s medical history. You’ll also be asked about any medications or supplements you’re currently taking, whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, what type of job you have and the kinds of hobbies you engage in.
Depending on the insurer’s requirements, you may also be asked to complete an electrocardiogram or EKG. And in case you’re wondering, paramedical examiners are certified medical professionals trained in drawing blood and taking specimens.
At Haven Life, once the lab results are received, you can usually get a final decision and price within a couple of days.
Guaranteed issue life insurance
Guaranteed issue life insurance is exactly what it sounds like. All applicants are guaranteed approval on coverage, regardless of age or health. Before you sign up for a guaranteed issue policy, be aware that this type of no-exam life insurance comes with a few caveats.
For starters, you’re often limited to a death benefit of $50,000 or less, which if you have financial dependents, probably isn’t enough money to cover their long-term needs. (You can understand your life insurance needs here.) This type of coverage is generally viewed as a final expense policy, meaning that it’s designed to help your family pay for your funeral and cover any other costs associated with your death.
A guaranteed issue life policy also often comes with what’s called a “graded death benefit.” That means that your loved ones only receive a death benefit if a certain number of years have passed between you taking out the policy and your death. This is to prevent people from signing up for life insurance when they know their life expectancy is short. The graded death benefit typically restricts the payout up to three years after you purchase a policy. This restriction is on all deaths due to natural causes. So if you unexpectedly pass away during this period, your beneficiaries actually may not receive a full death benefit.
Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance coverage. As long as you pay your premiums, coverage lasts for the rest of your life. Permanent life insurance is generally more expensive than term life insurance to begin with, and you might end up paying much more for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy than you would for a medically underwritten or simplified issue policy.
Who it may be a good fit for
This type of policy will usually cost more than a simplified issue or medically underwritten life insurance and provides $50,000 or less in coverage. It’s a good option if you want to cover funeral costs and other expenses when you pass away.
Accidental death insurance
Accidental death insurance, also known as accidental death and dismemberment or AD&D insurance, provides a lump sum payout to your loved ones if you passed away from an accident, such as a car crash, a workplace injury or a homicide. The part of this policy that offers dismemberment coverage may provide some type of living benefit if the policyholder is severely injured, paralyzed or loses a limb, but not all accidental death policies include this provision.
These types of policies don’t cover death from any type of illness, like cancer, heart disease or stroke, which are some of the leading causes of death as we reach our 40s and beyond. The limitations on when a death benefit is paid can leave your family at financial risk, so you should understand the fine print. It’s also important to note that many accidental death insurance policies are generally limit coverage to up to $500,000.
Who it may be a good fit for
An accidental death policy may be a good option if you have been declined term life insurance due to health reasons.
How to choose the right policy for you
Here are four scenarios that can help you decide whether a no-exam life insurance policy is a good fit for you:
If you want: The convenience of a 100% no-exam life insurance policy
Consider: Simplified issue life insurance
Here’s why: If you under no circumstances want to take a medical exam, then consider a simplified issue policy first. You’ll generally be limited to a face amount of $500,000 or less, so make sure that’s enough coverage for your family’s needs. Use a life insurance calculator to estimate how much coverage you may need. (Remember, life insurance isn’t about the medical exam, it’s about the people you are financially protecting.)
With a simplified issue policy, you’ll have to pay higher premiums to compensate the insurer for taking on more risk by not fully knowing your medical history. But the convenience may be worth paying more.
If you want: More affordable life insurance coverage
Consider: Medically underwritten term life insurance
Here’s why: If you are price-sensitive, then you may want to consider medically underwritten term life insurance. This life insurance policy will most likely be your most affordable option.
Historically, most medically underwritten policies require a medical exam. However, thanks to recent underwriting innovation in the life insurance industry, it may not be required for qualified applicants to take a medical exam. Haven Life offers the InstantTerm process in which some applicants ages 18–59 seeking a $1 million death benefit or less might meet the criteria that allows them to finalize coverage without a medical exam, based on the information they provided during the application process.
You can complete an application to find out if you qualify to skip the exam. (Keep in mind that it’s always very important to be honest in the application process. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the answers given in the application and their truthfulness.)
Whether you qualify for InstantTerm or end up taking the medical exam, medically underwritten coverage will generally provide you with a wide range of coverage options and better pricing than you’d get from a no-exam life insurance policy.
If you want: Coverage and you have significant medical conditions
Consider: Guaranteed issue life insurance and accidental death insurance, but start with a medically underwritten or simplified issue policy if you haven’t applied already
Here’s why: If you want coverage, but are worried about your eligibility because of health issues, it may still be worth it to apply for a medically underwritten policy first before you consider other options.
You don’t need to be in your 20s or super healthy to qualify for affordable rates if the coverage requires a medical exam or some kind of medical underwriting. While it’s time-consuming to apply for multiple life insurance policies, keep in mind that the end goal is peace of mind (for you) and financial protection (for your loved ones). And, you want to get the most value possible.
If you have a number of health issues or pre-existing medical conditions — or if you’ve been turned down for other life insurance policies — guaranteed issue or accidental death coverage can be a valuable financial solution to help your loved ones with funeral or other expenses if you were to pass away.
Cost-conscious consumers with medical conditions also may prefer the generally lower premiums of accidental death insurance compared to term life insurance even though accidental death policies will only pay out after an accident. One advantage that accidental death insurance has over guaranteed issue life insurance is that you may find coverage up to $500,000.
If you want: More than $500,000 of life insurance coverage
Consider: Medically underwritten term life insurance
Here’s why: Medically underwritten policies usually are the only type of term life insurance that will provide coverage options in excess of $500,000. And again, with a Haven Term policy, certain qualified applicants may be able to finalize up to $1 million in coverage without a medical exam. Understand your life insurance needs.
Select the policy that meets your needs and budget
Buying the right coverage does not need to be complicated. Consider what price fits into your budget as well as what purchasing experience best fits with your lifestyle and expectations.
Most importantly, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re doing all this research and buying a policy to help financially protect the most important people in your life and give you peace of mind.What Haven Life customers are saying:
Nicole Dieker is a full-time financial writer. Her work regularly appears on Bankrate, Lifehacker, The Write Life and numerous other sites. She is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC 042017 and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.