Historically, getting life insurance took several weeks and included a visit from a nurse to do a medical exam. But now there are several companies that issue life insurance without a medical exam, sometimes in minutes.
Depending on the policy you will still need to fill out a medical questionnaire, and depending on the company, they may do some independent research such as looking at your medical records and driving history. Keep in mind that the less information they have about you the higher their risk, and therefore, the higher your price.
Best No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance
While no-medical-exam life insurance policies typically carry higher premiums, affordable plans have cropped up on the marketplace. Read on to find our buyer’s guide for the best no-medical-exam life insurance policies.
Bestow offers an application process that is 100% online and doesn’t require a medical exam and gives most people an instant decision. Instead of a medical exam they look at your medical history, credit history, driving records, etc.
Bestow is available for those ages 18 through 60 and provides coverage options between $50,000 and $1.5 million. They only offer term life insurance and you can get coverage for 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years.
Bestow Pros and Cons
Quick approval decisions
Easy application process
No riders available
Not available in New York
Learn more in our full Bestow review.
What makes Ladder different is the ease with which you can change your coverage. You can adjust your coverage amounts up or down depending on how your needs change over time.
Coverage is available to those between the ages of 20 and 60 and you can’t have a term length that will take you beyond the age of 70. So for example, if you are 60 the longest term you could get would be 10 years. Ladder only offers term policies and you can get coverage for 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years.
Ladder Pros and Cons
Coverage is easily adjustable as your needs change
Most people receive approval within minutes
No riders available
Medical exam required if applying for more than $3 million in coverage
Learn more in our full Ladder review.
Ethos boasts a speedy online approval process that can take ten minutes or less, with no in-person visits. This company provides customer service representatives who can chat online or by phone.
They offer both term and guaranteed whole-life insurance. If you are between the ages of 65 and 85 you can qualify for the guaranteed whole-life.
If you are between the ages of 20 and 65 you can qualify for term with coverage between $20,000 and $2 million. They offer policy terms of 10, 15, 20,and 30 years.
However, if you live in New York, you’re out of luck: Ethos does not operate in your state. And Ethos may still try to get you to take a medical exam, depending on the circumstances.
Ethos Pros and Cons
Term and guaranteed issue whole life available
Covers higher risk applicants with simplified and guaranteed issue.
Offers phone support if needed
Not available in New York
Learn more in our full Ethos review.
Sproutt offers both term and whole-life insurance with no medical exam. Term policies can be issued up to 40 years with coverage amounts up to $2 million for those under 60 years old.
Sproutt uses what they call a “quality of life index” to asses your lifestyle. They look at how much you exercise, your nutrition, and even your sleep to get a full picture of your health without a medical exam.
Sproutt Pros and Cons
High coverage amounts
Options beyond term policies
Not available to those over 60
AARP offers term, whole-life, and guaranteed issue whole-life insurance.
Their term insurance offers coverage between $10,000 and $150,000 and can cover you up to age 80. Applicants must be between ages 50 and 74 to qualify.
Their whole-life coverage, which they call Permanent Life Insurance, is available with coverage amounts up to $50,000. Applicants must be between the ages of 50 and 80 to qualify.
The guaranteed acceptance policies are available in coverage amounts up to $25,000 for applicants between the ages of 50 and 80.
None of their policies require medical exams and coverage can be issued within minutes.
AARP Pros and Cons
Several options beyond just term coverage
Policies have lower coverage levels
Applicants must be over 50
What Are the Pros and Cons of No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance?
You save time with a simpler application process (often over the phone or online)
You don’t have to set time aside for medical testing.
You’re likely to get instant approval, particularly if you are young.
No-medical-exam life insurance usually limits coverage to smaller amounts (often $25,000 or less), which won’t work if you’re seeking a higher amount of insurance coverage.
Your rates will likely be higher than they would be if you got a medical exam, especially if you are young and healthy
What Is a No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance Policy?
No-medical-exam life insurance eliminates the full medical underwriting process to approve your life insurance policy. You will not need to sit in for a physical exam.
However, the insurer could still ask you to complete a basic health questionnaire about your medical history, which you must answer truthfully. You should not lie about any health conditions or omit any relevant information; if you do, the insurer may charge you a higher premium, lower your death benefit, or revoke your policy.
Many no-medical-exam life insurance policies have an immediate process, so you can get a decision on your application within a matter of minutes.
Related: The Complete Guide to Life Insurance
Why Do Insurance Companies Require Medical Exams?
I know it’s a bit morbid but since the insurance company is insuring your life, they want to fully understand their risks. They need to know what the chances are that you will die during the policy term. A medical exam can go a long way to help them do that.
This process checks for certain underlying health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV, and potential substance abuse. Life insurance companies may request any of the following:
- Urine/blood sample
- Blood pressure
- Medical records
- Family history
If you’re above a certain age, the company may ask you to complete a treadmill stress test, electrocardiogram (EKG), or other measures. The results of the medical exam will help them determine your rates, coverage amounts, and even if they will deny you coverage.
And they don’t just use your medical exam or even your medical history. They can also look at your driving record, hobbies, and overall lifestyle.
What Is Simplified-Issue Life Insurance?
Simplified-issue life insurance doesn’t require a medical exam. It is also sometimes called Instant Approval. Instead, you will likely fill out a simple health questionnaire. It is issued very quickly with limited research done by the life insurance company.
Insurance companies usually limit coverage under such a plan to $500,000 or less, so if you’re seeking a high-coverage $1 million plan, you’ll need to consider a different option. Also, the death benefit may be graded — meaning that the full death benefit won’t kick in for a few years. Until then your family will receive only part of the death benefit if you pass away.
The benefit of this type of insurance is that approval is very quick. But it’s important to note that because the insurer has limited information about you, you’ll likely pay a higher premium than you would otherwise.
What Is Guaranteed-Issue Life Insurance?
Guaranteed-Issue life insurance is exactly what it sounds like – life insurance that is guaranteed to be issued no matter what. No health questions or medical exam is required.
However, the coverage is typically very low, perhaps enough to cover funeral costs and not much else. It’s also fairly expensive for the coverage you will receive.
You will not be eligible for the full death benefit until a few years after buying the policy, so if you pass away shortly after receiving the policy, your loved ones may only get a refund of what you have paid into it.
You should consider guaranteed issue coverage if a medical exam might prevent you from obtaining insurance and you want to leave enough funds to your family to cover your final expenses.
Can You Borrow Money from a No-Medical Exam Life Insurance Policy
It depends if you get a term policy or a whole-life policy. Whole life policies allow you to borrow against the cash value. Term policies don’t build a cash value and thus there is nothing to borrow against.
If you are borrowing from your life insurance it’s important to understand how this affects your death benefit. Some policies reduce the death benefit by the amount of the loan. So if you die while you have an outstanding loan your family may not get the full death benefit.
How to Choose the Best Life Insurance Policy for You
There are a few things to consider when deciding on the best life insurance policy. You’ll want to figure out how much coverage you’ll need and for how long. You’ll also want to consider your health situation.
For example, are you young, healthy, and just starting your family? If so, you’ll likely need life insurance for 20 years or more. And since you’re young you probably haven’t had a chance to build up much wealth, so you’ll be relying on life insurance to meet a lot of needs.
In this case, you’ll need a large amount and for a long time. You may want to consider a term policy that does require a medical exam since you’ll likely want to keep costs as low as possible. This will get you the most coverage for the lowest price. And since you’re young and healthy the medical exam will help you get the best price possible.
However, if you are older, have some health issues, and have built up a significant amount of wealth you probably don’t need as much life insurance for as long. In this case, you may want to consider a no-medical exam policy, as it may get you lower rates.
Related: How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?
Life Insurance FAQ
What is Term Life Insurance?
Term life insurance is pretty straightforward: the insurance company provides you coverage for the policy’s fixed duration (term), whether that’s one or 20 years. Term life insurance usually comes in increments of 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years. You pay your premium and if you die within the term your family will receive the death benefit.
Term life insurance policies maintain consistent premium rates throughout the term, so your premium won’t go up or down.
What is Whole Life Insurance?
Whole life insurance lasts for your entire life—from your date of purchase of the policy until your death.
While term life insurance is very straightforward, whole life insurance is much more complicated. There are many types and they all work a little bit differently, but in general, your premium covers the death benefit your family receives when you die and also funds an account called “cash value”. This works as a kind of savings and builds up over time.
Because you are paying for more than just a death benefit whole life insurance is more expensive than term.
Related: Best Whole Life Insurance
Who Is the Policyholder?
The policyholder is the person who bought the life insurance. Typically this is also the person who is being insured.
There are some special cases where you can take life insurance out on someone else, for example, a parent can take a policy out on a child. But in most cases, you can only buy life insurance for yourself.
Who is the Beneficiary?
The beneficiary is the person who will receive the funds if you pass away while the life insurance policy is in place.
You can choose anyone you like, including a trust or charity. You will also be asked to choose a secondary beneficiary in case the primary beneficiary has also passed away.
What is a Death Benefit?
The death benefit is the amount of money your beneficiary will receive if you pass away while the policy is in place.
With term life insurance there is only a death benefit. With whole life, the policy has a death benefit and a cash value.
There are so many different types of life insurance, so don’t worry if you find it a bit confusing. If you want life insurance but think you want to forgo a medical exam because of time constraints or health problems then the list in this article is the best place to start.