There are several ways to buy life insurance with no medical exam. The main differences are in price, the amount of life insurance you can buy, and what kind of personal information insurers will use.

Many people like the convenience of buying life insurance that doesn’t require an exam. It’s a faster process, and some people are worried about health issues turning up in a life insurance exam. But in general, if you are healthy or even have a couple minor health issues, buying life insurance with an exam can mean cheaper life insurance.

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Life insurance with no medical exam

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Summary: You can't be turned down for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. There are no medical exams or questions asked.

What to know: Maximum available policy amounts for guaranteed issue life insurance could be as little as $25,000 or $100,000. You'll usually pay a lot for the convenience of having no exam or questions. These policies are generally for people over age 45 or 50, and up to age 85, who think they'd be turned down for a policy that requires a life insurance medical exam.

If you have some health issues, don't assume you'll be turned down for life insurance with an exam and rush into a guaranteed issue policy. Have an independent insurance agent run some quotes for you.

Graded death benefits: Guaranteed issue policies typically don't pay out the full death benefit to beneficiaries until at least a couple years into the policy.

For example, if you die within one or two years of owning the policy, it might pay out 110% of the premiums you paid, not the full face amount of the policy. If you die due to an accident within the first two years, such as a car crash, it may pay out the full face amount. Then in year three and after it can pay out the full face amount if you die from any cause.

Simplified issue life insurance

Summary: Simplified issue life insurance applications ask a few questions but have no exam. If you answer yes to any of the questions you'll likely be declined. Questions vary by company but can include topics such as:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you reside in a nursing home?
  • Are you currently receiving health care at home?
  • Have you ever tested positive for HIV or been diagnosed with HIV?
  • Have you ever tested positive or been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, cirrhosis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?
  • In the past 24 months have you been diagnosed as having or advised by a physician to have treatment for cancer (other than basel cell carcinoma), heart attack, stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack), alcohol or drug abuse?

What to know: Simplified issue policies are usually less expensive than guaranteed issue life insurance, but still pricey. You generally won't be able to buy a lot of coverage this way. The maximum policy amount might be $500,000 or much less, depending on the company.

Accelerated underwriting life insurance

Summary: Accelerated underwriting policies let you skip a medical exam and get a policy faster. They can usually offer better pricing than guaranteed issue policies because they use personal information, including medical information, that the insurer receives from third-party sources.

What to know: The life insurance company will pull a variety of information about you, which can include:

  • Answers to past questions on individual life and health insurance applications, from MIB Group.
  • Prescription drug history from a pharmaceutical database.
  • Motor vehicle record.
  • Credit history.
  • Public records (criminal history, bankruptcies, liens, home ownership, professional licenses).
  • Health information, by contacting medical professionals and institutions that have provided care to you.

Poor health could be a hurdle to getting no-exam life insurance with accelerated underwriting. The insurer might still ask for an exam if it needs more information about your health

If you're interested in buying a policy with accelerated underwriting, ask an independent life insurance agent to get quotes from companies that offer it.

Instant, online term life insurance

Summary: A newer way to buy no-exam life insurance is by using a company such as Haven Life or Ladder that offers instant approval and a process that can be entirely online. It's possible to get a policy in 10 or 20 minutes, especially if you’re younger than 60 and healthy.

These “fully underwritten” policies can offer competitive pricing because they use medical and personal information, and an algorithm that calculates price.

What to know: These companies will quickly calculate a premium based on personal data pulled from MIB, your motor vehicle report, prescription drug databases and other sources. You could still be asked to do a medical exam if the company wants more information or you request a high amount of coverage.

Policies are available up to $8 million, depending on the company.

Group life insurance through work

Summary: Group life insurance is an easy way to get life insurance with no medical exam, and it’s offered by many employers. There's no exam or application for group life, and you can't be turned down. It's also usually a very inexpensive way to buy life insurance.

What to know: Amounts can be very limited, and might be only equal to one year of salary. Some employers offer the option to buy supplemental group life. This typically requires an application but is also an inexpensive way to buy life insurance. The downside is that you lose the coverage if you leave the job.