We often have people asking us if they can buy life insurance without needing to get a medical exam done. You have some options in this scenario, but for many applicants, a medical exam will be needed. However, a medical exam isn’t as bad as you might think. Let’s talk about the medical exam and the options you have if you want to avoid one at all costs.
Why a Life Insurance Medical Exam Isn’t So Bad
First of all, know that you do not need to pay for this medical exam. Nor does it go through your health insurance. This cost is absorbed by the life insurance company and will be completed free of charge to you.
Second, the medical exam doesn’t have to be inconvenient. Understandably, you may associate a medical exam with pure inconvenience. When you go to the doctor, it’s not unusual to sit in the waiting room surrounded by people coughing for over 30 minutes. And then again sit in the exam room reading a magazine from two years ago waiting for over 30 minutes.
However, when it’s time to get a life insurance medical exam, the examiner comes to you. After you apply for life insurance, the examiner’s office will contact you to set up the appointment. You choose the time and place that is most convenient for you. Most people have the examiner come to their home, but they can also meet you at your office, or you can choose to go into one of their facilities.
What to Expect During the Life Insurance Medical Exam
A life insurance medical exam lasts 15-45 minutes depending on the services needed. The medical exam consists of recording your height and weight measurements, blood pressure, and pulse. The exam will also include getting blood and urine samples. Depending on your age and the amount of insurance you’re applying for, occasionally an EKG and/or cognitive testing will be required (the average applicant is not required to do these tests).
The results of your medical exam are only sent to the insurance company. They are not sold or even shown to your life insurance agent.
How to Avoid a Life Insurance Medical Exam
If you want term life insurance, SBLI (The Savings Bank Mutual Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts) is the only life insurance company we work with that offers a 100% guaranteed no exam policy if you’re 60 years old or younger and looking for $750,000 or less in coverage.
This does not mean that your health history is not taken into account or that medical records aren’t reviewed. In fact, skipping the medical exam means the insurance company will probably pull even more records to get a better grasp of your risk level. Applying for an SBLI term life insurance policy allows you to skip a medical exam but the approval process will likely take much longer, as they will need to determine your medical risk in other ways.
What about guaranteed acceptance life insurance?
There are guaranteed issue life insurance policies that do not require an exam. These are the products you often see on television talking about guaranteed acceptance.
These policies do not require any medical exams for approval. These policies don’t even require you to answer medical questions.
There’s a catch though. Guaranteed issue products have very high premiums with lower coverage options.
There is also typically a two-year waiting period with these policies. This waiting period begins the day your policy is placed inforce. So, if you were to die within the first two years (by any cause other than an accident), the death benefit will not be paid to your beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries will only receive a refund of the premiums you’ve paid.
What about accelerated underwriting?
Some life insurance companies have taken part in a new process called accelerated underwriting. These companies will take your health and lifestyle information and run it through a database that determines if your risk requires a medical exam. If you pass the test, you could skip the exam and get your policy approved in days.
The downside to accelerated underwriting is the newness of this process. Life insurance companies are still testing its long-term success and therefore can’t allow all eligible applicants to go through accelerated underwriting. You won’t know until after you apply and the insurance company reviews your application if you’re accepted for accelerated underwriting and can skip the exam.
See what you’d pay for life insurance
To wrap up, let’s review some reasons why skipping the life insurance medical exam may not make sense for you.
Your medical history still matters.
If you’re hoping to keep a medical condition secret, know that your medical history will still come into play even without an exam. A life insurance policy that doesn’t require a medical exam must nonetheless be approved by the insurance company’s underwriters.
That means that the insurance provider will access some medical information about every potential policyholder. Regardless if an exam is completed or not, the insurance company will request records from your doctors, use data from a report by the Medical Information Bureau, and do a prescription check to help them determine what type of risk they are undertaking by insuring you.
You may pay more.
If you want to buy a policy that avoids a medical exam, know that your premiums will most likely be higher. That’s because the insurance company’s underwriters will have to estimate their financial risk in providing you with coverage—without all of the details that a comprehensive medical exam would provide.
Your death benefit options are limited.
The death benefit that your loved ones will be able to receive upon your passing will most likely be less than that offered by a policy that requires an exam. Many no-exam and accelerated underwriting policies offer a maximum $1,000,000 in coverage.
Don’t Let a Medical Exam Stop You from Applying
Regardless of whether or not you’ll be able to skip a medical exam, there is a reason you’re looking into buying life insurance. Don’t let the possibility of having to spend 30 minutes with a life insurance medical examiner stop you from applying for life insurance. You can find great term life insurance quotes with or without a medical exam easily online.
Starting with our life insurance needs calculator, you can find out how much coverage makes sense for your family. This will take mere seconds and won’t require you to fill out any forms or talk to any financial advisors (unless you want to!).
You’ll then be able to click through to our free (and also anonymous) term life insurance quotes tool to get customized quotes based on how much coverage you want to purchase. Just adjust the slider to see how much your premiums would go up or down based on your coverage amount.
Then you’ll have the option to answer a few short questions and get a range of customized quotes from leading life insurance companies. You’ll be able to complete your online application in less than five minutes.
After you apply, your dedicated Quotacy agent will review all of the information you’ve provided to see if any of your health or lifestyle history, which no online quoting tool is sophisticated enough to take into account, will have any impact on the quotes you saw online. Your agent will also ensure that you are matched with the company that can offer you the lowest premiums for your situation and will provide options to you if a different company than the one you originally chose online will be a better fit. Once you and your agent determine how you would like to proceed, they will help you through the application process and keep you updated every step of the way as your application moves through the buying process.
» Learn more: How to Prepare for Your Life Insurance Medical Exam
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.