Understanding No-Exam Life Insurance: What It Is, How It Works & Who Needs It

There are three types of no-exam life insurance: instant, simplified issue and guaranteed issue. No-exam life insurance may also be referred to as non-medical exam life insurance or life insurance without medical records, offering coverage without blood and urine samples or a physical exam.

While simplified issue and instant answer life insurance usually require answers to health questions, guaranteed issue lets you skip both the health questions and the exam. These convenient life insurance options allow more people to qualify for coverage, even with pre-existing conditions.

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Last Updated: 4/28/2022
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Whether you have pre-existing conditions or are just hesitant to complete a medical exam, you can still get fast and affordable life insurance coverage. No-exam life insurance refers to life insurance that does not require a medical exam to be approved. A no physical life insurance policy is easier to qualify for and is ideal for people with a challenging medical history.

Depending on the no-medical exam policy, you may still have to answer health questions as part of the application. By learning more about the no-exam life insurance process, the benefits, where to buy non-medical exam life insurance and who it’s the best fit for, you can find the right policy for your needs.

Related: Best Life Insurance for Diabetics, Cheapest Life Insurance Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions

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Key Takeaways

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No-exam life insurance can save you time. It is also convenient, offers pandemic safety and covers even the most high-risk individuals.

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Life insurance with no exam required can be more expensive than traditional life insurance since your current health profile is not used to determine the rate.

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If you’re young and healthy, you may get a better life insurance rate if you complete the medical exam instead of getting a no physical life insurance policy.

What Is No-Exam Life Insurance?

No-exam life insurance is a policy that doesn’t require a medical exam or physical. Life insurance with no exam required is an attractive option for some people and usually is easier and faster to get than life insurance using traditional methods.

If you want to buy no-exam life insurance, you can choose between non-medical term insurance and no medical whole life insurance. A simplified issue or instant life insurance policy typically asks health questions, but no exam is required. You can also get guaranteed life insurance with no medical questions or exams, often called guaranteed issue or guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance

Related: Best Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance Companies.

Medical Exams: A Brief Overview

A life insurance medical exam consists of a physical with health questions and blood pressure, height, weight, blood and urine sample assessments. This exam can be performed at a doctor's office or by a nurse in your home or office.

Life insurers use medical exams to assess your mortality risk and overall health, which also helps determine your premium. Not all insurers require an exam, and certain people — like the young and healthy — can bypass the exam because they have a low mortality risk. Here are the factors life insurers look at when assessing your health.

  • Detail
    Description
  • Height
    Used with weight to determine whether you are a healthy weight for your height
  • Weight
    Used with height to determine if you are overweight based on insurance company guidelines
  • Blood Pressure
    Checked to see if you’re at risk for heart disease or other health concerns that could increase your mortality risk
  • Pulse
    Checked to see that your heart is functioning with no irregularities that could indicate heart issues
  • Blood Sample
    Blood is screened for a host of health concerns such as HIV/AIDS, high blood sugar, liver or kidney issues and other health factors
  • Urine Sample
    Urine is processed to check for nicotine, drugs and abnormal levels of hemoglobin, red and white blood cells, bilirubin, glucose and creatinine

Life insurers use medical exams to help them price your policy appropriately. The greater your chances of dying before your life expectancy, the more likely the insurance company will have to pay your death benefit sooner, and the higher your premiums will be.

Besides health issues, smoking is one of the primary health concerns that drive up life insurance premiums. Life insurance for smokers can cost as much as three times what a nonsmoker will pay for the same coverage.

While a medical exam is helpful for the insurance company, it can be tedious and feel invasive to the customer. They are also sometimes a waste of time, especially with many no-exam life insurance options available.

What Are the Benefits of No-Exam Life Insurance?

While it may not be for everyone, life insurance that does not require a medical exam has its benefits.

1

It saves time.

The traditional method of buying life insurance with a medical exam can take weeks from the time you apply to getting a decision. If a physician’s statement is required, it can take even longer. When you buy life insurance without a medical exam, you can often get an instant decision or only have to wait a few days.

2

It covers even the most at-risk people.

People with high-risk medical issues or risk factors in their personal history like DUIs can find it challenging to get approved going the traditional route. No matter how risky you are, you can be approved for life insurance without a medical exam.

3

It's convenient.

If you lead a busy life or just have a lot on your plate, setting aside time to complete a medical exam for life insurance can be inconvenient. No-exam life insurance allows you to skip that step while still getting the coverage you need.

4

It's safer.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting most of the country, the safest place to avoid the virus is your home. When you buy no-exam life insurance, you can stay home and skip having to see a medical professional in an in-office setting.

Though there are benefits to buying life insurance without an exam, it has some disadvantages. Simplified issue life insurance is more expensive when you forego the medical exam because your cost is not based on your personal risk.

Buying life insurance without questions, commonly referred to as guaranteed issue insurance, is the most expensive option available. You may also be limited regarding how much coverage you can buy and which carrier you can use if you purchase life insurance that does not require medical history.

Types of No-Exam Life Insurance Policies

You have three options when choosing non-medical exam life insurance. You can get a no physical life insurance policy or guaranteed life insurance without medical questions or exams. As you can see in the table below, each policy type has different underwriting criteria or none at all.

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  • Policy Type
    No Medical Exam
    Accelerated Underwriting
    No Health Questions
  • Instant Life Insurance
  • Simplified Issue Life Insurance
  • Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance

Instant life insurance is gaining popularity because it doesn’t require a medical exam, and you get an instant decision. This type of life insurance uses accelerated underwriting, or data technology, to check medical databases and motor vehicle records to determine your risk.

This method can make your price more competitive than simplified issue, which doesn’t typically use risk factors but does ask health questions. With guaranteed issue insurance, you are guaranteed to be accepted. Therefore, you get instant approval, but at the highest cost.

Types of life insurance that don’t require a medical exam

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Instant Life Insurance
  • Insurance coverage in minutes
  • Most often term life, but can be whole life
  • Most companies cap at $1 million
  • Uses AI to check relevant databases to determine your risk
  • Maximum age is typically capped at 60
  • Not available in all states
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Simplified Issue Life Insurance
  • Insurance decision within 48 hours
  • Health questions are asked on application to determine risk
  • Can be term or whole life
  • Coverage starts at $2,000 and can be $100,000 or more
  • Better rates than guaranteed issue
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Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance
  • Everyone eligible to apply is approved
  • No health questions required
  • Coverage is capped at $50,000
  • Limited carrier options
  • Typically only whole life is offered

Instant answer life insurance is often confused with simplified issue. However, instant answer can often be cheaper than simplified issue because your risk factors can be more clearly defined. Some simplified issue policies offer an instant decision, but others take a day or two to make a decision. Guaranteed issue is a great option for high-risk and unhealthy individuals, but comes at the highest cost and with low coverage.

Compare Life Insurance Rates

Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

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How Does No-Exam Life Insurance Work?

With no-exam life insurance, you bypass the medical exam used in the traditional life insurance process. Instead, you apply for coverage, answer a few health questions depending on the policy type and receive a decision. Once you’ve been approved and paid your first premium, your life insurance policy is in force.

An instant life insurance application asks health questions similar to a traditional life insurance application. The company uses third-party data and algorithmic technology to check motor vehicle and medical databases instead of using a medical exam to determine your risk. With this method, instant life insurance rates can be similar to fully underwritten life insurance policies.

Depending on the carrier, you typically have to answer a few health questions to get simplified issue life insurance, but not as many as an instant answer policy requires. With fewer personal and health data points to determine risk, simplified issue insurance is usually more expensive and may limit how much coverage you can buy.

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance is the easiest and fastest to get, but also the most expensive and with the lowest coverage options. There are no health questions on the application, only personal information like your name, address and beneficiary. All applicants are based on the same risk, so your age, gender and coverage amount determine the cost.

Who Should Get No-Exam Life Insurance?

Life insurance with no exam required may not be ideal for everyone. If you need a high amount of coverage or want to keep costs within a specific budget, it may not be the right fit. Consider the table below to determine who should get each type of no-exam life insurance.

  • Policy Type
    Best For:
  • Instant Life
    Insurance

    • Very young and healthy individuals
    • People who need coverage quickly
    • Individuals with a clean driving record
      who are not on medications
  • Simplified Issue
    Life Insurance

    • Older people
    • People with health concerns
    • Smokers with other health ailments
  • Guaranteed Acceptance
    Life Insurance

    • Seniors with serious health issues
    • Seniors needing coverage for funeral and
      final expenses
    • People who have been turned down by other
      life insurance methods

Companies With No-Exam Life Insurance

If you’re interested in buying life insurance that does not require a medical exam, you have several companies to choose from. More companies offer no-exam life insurance than included in the table below, but these stand out as some of the best.

1

Haven: Best Overall Online Life Insurance Company (Instant)

Haven Life has some of the best rates for instant term life insurance up to $500,000. Individuals between 20 and 55 can apply for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years in coverage. Haven Simple's policy lives up to its name with an easy application process and instant decision once submitted. The healthiest applicants can purchase up to $3 million in coverage without a medical

2

Ethos: Best Value for the Money (Instant)

Ethos uses a detailed application process in place of a medical exam to offer competitive pricing on term life insurance. For less healthy applicants, Ethos has a simplified issue application process. You can apply for up to $1.5 million if you’re between the ages of 20 and 64. Most applicants receive a decision in minutes.

3

Sproutt: Best if You Are Healthy and Active (Instant)

Sproutt is a broker, using a detailed questionnaire to assess your health and provide you with a list of companies most likely to approve your application. Individuals between 18 and 60 can apply for up to $4 million in term life insurance through Sproutt's recommended carriers. Your answers to health and lifestyle questions will determine if you qualify for coverage with or without a medical exam.

4

Bestow: Best for Easy Application (Instant)

Bestow offers an easy, 100% digital application process to apply for up to $1.5 million in term life coverage. Most applications will be approved within 10 minutes. Green card holders are eligible to apply. Applicants should be 18–60 looking for 10–30 years in term life coverage. You must be in generally good health and never convicted of a felony to be eligible.

5

Fabric: Best for Online Life Insurance with No Medical Exam (Instant)

Get a quote in about a minute with Fabric and get approved in 10 minutes or less. Individuals aged 17–60 can apply for up to $1.5 million in term life coverage without a medical exam. Users can also apply using Fabric’s app, and everyone is eligible to create a free will on Fabric’s platform.

6

Ladder: Best for Unique Policy Options & High Coverage (Instant)

Ladder offers up to $3 million in term life insurance coverage without a medical exam. The application takes just a few minutes, using technology to determine your price once complete. Insureds can increase or decrease coverage as needed when life circumstances change. With Ladder, your current age plus the length of the term you choose cannot exceed 70 years to be eligible to apply.

7

MetLife: Best for High Coverage (Guaranteed Acceptance)

MetLife offers up to $50,000 in guaranteed whole life insurance. Issue ages are 45–80, and you can only apply through MetLife advisors. If you die from a non-accidental death in the first two years, your beneficiary receives a graded death benefit, which means your premiums are returned plus 10% interest instead of the full death benefit.

8

New York Life: Best Reputation & Communication (Guaranteed Acceptance)

AARP members can apply for up to $25,000 in guaranteed life insurance through New York Life. Like MetLife, there is a limited death benefit for the first two years if you die a non-accidental death. You can get a quote online, but you have to apply by mail. Seniors between the ages of 50 and 80 are eligible to apply.

Compare Life Insurance Rates

Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

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Insurance Rates

Frequently Asked Questions

Though non-medical exam life insurance can be easier to understand for some, there are still aspects that can be confusing. By understanding the answers to some common questions about life insurance that does not require medical history information, you can best determine if this type of policy is right for you.

About the Author


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Mandy Sleight is a professional freelance writer and licensed insurance agent. She has her property, casualty, life, and health licenses and has been working in the industry since 2005. Mandy has worked for well-known insurance companies like State Farm and Nationwide Insurance, and most recently as the Operations Coordinator for a start-up employee benefits company.

Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Baltimore and her Master in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She uses her vast knowledge of the insurance industry and personal finance combined with her writing background to create easy-to-understand and engaging content to help readers make smarter choices with their budget and finances.