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No-Exam Life Insurance: How It Works & Who Needs It

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Updated: Nov 23, 2023
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Whether you have pre-existing conditions or are 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 for approval. 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.

Key Takeaways

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No-exam life insurance can save you time. It's convenient 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 non-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 acceptance life insurance with no medical questions or exams, often called guaranteed issue or guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance.

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. Your life insurance policy is in effect once you're approved and you pay your first premium.

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 a medical exam to determine your risk. This method allows instant life insurance rates to 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.

Life Insurance Medical Exams: A Brief Overview

A life insurance medical exam consists of a physical with health questions about blood pressure, height, weight, and blood and urine sample assessments. A doctor or a nurse in your home or office can conduct the exam.

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.



Used with weight to determine whether you are a healthy weight for your height


Used with height to determine if you are overweight based on insurance company guidelines

Blood Pressure

Determines if you’re at risk for heart disease or other health concerns that could increase your mortality risk


Checked to see that your heart is functioning with no irregularities that could indicate heart issues

Blood Sample

Blood tests screen 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, 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. Exams can waste time, especially with many no-exam life insurance options available.

Types of No-Exam Life Insurance Policies

You have three options when choosing non-medical exam life insurance. You can get a no-physical 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.

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 a simplified policy, which doesn’t typically use risk factors but does ask health questions. With guaranteed issue insurance, your provider will accept you regardless of any health issues. 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 60
  • Not available in all states
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Simplified Issue Life Insurance
  • Insurance decision within 48 hours
  • Health questions are asked on the application to determine your 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 are required
  • $50,000 coverage cap
  • Limited carrier options
  • Insurers typically only offer whole life

Instant answer life insurance is often confused with simplified issue. However, an instant answer policy can often be cheaper than a 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. A guaranteed issue policy is an excellent option for high-risk and unhealthy individuals but comes at the highest cost and with low coverage.

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Who Should Get No-Exam Life Insurance?

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

Policy Type
Best For:

Instant Life

  • 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 funerals and
    final expenses
  • People who have been turned down by other
    life insurance methods

Pros and Cons of No-Exam Life Insurance

No medical exam life insurance allows you to secure life insurance coverage without completing a medical exam. While it offers certain advantages, it's not without its drawbacks. Here's a look at the pros and cons of this type of insurance.


  • Speedy Approval: 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.
  • Ease and Comfort: You don't need a medical check-up to get coverage, making the process of getting life insurance less intrusive and more comfortable.
  • Coverage for Those with Health Issues: People with high-risk medical issues or risk factors in their personal history, like DUIs, can find getting approved via the traditional route challenging. No matter how risky you are, you can purchase life insurance without a medical exam.


  • Higher Premiums: Insurers often charge higher premiums for these policies to offset the risk of not having a full medical history. For instance, buying life insurance without questions, commonly called guaranteed issue insurance, is the most expensive option.
  • Limited Coverage Amounts: The coverage amounts are typically lower than those traditional life insurance policies offer. You may also be limited in how much coverage you can buy and which carrier you can use if you purchase life insurance that does not require medical history.
  • Possible Rejection: Insurers may reject applications based on health information disclosed in the application process despite no medical exam.

Where to Get No-Exam Life Insurance

You can purchase no-exam life insurance from a variety of sources, including traditional insurance companies, online insurers and insurance brokers. Many insurance companies offer no-exam options alongside their traditional policies. Online insurers specialize in streamlined, digital-first experiences, often making the process faster and more convenient. Insurance brokers can provide quotes from multiple insurers, helping you compare options.

When choosing a company for no-exam coverage, consider the insurer's reputation, financial stability and customer service. Look for companies with high ratings from independent agencies like AM Best, which assesses financial strength, or J.D. Power, known for customer satisfaction ratings.

Also, consider the specifics of the policy. While no-exam policies are convenient, they often come with higher premiums and lower coverage limits. Some may also have waiting periods before full benefits apply.

Be sure to be honest in your application. Insurers may access medical records or other databases even without a medical exam. Misrepresentation could lead to policy cancellation or denial of a claim.

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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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Frequently Asked Questions

Some aspects of non-medical exam life insurance 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.

Experts Advice on Finding No-Exam Life Insurance

  1. What advice would you give someone considering a no-exam policy versus a traditional fully underwritten life insurance policy?
  2. How does a no-exam policy compare to traditional fully underwritten life insurance policies in terms of cost, coverage and application process?
  3. What are the pros and cons of no-exam life insurance?
  4. How do I know if a no-exam life insurance is right for me?
  5. How can one increase the likelihood of approval for a no-exam life insurance policy?
Kevin Knauss
Kevin Knauss

Independent Health Insurance Agent at Insure Me Kevin

Marcus P. Miller, CFP®
Marcus P. Miller, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner and Financial Advisor at Mainstay Capital

About Mandy Sleight, Licensed Insurance Agent

Mandy Sleight, Licensed Insurance Agent headshot

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

Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Baltimore and her Master of 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 budgets and finances.