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Life can be complicated, so when you find a way to simplify the complex — especially for something as important as buying life insurance — it’s only natural to be curious.

Many companies today offer life insurance with no medical exam as a fast and non-invasive way to get the protection you need. Like most things in life, though, there can be benefits and limits that you need to consider before choosing a product.

What is no-exam life insurance?

As the name implies, no-exam life insurance can issue a policy to you without needing a medical exam, drastically reducing what can sometimes be a lengthy ordeal, which can include lab work and a long application.

Historically, life insurance providers have required a medical exam to help give the insurance company a better picture of your health. This process includes collecting data such as:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood and urine samples
  • Possibly an EKG

How does no-exam life insurance work?

As part of an ongoing trend to reduce the amount of time to purchase a policy, life insurers have used technological advances to make decisions faster. Each policy is based on an evaluation of age, health, and other risk factors. Today’s no-exam policies are able to substitute the in-person medical exam results with data including:

  • Questionnaire responses
  • Medical and prescription history
  • Previous life insurance application history
  • Lifestyle risks, including driving history or activities such as skydiving

Different insurers offer different product specifications and pricing based on a combination of these factors.

Types of no-exam life insurance policies

Three types of no-exam life insurance are available, each with their own unique benefits and limits.

Accelerated underwriting

Companies that offer accelerated underwriting policies use the data you provide, as well as third-party data and algorithms, to decide if they should offer you coverage or not.

  • Benefits: They offer the convenience of offering the healthiest individuals bypass the medical exam. 
  • Limitations: Eligibility for accelerated underwriting often decreases with age. 

Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue life insurance is a type of policy that does not require a medical exam and involves a fairly short application. It is intended for people who want fast coverage, without a complicated underwriting process. While it may be more expensive than policies through accelerated underwriting, it can be a suitable option for people who have health concerns or need instant coverage.

  • Benefits: For simplified life insurance, there are typically fewer questions to answer, and fewer resources used to collect your data.
  • Limitations: Because the company has less information to go on, you’ll likely end up paying more for your insurance. Simplified life insurance policies also have lower coverage limits that you’ll need to be aware of prior to applying.

Nationwide offers a simplified issue whole life policy for existing auto or home members, but does not offer a simplified issue term life policy.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Guaranteed issue policies are often whole life policies used to cover funeral or final expenses. Because they are not based on a person’s health or other risk factors, pricing can be much higher.

  • Benefits: With guaranteed issue life insurance, you’re guaranteed coverage, as the name suggests. There is no exam and there are no questions to answer, with age generally being the only restriction.
  • Limitations: These policies offer very limited coverage (typically about $25,000) and will cost much more than traditional life insurance.

Nationwide does not offer a guaranteed issue life insurance product.

Types of no-exam life insurance Benefits Limitations
Accelerated underwriting Fast
Competitive rates
Eligibility often decreases with age
Simplified issue Fast
Higher rates
Limited coverage amounts
Guaranteed issue You can’t be turned down Expensive
Limited coverage amounts

How much does no medical exam life insurance cost?

In most cases, a fully underwritten or accelerated life insurance policy will be the best price for healthy shoppers. The more information an insurer can gather on an individual, the more tailored the resulting price will be.

Since simplified issue policies collect less information than fully underwritten policies, pricing tends to be higher and has coverage amounts $1 million or lower.

A guaranteed issue policy may be the only option for people that with certain medical conditions or insurance risks, so the higher price may be worth the coverage depending on the need. In addition, you may frequently find maximum coverage amounts of $25,000 or lower.

Is no-exam life insurance right for you?

As more and more companies offer coverage (especially term life) with no medical exam, you gain more control over how long the process will take and how invasive it’ll be. While each type of no-exam life insurance has its benefits, they also have limits to consider.

Knowing how much coverage you need, how much you want to pay and how long you’re willing to wait for coverage will help you choose the best type of life insurance product to meet your needs.

Nationwide Life Essentials is a no-exam term life insurance policy offering instant coverage up to $1.5 million for qualified applicants. Get an online quote or discuss your life insurance needs today.

Please note that this article is meant to educate and clarify some of the terms used by life insurance companies. Nationwide offers an accelerated underwriting process on Nationwide Life Essentials and Nationwide Guaranteed Level Term. Nationwide offers a Simplified Whole Life product for existing Nationwide auto and homeowner’s insurance members. Nationwide does not offer a guaranteed issue life insurance product.

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[1] “No Medical Exam Life Insurance Explained,” Georgia Rose, Nerdwallet (April 20, 2022).