No Medical Exam Term Life Insurance: What’s the Catch?

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020

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While it’s not the most exciting task on your to-do list, buying life insurance might be one of the most important. Even a small policy to pay for last expenses can be a huge help to your beneficiaries. More coverage can pay off the mortgage and your kids’ college tuition.

Still, 43% of Americans don’t have life insurance coverage at all. There are many reasons for this — a lengthy process, affordability, lack of education, etc. — but a big one is the medical exam. People don’t want it.

Insurance companies have noticed. Today, you can shop for a term life policy without a medical exam online. Same type of coverage, different application process. Sounds perfect, right? 

The truth is, getting a term life policy without a medical exam isn’t necessarily easy, nor is it for everyone. 

How Does No-Exam Term Life Insurance Work?

Term life insurance with and without a medical exam works the same way. The difference is in the application. Both must go through the underwriting process to determine whether the insurance company can offer you a life insurance policy and for how much. 

For fully-underwritten policies (term life with a medical exam), you may have to complete questionnaires, provide physician’s statements, undergo a medical exam, and lab tests. These extra measures may seem tedious, but these policies often tend to be the most affordable.

People assume “no medical exam” term life to mean “no medical questions asked.” That’s not the case. These types of policies just go through other types of underwriting. Simplified-issue, accelerated, and algorithmic are only a few names you’ll see. They use third-party data vendors to check things like your medical and prescription history, financial history, driving history, and more. 

But here’s the thing: Although no-exam policies are advertised as such, you may find that you still need to undergo the medical exam for a no-exam policy! If your medical or prescription history raises some concerns, the insurance company may require a medical exam to make a better assessment. 

Insurance is about risk. If you’re seen as a low-risk individual to insure, you can expect lower rates. If you’re high risk, you’ll either pay more or get declined for coverage. And the more information available during underwriting, the more confident insurance companies feel about insuring you.

Is No Medical Exam Term Life Insurance Right for You?

Underwriting for a term life policy without a medical exam is pretty strict. Generally speaking, you have a good chance of qualifying if you meet these three criteria:

  • You’re in general good health (few or no pre-existing conditions).
  • You’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s or 50’s (sometimes early 60s).
  • You need less than $1 million in coverage. 

However, keep in mind that your health is part of the picture. There are other non-health-related reasons (like bankruptcy) that may prevent you from qualifying for a no-exam policy. 

And be honest on your application. You may think you’re clever, but companies these days have access to data that can be verified in milliseconds. LexisNexis, MIB, and driving history reports are just a few examples. They can even confirm whether you’ve been a tobacco user, among other things.

Not only that, but there is also the contestability period to consider. It’s the two-year period after buying the policy that gives your insurance company the right to investigate your death and see whether you provided false information on your application. If so, they could deny the claim. Don’t do that to your loved ones!

Pros and Cons of Buying Term Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam

If you’re a great candidate for a no-exam term life policy, then the choice really comes down to personal preference.

Pros Cons
  • Fast application process
  • Affordable (compared to products like whole life)
  • No medical exams or lab tests
  • Buy completely online
  • Stricter underwriting makes it harder to qualify
  • The coverage amount is limited
  • Can cost more than traditional term life
  • May require medical exam anyway


Would you rather save time (and stop further procrastination), knowing that you may be paying a higher premium throughout the term? Or would you rather go through the lengthier, in-depth underwriting process and try to get the lowest rate possible?

Do you need a lot of coverage to help your family pay the mortgage, living expenses, and tuition? Or do you need just a small amount to cover funeral expenses and a maybe little more?

Whatever you choose, make sure you select a life insurance company with high ratings. You want a company with a strong financial outlook. After all, they need to be around for a long time if you’re buying a policy to last the next decade or more.

Bottom Line

Don’t let a medical exam stop you from getting life insurance. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Whether you choose to go with no-exam term life or traditional, the most important thing is to get covered.

Tim Bain

Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites. You can find him on Twitter.

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