Meet Joe and Jane. They represent the average American male and female:
Joe is 5’9″ and weighs 196 pounds.
Jane is 5’4″ and weighs 169 pounds.
And, just like the average American, Joe and Jane are considered overweight.
Joe and Jane need to financially safeguard their loved ones, should something happen to them.
They are concerned that their weight will impact their ability to purchase affordable life insurance coverage.
Here’s some good news – Life insurance is purchased all the time by overweight individuals. In fact, life insurance is regularly purchased by people who weigh quite a bit more than Joe and Jane do.
More good news – No exam life insurance is often an excellent option, making the process of buying life insurance a little less unenjoyable.
It’s incredibly common to be overweight.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
- More than 1 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight.
- More than 2 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity.
- More than 1 in 3 adults were considered to have obesity.
- About 1 in 13 adults were considered to have extreme obesity.
In other words, if you are looking to purchase life insurance and are overweight, you’re not alone.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about purchasing no exam life insurance if you are overweight.
Table Of Contents
Simply put, no exam life insurance is: life insurance issued without the medical examination of the applicant.
Concerning increasing the availability of no exam life insurance, CEO Bob Kerzner of LIMRA (a research and development organization for life insurance) says,
“This is the one thing that every life insurer sees as a major priority.” – MoneyWatch, CBS, How Life Insurers Can Sell You a Policy Without a Doctor’s Visit
Also known as non med and no physical, no exam life insurance is gaining in popularity.
Here’s why –
- Prices are now competitive with their medically underwritten counterparts in many instances
- The application turnaround time can be minutes
- You don’t need to be in perfect health to qualify
The process of purchasing no exam life insurance will look similar to this:
Let’s examine the steps more closely.
1. Partner Up
Your most important first step to purchasing any type of life insurance is to collaborate with an independent life insurance agent.
Why – Independent agents are not held captive to a particular company. They will have your best interest at heart and shop multiple carriers to find the best policy to fit your needs.
2. Electronic Application
In most circumstances, your application will be submitted online. That means you can skip the cumbersome paperwork and snail mail. An electronic application reduces turnaround time and streamlines the process.
You will work with your independent agent to submit your application.
3. Phone Interview
Next up will be your phone interview. Expect a conversation lasting around 20 – 30 minutes.
You will be asked questions about:
- Your birthdate, height, weight
- Medical history
- For example, has your weight caused health complications?
- Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea
- For example, has your weight caused health complications?
- The medical history of close, blood-related family members
Keep in mind – In order for your application to be processed quickly, be upfront and organized during your phone interview.
4. Database Checks
Technology, via databases, is a primary reason no exam life insurance is becoming increasingly available.
Underwriters (their job is to assess risk) will likely review your:
- Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)
- They will especially for looking for a history of DUI (driving under the influence) or reckless driving citations
- Pharmacy history
- Medical Information Bureau (MIB)
- An online report of previous insurance applications
5. Application Decision
Based on your application, phone interview, and database checks, you will receive a life insurance application decision.
Usually, the decision will be one of three things:
- Approved as applied
- This is a best-case scenario. You are approved for the life insurance policy you applied for.
- Further information is required
- Sometimes, and it depends on the carrier, your application will require further information.
- For example, let’s say you are currently taking an antidepressant. The underwriter may want to know the reason for the prescription, how long you have been taking the medication, if you have experienced any side effects, etc.
- Sometimes, and it depends on the carrier, your application will require further information.
- Declined as applied
- You were not approved for the life insurance policy you applied for. Take heart, though. A policy decline isn’t the end of the road. It’s possible you could be approved for a different policy and/or be approved with a different company.
- There are plenty of life insurance options available.
Bottom line – There’s never been a better time to purchase no exam life insurance. Plan on a simple, straightforward process.
1. No Exam
Whether or not you have white coat syndrome (anxiety in a medical environment), most of us would like to avoid being poked with a needle and providing (ahem)… liquid samples.
If you purchase no exam life insurance, you will skip:
- Meeting a paramedical examiner in person
- Being poked with a needle
- Blood pressure readings
- Providing a urine sample
2. Quick Approval
Your application turnaround time can have weeks shaved off of it if you purchase no exam life insurance. In fact, some carriers provide an approval within minutes.
Besides peace of mind, there are other circumstances where you need to secure life insurance quickly:
3. Term Life Insurance
By definition, term life insurance is life insurance that pays a benefit in the event of the death of the insured during a specified term.
There are plenty of no exam term life insurance options.
Term life policy owners typically purchase life insurance for an amount of time that will last as long as their beneficiaries will need financial protection.
Common milestones for financial protection include the number of years before the policy owner retires and/or the number of years before the beneficiaries are financially independent.
Popular term lengths: 10, 15, 20 and 30 years.
4. Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance, which is life insurance that pays a benefit in the event of the death of the insured, is also available without a medical examination requirement.
Also known as permanent life insurance, whole life lasts your whole life, as long as your policy is in good order and premium payments are up to date.
While your premiums will be more expensive than a term life policy, some policy owners choose whole life for the peace of mind, knowing that their life insurance coverage will not end.
5. Overweight = Okay
A number of no exam life insurance carriers have fairly lenient underwriting for height/weight measurements. In fact, you can still qualify for affordable rates, even if you are overweight.
Typically, life insurance carriers use height/weight build charts that are based on the Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following example for someone who is 5’9″ to gauge how the BMI system works:
In other words, if you are 5’9″ and between 169 – 202 pounds, the BMI system would classify you as overweight. If you weigh more than 202 pounds at 5’9″, you would be classified as obese.
Many experts have criticized the BMI system, citing that the computations are flawed:
It suggests there are distinct categories of underweight, ideal, overweight and obese, with sharp boundaries that hinge on a decimal place. That’s total nonsense. – Keith Devlin, National Public Radio (NPR), Top Ten Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus
Here’s the good news – Many life insurance carriers realize a high number of applicants will have a BMI of 25 or higher and will still offer, typically affordable, life insurance coverage.
For instance, here are a couple sample life insurance quotes for applicants with a BMI classification of overweight, who would have preferred life insurance rates.
No exam life insurance, 10 year term policy, $250,000, Preferred (non-tobacco) rates:
30 year old male, 5′ 10″, 202 lb (BMI 29.0): $13.83/mo
30 year old female, 5’5″, 175 lb (BMI 29.1): $11.51/mo
6. Obese = Often Okay
We’ll need to decipher your exact height and weight to determine whether or not you qualify for no exam life insurance.
Let’s refer back to the BMI. If your BMI is 30 or higher, you would be classified as obese.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) provides the following tables to determine your BMI, based on your height and weight:
BMI of 19 – 35
BMI of 36 – 54
On a positive note – Those with a BMI of 30 or higher are approved for no exam life insurance all the time.
Life insurance carriers have different height/weight charts for underwriting (the process of evaluating risk), and you’ll want to find the carrier that will underwrite you in the most positive light.
Let’s look at a couple sample life insurance quotes for applicants with a BMI classification of obese.
No exam life insurance, 10 year term policy, $250,000, Standard (non-tobacco) rates:
30 year old male, 5′ 10″, 280 lb (BMI 40.2): $27.78/mo
30 year old female, 5’5″, 245 lb (BMI 40.5): $21.88/mo
No exam life insurance, 10 year term policy, $250,000, Table (non-tobacco) rates:
30 year old male, 5′ 10″, 320 lb (BMI 45.9): $51.19/mo
30 year old female, 5’5″, 270 lb (BMI 44.9): $38.11/mo
Note: A Table Rating means that you are approved for life insurance, but will pay a surcharge on your life insurance premiums of somewhere between 20 – 200%
Perfect health is not required for no exam life insurance.
Excess weight is associated with a number of health complications:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
- High blood pressure
Keep in mind that it’s the underwriter’s job to evaluate risk. The more health complications you have, the more you will likely be charged for life insurance coverage. And, each life insurance carrier’s evaluation process is different. One company may view fatty liver more favorably, while another is a good fit for high blood pressure.
Additionally, if it has been a number of years, say two or more, since your last checkup with your doctor, seriously consider no exam life insurance.
It’s possible that something concerning will pop up on your lab work during medical underwriting that you were unaware of (i.e. elevated blood sugar or high cholesterol). Any red flags on your lab work could raise your life insurance premiums (the amount you pay in exchange for life insurance coverage).
At the end of the day, no exam life insurance tends to be a better route for those who have a number of minor health conditions because the underwriting process is less stringent.
8. Won’t Break The Bank
The cost of no exam life insurance, and all life insurance for that matter, is at an all-time low.
Specific to no exam, life insurance carriers are able to lower their prices for a few reasons. In fact, in some instances, the price is highly competitive with medically underwritten policies for the same term and amount.
- Technology, via databases, is replacing the need for medical underwriting for a large percentage of the population
- Life insurance companies are becoming savvy in putting their money to work, earning a larger return on their investments
- Underwriting continues to be fine-tuned (think: assessing mortality rates) and the savings are passed along to you
For example, let’s look at a sample quote for no exam and fully underwritten, for the same amount and length:
Male, age 40, Standard health class, $200,000 term life insurance for 10 years:
In fact, you can see that the no exam (non med) life insurance quote is less than the medically underwritten quote in this instance.
Female, age 40, Standard health class, $200,000 term life insurance for 10 years:
For females, the same quote shows there’s less than a dollar difference between medically underwritten and no exam.
Bottom line – The cost of no exam life insurance is highly competitive with medically underwritten life insurance in many cases.
9. You Have Options
In addition to deciding on the length and amount of your life insurance policy, there are a couple of life insurance options you’ll want to consider before making a purchase.
The two most common features are:
- Policy conversion
Keep in mind, each life insurance carrier has different stipulations concerning if and when you are able to convert your term policy.
Riders are provisions to your life insurance contract that provide additional benefits
A summary of the most popular life insurance riders:
- Accelerated death benefit Provides an option to accelerate a portion of the available death benefit and receive a payment(s) if the insured is diagnosed with a covered illness, which may include critical, chronic, and terminal illnesses.
- What this means – By accelerating your death benefit, you are eligible to receive a portion of your policy’s amount while you are still living (if you become eligible through illness). Physician documentation of illness is typically required for the benefit to begin.
- Accidental death benefit An amount paid to the beneficiary, in addition to the standard policy benefit.
- What this means – Should death occur as a result of an accident (specifically defined in your policy contract), an additional amount will be paid. Keep in mind that there are exclusions (i.e. acts of war, illegal activity, hazardous hobbies) to what will qualify for the accidental death benefit rider.
- Waiver of premium benefit Should you become seriously ill or disabled, the waiver of premium benefit allows you to maintain your life insurance contract without making your premium payments.
- What this means – Often, when a disability or major illness occurs, your employment status is affected and your income decreases. With a waiver of premium rider, you are able to keep your life insurance policy active, and not make premium payments, should you qualify. Keep in mind that you must meet specific requirements to qualify for the waiver of premium to be activated. For example, it’s common for life insurance carriers to require a documented disability for a minimum of 6 months before the waiver of premium is allowed.
Fortunately, there are a number of excellent no exam life insurance carriers. This means you can shop around, with the help of an independent agent, to find the best company and policy to fit your needs.
Think of it this way – Each life insurance company’s underwriting methods are unique. You could say that each carrier has their own niches (think: different risks, like being overweight) that they underwrite favorably. For example, if you are obese, Foresters Life Insurance Company often has competitive no exam rates.
Why this is important – Your weight could place you in a rated health class (higher premiums) with one company and in a standard health class (regular premiums) with another company.
While purchasing life insurance is not quite as easy as shopping on Amazon just yet, the process has been nudged in that direction.
Life insurance without a physical examination is often bought over the phone:
- No tedious paperwork
- No need to leave your house
- No paramedical examiner visiting you
Sample life insurance quotes for overweight (BMI between 25.0 – 29.9) individuals
Sample life insurance quotes for obese (BMI between 30.0 or higher) individuals
Important: Quotes are for informational purposes only. If you have health complications, your ratings could be affected and the cost of your life insurance could increase accordingly.
Overweight individuals purchase no exam life insurance all the time.
Here’s what to consider when deciding what is right for you:
Do I want no exam life insurance?
- Skip needles and nurses
- Secure life insurance coverage quickly
Is there a no exam life insurance policy that would work for my circumstances?
You will want to do two things when you apply for no exam life insurance if you are overweight:
1. Partner with an independent agent
- An independent life insurance agent has your best interest in mind. They aren’t held captive to a particular carrier. That way, they can access the top-rated life insurance companies to find the best policy for you.
- Avoid applying directly with a life insurance company. Let’s say an additional medical condition shows up on your application. That information could then be available to other life insurance companies, via the Medical Information Bureau, and potentially affect future applications.
2. Be ready for the application
- Have your medical, lifestyle, and occupation information readily available.
- Your application is processed fastest when you can answer all interview questions upfront.