How Long Does It Take to Get Life Insurance?

By Jeff Rose on 17 July 2013 (Updated 14 August 2013) 2 comments

Tick tock, tick tock. How's long it going to take? I've got places to be.

A common question I get about getting life insurance is, "How long does it take? I've got so many things going on with my family and my job that I want to go through the simplest way possible to get life insurance coverage."

If you're wondering how long it takes, let's take a look.

When getting life insurance coverage, first realize that you have two different routes you can go. You can get a traditional term policy that is fully underwritten, meaning that you're going to get a medical exam, or you can go the non-medical approach. We'll take a look at both of these and see how long the process actually takes.

Traditional Term Life Insurance Policies

After you figure out how much life insurance you need, you'll get your quote online and, if it's within your budget, you'll do the phone interview where they'll ask you some basic medical questions. At the end of that phone interview, they'll schedule a traveling nurse to come to your home at a time that is convenient for you. They'll do a quick blood and urine sample, then forward the results to the life insurance company. If something comes up in the phone interview or in your blood and urine tests, they will then request your medical records and verify that everything matches up.

The process I just described for you can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks — sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. It all depends on how quickly you get your life insurance medical exam and what they find on your medical records. If they have to go to different doctors, if you've had different medical procedures, sometimes tracking that information down can take forever.

We often encourage our clients to call your doctor's office and let them know, "Hey, I'm applying for life insurance coverage. They're going to be asking for my medical records. Can you make sure that you have those handy for them?" Most people don't realize that doctors can't bill for this — they can't get paid to get your medical records to the life insurance company. But if you give them a heads up, it will give them a little time to get that information ready to make the life insurance process go that much smoother.

The life insurance company will review your medical records and make you an offer based on what you applied for, and they'll send you the delivery requirements — which is just filling out a simple form acknowledging that you're getting life insurance. Then you take care of the premium, whether you're sending a one-time check or a voided check if you're having it automatically deducted from your checking account.

While that may sound involved, after you complete the medical exam, if you don't need to call your doctor's office, you don't have to do anything else. Our back office or the life insurance company's back office will take care of all that stuff for you. You calling your doctor's office helps speed it along, but it's not a requirement.

Non-Medical Life Insurance Policies

Now, if you're looking for a faster solution, that's where a non-medical life insurance policy can make sense. One quick disclaimer regarding non-medical policies — since you are avoiding some of the basic underwriting guidelines like you would have with a traditional term policy, you can expect to pay a little bit more than you would that type of policy. Now, when I say "a little bit more," you can figure on paying 10, 15, sometimes 20 percent more, depending on what's going on with your health.

But if you're in need of fast life insurance coverage, a non-medical policy can make a lot of sense. It also makes a lot of sense for people who just can't stand needles. If you don't like getting your blood drawn, if you get sweaty palms and start getting dizzy, then by avoiding getting your blood taken, the non-medical policy can make sense for you.

Similar to the traditional term policy, you'll conduct a phone interview. Then based on what you answered in that interview, they'll compare that to what they find in your medical records. If everything jives, then you can expect to have your life insurance coverage in anywhere from 7 to 10 business days. So, yes, that's much faster than the 4 to 6 weeks that it takes to get a traditional term policy. Once again, if you're not in a rush and you don't mind getting some blood taken, then the traditional term policy is going to be a whole lot cheaper.

In a Nutshell...

To answer the question, "How long does it take to get life insurance coverage?" — it can be anywhere from 7 to 10 business days with a non-medical policy or anywhere for up to 4 to 6 weeks for a traditional term policy.

If you have more questions regarding purchasing life insurance for your family, this is Jeff Rose, your life insurance resident expert here at WiseBread.com. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Until next time, take care.

Click here to get a free, no-obligation life insurance quote from Wise Bread.

Jeff Rose is a Certified Financial Planner and author of Soldier of Finance. His blog is Good Financial Cents.

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serenity

I'm a case manager at an insurance agency. When obtaining the APS, most of the Drs charge for the release of records. the insurance company is responsible for the fees, not the client.

for a non med only application, you can only apply for a small face amount and it's age restricted. I've not seen anything over $100k face amount for this. It's true that you pay more, because you would not get the best available rate.

Jeff Rose's picture

@ Serenity

There are actually several companies that offer over $250,000 of life insurance without a medical exam. Some go up to $350k and $400k.

Fidelity Life even offers a "hybrid-product" that will get some people $1m of insurance approved in a few days.

Here's a brief rundown on some of those carriers: http://lifeinsurancebyjeff.com/life-insurance-no-medical-exam/