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Life Insurance Underwriting: What Exactly Do Life Insurance Companies Care About?

By the Bestow Team·October 04, 2021·5 Minute Read

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If you’re even just the tiniest bit familiar with insurance, you probably know that there are factors that impact how much you pay for coverage. Most insurance products (car, homeowners, business, etc.) require some sort of evaluation before insuring you. This is known as the underwriting process. 

The life insurance underwriting process can feel pretty personal. Insurance companies want to learn as much about you as possible. Many life insurance companies require some type of medical exam. They’ll review the results of your exam along with your medical history and current lifestyle. 

Not keen on getting a physical exam? There is another option: no-medical exam life insurance. With no-exam life insurance, you skip the medical exam. Instead, you answer a series of health and lifestyle questions as part of the initial application process.

What Exactly Do Life Insurance Companies Care About?

While it would be challenging to name every single risk factor that life insurance companies consider, we’ve grouped the most popular ones into three major buckets: your basic profile, your medical history, and your lifestyle.

1. You 

Your Basic Profile – Age, Gender, Height, Weight

Your life expectancy or age plays a factor because as we get older, our likelihood of dying increases. From an insurance perspective, a 35-year-old female would typically pay a higher premium than a 25-year-old

When it comes to gender, life insurance coverage tends to be less expensive for women. Women live longer than men, so that factors into the risk assessment.

Insurance companies will also look at your height and weight as part of your health analysis.

2. Your History

Your medical records, prescription history, family health history, criminal history, and driving history.

Do you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or some other pre-existing condition? Are there any health issues in your family history? What prescriptions are you currently taking? Insurance companies ask these types of questions to determine the probability of the risk of carrying your policy.

This is another reason young adults are encouraged to lock in a low monthly rate when it is available to them. A healthy 20-something is considered a lower risk to insure compared to someone older with documented medical conditions.

Other records life insurers look at include:

  • Your driving records
    If you have a history of driving under the influence, that’s high-risk behavior. Those with poor driving records are likely to pay a higher premium or possibly have their life insurance application rejected.
  • Your criminal history
    Life insurance companies may consider you with past misdemeanors; however, a felony on your record will make it less likely to get approved for a life insurance policy.

3. Your Lifestyle

Your choices, hobbies, and travel behavior.

Part of your risk assessment includes your lifestyle choices and pastimes. 

For example, life insurance companies look into your alcohol and tobacco usage. Life insurance for smokers costs more than it does for non-smokers. 

Another factor life insurance companies are interested in is what you do for fun (or work if you are, say, a race car driver). Most hobbies are fun and safe. Others, not so much. Are you an avid scuba diver? Do you race cars or rock climb outdoors? Those are high-risk hobbies and might result in higher insurance rates or an exclusion.

Similarly, foreign travel itself isn’t bad. But if you travel to a high-risk country or one named to the federal government’s no-travel list, you’ll likely need to find an insurer that writes life insurance policies specifically for high-risk travel.Term life insurance made easy. Get an instant quote with Bestow

What Does the Underwriting Process Look Like?

The typical life insurance underwriting process can take anywhere from one to three weeks. Your underwriting timeline is dependent on the amount of coverage you are applying for, the specific company you are working with, and the underwriting decision of your application.

Here’s an example of a standard process insurance underwriters may use to help determine coverage eligibility and premium rates. 

Phone Interview

Depending on the life insurance company you go with, you may need to hop on the phone for a quick interview. It’s typically a short, fifteen to thirty-minute call to help verify your life insurance application. 

The interviewer will simply go over everything in your application and potentially ask some follow-up questions. You can expect to talk about your health history, hobbies, and lifestyle. 

Medical Exam

The medical exam, also called the paramedical exam, is an exam performed by a medical professional provided by the life insurance company. This exam is free to you, and the results are sent to the insurance underwriter for evaluation. 

The exam typically takes around 45 minutes and includes basic measurements like height, weight, and blood pressure, as well as additional tests like a urine sample and blood draw. The results of these tests can help underwriters assess your risk of diabetes, kidney disorder, and other ailments. 

Medical Record Review and Attending Physician Statement (APS)

If the insurance underwriter notes anything from your medical exam, they’ll likely order an attending physician statement, medical records, or a summary from your doctor or clinic.  This allows the underwriter to get a complete view of your medical history.

Motor Vehicle Report 

Many insurers will obtain a copy of your motor vehicle report, which outlines your driving history, such as any speeding tickets or accidents.

Other Data-Driven Reports

Many insurance companies will obtain information from other sources as well. They may check for any criminal records, prescription records, and other data available through authorized consumer reporting agencies.  

Why Does The Underwriting Process Impact Premium Rates?

Insurance is all about risk. This is the likelihood that an insured event (in this case, death) should occur during your policy’s term. The higher likelihood you pass away before the end of your life insurance policy, the more you will pay in life insurance premiums.  

Apply Today

Now that you better understand how life insurance underwriting works, you might be ready to apply for coverage. If so, you can easily take action today by applying online for term life insurance in minutes.

With Bestow, applying for term life insurance is ridiculously easy. There’s no medical exam. No long phone interview. It’s just you, your computer (or phone or tablet, you do you), and a short questionnaire. Start the application process here. 

Key Takeaways

  • The life insurance underwriting process covers an applicant’s basic profile, medical history and lifestyle. 
  • Age, health, medical history, smoking status, and even driving history can be considered on a life insurance application and to determine premium rates.

 

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Bestow Team | 5 min

Top Questions About Bestow Answered

Life insurance is confusing. We get it. With so many options out there, it’s hard to figure out where to even start. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you have questions, too.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Every day we answer phone calls, chat messages, and emails from customers who want to buy life insurance coverage but don’t know the best way to go about it. There’s no shame in that. There’s a reason why insurance agents and brokers need to have a license to sell policies to customers — it’s a complicated topic!

Oftentimes, we hear this: “I don’t know what questions to ask.”

If that’s you, then you’re in the right place! Here, you’ll find the top questions people just like you are asking.

What Kind of Life Insurance Does Bestow Offer?

Bestow offers term life insurance. A term life policy is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Choose a term (between 10 and 30 years, in 5-year increments),
  2. Select a coverage amount ($50,000-$1.5 Million), and
  3. If approved, pay a set monthly premium throughout the duration of that term.

Policies offered by Bestow have level premiums, which means your monthly premium will never change, as long as your policy is in force — no matter your term length. Lock in your rate today!

How Do I Know I’m a Good Fit for a Policy Offered by Bestow?

If you’re in generally good health and between the ages of 18 and 60, a policy offered by Bestow might be a great fit for you. Our application provides an underwriting decision instantly, so you don’t have to wait weeks to find out whether you’re approved for coverage.

What Is the Application Process Like with Bestow?

Bestow’s 100% online application process has four simple parts:

  1. Your basic identifying information: email, address, and Social Security Number.
  2. Your life. This includes citizenship, medical history, lifestyle, and hobbies.
  3. Beneficiaries. This is whoever would receive the death benefit in the event of the insured’s death.
  4. Policy and payment details. If approved, choose the coverage amount and term length, then enter credit card info to purchase and bind the policy.

It’s as easy as that! In as little as 5 minutes, you could be the proud owner of a new life insurance policy.

Get an instant quote for term life insurance, no medical exam required.

Is a Medical Exam Required to Get a Policy Offered by Bestow?

Not with Bestow. A medical exam helps an insurance company double check how healthy you are. Instead, Bestow’s underwriting engine checks your health with big data and technology, which saves you time and money. We’ve partnered with third-party agencies to gather information in order to assess your risk and eligibility for a life insurance policy — instead of paperwork, medical exams, and lab tests. Here’s a detailed explanation of how Bestow works.

How Is Bestow Different Than Other Insurance Companies?

Bestow’s application process is entirely online. Seriously, 100%. Many companies offer an indicative quote online, but then refer applicants to an agent in order to finish the application process. Other online life insurance options may still require a medical exam for certain coverage amounts or applicants.

We’ve completely re-engineered the application experience for term life insurance to be super simple and more affordable. Apply and get an instant decision in as little as 5 minutes. Unlike some other online life insurance providers, we underwrite the policies we offer in-house with our own technology — accelerated underwriting. Our data and technology allows us to help our customers with just about any request.

What is Accelerated Underwriting?

Think of this accelerated, algorithmic underwriting as our secret sauce. We use that big data and our proprietary technology mentioned above to determine your risk and eligibility instantly.

What Determines How Much I’ll Pay For Life Insurance?

Your level of risk is what determines your premium and monthly rate. Risk is the likelihood that an insured event (in this case, death) should occur during the policy term. The higher your risk, the more you will likely pay.

Life insurance risk factors include basic information about you (like your age, height, and weight) in addition to things like your medical history and lifestyle. But each insurance company has their own underwriting process — that’s the process by which an insurance company determines whether it can accept the risk of an applicant for life insurance, and if so, on what basis so that the proper premium is charged. Here’s more information on life insurance risk and underwriting.

What Is the 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee?

It’s a 30-day free look period to examine your life insurance policy to see if it meets your needs. If you cancel your policy within the first 30 days, you’ll receive a refund.

How Can I Trust You? You’re a Startup.

Our policies are issued and backed by A+ rated (superior) industry giant North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®. They’ve been around for over 100 years. If anything were to happen to Bestow, your policy is well taken care of. But don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere.

How Can I Trust My Beneficiary Will Get Paid?

North American Company for Life and Health Insurance® is the insurance carrier and pays the claim for policies purchased through Bestow. We are here to walk whoever is making the claim through the process and answer any questions.

What Happens If I Die During My Term?

Should you pass away, your beneficiary will contact Bestow to get started on the claims process. A Customer Care Advisor will walk them through the process and answer any questions while North American Company for Life and Health Insurance® processes and reviews the claim.

In most cases, life insurance policies will have a two-year contestable period where the insurance company may investigate the cause of death and review the information provided on the application (only if there’s a reason). If information is found to be false or inaccurate, the insurance company can deny the payment of the life insurance benefit.

Additionally, Bestow has partnered with Empathy to help you support your loved ones in all the ways that matter. We teamed up to give your beneficiaries (up to 10 loved ones) access to digital support tools to help them in the toughest times. From logistical tools like helping navigate probate and settling an estate to emotional tools like grief resources and meditation exercises, Empathy provides 24/7 digital access for your beneficiaries to navigate life after loss. 

Empathy is a platform made free for the beneficiaries of the policyholders with Bestow. Empathy is available to policies issued in the following states: AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, ME, MS, NE, NV, NH, NM, ND, OH, OR, VT & WV. Empathy offerings are not guaranteed to continue. We reserve the right to elect, designate, replace, or terminate Empathy services at any time. Empathy is a non-affiliated 3rd Party platform.

What Happens If I Don’t Die?

Cheers to good health!

Term life insurance policies do not build cash value like a whole life policy does, so if you outlive your policy term, you won’t get anything back. Term life policies do not renew. At the end of your term, you can re-apply for a new policy.

What If I Still Have Questions?

No worries. We’ve got your back. You can contact our Customer Care Team in three different ways:

  1. Give us a call at 1.833.300.0603
  2. Ask us a question via chat — that little box floating about the page.
  3. Send us an email at [email protected], and a Customer Care Advisor will get back to you. Please do not include personal information, like your Social Security Number.

Or if you prefer a DIY approach, you can check out our Bestow FAQ.

There’s no such thing as a silly question, so don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help.

Ready to get a quote? Apply for up to $1.5 million in term life coverage with Bestow.

 

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Bestow Team | 4 min

No Medical Exam Life Insurance: What to Know

Between work, home repairs, and a to-do list that never seems to shrink, it can feel like there is no time for extras. It’s safe to assume that most people would prefer not to take hours out of their day to get a life insurance medical exam. If this is the case, then why do most insurance companies require it?

The life insurance industry is not just old, it’s centuries old. In fact, the first life insurance policies in the U.S. were written in the 18th century. Obviously, we didn’t have the technology then (or even just a few years ago) that we do now, so medical exams have been a necessary step in the underwriting process. But times have changed, technology included. Is it still necessary to undergo a medical exam to buy life insurance? For some, the answer is yes, and for others, no. As a consumer, you have options. 

What is No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance?

No-medical exam life insurance is exactly what it sounds like: a life insurance policy that does not require a medical exam to apply.

The traditional way of applying for a life insurance policy can involve medical exams, lab tests, and in-person interviews. With this traditional underwriting process, you might find yourself waiting up to a month to get a decision.

Accelerated underwriting uses technology to make the process of applying for life insurance more efficient. As in, an application decision and knowing if you are eligible in minutes – not weeks. Pretty cool right?

As with all types of life insurance coverage, whether or not a policy is a right fit for your needs depends on, well, your needs. Some may have higher premiums, some may have differences in the application process. There are a lot of options. Here, we’ve gathered some helpful info on some of the most common life insurance coverage options which may not require a medical exam.

What Are the Different Types of No Medical Exam Life Insurance Policies?

Term life insurance can be a solid choice for many families because of its simplicity and affordability, but there are a few other types of no medical exam life insurance options, as well.

No-Medical Exam Term Life Insurance With a Fast Decision

With this option, instead of bloodwork and a medical exam, applicants will answer health and lifestyle questions and provide information about their medical history to see if they qualify for a policy.

Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance

In some ways, simplified issue is similar to the above. There’s no medical exam, and you’ll instead provide information about your lifestyle and general health, including disclosing any medical conditions you may have. It’s an option worth considering if you’re generally in good health and looking for fast coverage.

One key difference, though, is just how much life insurance coverage you can get. Simplified issue insurance typically caps off around $100,000 (although some life insurance providers do offer more coverage). Plus, a simplified issue policy may have graded death benefits, which means that your beneficiaries only get the full value of the policy if you pass away at least two years after you purchase. 

Because there are minimal questions and quick coverage, the cost for simplified issue policies will typically be more expensive than both no-medical exam or traditionally underwritten life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a kind of whole life insurance policy (a type of permanent life insurance) that doesn’t require any health qualifications. There are no medical exams or health questionnaires. The coverage amount is quite limited though – usually between $2,000 and $25,000 – typically enough to serve as final expense insurance.

Guaranteed issue coverage is typically purchased by people who can’t qualify for any other type of life insurance. If you are approved for guaranteed life insurance, your policy will likely have a waiting period before your benefits go into effect, typically two or three years. You would pay your premiums during this time but if you were to pass away during the waiting period, your beneficiaries would not receive the death benefit. 

Group Life Insurance

Your employer may offer group life insurance with a coverage amount equal to your salary. This coverage is generally inexpensive or free and there’s usually no medical exam. It’s a nice perk if you can get it, though it’s important to remember that you usually can’t take your coverage with you when you leave the company.

Moreover, some people find that a simple one-time salary replacement is not an adequate amount of coverage. You may be able to purchase extra coverage through your employer, but consider getting a quote for a term policy before you do. You may be surprised at how much coverage you can get for the same price.

Who Can Buy Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam?

Generally speaking, healthy adults between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five may be eligible to buy a term life insurance policy online. (Bestow can underwrite policies for individuals ages eighteen to sixty, for terms of ten to thirty years, if approved.)

No one will vet your yoga class attendance record or that marathon sticker on your Subaru’s rear window. But if you are in overall good health, a no-medical-exam life insurance policy might be the right fit for you.

However, there are certain criteria that may prevent you from purchasing a policy without a medical exam. If you have a serious medical condition (such as heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, or blood pressure issues) or risky hobbies (like hang gliding, for example), you might need to speak to a licensed insurance agent to help you find a life insurance policy that fits your needs.

How To Get a Fast, Free Quote Right Now

Bestow offers term life insurance for today’s busy families. We believe that everyone should have access to the financial protection that life insurance can help provide, and that it should be convenient, affordable, and fast. 

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Bestow Team | 4 min

Who Needs Life Insurance – How It Works, and When You Should Have It

In the event you’re not around to provide for your family members, the death benefit from a life insurance policy may leave your loved ones with some degree of financial security. And for a lot of people, especially parents, that peace of mind is priceless.

You’ll have plenty of options when selecting life insurance from different face values and term lengths to riders and even policies that hold cash value. At the end of the day, the choice is personal, but knowing about all of your options can give you more confidence to finally purchase that policy.

How Life Insurance Works

In short, you pay a life insurance company a set amount of money each month (that’s the premium) for an agreed upon amount of time (that’s the term). If you pass away during that term, the insurer pays your beneficiary (the person you choose to receive the benefit) the life insurance payout.

The payout is typically tax free, and many view it as income replacement. Others plan for it to cover daily living expenses, a mortgage, or even fund higher education. You can name nearly anyone as your life insurance beneficiary and they can spend the money however they need it.

It really can be that simple. You continue to pay your insurance premiums on time each month, and you can feel good about the financial protection you are providing your family should they ever need it.

Start with a quote

Who Needs Life Insurance?

Most people start to think about life insurance when they start a family or buy a home, but the truth is, it’s always a smart time to start buying life insurance. That’s because, typically, the most affordable time to buy is now. For most people, life insurance rates get more expensive as you age.

Anyone with someone who depends on their income is a good candidate for life insurance.

1. Parents

Having kids means having bills, from early childcare costs for young children to higher education for older kids. Their financial needs are unpredictable and often come by surprise.

2. Spouses or Partners

From living expenses to outstanding debts and even private student loans, the loss of a loved one could be compounded by crushing financial burden. That’s to say nothing of the funeral expenses and other final expenses that face those left behind.

3. Stay at Home Parents

Stay at home moms and dads contribute a significant amount of non-paid labor in a home. While not typically viewed as financial support, the value of this work can easily be in the six-figures. Life insurance can help to cover the costs associated with childcare, home maintenance and more.

4. Small Business Owners

The terms of a small business loan often require life insurance, but having coverage can also solidify a commitment to employees, business partners, and small business cosigners, whose livelihoods may depend on your contribution to the company.

5. Retirees

Even if you were offered life insurance through work, that typically vanishes when you leave a job. Many retirees live on a fixed income and when a spouse or partner passes, a life insurance policy can ensure the other lives out their days comfortably.

6. Anyone with Shared Debts

If you and your spouse’s names are both on the mortgage, if your parents cosigned your student loans, or if you share a credit card, you may be leaving loved ones responsible for debt they aren’t able to pay off.

Watch this video to learn more about who might need life insurance.

Get an instant quote for term life insurance, no medical exam required.

Who doesn’t need life insurance?

If no one in your life depends on you for any financial support, you may not need life insurance coverage right now. But there’s no harm in looking at life insurance quotes today.

If you work with a personal finance advisor, it’s likely they’ll bring up life insurance while you are young, if they think you may need life insurance in the future. That’s because, in most cases, life insurance will never be as affordable as it is today. Yup. Right now. Your premium rate is determined by a number of factors including your age and health, often with a medical exam. The rate you get at 25 will probably differ significantly from the rate you get at 35.

What Kind Of Life Insurance Is Best For You?

Once you’ve got an idea of the amount of life insurance you need, you’ll need to understand which type to buy. There are several types of life insurance coverage with differing amounts of coverage, policy lengths, and even add-ons. Let’s break it down.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance (or permanent life insurance) is a policy you purchase and pay premiums on for the rest of your life. When you pass, as we all do, your beneficiaries receive a payout.

A whole life insurance policy might be right for someone hoping to transfer wealth to their children. Or people who expect to have mortgages into old age. It is almost always more expensive than a term policy because it, at some point, will pay out.

Read more about the differences between term and whole life insurance here.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance policy is a great choice for people looking for more affordable rates and happy to have coverage for a set number of years (like 5, 10, or even up to 30).

You can usually find out a more flexible policy with competitive rates for the years when your death would most impact your family (duration of a mortgage, children graduating, etc.)

Watch the video below to learn more about how much insurance you need.

Buying Your Life Insurance Policy

Whether you’re looking to shore up your long-term financial plan or you’d just rest a little easier knowing you’ve done something that may help your family, life insurance is now a relatively easy place to start. With Bestow, you can get a fast, free quote in seconds. The full online application literally takes minutes, and you could have coverage today, if approved. Peace of mind could be just a few clicks today. So what are you waiting for? Get started today.

 

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