I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Written by Chris Huntley
Founder of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services Chris Huntley

Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Nov 19, 2021

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We all love the words…

Your life insurance application has been approved!

But what goes on behind the scenes and how long does underwriting really take?

Quite often the reason you’re looking for answers to this question is that you’re procrastinating!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a call from a prospective client who asks something like this:

“Chris, how quickly can I get some new life insurance coverage in place?  My current term policy’s premium is increasing in a week.”

Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t let this happen to you! You don’t want to leave your family unprotected if you can avoid it.

How Long Does Life Insurance Underwriting Take?

Applying for Life Insurance

The Answer Depends on the Kind of Life Insurance Application You Choose!

Yep! Before I delve into the question “how long does underwriting take?” you need to decide if you want a traditional policy that requires a medical exam or a no exam policy.

The application and approval process varies from a few days to 8 weeks, depending on the answer to this question!

Keep in mind, the more a life insurance company knows about you, the lower your premiums will be.

It frustrates me to no end when people are lured into purchasing a no exam policy because they can qualify fast and don’t have to take a medical exam.

So let’s check out how long the underwriting process takes for a life insurance application for these very different types of policies:

A majority (70 percent) of the 2,031 U.S. adults surveyed by the two groups say their likelihood of purchase would increase if carriers would conduct “simplified underwriting,” defined in the study as making use of publicly available data for risk classification decisions for life insurance pricing, enabling purchase without requiring blood and fluids for medical testing. Benefits Pro, More People Would Buy Life Insurance If Less Medical Testing Required. 

Fully Underwritten | Includes A Medical Exam

Key Features To A Fully Underwritten Life Insurance Policy:

  • Lower Cost
  • More Options
  • Takes 4-8 Weeks
  • Best If You Have A Medical Issue

No Exam Life Insurance

Key Features To A No Exam Life Insurance Policy:

  • Get Covered In Days
  • Quick Application
  • 10% to 40% Higher Cost
  • Best For Younger Healthier Individuals

Learn more about No Exam Life Insurance here


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No Medical Exam Policy – How Long Does Underwriting Take?

So, maybe you are deathly afraid of needles or are concerned about what your blood work will reveal.

Quite possibly, you just need speedy coverage because your current policy is ending and you need answers fast!

In any event, you’ve decided that a no exam policy is for you!

The good news is, no medical exam is required!

Yep, you will be asked a battery of questions, which must be answered truthfully, but you can avoid the needles altogether.

It’s hard to believe, but some life insurance companies may even approve you and issue the policy in as little as 1-3 days!

However, this is not set in stone, and it may take up to a week depending on the insurer.

​No Exam Do​es Not Mean “No Underwriting”

​I want to be clear, just because you go with​ the no medical exam option, doesn’t mean you ​​get to avoid going through underwriting.

If you are wondering how ​life insurance companies check your medical background, we discuss how below.

There are 4 reports used to check your medical background:

  1. Motor Vehicle Report – Used to see if you are a safe driver, or if you have bad driving habits like speeding or DUI.
  2. Prescription Check  – This report is run by companies like Inteliscript and is like a credit report for your prescriptions.  It’s used to show any medication prescriptions you have filled.
  3. MIB Report – This stands for Medical Information Bureau report and is used collectively by insurance companies to help determine your underwriting risk.
  4. Medical Records – Your medical records are often referred to as an APS which stands for Attending Physician Statement. With any type of life insurance application, medical records being requested will cause your application to be held up for much longer and can extend the normal 1-3 day approval out to at the least 2 weeks.

​The No Medical Exam route is still a much faster option in my opinion.

Honesty Is Always the Best Policy!

Seems like a breeze right? Well, hold yer horses! It’s not as simple as you may think. Insurers have access to medical databases that will reveal red flags your doctor may have picked up on.

So avoiding the medical exam if you are concerned about your health may not produce the results you were looking for.

Also, it’s important to remember that lying on your life insurance application is fraud and chances are if you are hiding something the insurer will find out after your death and ​nullify the policy.

In other words, honesty is the best policy when it comes to life insurance. It’s the only way to truly protect your family in times of need.

If that isn’t enough to make you think twice, I am here to tell you that no exam policies are EXPENSIVE – costing 15-10% more than traditional policies on average.

You’re paying for the additional risk the life insurance company takes on by not knowing as much about your medical background.

Quite frankly, I don’t recommend them unless there are no other options.

NOTE: Please note that while most no exam companies approve you without seeing your medical records, there are some that will order them. This can add weeks to the approval process, which means no exam life insurance may not provide the speedy approval you were seeking!

No exam policies cost 15 – 20% more than traditional exam policies. That may not sound like a lot right now, but when you calculate it over 30 years of premiums you’re talking about a LOT of money!

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I Want A No Exam Life Insurance Policy

So you’ve put some thought into it and those needles just aren’t for you and price is not an obstacle.

Here are the steps you need to take to buy no exam life insurance:

  1. Call  Huntley Wealth today at 888-603-2876! Our quote form only provides information on traditional policies that require an exam.
  2. Fill Out a No Exam Life Insurance Application: The application is simple and typically requires you to answer a few basic questions. One of our agents can fill it out for you and send it to your email for electronic signature. It’s as easy as 1,2,3!
  3. Phone History Interview: In some cases, you will be required to do a short phone interview. Many of the same questions you answered during the application will be asked again. This call may be scheduled within 1-3 days of receipt of your application.
  4. Policy Issue: Your policy may be approved and issued on the same day or within 2 days of your phone history interview.  The documents will then be mailed to you, which may take 2-3 more days. Most life insurance companies also require you to sign and send the policy back before it’s in force. This can be done by email or fax on the same day the policy is received. Once this is complete, your policy will be active.

Traditional Life Insurance – How Long Does Underwriting Take?

Hurrah! You’ve decided to take my advice and apply for a life insurance policy that requires a medical exam.

Good choice and your wallet is going to thank you, my friend.

The main drawback of a traditional policy is that it takes a while to complete the process.

You may be scratching your head wondering – how long does underwriting take!?

Well, if I am honest the application process can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks!

Medical Records Process

When you fill out a life insurance application with your independent agent, you will be asked a battery of medical and lifestyle questions that are geared to figure out the risk of insuring you.

After this is complete, the life insurance application will be sent to an underwriter who will review your answers, exam results and any medical records obtained from your doctor.

Medical records can be elusive. It may take 3- 4 weeks before the underwriter receives the files. Although, I have seen cases where they’ve been sent out in a matter of days. It’s hit and miss I’m afraid.

The process of obtaining records varies for the following reasons:

  • Most doctors’ offices are inundated with these requests, which creates a backlog.
  • Offices may charge an administrative fee. It may take up to a week for payment and processing of the documents.
  • Occasionally, records are lost, incomplete or difficult to locate.
  • Often, the records ordered from your general MD contain information that necessitates additional information from other doctors.

In a nutshell, your policy is really at the mercy of your doctor’s office. In one extreme example, I ordered records for a couple living in Michigan who previously lived in England and it took over 3 months for the underwriter to review them.

Life insurers already gather other data with your permission to get insight beyond the information you supply on the application. For example, they often pull motor vehicle records, prescription drug histories, and reports from an insurance industry database of certain information disclosed on past individual life and health insurance applications. Market Watch, The cost of your life insurance can be determined by how you take a selfie

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I Want A Traditional Life Insurance Policy

Easy peasy! You can get a quote below or simply call us at Huntley Wealth today at 888-603-2876.

Unfortunately, far too many people think this is a super complicated process, but frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.

With the advent of technology, the days of the traveling salesman are diminishing.

The application can be completed online or by phone.

One thing I recommend to all my clients is to do a little prep work before you commence a life insurance application.

Review your medical history and be sure to nail down anything you may have questions about. Now is not the time to waffle.

You want to make sure that your life insurance policy is rock solid.

The next step would be to reconcile yourself with the amount of coverage that will realistically be needed by your family should your income cease to exist.

Often this is a lot more money than you ever suspected.

To help you crunch the numbers I’ve developed a hand dandy needs calculator that will give you some insight into the coverage you should consider purchasing.

So that’s it! Once you answer the questions, your independent agent will send you the life insurance application which can be signed electronically and sent back.

To answer your question “how long does underwriting take?”

For a traditional term policy, it typically takes 4- 8 weeks. It really all depends on your circumstances and the organization of the medical practice you go to.

Why Choose Huntley Wealth for Your Life Insurance Application?

Huntley Wealth employs some of the best independent life insurance agents in the business.

We have over a decade of experience finding incredible rates for high risk clients from all walks of life.

If you are thinking about no exam life insurance, we can help walk you through the process.

…but I would highly suggest speaking with us first!

We have relationships with dozens of life insurance companies and know the ins and outs of their underwriting processes.

Misconceptions about life insurance abound!

Don’t take the financial hit of a no exam policy unless there are no other options.

Trust me, we’ve seen it all and we’ve found solutions for people who thought they were otherwise uninsurable.

Call today877.443.9467! We can help.