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No-Medical
Life Insurance

Canadians have so many insurance options these days. With the ability to shop for insurance online, research different policies, and educate themselves on how different types of insurance work, it’s no wonder they come across the logical evolution of convenience in insurance shopping: a non-medical life insurance policy. While the prospect of life insurance without going through the trial and tribulations of medical underwriting sounds appealing, it can lead to higher costs and lower coverage depending on how you obtain it. Read below for some much-needed transparency around how non-medical life insurance works in Canada.

What is no-medical life insurance?

No-medical life insurance refers to a category of life insurance products which do not require a medical exam or a physical, or even a medical statement from your doctor.

Increasingly, Canadian insurance companies are offering policies which don’t require a medical exam. Canadians are in a time crunch, between work, children, and other obligations – non-medical life insurance makes obtaining coverage easier for their potential clients. In today’s tech-driven world, where instant gratification is available at the click of a button, it is no surprise that non-medical life insurance policies are the fastest growing segment of the life insurance market.

Why does life insurance require a medical exam?

Before we dive in, first things first. Why does life insurance require a doctor visit? Traditionally, obtaining life insurance requires a medical exam; the insurance company wants to assess all risks associated with your health. Details about your medical condition, smoking status, drug usage, family medical history and more help the insurance company determine how risky it may be to insure you.

If you go through the exam and are deemed in above-average health, an insurance company can offer you a lower rate. On the flip side, if the medical exam establishes that there may be health concerns looming, insurance companies will typically place a rating on your policy – an additional premium to compensate for the elevated risk they take by insuring you.

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Can I get life insurance if I have health concerns
or pre-existing conditions?

Yes. Depending on the specific ailment(s) in question, many life insurance products are available for Canadians with medical conditions. The choices may be limited depending on the state of your health. However, as we mentioned above, there are an increasing number of products that are available from many of our insurance company partners that cater to those with prior medical conditions. Many of these products also offer coverage, with some limitations, without requiring a medical exam.

How much life insurance can I get
without a medical exam?

The amount of life insurance you can get without a medical exam depends on the type of policy you apply for and the company you choose to apply with. Given the large number of insurance options out there, it can sometimes be mind-numbing to explore all of the various products. Therefore, it’s important that you work with an insurance advisor; they can help you compare different policies across multiple companies, but more on that later.

The short answer to your question: it is possible to get up to $1,000,000 in insurance coverage in Canada without a medical exam.

What types of no-medical life insurance
products are available in Canada?

There are a few types of non-medical life insurance policies now offered by some of Canada’s best life insurance companies, as follows

What is accelerated underwriting?

Life insurance with accelerated underwriting represents fully underwritten products where the insurance company uses dynamic decision-making to determine whether you need to undergo a medical exam to qualify for specific life insurance policies. For example, depending on one’s age, the amount of coverage requested, and one’s responses to a medical questionnaire, some insurance companies can instantly determine whether you require a medical exam.

This is a customized process; each individual application changes based on the answers to the initial questions, and thus information gathered can vary depending on an applicants profile and needs. Because of this real-time information gathering, acceptance for non-medical is not guaranteed. Should you be approved, however, pricing on such products can be similar to traditional life insurance premiums – even those where a medical exam is required. In the case you are not approved immediately, the insurance company will request you complete a medical exam to determine your eligibility.

Medical exams are typically requested for cases where:

  • You have pre-existing medical conditions
  • You’ve been refused life insurance or related coverage products in the past
  • You’re looking to be insured for a large amount; typically over $1 million
  • Your family has a history of hereditary disease
What is simplified issue life insurance?

Simplified life insurance (or simplified issue) makes use of a short, standardized application which includes medical questions to determine if you are eligible for life insurance without a medical exam. If you meet the strict criteria after answering the requisite medical questions, you can instantly qualify for life insurance without the need for medical underwriting. Pricing is higher than traditional life insurance products, and in most cases also higher than life insurance with accelerated underwriting. The justification being the insurance company takes on more risk offering you a policy without the medical exam or stringent question. Should you not be able to meet the eligibility requirements or can’t qualify based on the questionnaire, there is no option for medical underwriting in such products.

What is guaranteed life insurance?

Guaranteed life insurance is just that: guaranteed life insurance coverage regardless of your current health or medical history. No medical exam or health-related questionnaire is required. However, because of the greater risk an insurance company takes on, pricing is much higher and the coverage amount is much smaller – typically up to $50,000. Some guaranteed products may also carry additional limitations, such as an exclusion period – an initial period (typically 2 years) during which claims are not accepted.

Comparison of no-medical life insurance products
Accelerated IssueSimplified IssueGuaranteed Issue
Accelerated IssueSimplified IssueGuaranteed Issue
Best suited for applicants
  • In good health
  • Seeking faster approvals
  • Want to avoid needles
  • Pre-existing health issues
  • Final expense needs
  • Pre-existing health issues
  • Declined for traditional insurance
Medical history questionsExtensiveLimitedNil
Medical testMay beNoNo
Max coverageUp to $1 millionUp to $500,000Up to $25,000
Time for approval24-72 hoursInstant issue to 48 hoursInstant issue
Waiting period for death benefitNilNilGenerally, no death claim in first two years
ExclusionsStandardStandardExtensive
ProvidersMultipleMultipleLimited options
Cost$$$$$$
How is a simplified life insurance policy different from a guaranteed life insurance policy?

An insurance company may deny coverage for a simplified life insurance policy based on your responses to their medical questionnaire, whereas guaranteed coverage can be purchased outright without any medical questions. As well, simplified life insurance typically offers more coverage for a lower price than guaranteed life insurance because of greater insights available to the insurance company based on the questionnaire that you’ve completed.

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Why should I get a no-medical life insurance policy?

If at all possible, you shouldn’t! A traditional life insurance policy with a full medical evaluation entailing a medical exam, questionnaire, and any other information requested by your insurer will typically snag you a lower rate than any non-medical life insurance policy. You may even qualify for preferred rates – lower still for those in good health.

However, and understandably, there are still legitimate reasons you may want to apply for a non-medical life insurance policy, such as:

You have pre-existing medical considerations which may prevent you from qualifying for traditional life insurance products
You want to expedite the process of obtaining an insurance policy and don’t have the time to wait for appointments, examinations, or meetings
You just don’t want to go through the paramedical. Not everyone likes doctors, needles, or peeing in a cup

What mistakes do people make when getting
no-medical life insurance policies?

Many are enticed by the path of least resistance, but it can cost you in the long run. Non-medical life insurance policies are attractive as they cut down on the process involved in obtaining life insurance. However, they may not be the best product for you just because they are easier.

If you are in reasonably good health, you can secure a better rate and lower premiums by going through the process involved in applying for a standard life insurance policy with traditional underwriting. In short, if you can get a fully underwritten life insurance policy: go for it.

Can I get a whole life no-medical policy?

Yes! You can get both term life insurance and whole life insurance options with a non-medical life insurance policy. We work with 16 of the best Canadian life insurance companies many of whom offer simplified and non-medical products that can cover you for a limited period or cover you for your lifetime.

How do I buy a simplified medical
life insurance policy?

Do the research and shop around. Though there are many companies that offer simplified life insurance policies in Canada, we urge you to speak to an advisor so you are informed of the risk you are taking by applying for one.

You want to avoid being turned down for life insurance; it’s the insurance equivalent of a negative rating on your credit score. It leads to red flags and additional questions when you apply for life insurance in the future.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions or other concerns you think might affect your application, speak to a licensed advisor before applying for any type of life insurance. They can best recommend a course of action and help you find the insurance provider best suited to your unique needs.

Which is the best no-medical life insurance policy?

There is no right answer to this question. Many insurance companies in Canada offer non-medical life insurance through accelerated, simplified, and guaranteed policies, and wading through the options can be intimidating.

PolicyAdvisor works with some of the best Canadian life insurance companies offering non-medical life insurance products today. Reach out to our licensed advisors – they can help you navigate your options and recommend an insurance company best suited for your unique situation. Some of the companies we work with include Assumption Life, BMO Insurance, Canada Life, Canada Protection Plan, La Capitale, Empire Life, Equitable Life, Foresters, Humania, iA Group, ivari, Manulife, RBC, SSQ, and Wawanesa.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. We strive to help you make the right one with independent, transparent advice tailored to your needs. Talk to us today to see how we can help you protect yourself – however you choose.

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