What is temporary life insurance?


Offered by the insurance company you’ve submitted an application to, temporary life insurance grants immediate life insurance coverage to the applicant. Finding the right life insurance policy and then getting approved for it can take time, time that leaves you uninsured. Temporary life insurance is designed as a stopgap for these tricky waiting periods.


Once you pick out your life insurance policy and all the options with your insurance broker, you – unfortunately – aren’t quite finished. You still need to actually apply for life insurance with the provider you choose. 

While at PolicyAdvisor we make the process of applying for life insurance as quick and easy as possible, it can still take a few days to several weeks for an insurance company’s underwriter to completely process a life insurance application. Particularly if additional information or a medical examination is required. 

During this waiting period, you may feel it prudent to have some form of coverage in place. Thankfully, you can easily add temporary life insurance to your application.

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What is Temporary Life Insurance?

Temporary Life Insurance refers to temporary coverage offered by the insurance company you’ve submitted your application to and is offered to cover the duration of their underwriting process. It is a short-term coverage offered to you while you wait for your policy to be approved and come into effect. Such conditional insurance is generally believed to only apply to life insurance applications, but some insurance carriers also make it available for critical illness and disability insurance applications. 

Temporary insurance is offered through a binding contract known as a Temporary Insurance Agreement – or TIA for short. The TIA grants immediate life insurance coverage to the applicant. Once the TIA is formally in force, it effectively binds the insurance company such that if a claim is made on the life of the insured person, the insurance company will pay the coverage amount, even if full underwriting has not yet been completed.

Temporary life insurance should not be confused with Term Life Insurance, which is sometimes described as a temporary kind of insurance due to either its fixed term or expiration date. 

Keep in mind that temporary insurance or TIA is not a type of insurance policy or product you can buy on its own; it’s simply a way for the applicant to receive interim coverage until an insurance company approves their application.

temporary insurance agreement during medical underwriting

Can I get Temporary Life Insurance?

When insurance companies offer temporary life insurance, it is typically subject to specific qualifications or conditions. The most common criteria are age, basic questions about your health, and your medical history. 

While most insurance companies have their own set age requirements, temporary insurance is generally available if the proposed life insured is at least 15 days old and not over age 65. 

Life insurance applications generally include a separate section to confirm the eligibility for temporary life insurance. The health and medical history questions used to establish eligibility seek binary “Yes”or “No” responses. If one answers “Yes” to any questions about major health episodes, it may make you ineligible to apply for temporary coverage. It is important that you answer these questions truthfully. If it is discovered you had a medical issue which you did not disclose, your temporary insurance will not payout to your intended beneficiaries. More on that later.

What is the maximum coverage provided for Temporary Life Insurance?

The maximum coverage will vary depending upon the insurance company you apply with. Each company has its own maximum coverage limit for temporary insurance agreements. The benefit payable under temporary life insurance is the lesser of the amount of insurance applied for or the maximum allowable limit determined by that particular insurance provider. Most Canadian life insurance companies offer either up to $500,000 or up to $ 1-million in temporary life insurance.

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How much does Temporary Life Insurance cost?

The cost of your temporary life insurance is generally equivalent to the first month’s premium for the policy coverage that you are applying for. Since you receive temporary coverage before completion of the underwriting process, the premium that you pay is based on your initial life insurance quote. Just like term life insurance, the quote is based on your age, weight, smoking status, health and coverage needs. 

The premium paid towards the temporary coverage is essentially a deposit. Once your policy is approved, the payment you made for temporary insurance is applied to your first month’s life insurance premium. Should you decide to not take up the policy or if the coverage is denied by the insurance company, your initial premium towards the temporary coverage is returned to you.

Temporary insurance does not cost anything beyond that single payment, even if the insurance company took a few weeks to a few months to decide on your coverage.

When does Temporary Life Insurance begin?

Temporary life insurance commences once you submit your application for life insurance, and an amount equal to the initial one month’s premium is deducted by the insurance company. At the time the application is submitted, you will receive a temporary insurance receipt showing you have coverage during the underwriting process. 

However, a temporary insurance receipt does not bind an insurance company to provide coverage until all the terms and conditions stated therein are satisfied. Therefore, the insurance company may reserve the right to cancel (not to be confused with termination as discussed below) your temporary insurance during the process at any time.

When does Temporary Life Insurance terminate or end?

Some of the situations that lead to termination or the ending of temporary life insurance coverage are:

  • You are denied or declined life insurance coverage.
  • You get approved for life insurance coverage, and your policy goes into effect.
  • A certain amount of time passes after you have signed your temporary life insurance application, usually 60 or 90 days.
  • The date on which you request the cancellation or withdrawal of your life insurance application or temporary insurance.

As mentioned earlier, there are specific exclusions that would result in no death benefit payable. The same holds true if suicide is the cause of death during the temporary insurance period.

What happens to my temporary insurance premium if my policy is not approved?

In the event the TIA ends without an accompanying policy approval, the insurance company will refund the payment it received under the temporary insurance agreement, except in the case of fraud.

Do I need temporary insurance if I am purchasing life insurance?

Once you have made the big decision to purchase life insurance, then applying for TIA or temporary life coverage is the prudent thing to do. This temporary coverage is offered virtually at no cost, as the premium collected is applied towards the first month premium, upon policy approval. It offers you peace of mind through the immediate coverage that is available to protect your dependents, even as underwriting is being completed. 

Temporary insurance during the COVID-19 and social-distancing

If you are looking to apply for life insurance amidst the current COVID-19 outbreak, the same facts about temporary insurance apply to most life insurance products you choose. This includes no medical life insurance, which can be obtained without a face-to-face meeting in the comfort of your own home. 

Many of the insurance companies we partner with provide coverage up to $1-million without the need for a medical exam or lab work as part of the underwriting process. Opting for temporary insurance when applying for life insurance will give you protection, while you await for the approval for your coverage during this time.

READ MORE: Applying for Life Insurance while quarantined: FAQ

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  • Temporary life insurance is not available as a standalone policy, it is offered as coverage until your full life insurance policy is approved.
  • Eligibility for temporary life insurance depends on a few factors, including age and a medical questionnaire.
  • The cost of temporary life insurance is effectively the first month of premiums for the full policy. If your application is ultimately denied, you will receive the premium payment back.

By Jiten Puri
CEO & Founder, Insurance Advisor, LLQP
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