When people think of insurance, specifically life insurance, they often assume that their coverage is good for the full amount on day one. Unfortunately, that’s not always true.
By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have a good understanding of what insurance companies look for when issuing a life insurance policy with no waiting period, and what health conditions are considered more serious than others when it comes to life insurance.
Guaranteed acceptance life insurance: No waiting period?
Millions of people have seen the commercials for guaranteed issue life insurance, where you won’t be asked any health questions and your rates can start as low as $9.95 per month. Those policies have a catch: you’ll usually have to wait up to two years before you’re covered for the full amount of the policy.
For example, if you bought a $10,000 life insurance policy from Colonial Penn, and three months later you died of a heart attack, your family wouldn’t actually get $10,000. Instead, they’d get whatever you’d paid into the policy during those three months, plus an additional 7% of interest.
That’s why they don’t need to ask any medical questions, because for the first two years, they’re not doing anything except paying you a moderate return on the money you’ve already paid in. The fact is, there is no such thing as a guaranteed acceptance life insurance policy with no waiting period. Any company that offered it would go out of business in a week, for obvious reasons.
If you live longer than 24 months, you’ll be fully covered for the amount of the policy, but if you could see that far into the future, you wouldn’t have to worry about life insurance.
If you’re in good health, or even average health, there’s a good chance you can qualify for coverage that is fully effective on day one.
Let’s talk about how you can do it.
How to get life insurance with no waiting period
Since an immediate coverage plan is the best kind of insurance, naturally every insurance company is going to ask some questions about your current health, your medical history, and some may go further than that.
The bottom line is that an insurance policy is an ironclad contract to pay (usually) a large sum of money to your beneficiary when you die. Before the insurance company signs that contract, they want to make sure they cover their bases, and won’t have to pay out thousands and thousands of dollars if you’ve only paid in a couple of months worth of premium.
This is especially true when it comes to seniors and anyone over the age of 50. Our health never gets better as we age, and so insurance companies often have a different set of standards for people in this age group. This is actually a good thing, since many health issues that would not be covered in a younger person are considered standard, or at least not a deal breaker.
Read on to learn more about how insurance companies look at your health, and whether or not you’re eligible for immediate coverage.
Where can I get life insurance with no waiting period?
Every major company who offers life insurance offers some form of insurance product that has no waiting period. After the first month’s premium has been paid, you are fully covered for the “face amount” of the policy, otherwise known as the death benefit.
This is the absolute best form of life insurance you can get, and believe it or not, it’s the cheapest as well. Speaking of the price...
How much does it cost?
The rate is dependent on a few factors, most importantly your age. Insurance gets a little bit more expensive every year we get older, but the good news is that with most life insurance policies, once you lock in your rate, it does not increase. You should always ask your agent to clarify this if you’re not sure.
The other things that the insurance company will want to know before giving you a quote will be your gender, height & weight, and whether you’re a smoker or not.
We’ve put together a sample table of rates below for a $10,000 whole life policy for a male and female non-smoker. Remember that your monthly premiums may differ based on the options available to you because of your medical history. If you’re a smoke, the rates will be a little bit higher depending on your age.
These pieces of information will allow most insurance companies to give you a basic quote, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll qualify.
Do I qualify for life insurance with no waiting period?
First of all, how healthy are you? Do you have a history of any major illnesses or conditions? Insurance companies make their money by understanding risk, so they need to make sure they’re not taking on too big of a risk by insuring a person with a lot of major health problems, so expect to answer a lot of questions. Don’t be surprised if the insurance company also requires you to undergo a physical examination, which includes getting your blood drawn for analysis.
The thing to remember is that every insurance company’s health screening questions are a little different. Each company looks at the risks associated with a health condition a little differently, and that’s one reason why one company’s rates can be so different than another’s for a very similar product.
Still, even though every company has a different idea of what a good risk is, there are some very common health history questions that every company asks when you first apply with them. We put together a list of health conditions below to help you better understand your options.
AIDS, AIDS Related Complex (ARC), or HIV
No insurance company will offer you immediate coverage if you’ve been diagnosed with AIDS, HIV, or ARC at any point in your life.
An HIV diagnosis carries with it a host of other potential complications, so even if you’ve been successfully treating and managing your diagnosis for years, life insurance companies are still unwilling to offer you full coverage right away.
If you currently have any form of internal cancer, you will be unable to receive immediate coverage on your life insurance policy. However, if you have a form of skin cancer, especially basal cell skin cancer, there are insurance companies who can offer you immediate coverage.
Insurance companies are much more flexible with a current skin cancer diagnosis because the process of treatment and removal is much simpler, and the rate of survival is extremely high as long as it is treated quickly.
But what about if you’re currently cancer-free? To get immediate coverage, most insurance companies need to get proof that you’ve been cancer-free for a minimum of 3 years, sometimes more than that.
If you’ve ever received cancer treatments, even if it was more than 10 years ago, expect to get questioned about it before you’re approved for coverage. Insurance companies have access to your medical records (only after you’ve given them permission) and they’ll be able to see which medications you’ve been prescribed. This doesn’t mean you’ll be denied, but they’ll want confirmation from either you or your doctor that you’ve been cancer-free for the appropriate amount of time.
If you’ve never had cancer but you’ve been concerned about it because of your family history, or because you’re a smoker, there are plans that can offer you a lump sum payment if you’re ever diagnosed with internal cancer. You can read more about cancer insurance here.
Heart & Circulatory Issues
Heart disease is the top cause of the death in the United States according to the CDC, so naturally the insurance company you’re applying for coverage with will want to know about the health of your heart.
There are all kinds of potential issues that can affect your circulatory system, so we’ve put together a list of the most common heart-related issues and what you can expect to hear from most insurance companies.
This is one of the big ones. Each year over 800,000 Americans have a heart attack, and at least 25% of those attacks happen to someone who’s had one before. Numbers like that are a big reason why a recent history of heart attack is such a big issue with your insurer.
If you’ve had a heart attack in the past three years, you will be unable to get first day coverage from your life insurance company, since the numbers show there’s a good chance you’re at risk for another one very soon.
Once you make it past that three year window, you’ll be eligible once again, assuming there are no other major issues on your medical report.
When you have a stroke, it means a blood vessel in your brain is either clogged or ruptured. This is a very serious condition that can seriously disable or kill you if not treated quickly.
If you’ve had a stroke in the past three years, expect to be declined for an immediate life insurance policy. Until you can show that you are at a low-risk for recurrence, insurance companies will be unwilling to take on the risk of insuring you for a large sum the day you make your first payment.
This also includes a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), more commonly known as a mini-stroke. A mini-stroke can give you stroke-like symptoms, including weakness on one side of the body, vision problems, and slurred speech. This is caused by a temporary blockage in a blood vessel in your brain, and puts you at risk of an actual stroke later on.
Anytime you have surgery, it’s a big deal, but especially when doctors have to go in and operate on your circulatory system. This would include putting in a stent, pacemaker, or a defibrillator to help with your circulation.
These surgeries can either be preventive or corrective in nature, meaning they can be used to prevent a bigger issue, or to stabilize your health after a major episode like a heart attack.
Depending on which company you go with, you’ll need 2-3 years distance between today’s date and your last circulatory surgery before you’ll be able to get first-day coverage.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is what happens when your heart isn’t operating as well as it should, specifically when it comes to pumping blood through your system. This leads to a buildup of fluid in the area surrounding your heart, which can include your lungs.
Your CHF diagnosis can never be “cured” but the symptoms can be managed and if you make certain lifestyle changes early enough, much of the damage can be avoided. CHF is usually the result of other circulatory problems being left untreated for too long, since the stress of having to work harder for too long will weaken your heart and leave it vulnerable to complications.
A diagnosis of CHF will disqualify you for immediate coverage with most insurance companies, however a few companies have immediate coverage plans that are available for a higher rate.
Contact us to discuss your options and find out what plan is best for you.
High Blood Pressure
Despite what you may think, high blood pressure is not an automatic disqualifier by itself for most companies. Often referred to as hypertension by the medical profession, this condition is very common in people over 50, so as long as there are no other major complications, this is usually not a big deal.
Other Heart & Circulatory Issues
If you’ve had other major health issues that involve your heart or circulatory system, such as an aneurism or angina, you’ll need at least 2-3 years between your last episode and today’s date. depending on the company you want to go with.
You already know how serious a heart condition can be for your long term health. Insurance companies know it too, and that’s why they take steps to make sure your heart is in good working order before they agree to life insurance coverage with no waiting period.
Diabetes has the nickname “The Silent Killer” because of the way it can cause lots of other complications if not managed properly. This is especially true when it is paired with circulation issues.
The good news is a diagnosis of diabetes by itself is not usually enough to disqualify you for immediate coverage with most companies. The disease can be managed with proper treatment, as well as keeping your diet under control.
The bad news is that if your Diabetes has progressed to the point where you’ve experienced complications like diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy, or others, most insurance companies will not offer you first day coverage.
In addition, the ones that do offer immediate coverage in this case tend to be very picky about anything else having to do with your medical history. For example, if you have a history of diabetic complications AND one of the heart issues that were discussed above, you will not be able to get coverage without some kind of waiting period.
Mental Health & Nervous Disorders
The next thing the insurance company is going to look for are any signs of mental health issues in your past. This can include a large amount of antidepressants showing up on your prescription history, and depending on the severity of your issues, records of any stays you’ve had at mental health treatment facilities.
No company will offer you immediate coverage if they feel you are a danger to yourself or others. One common question about life insurance is whether or not suicide is covered. Even though no company will pay out a death claim for suicide right away (you’ll usually have to be covered for at least a year before you’d be eligible), they want to make sure you don’t have a history of self-harm.
Alzheimer's or Dementia
Aside from general mental health issues, insurance companies also want to avoid fully insuring those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Most people think of these as purely mental issues, but they often go hand in hand with physical complications as well.
Sufferers often experience a lack of control over their bodily functions, which can include the respiratory system and lead to a loss of breathing. Many people also easily lose their balance which can lead to further injury thanks to the body’s already weakened state.
Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a slow degeneration of the movement ability of your body. This is caused by the death of neurons in your brain that control motor function and your ability to control your arms and legs, among other body parts.
A long time sufferer will continue to see weakness and experience a slow decline in their ability to move muscles and will eventually need round the clock assistance for even the most basic tasks.
A Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis is characterized by an increase in tremors, and similar to ALS, you will also experience a slow loss of control over motor function, including speech. There is no cure for Parkinson’s, though the effects can be controlled substantially through treatment, and sometimes even through surgery.
Most companies do not offer a day one coverage to someone suffering from Parkinson’s but there are a few who do. Give us a call today 800-701-3951 to learn more about what your options are.
Your liver stops working when it can no longer filter out harmful substances from your body. Oftentimes this is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, especially a long habit of alcohol abuse, other times it can be a reaction to a medication that you’ve been taking. This can lead to major health problems, including hepatitis.
If you are currently experiencing liver failure, no insurance company will offer you full coverage with no waiting period. If you have been diagnosed in the past, but it has been more than three years and you are treatment free, there are several companies who can insure you with no waiting period.
Treatment and even reversal of liver failure is possible, but many times a transplant is the only option.
Speaking of organ transplants, if you’ve ever had one, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to qualify for immediate coverage with any company.
Not only that, but if any doctor has recommended a transplant for you, you won’t qualify either. You won’t be able to get insured prior to the operation, at least not with an immediate plan.
Organ transplants are very tricky procedures with an extremely high failure rate. Even if the surgery is deemed successful, most people require years of anti-rejection medications, which carry their own set of side effects that can have fatal consequences. The risk of death after a successful operation is higher than you may think, and insurance companies know this, so unfortunately you’re out of luck when it comes to getting immediate coverage.
Systemic Lupus is an autoimmune disease, and the most common form of Lupus. The inflammation can often be severe enough to cause lots of other serious complications, including stroke or heart attack.
No insurance company offers first day coverage on a Systemic Lupus diagnosis. Because of the amount of future complications that could spring up, there are just too many variables for insurance companies to deal with, so they do not offer life insurance with no waiting period.
If you’re diagnosed with another form of Lupus, it’s possible that you may be able to get immediate coverage, depending on what medications you take and what else is in your medical history. Some less common versions of Lupus can be milder and less severe.
The use of oxygen is an automatic non-starter for insurance with no waiting period. Whether you’re currently on oxygen, or you’ve been advised to start using it by a licensed medical professional, you’re probably not in the greatest of health, and so the insurance company would want to apply a waiting period before fully covering you.
Insurance companies do not count the use of inhalers or sleep apnea masks as using an oxygen tank to maintain normal breathing, so if you’re asthmatic, it’s not necessarily a disqualifier.
The good news for some people is that this is usually not an “ever” question for insurance companies, meaning that as long as you haven’t used since a specific period of time in the past (usually 2 years), you will probably be able to qualify for coverage.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an incurable condition that is characterized by an inflammation of the lungs and other air pathways, and can make it very difficult to breathe. Many people find that they need an inhaler or even regular oxygen use in order to live their daily lives.
Over 3 million people in the United States have some form of COPD. This used to be diagnosed separately as either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, but both of these have since been brought under the umbrella definition of COPD by medical professionals.
Unlike asthma, which is characterized by periodic episodes of tightness in the chest and is often triggered by some outside factor, COPD is a constant condition that can involve lots of coughing and phlegm that builds up in the airways.
Most people who develop COPD are smokers, but some get it from prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals or air pollution, like asbestos and dust. The symptoms may be managed, but there is no way to reverse the condition.
COPD can be an obstacle to getting immediate coverage with most companies, but there are a few specific carriers who offer coverage with no waiting period. Contact us today to find out which company suits your situation best.
Mobility Issues & Activities of Daily Living
Are you currently confined to a bed or a wheelchair? Do you need regular assistance with any of the following: Eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, or continence?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, it will be very difficult for you to get immediate coverage with no waiting period. Someone who is not able to move around or take care of themselves is understandably seen as a major health risk. After all, if you’re unable to move around, there are probably other issues at play as well.
The one exception to this is if you’ve had a major injury that temporarily leaves you unable to move around. For example, if you had a car accident and broke your leg, and can no longer get in and out of bed without help, this would not be treated the same way as if you were incapacitated because of a disease. In the case of the broken leg, most insurance companies would cover you.
The other thing to remember is that when you’re applying for life insurance, and they ask you if you receive home health care, It is NOT necessarily the same definition as Medicare’s definition of home health care. For example, someone coming over to cook, clean, and do your laundry is not the same as someone who has to come over and help you out of bed, dress you and bathe you.
There are a few companies who will insure someone who needs help with these activities of daily living, as long as there is nothing else seriously wrong with them. This is rare, because as we discussed, if someone needs help with these things, it’s almost certain that there are other major health issues they’re dealing with.
No insurance company will offer immediate coverage for someone confined to a bed or wheelchair for a disease.
Future Medical Tests & Procedures
One question you will have to answer if you’re looking for first-day coverage will be about any “unknowns” in your near future.
Specifically, they will ask whether you have any tests pending that you do not have the results for (like a biopsy), or any major procedures that you’ve been advised to undergo but haven’t gone through with yet.
Insurance companies hate the unknown. If you’re waiting on test results they’ll want to wait until you get those results back before they insure you. Likewise, if you’ve been advised that you need some kind of surgery or procedure, they’ll want to hold off until you’re sure you’re in the clear.
No insurance company will cover you if you have tests or major procedures pending.
Other qualifying factors
The other thing that may surprise you is that the insurance company will do a very basic background check on you. First of all they’ll want to make sure you’re actually who you say you are. It might seem crazy, but many fraudsters try to use old social security numbers to take a life insurance policy out on a person who died many years ago, or who the medical system just has no records for. If the policy is approved, they’ll try to say that this person (who doesn’t actually exist) has died, and try to pick up a check.
A more likely scenario they’re protecting against would be someone taking a life insurance policy out on you without your knowledge. Now all of a sudden, without you even realizing it, you’ve got someone who stands to pick up a big check if you were to suddenly die.
The insurance will want to know if you have a criminal history, especially if you have any convictions related to fraud, check forgery, or any other kind of financial crimes. Since insurance companies deal in large sums of money on a regular basis, they are always being targeted by shady characters for money laundering schemes.
Many insurance companies (though not all of them), will do a “soft pull” of your credit history to see if you have a large amount of debts that are in default.
Also, most companies will ask about illegal drug use. It’s true that unless you go through an in-person medical exam, it’s tough for insurance companies to know for sure if you’re telling the truth. However if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse counseling, or you’ve been prescribed certain medications that are designed to deal with overdoses like Narcan, this will most likely be on your report, and you can be denied.
Burial insurance with no waiting period
If you are between the ages of 50-85, you may qualify for a special kind of life insurance policy, known as burial insurance, also called final expense insurance. These are usually smaller policies than normal life insurance products, and you do not need to get a physical examination in order to qualify for coverage.
Generally the amount of the policy can be anywhere from $5,000 all the way up to $35,000. Some companies offer more, but this is not very common.
Let’s talk about your coverage options
Give us a call at 1-800-701-3951 and we can discuss your coverage options.