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Fidelity Life: Can Smokers Get Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam?

Health and habits play a large role in calculating life insurance premiums, so some insurance companies require a medical exam before they issue many types of policies. This means smokers tend to pay more in premiums, since the medical exam will detect that they use nicotine.

Luckily, smokers also have options that don’t require a medical exam. These types of policies can be great life insurance for smokers because the insurer won’t factor smoking into the premiums. Here are several life insurance policies that do and don’t require a medical exam to help smokers pick the best policy type for their needs.

Life insurance policies that require a medical exam

The following types of policies generally require a medical exam, which could cause a smoker’s premiums to be higher. But these types of plans also come with other benefits that can make the extra cost worth it:

Term life insurance

Term life insurance lasts for a specified timeframe, such as 10 or 20 years. If the coverage expires before the policyholder dies, they will have to get another policy — usually at a higher rate — to continue coverage.

Whole life insurance

Whole life insurance lasts for a lifetime. It also has a cash value growth component that grows at a fixed rate and can be withdrawn from or borrowed against. Keep in mind that whole life policies require medical exams and cost even more than term life insurance. So, these can get expensive for smokers.

Universal life insurance

Universal life insurance also lasts for a lifetime and comes with adjustable premiums and death benefits. Policyholders can withdraw from or borrow against the cash value if needed.

Indexed universal life insurance

Indexed universal life insurance is the same as universal life insurance, but the cash value is invested in a fund tracking a stock market index. This type of life insurance usually offers a minimum guaranteed rate for cash value.

Life insurance policies that don’t require a medical exam

Smokers that want life insurance coverage without taking a medical exam should consider the following policies:

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a small whole life policy that insurers will issue without requiring a medical exam. Many guaranteed issue policies have a waiting period of 2 to 3 years until the policy is fully in force. If the policyholder dies during the waiting period, the insurer won’t pay the death benefit to their beneficiaries. Instead, the insurer will return the premiums paid plus interest. This will likely be smaller than the death benefit, but the beneficiaries will still get some financial support.

Final expense insurance

Final expense insurance is a type of small whole life policy designed to cover end-of-life costs, such as hospital bills and funeral expenses. It helps protect loved ones financially and avoid excess debt while ensuring the policyholder’s final wishes are met. The death benefit is smaller than traditional policies, so there’s no medical exam and premiums are cheaper.

The bottom line

Smokers can still get traditional forms of life insurance, but the medical exam could make their premiums quite expensive. Fortunately, smokers who don’t need as much coverage can get life insurance with no medical exam. Guaranteed issue life insurance is useful for any purpose, as long as the policyholder lives through the waiting period. Smokers can also get final expense insurance with no exam if their beneficiaries simply need help paying for the funeral and medical bills. All that said, smokers should carefully consider how much coverage they need to determine if life insurance with no medical exam is the right type of policy for them.

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