One impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a drop in medical visits among Americans. A study by the Cleveland Clinic found that 85% of Americans were afraid of contracting the virus in a healthcare setting, causing many to skip visits altogether.
On the other hand, people are also recognizing the need for long-term financial protection, which has caused a surge in life insurance applications, particularly among younger Americans. Life insurance applications from those aged 44 or under rose 3.4% in the first half of 2020, according to CNBC. But since in-person medical exams are traditionally part of the life insurance application, it’s worth finding out how insurers are reacting in a time where social distancing is still a necessity.
So what changes are taking place? Some insurance companies have removed the exam requirement altogether, while others are offering alternative solutions or additional safety measures.
Here’s what to consider about medical exams when applying for life insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What to expect from a life insurance medical exam during COVID-19
The actual components of a life insurance medical exam have not changed as a result of COVID-19, but there are now a few additional components for safety reasons.
What a life insurance medical exam entails
Your medical exam for the insurance application typically contains three elements:
- Interview about medical history.
- Height and weight measurement.
- Blood and urine sample collection.
In total, expect the exam to take around 20 minutes, with the majority of the time being spent on the interview.
COVID-based questions to expect
New COVID-related questions have become part of the screening process for both life insurance applications and the medical exam. Before your appointment, you’ll need to answer a questionnaire to confirm you have no symptoms of the virus and have not been in contact with someone known to be COVID-positive.
However, COVID-19 questions have become part of the application review process as well. A positive diagnosis of you or someone in your household could cause an automatic delay in your application, as could plans for any international travel in the next year. On top of that, contracting COVID-19 could potentially impact your rates, since the long-term health effects are still unclear.
Additional safety measures for exams
In most cases, you can choose between an in-home exam or you can go to an exam center. Medical exam companies have implemented additional safety measures to protect both you and their employees in either situation.
Additionally, the medical professionals should all be in full PPP gear, including gloves and face shields. Patients are also required to wear face masks during the appointment.
Alternatives to life insurance medical exams
Life insurance companies have developed multiple workarounds to keep applicants physically safe while still issuing policies that are in such high demand during COVID-19.
Here are a few exam alternatives you may come across when applying for life insurance.
When a medical exam is required, it must take place within a certain period of time defined by the life insurance company. Since the pandemic, many companies have extended that timeframe. MassMutual, for example, has set the limit to 120 days. That gives you a full four months to schedule your appointment.
Use of previous medical exams and other records
You may also be able to substitute your exam with existing medical records. Some insurers are taking advantage of big data in the medical industry by using electronic health records and prescription databases as part of the underwriting process. In order to allow an insurance company to review your previous medical records, you must sign a HIPAA-compliant consent form allowing them to request and access this information.
If you have applied for life insurance in the past, the company may also access previous applications from MIB Group. They’ll compare your answers to see if anything doesn’t match up. Finally, prescription databases reveal what type of medications you’re taking, which can notify an insurer of any existing health concerns.
Who qualifies (and doesn’t qualify) for no-exam policies
Not everyone will qualify for a no-exam life insurance policy, even in the midst of a pandemic. And unfortunately, individuals in higher-risk groups for contracting and experiencing more severe COVID-19 symptoms are those most likely to be flagged for an in-person exam.
An exam is more likely to be required if you’re older or have existing health issues. Regardless of age and health, you might also have to get a medical exam if you want a larger coverage amount. Some life insurance companies explicitly outline their standards for whether or not you need a medical exam, but in other cases, you may not find out until your application is under review.
Life insurance companies with no medical exam required
There are plenty of life insurance providers who don’t universally require a medical exam as part of the application process. Consider the following options as you search for quotes and begin to apply.
- Ladder is a life insurance company offering term life policies. It modernizes the application process by taking each step entirely online; plus, there’s no exam required in many instances. The online application process only takes a few minutes to complete and you’ll find out right away whether or not you’ve been approved.
- Bestow is another option to explore for a life insurance application that’s entirely online. One benefit is that the company offers a wide range of term life insurance policies, starting as low as $50,000 or all the way up to $1.5 million. You can potentially qualify for a no-medical exam policy from Bestow as long as you’re healthy and under the age of 55.
- Sproutt is a broker service that helps to match you with the right life insurance policy for your unique needs. It uses a Quality of Life index to help determine whether or not a medical exam is required. You’ll have to answer questions about your habits in five categories: movement, sleep, emotional health, nutrition, and balance.
- Policygenius is another insurance policy comparison platform that allows you to review multiple life insurance quotes with just one application. You can find both term and whole life insurance policies through the network. The platform is easy to use and takes you through a series of questions to help you find the right coverage and apply.
COVID-19 has caused a lot of change in the world, but it has made it easier to get a life insurance policy without a medical exam. Even if you are required to get one, you can feel confident knowing that paramedical companies are going the extra mile to ensure everyone’s health and safety as much as possible.