How Long Does Life Insurance Underwriting Take?

When most people think of how long the life insurance underwriting process takes, they probably picture some poor guy behind a desks with stacks of files and life insurance applications collecting dust behind him. This probably wasn’t too far from the truth a few years back but the industry is making real strides to speed up the entire life insurance process to a point where are even some no medical life plans that can turn around in 24 hours. Let’s look at how long you can expect the underwriting process to take for life insurance plans.

First, lets take a look at the average once you’ve decided on an ideal life insurance rate and plan. The fastest approach is to call us. I know that sounds weird but we really try to make the process as fast and easy as possible and we can actually start the application over the phone. In just 10 minutes, we can get the whole process going with some general information and some health questions. This is a big departure from not too long ago when you had pages of triplicate forms to complete before anything happened. Now, with just this 10 minute interview we are in the system and we can initiate the next and probably most important part of the process…the life insurance application paramedical exam.

The paramedical exam is essentially a quick physical usually with a nurse who comes to you. It involves a medical interview, blood panel, and some general metrics of health such as blood pressure, pulse, height/weight. After the 10 minute phone interview with us where we expedite your life underwriting process, the paramedical nurse usually calls within a few days to schedule the paramedical. This part of the process depends on your schedule and theirs. If you can be flexible, they usually act pretty quickly…within a few days to a week. After the exam is taken and the results are sent in to the life insurance company (which generally takes a few days),

This is where things can really vary from carrier to carrier and depending on your health and dollar amount of term life coverage. As a rule of thumb, the larger your amount of term life insurance coverage, the longer this last step will take. For very large amounts of life insurance, the carrier will really scrutinize health information. It’s more likely that they will request medical records in such situations as well. Depending on how quickly the doctor’s office responds, this can add some time to the underwriting process. We’ve seen doctors respond back to an APS (Attending Physician Statement) anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (in really bad situations). A more complicated health situation or set of issues can also prolong this period of time. As a rule of thumb, the entire process from the 10 minute initial interview with us (where we are actually completing parts of the application with you) to the final delivery of the policy if approved generally takes from four to eight weeks. Dollar amount, health complexity, and carrier can really move around in this range quite a bit.

Now, some wrinkles in the above calculation but not necessarily bad ones. You can typically enroll in temporary life insurance which covers you during this underwriting process. There’s a simplified application involved and payment is required but this makes sure you have some protection while waiting. This temporary life insurance may be dependent on final approval with the underwritten policy. There are even no-medical life insurance plans where limited benefits can be approved with 24 hours. The newest innovation on the market is a hybrid life policy where you have certain limited benefits approved within a short period of time (such as 24 hours) and then an option to “upgrade” this core benefits with a paramedical exam and further approval with a time frame (such as six months). There are many options. The main issue is that you are covered as soon as possible an the temporary life insurance at least addresses this issue while waiting.

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