Ask the Life Insurance Expert

What is "simplified issue" life insurance?

"Simplified issue" means you answer a few questions about your medical history for the life insurance application, rather than undergoing a medical exam.

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"Guaranteed issue" means you don't have to answer any medical questions or go through a medical exam. You qualify for coverage, regardless of your health.

Simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance make applying quick and easy. But if you're reasonably healthy, you'll get a much better rate per $1,000 of individual life insurance coverage by going through a standard application process that includes a life insurance medical exam.

A life insurance medical exam is fairly straightforward. Generally, a medical technician records your height, weight, blood pressure and collects a blood, urine or saliva sample. The results are combined with your age and health history to calculate the rate you pay for coverage. You can increase your odds for getting better rates by improving blood pressure, losing weight if you're overweight and kicking the habit if you smoke.

Besides applying for individual life insurance, you can obtain coverage through a group policy, which typically doesn't require you to supply any health information. You simply sign up during your employer's annual open enrollment period. Many employers offer group life insurance benefits at no cost to the employee. However, the coverage ends when you leave the company, and it's usually not enough for most people who have financial dependents. Most financial advisers recommend additional coverage through an individual life insurance policy if you're supporting a family.

For more, see these common questions about life insurance.

Last updated: Oct. 7, 2012
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