Simplified issue term life insurance takes the hassle of lengthy applications and medical exams out of getting life insurance.

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Simplified issue term life insurance is offered with a variety of terms, prices and options and is easy to obtain for most people.

What people like about simplified issue is that there's no medical exam. You only answer a few questions.

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Simplified issue is different from "guaranteed issue," which is when you don't have a medical exam or answer any medical questions.

Buying a traditional term life or whole life policy usually requires a life insurance medical exam. During an exam, a health care professional reviews your answers to medical questions, takes a blood and urine sample, listens to your chest and takes your blood pressure.

Fabric, a Brooklyn, NY-based life insurance broker, said buying life insurance can be tough if you're over 50. Simplified and guaranteed issue are best for people whose age or health makes qualifying for life insurance difficult. 

Simplfied issue usually offers lower coverage options and higher premiums than a standard term life policy.  

Guaranteed issue benefits, meanwhlie, are usually limited to funeral and associated costs.  

Potential questions for simplified issue term life

Applications for simplified issue term life typically have only three to five "knock-out" questions. This means a "yes" answer to any one question will result in a denial.

For instance, an insurance company could ask you:

  • Do you have a disability that requires a wheelchair or confinement to a facility such as a nursing home?
  • Do you have a diagnosis of a serious illness like cancer or diabetes in the last two years?
  • Do you have heart disease?
  • Do you have HIV?
  • Have you had a stroke?
  • Do you have kidney disease?
  • Do you have any cognitive impairments?

Though a simplified issue policy doesn't require an exam of many questions, insurers still have an idea of your health status and insurance history before selling you a policy. By signing the application, you likely authorize the insurer to run your name through several databases, such as the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). The databases will flag anything that looks suspicious, such as multiple simultaneous life insurance applications.

You can request a copy your individual MIB report, but you will only have a report if you have applied for in individual life or health insurance policy in the last seen years. The report is based on “codes” submitted by MIB members, which include health and life insurance companies. This information is important to the underwriting process as it alerts companies to any errors or misrepresentations on applications.

The insurance company could also check your driving record and run your name through a pharmaceutical database to check on medications. Applications also make it clear that many states can and will prosecute insurance fraud, such as lying on your application.

The process does knock out applicants, but insurers approve the majority of people who apply for a simplified term life policy.

Simplified issue is less complicated life insurance

Many of the country's largest life insurers offer simplified issue term life, as do newer life companies, including:

  • AAA Life Insurance
  • Affordable Life USA
  • American Family Mutual Insurance
  • Asurance
  • Haven
  • MetLife
  • Prudential
  • Quilt
  • SelectQuote

Maximum coverage amounts vary by insurer. The coverage amounts are lower than the face amounts available if you shop for a regular term or whole life policy. Insurers pay out smaller amounts for simplified life policies because they're taking on more risk. Without giving you a full medical exam, insurers want to limit their risk. Hence, the smaller payouts. This means that if you're reasonably healthy, you may want to go through the standard application process with a medical exam so you can get a better rate and payout.

Simplified issue policies can range from $5,000 to more than $100,000 in coverage.

"When it comes to a basic term policy offering a death benefit of $10,000 or $15,000, you can even buy it through a warehouse club store or select Wal-Marts," says Marvin Feldman, who represents Life Happens, a nonprofit group that helps consumers understand life insurance and other products.

The cost of convenience

There's a trade-off for the convenience: A higher price for coverage.

"Prices can be rather high for the amount of coverage you actually get with this kind of policy," says spokesperson Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group.

That's because with a simplified issue term policy the insurer doesn't get to know as much about your health and, therefore, can't predict how long you're likely to live.

Simplified issue policies also lack some of the extras of conventional term life coverage. For example, there is limited availability of "riders," provisions in a policy that provide extra protection.

Other simplified issue insurance advantages

Insurers often make it easy to pay your premium through monthly, semi-annual or yearly automatic deductions from your checking account or credit card. This, and lower amounts of coverage, make life insurance more affordable.

Another advantage of simplified term life insurance is that the full benefit is paid immediately upon the insured's death. In contrast, some policies, such as final expense insurance, have "graded death benefits," meaning only a portion of the full face amount is paid out if the insured dies within the first couple years of the policy.

Shop around for insurance

Though simplified issue term life insurance makes it easier for you that doesn't mean you shouldn't do your homework when looking for an insurer. Make sure to get multiple quotes for the same policies and check the insurance companies' ratings. A good place to start is Insure's Best Life Insurance Companies.