Is life insurance without a medical exam more expensive?


Q. I wanted to get a universal life insurance policy for my son, who is 19 and in college. The broker I spoke to said we could do it all online with no medical because of COVID-19. But won’t the costs be more expensive without a medical? He has a clean bill of health.
— Planning

A. That policy may be a great gift to your son because while he may not need the insurance now, when he’s older and has a family, he will have already locked in a low price because of his age today.

“Starting young should lock in lower premiums and gives him more time to accumulate values,” said Ed Gaelick, a Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant with PSI Consultants in Glen Rock.

As for online applications, most life insurance companies temporarily loosened their underwriting guidelines because of the coronavirus and they encouraged online applications, including the medical questions section, he said.

So in many cases, no exams.

But, he said, an insurance company will reserve the right to require an exam including the collection of blood and urine depending on the past medical history or the amount of insurance you apply for.

“So while your question raises a very valid point — wouldn’t the cost be higher without an exam? — these actuaries are pretty smart and really don’t increase a carrier’s risk much with their underwriting concessions,” Gaelick said. “In your son’s case, being 19 and healthy, chances are he’d be able to avoid an exam at this time. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess.”

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on Sept. 2, 2020. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.