Life Insurance Underwriting

By James Tobin 

Critical  Takeaways

  • The Carrier You Choose Will Effect Underwriting
  •  The Type & Amount Of Insurance Will Effect Underwriting
  • Your Health Condition Will Primarily Determine Rating 

If you are trying to figure out how long the underwriting process will take for life insurance, you have landed in a good place. This article about Life insurance underwriting time, will discuss average turnarounds, differences in carriers, tricks to speed up the underwriting  process, including no exam options.  

Life Insurance Underwriting Process Basics

The time it takes to complete the life insurance underwriting process is dependent on several factors ranging from the carrier, type of underwriting, the health of the applicant, and the amount of insurance requested.

The choices that you as the client make, ideally with the help of an experienced independent agent, will determine the amount of time it takes to get through the underwriting process. These decisions can mean the difference between two hour to issue or two months.

Let’s take these issues one by one and you can determine if  you are likely to be affected by delays.

The Life Insurance  quote/company you choose– Due to volume, staffing and company culture some carriers simply do a better job of getting applications turned around. This  is taken into account whenever The Life Insurance Help Desk makes a recommendation. There are times when a situation dictates that paying slightly more to a faster carrier makes sense. As always that decision rests with the client.

The Type of Insurance– This is less of a reference to term insurance v. permanent insurance as it is a reference to fully underwritten and non-med and simplified issue. Non-med or No Exam policies (without APS requested) are generally turned around in less than 72 hours. Because there is no medical exam the underwriters have less to evaluate. In these cases the underwriting process will involve looking at your prescription history and your driving history. They will also conduct a detailed telephone interview and may request medical records based on the call. These policies are great fits for folks who have not been to the doctor in some time, need insurance fast for loan collateral, or just don’t like needles.

The Health of the Applicant– Applicants with greater health challenges often take much longer to complete a fully underwritten policy process. This is because a attending physicians statement (APS) will often be requested. An APS is a statement of your medical condition from your doctor. Doctor’s offices are notorious for ignoring these requests unless pushed by the actual applicant. If an APS is requested in your case, call the office yourself. You will be far more effective in getting action than the insurance company. After all, they are going to see you again.

The amount of insurance requested– The reason the amount of insurance requested affects the turn around time is that over certain amounts second or even third sign offs are required within the underwriting process. That is, they don’t want a junior employee putting them on the hook for several million dollars. The amounts vary depending on the age of the applicant and the carrier involved. Anything over 2 million dollars and it’s a safe bet that another set of eyes will be looking at the application.

Simplified issue policies are often approved on the spot after a telephone interview with the applicant. These policies are generally for “final expense” policies and allow for significant health issues in exchange for higher premiums. The face amounts or benefit from these policies are usually between 10000 and 50000 dollars.

Thank you for using the Life Insurance Help Desk to research the time it takes to get through the  underwriting process for life insurance. Now you have a better understanding of underwriting process and the answer to the question “ How long does it take to get life insurance ?”

If you have any questions about underwriting process,  turn times or anything else insurance related, please call or send over an email.

James Tobin, CFP

Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..