10 Questions Answered: Accelerated Underwriting for Term Life Insurance

Jerry C. Thomas, CFP®Life Insurance Planning, Underwriting (Life Ins.)

Accelerated underwriting helps speed up the process of obtaining term life insurance without having to conduct an exam or give a blood or urine sample.

Life insurance carriers today are looking for ways to help more people obtain life insurance coverage in a more cost-effective manner.  Therefore, this has led to many of the top life insurance companies in the United States to start offering what is known as “accelerated underwriting.”  Accelerated underwriting is the process of using data instead of a medical exam to make a determination on your underwriting class. The information obtained during an accelerated underwriting process eliminates the need for a physical exam.  Above all, this allows the life insurance carrier to reduce the cost of processing an application. Below you can learn everything you need to know about accelerated underwriting in term life insurance market.

What is accelerated underwriting in life insurance?

Accelerated underwriting: the process of underwriting life insurance without the need for a traditional life insurance exam, eliminating the need for physical exam, blood and urine sample.

Accelerated underwriting is the process of using data to determine the underwriting class, which dictates your premium. Not all life insurance companies have an accelerated underwriting process available. However, these policies are no different than those offered through a traditional underwriting process. Therefore, Accelerated underwriting is a simplified process saving both the customer and the carrier time and money. So, what are the right metrics needed to get approved through an accelerated underwriting process? First, we need to take a look at how accelerated underwriting is different from traditional and simplified underwriting processes.

Accelerated underwriting vs. Traditional Underwriting vs. Simplified Underwriting

Below is a chart we use to compare the different steps of the underwriting process. One thing to note is that traditional underwriting and accelerated underwriting offer the same lower premium while simplified underwriting is going to be more expensive.  Therefore, while both accelerated underwriting and simplified underwriting allow you to skip the exam, accelerated underwriting differs in two key ways: 1) you have to meet certain metrics to qualify for accelerated underwriting, and 2) if those metrics are met, the premium is the same as for traditional underwriting.

How does accelerated underwriting work?

Carriers utilize four main pieces of information to determine if you qualify for accelerated underwriting based on the below data. 

  1. Phone Interview (Medical Questions, Family medical history, financial Information)
  2. MIB – Internal system to see if you have applied anywhere else.
  3. Motor Vehicle Record
  4. RX history – List of current and past Prescriptions

This information allows a carrier to get a snapshot of your current health and the type of activities you enjoy.  Meanwhile, the carries use this information to make a decision:

Phone Interview

In the phone interview underwriters are going to ask you about three main topics.  When they ask you these questions, they are looking for three things: 1) positive lifestyle markers, 2) consistency, and 3) truthfulness.  

  1. Your current and past medical history,
    • What they want to see: No significant medical history, annual physical, any significant prescriptions (birth control and medicine used to treat a cold or allergy are not an issue)
  2. Your family’s health history
    • What they want to see: No death or diagnosis of immediate family members before the age 60 for: Diabetes, Heart Disease, or Cancer. (Carriers will not consider gender-based cancer appearing in opposite sex parent or sibling)
  3. Your financial and background check.  
    • What they want to see: No bankruptcy issues, no misdemeanors or felonies outside of traffic tickets, good credit, no fraudulent activity.
MIB

Most people have no idea what the MIB is and that it even exists, and no we’re not talking about aliens! The MIB formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau is a membership-based organization with over 430 insurance carrier members.  This system is used to track fraudulent activity.  Specifically, it allows life insurance companies to see if someone has recently applied for coverage. Furthermore, the carrier wants to see if any significant information was discovered or disclosed during the underwriting process.  Likewise, carriers use this database to make sure no fraudulent activity is taking place.  Certainly, applying with a new carrier isn’t an issue but not disclosing this to the new carrier (that you have applied in the last year or you were declined or postponed for coverage) will result in getting moved to the traditional underwriting process. Above all, remember accelerated underwriting revolves around consistency and truthfulness.

MVR – Motor Vehicle Record

So, what does your driving history have to do with life insurance or accelerated underwriting? Carriers want to know you practice safe driving. Likewise, safe drivers tend to live longer, offsetting the need to pay out a death benefit earlier. If you have more than 3 moving violations (not parking tickets) but moving violations carriers believe your driving records may relate to other behaviors in your life. On the other hand, if you have any other driving history, specifically DUI or DWI, you will not qualify for accelerated underwriting and you will have to obtain a policy via traditional underwriting. 

RX (Prescription) History

Carrier underwriters look at your prescription history because it can help verify the answers you have given during the phone interview. Likewise, they also want to verify if you were truthful during the interview. If you are on medication or have been within the last three years, you should mention details in the interview. However, if you take birth control, allergy medication, or other minor medication these medications won’t have a negative impact. On the other hand, if you have a history of opioid use, cancer medications, or multiple medications for mental illness you’ll most likely have to move forward using the traditional underwriting model but that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain a fair premium.

Which companies offer accelerated underwriting?

There are over 5,977 insurance companies in the United States, 877 of those offer a life insurance product. On the other hand, only about 11 companies offer accelerated underwriting.  There are most likely smaller regionally based or fraternally based life insurance companies that are offering a similar process. However, we looked at two things to make this list 1) Does the carrier offer their most competitive rates? 2) Does the carrier offer products across the nation? Meanwhile, below is a list of the carriers offering Accelerated Underwriting.

AIG Accelerated Underwriting - American General Accelerated Underwriting
Global Atlantic Accelerated Underwriting
Principal Financial Accelerated Underwriting
American National Accelerated Underwriting
John Hancock Accelerated Underwriting
Protective Life Accelerated Underwriting
SBLI Accelerated Underwriting
Assurity Accelerated Underwriting
Lincoln Financial Accelerated Underwriting
Prudential Accelerated Underwriting
Securian Accelerated Underwriting - Minnesota Life Accelerated Underwriting
Banner Life Accelerated Underwriting - Legal & General Accelerated Underwriting
Nationwide Accelerated Underwriting
Sagicor Accelerated Underwriting

How do you qualify for life insurance through accelerated underwriting?

Each carrier has a different set of parameters they review. Most of them are very similar. The first things to consider is your age and the amount you need.  Likewise, most carriers will provide accelerated underwriting ages 18-50 for up to $1,000,000 of coverage, but you’ll find there are some who cap at $500,000, while some carriers allow up to age 60 for $1,000,000.  Below is a comprehensive outline of the carriers in the accelerated underwriting market space and their overall limits.

What is the process to getting a policy through accelerated underwriting?

Above we listed out the process of getting a policy.  What you want to do is find a professional who can guide you through the process. Furthermore, your advisor, broker, or agent should pre-screen you to make sure you qualify.  There are some minor differences between each carrier’s process.   However, if you are completely healthy with no negative medical, financial, or legal history you’ll most likely qualify through AU. If you’re not sure, talking to a professional who understands the market is the best way to obtain a policy. 

Where or who can help you get a policy using accelerated underwriting?

Most of the time, if you work with an advisor (financial planner with access to multiple companies) or broker (insurance producer who represents multiple companies) they should have access to the largest companies in this space.  Meanwhile, if you work with an agent (represents one carrier) they may only be able to work with one company. The best thing to do is ask them if they can work with another company. However, this is a new process in underwriting and the best option is to find someone who is knowledgeable.  We also recommend working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM who specializes in risk management planning or insurance planning.  Moreover, their code of ethics is to do what is best for the client, meaning they are going to help you find the best solutions for you.

How fast is accelerated underwriting?

Depending on which carrier you work with and how quick you complete the phone interview, you can obtain a policy within 5-14 days.  Above all, the biggest determination on speed is how quick you get back to the advisor you are working with and their response time. Meanwhile, the more information you provide during the pre-screen the quicker your advisor can assist you.

What happens if I start out in accelerated underwriting and get booted out? Can I still get the best rate?

Sometimes good candidates get booted, the reason is unknown. However, it usually has something to do with a limited amount of information available to the carrier. Above all, clients can still proceed using traditional underwriting and can still obtain the lowest rates available, they just have to complete the exam.

Conclusion

In conclusion, accelerated underwriting term life insurance is going to change the term life insurance market for the better.  It will allow more insurance and financial professionals to help their clients obtain affordable term life insurance coverage without having to complete exams and obtain costly medical records.  Furthermore, if you are an insurance professional and want to learn more, contact us today and we’ll guide you through the process.  If you are someone looking for a policy contact us and we’ll help you obtain coverage and conduct a pre-screen to see if you qualify for accelerated underwriting.