Simplified Issue Life Insurance: What Is It? How Does It Work?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Simplified life insurance is a way to buy permanent life insurance for people who can’t buy it other ways. It does not require a medical exam.

This type of life insurance is designed for older applicants such as seniors. It might be hard to get a life insurance policy if you are older or have certain health conditions. But if you have people who rely on your income and debts, simplified issue life insurance can protect your family and pay for things like funerals.

Simplified whole life insurance is an option if you can’t find a term or whole life policy. It is also called simplified issue life insurance. It might be the best type of life insurance for seniors or people with certain pre-existing conditions.

What is simplified whole life insurance?

Simplified whole life insurance is a type of whole life insurance. It lasts your entire life. It is for people 60 and older with health problems that cannot get other types of whole life insurance.

If you apply for simplified life insurance, you will not have to undergo a medical exam. Instead, you may have to conduct a phone interview and only answer some health questions on an application. Because the health evaluation is not as thorough, insurers set a higher premium with less coverage.

The underwriter assumes you will be too risky to insure without a medical check. But some people can’t get insured because they have disqualifying conditions. For example, if your age and health are reasonable, you might not be able to get insurance.

How simplified whole life insurance works

A medical exam isn’t required for a simplified whole life policy, but a detailed medical questionnaire and a phone interview are.

You will have to pay monthly or yearly premiums or a one-time lump sum to keep the policy in force.

Some life insurance policies require you to hold it for two years before the death benefit is provided. If you pass away before then, your beneficiaries will get a refund of all the money you have paid in premiums.

Unlike traditional whole life insurance, most simplified whole life insurance policies do not have a savings component called cash value that builds over time. This is another way it is more straightforward than buying a regular whole life policy. Rather than calculating savings and the interest you are accruing with them, you will pay a monthly premium.

However, if you pay for a single-premium simplified issue life insurance policy, there may be cash value to access while alive.

Qualifying for simplified issue life insurance

You must be between 45-85 years old to buy this insurance. You can’t have certain medical conditions, too.

You might not be able to get simplified issue life insurance if you answer yes to any of these questions.

  • Do you live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility?
  • Do you require a wheelchair, electric scooter, or medical equipment that uses pressurized air?
  • Have you ever had Alzheimer’s or dementia, congestive heart failure, a diabetic coma, an organ or bone marrow transplant, or another medical condition?
  • Do you have a life-threatening illness?
  • Have you had heart disease or cardiac surgery diagnosis last year?
  • Have you been advised to have a non-routine surgical procedure or diagnostic testing?
  • Have you been diagnosed with cancer in the last two years?

You might still qualify for guaranteed issue whole life insurance even if you answer the above questions. Talk to a licensed life insurance agent or broker about this.

Simplified issue life insurance riders

Riders are extra things you can add to your policy to get more protection in certain areas. They cost more, but they are worth it for some people. You can customize your policy with riders.

  • Accelerated Death Benefit Rider: A policyholder can use the death benefit to pay for medical care if they are terminally ill.
  • Long-Term Care Rider: If your health insurance doesn’t cover long-term care like a nursing home or at-home care, you can get it with a long-term care rider.
  • Disability Waiver of Premium: If someone loses their job, they can buy a disability waiver rider. This will cancel the monthly payments for the time that they are disabled. However, they might be limited by age, so it is essential to ask your insurer about this.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance Calculator

Pros and cons of simplified issue life insurance


  • No medical exam
  • Fast coverage
  • Cheaper than guaranteed-issue whole life
  • Some policies accept qualified funds from an IRA or 401(k)


  • More expensive than a standard life insurance plan
  • Limited coverage
  • Not as customizable

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Need Help Getting Life Insurance Coverage?

If you have a preexisting medical condition and want to buy life insurance, you will need help from an expert. This person can help ensure you get coverage, so you don’t get declined.

Warning: Applying for life insurance without a medical exam can be risky. If you have declined coverage, it could be at least two years before you can get any life insurance.

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Have You Been Declined Life Insurance Coverage Before?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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