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Accelerated Underwriting 101
Founder & CEO

Who doesn’t love it when things end up being easier than you expected? Accelerated underwriting programs can make getting life insurance surprisingly fast and easy. Accelerated underwriting is an application process that doesn’t require a medical exam or medical records (also called attending physician statements or APS) like traditional underwriting. These programs can be a great option for people who are quite healthy and seeking $1,000,000 or less in insurance coverage. A handful of carriers are even willing to offer up to $3,000,000 in coverage through their accelerated underwriting programs—if these carriers happen to be favorable towards your health profile, accelerated underwriting can be a great choice for you.

How Accelerated Underwriting Works

Instead of a medical exam (also called a paramedical exam), you complete a brief phone interview with the insurance carrier’s representative and/or an online questionnaire. 

The carrier reviews the information you provide and digs into  third-party data sources, which can include prescription drug databases, prior applications for life insurance and the results, your Medical Information Bureau (MIB) file, motor vehicle records, credit reports, and public court records.

The carrier then assigns you to one of four groups:

  1. Approved with no paramedical exam—yay!
  2. Asked to complete a paramedical exam due to some additional questions the carrier has about your profile
  3. Randomly selected for a paramedical exam, even though you were qualified for approval without one
  4. Declined due to disqualifying information (this is very rare and quite avoidable if you provide accurate and complete information to your agent before applying)

Accelerated underwriting programs do not guarantee that you can avoid a paramedical exam, but there’s no harm in trying; the traditional application process will still be available to you if accelerated underwriting doesn’t work out. Do not feel worried or offended if you get asked to do a paramedical exam—oftentimes, the people asked to do a paramedical exam still get approved at the rates they applied for, and the carrier simply wanted more information. 

Who Is Eligible for Accelerated Underwriting?

Many carriers offer accelerated underwriting programs, and each carrier has their own eligibility guidelines. Some carriers limit eligibility to non-smokers qualified for the best pricing tiers, while others are open to a broader range of non-smokers, and a few offer accelerated underwriting programs for tobacco users.

Age is a factor. Many carriers limit their accelerated programs to younger people, whether they draw the cut off at age 40, 50, or 60 years. We find over half of people under age 50 get approved without a paramedical exam.

As a general rule, people who have certain medical diagnoses are not eligible for accelerated underwriting. This includes people with sleep apnea, diabetes, melanoma, and bipolar disorder diagnoses, among others. 

How Long Does Accelerated Underwriting Take?

With some accelerated underwriting programs, you can be approved instantly or within 24 hours of completing your interview or questionnaire. With other carriers, it can take several business days or even 2-3 weeks before you learn what the next steps will be.

If you get approved with accelerated underwriting, you can get coverage significantly  faster than the 4-6 weeks that a traditional life insurance application typically takes. 

How Do I Find Out If I’m Qualified for Accelerated Underwriting?

Answer a few questions and get an instant quote. We’ll highlight where you may be eligible for accelerated underwriting, and one of our insurance concierges can help you determine the program that best fits your needs.

Wallis is the Founder & CEO of AboveBoard Financial, a company reinventing investment advice and insurance with revolutionary transparency and honesty. Wallis spent over 10 years at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker and hedge fund investor in financial institutions. She founded AboveBoard to cut through the BS and present important choices with clarity and compassion. Wallis lives in New York City with her husband and two young children.
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