Life insurance without medical, explained

26 May 2021

6 min read

Laura Whateley
Laura Whateley

Personal Finance Journalist


Honesty is always the best policy. If you do not disclose the full details of your health, the insurer could invalidate your policy and your family could be left without a payout at a vulnerable time.

Life insurance is there to help you protect your dependants, most commonly your children or your partner, if you die younger than hoped. If you have had health problems in the past, you might therefore be nervous that your monthly payments will be high.

Insurers assess risk. They operate on the basis that the less healthy you are, the greater the chance you will die at a younger-than-average age. That’s why they ask you questions about your medical history when you apply for life insurance.

Some insurers will want more information, such as a medical assessment, from customers who have pre-existing health conditions. In which case, they will ask for medical records from your GP, in some cases ask you to take a medical test.

Be honest about your medical history

Honesty is always the best policy. If it transpires that you did not disclose in full, the details of your health, or your sneaky cigarette habit, the insurer could invalidate your policy and your family will be left without a payout at a crucial and vulnerable time.

You shouldn’t think that because you have a pre-existing condition, or genetic health problems in your family, you will be rejected for cover. There are many insurers that will be willing to offer cover, though you might end up paying a bit more.

There are, however, some life insurance policies that don’t require medical details at all.

In some cases, this is because you are young and healthy enough that insurers don’t feel the need to ask. You are deemed low risk, so there is no need for any medical screening or tests.

But there are also policies with ‘guaranteed acceptance’ and will take you on as a customer, no questions asked. 

Before jumping at the chance, understand all the pros and cons of guaranteed acceptance policies.

‘Guaranteed acceptance’ for life insurance – what it means

Over 50 life insurance is the most common type of life cover with no medical. Insurers that provide this service promise to accept anyone over the age of 50, usually to an upper limit of 85 or 90.

These are ‘whole of life’ policies, where rather than being covered for a set term, you are covered until you die, as long as you continue to make your monthly payments.

Because they guarantee a payout these policies usually offer a much smaller sum upon death than term life insurance. This could be a few thousand pounds that could go towards a funeral, or as a gift to family or other loved ones, rather than enough to clear a mortgage. 

What you need to know about over 50 life insurance

Bear in mind that many guaranteed acceptance life cover options are not index-linked, which means they it won’t rise with inflation. A payout of £3,000 might sound generous in the present, but it will be worth much less, and may not cover the cost of a full funeral, say in 15 years time. That’s if you took out over 50 life cover to go towards the cost of your funeral.

Look also at when the policy will and will not pay out. Some won’t cover the first couple of years after you take out the policy. This is done to stop those with serious health conditions applying because they plan to claim within a few months.

Why some people take out over 50s policies

With over 50s premiums (also known as over 5o life insurance), you could end up paying more in than your family receives upon your death.

Most policies are valid only as long as you continue to make your payments; you will not be able to cash in if you decide to stop.  

The simplicity of policies like over 50 life insurance might appeal to people who are not fond of filling out forms. However, the more information an insurer has on you usually results in you getting a better deal overall. Many of us underestimate our life expectancy.

A financial adviser will be able to discuss with you any health issues or previous medical conditions. They will also suggest what policies will work out as the most affordable and beneficial, for you and for your family.


Laura Whateley is a freelance writer and author of Sunday Times bestselling book Money: A User's Guide. She has written for a wide variety of publications including The Times, The Guardian, Grazia, Refinery 29, Elle, Red and Stylist.