In the old days, applying for life insurance was tedious, time-consuming, and stressful. The process took weeks to complete, much of that spent waiting on the results of a medical exam. And you didn’t know how much your policy would cost until everything was said and done — or even if you’d qualify for a policy at all.
Fortunately, the old days are over, at least for life insurance applicants who apply online. Also known as algorithmic underwriters or algorithmic insurance companies, online life insurance companies give you an up-or-down decision within minutes, often without a medical exam or many questions about your medical history. You can apply over lunch or dinner and then get on with life.
Best Online Life Insurance Companies
Not all online life insurance companies are created equal, of course. These are among the very best.
Each of the companies on this list does at least one thing really well, and our top pick offers the best overall value for the widest number of potential applicants. Here’s what you need to know about each.
Best Overall: Ladder
- Up to $3 million in term life insurance coverage without a medical exam — double what most competitors allow
- In-home medical exams for policies larger than $3 million — the application process remains all-online otherwise
- Choose from 10- to 30-year term coverage options
- Option to scale down coverage over time without reapplying
- Approval within minutes for many applicants
- Backed by national insurers with strong financial strength ratings
Best for Fast Approval: Bestow
Bestow earns its spot as one of the best no-exam life insurance companies thanks to a streamlined digital application and underwriting process that produces results in as little as five minutes. If Bestow doesn’t need any additional information from you, you can apply for life insurance and get an up-or-down approval decision during your coffee break.
Its features include:
- Term life insurance only
- Term lengths from 10 to 30 years
- Policy death benefits as low as $50,000
- Coverage up to $1.5 million per policy with no medical exam required
- Open to applicants ages 18 to 60
- A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from A.M. Best
Best for Nontraditional Underwriting: Sproutt
Sproutt is an online life insurance broker that uses an innovative model called the Quality of Life Index (QL Index) to assess life insurance applicants’ risk.
While it doesn’t completely replace traditional considerations in Sproutt’s application process — or in the underwriting processes of the insurers Sproutt works with — the QL Index goes beyond the usual medical and lifestyle information to consider factors like:
- How often you exercise and what kind of exercise you do
- How much and how well you sleep
- Your emotional health
- Your eating habits and overall nutrition
- Your work-life balance
- Access to fully medically underwritten term life, no-exam life (simple issue life insurance), and guaranteed issue life insurance
- Multiple types of permanent life insurance available, including whole, universal, and variable universal
- Get quotes within minutes
- Apply directly with the insurer with help from Sproutt agents
Best for Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: Ethos
Ethos is rare among online life insurance companies because it offers permanent life insurance. Most competitors stick with term life.
Ethos’ permanent life insurance offering is a low-value whole life insurance policy for people between the ages of 66 and 85. Its features include:
- Death benefit between $1,000 and $30,000
- Guaranteed issue life insurance, meaning you can’t be turned down for medical reasons
- No expiration, meaning the policy is effective until you die or stop paying premiums
- Guaranteed level premiums, meaning your premiums won’t increase over time
- Accidental death is covered right away
- Nonaccidental death coverage kicks in two to three years after the policy effective date in most cases
Ethos’s term life offering is no slouch either. Its benefits include:
- Amount of coverage ranges from $20,000 to $1.5 million
- 10- to 30-year terms
- Guaranteed renewable after the term ends, albeit at a higher premium
Best for Higher Coverage Limits: Fabric
Fabric offers online life insurance policies with coverage up to $5 million. That’s an unusually high limit for a streamlined, all-online application process. And Fabric offers a no-exam option for applicants with uncomplicated health histories, although not up to the $5 million coverage limit.
- Accidental death coverage available up to $500,000
- A+ (Superior) financial strength rating
- Low pricing, with monthly rates starting as low as $1 for $1 million in coverage
- Will-making services available
- Secure online vault for financial and personal documents at no additional cost
Best for Price Transparency: Walnut
Walnut sets itself apart with what it calls “price-first” term life insurance. Basically, you know how much you’ll pay for 10-year term coverage before you apply, making it easier to fit a new monthly payment into your budget (or decide to go a different direction). You never have to take a medical exam as a condition of coverage.
Walnut also offers a broad lineup of value-adds through a premium membership program included in the cost of insurance. Starting at $10 per month, this includes subscriptions to:
- Headspace Plus, an app offering guided meditation and self-directed therapy
- ClassPass Digital, a library of home workout videos
- Dashlane Premium, a password manager and auto-fill app
According to Walnut, this package is a $25 monthly value. If you want even more, upgrade to a Digital Protection membership for an additional monthly fee and enjoy:
- 24/7 access to a cyber support helpline
- Up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement if you’re the victim of identity theft
Best Online Broker for Life Insurance Only: Quotacy
Quotacy is an online insurance broker specializing in life insurance quotes. In fact, a life insurance quote is the only type of insurance quote you can get through Quotacy.
Quotacy’s narrow focus on life insurance gives it some advantages over other online insurance brokers:
- Access to term life policies as long as 40 years — elsewhere, policies generally top out at 30 years
- Access to a variety of types of life insurance, including term life
- Multiple permanent life insurance options, including whole life policies and universal life policies
- A five-minute, all-online quote creation process
- Dedicated agents who understand life insurance
- A vast insurer network that ensures competitive life insurance rates
Best Online Broker for Other Policy Types and Bundles: Policygenius
Policygenius is an all-purpose online insurance quote aggregator. Unlike Quotacy, it focuses on a variety of different types of insurance, including:
- Life insurance
- Homeowners insurance
- Renters insurance
- Auto insurance
- Disability insurance
- Pet insurance
- Long-term care insurance
If you’re shopping for more than one type of insurance right now, Policygenius is your best choice for fast answers. And if you’re paired with a life insurance provider that offers other types of insurance too, there’s a good chance Policygenius can hook you up with a money-saving bundle discount.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Online Life Insurance Companies
We use several criteria to evaluate online life insurance companies and select the very best for our readers. Some relate to the application process or policy underwriting, while others speak to the overall user experience and quality of the insurers themselves.
Financial Strength and Customer Satisfaction
Third-party financial strength ratings assess insurers’ ability to pay out death benefits in the future. When possible, we use ratings from A.M. Best, a highly respected rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry.
Customer satisfaction is another important measure of insurer quality. The top authority for customer satisfaction ratings in this industry is J.D. Power, which ranks life insurance companies and life insurance products annually.
Policy Types Available
Many online life insurance companies offer term life insurance only. Those insurers that also offer permanent life insurance coverage generally require medical underwriting for it, lengthening the application process.
That said, if you prefer to have both options available when you apply, you’ll want to focus your attention on insurers that can accommodate.
Online term life insurance policies typically range from 10 to 30 years. Some insurers offer shorter-term policies, down to five or even two years.
Unless otherwise specified in the terms of the policy, you can renew your policy once the initial term expires. However, this may require another round of underwriting and will definitely involve a higher premium.
One of the core benefits of online life insurance is the seamless application process. This process is helped along in many cases by a lack of medical underwriting.
The insurer might ask some basic questions about your personal and family medical history and lifestyle. It’ll check your answers against your health records as well. But it won’t require you to undergo a medical exam as a condition of coverage.
No-medical-exam coverage costs more than fully medically underwritten coverage because it provides less information about your risk of premature death. However, this is a price many would-be policyholders are willing to pay, especially if they have reason to believe a medical exam would turn up health-related red flags.
The best insurers for no-exam coverage have high coverage limits — above $1 million — and terms of at least 20 years for younger and middle-aged applicants.
Coverage Amount (Death Benefit)
Online life insurance death benefits typically range from as low as $25,000 to $50,000 for final expenses insurance to upwards of $1.5 million. If you have higher life insurance needs, look to an insurer that can accommodate — Haven Life’s coverage amounts range up to $3 million, for example.
Policy Add-ons (Riders)
Many online life insurance companies offer policy add-ons, also known as riders. Some of the most common include:
- Return of premium riders, which reimburse the policyholder for premiums paid during the policy term
- Accelerated death benefit, which allows terminally ill policyholders to claim a portion of the death benefit before they die
- Accidental death rider, which pays out an additional death benefit if the policyholder dies in an accident covered by the rider
Online Life Insurance FAQs
You have questions about getting life insurance online. We have answers.
Do You Need to Get a Medical Exam When You Apply for Life Insurance Online?
Often, no. If you’re applying for a life insurance policy worth less than $500,000, you probably won’t have to get a medical exam if you don’t want to. Many insurers offer no-medical-exam coverage as high as $1 million or $1.5 million, and a few go higher still — up to $2 million or $3 million.
That said, if your top concern is paying as little as possible for coverage and you have no known health issues, opt for the medical exam. As long as the exam doesn’t raise any red flags about your health, you’ll pay less for a policy that requires one.
How Much Does Online Life Insurance Cost?
How much you pay for an online life insurance policy depends on a number of factors:
- The policy value — coverage amount or death benefit
- The policy term — the longer the term, the higher the premium
- The type of policy — term life is always cheaper than permanent life
- Your personal medical history
- Your family medical history
- The results of your life insurance medical exam if you take one
- Your age when you apply
- Your lifestyle, including whether you use or have ever used tobacco and whether you have any risky hobbies
The best way to estimate your life insurance cost is to use an online quote aggregator like Policygenius or Quotacy.
What Do You Need to Apply for Life Insurance Online?
To apply for life insurance online, you’ll need some or all of the following:
- A good idea of how much life insurance you need
- Basic personal information, like your address and Social Security number
- Basic financial information, such as your annual income
- Your height and weight
- Your recent medical history
- Information about your lifestyle and personal habits
If required, you’ll need to take a medical exam in the days or weeks after you send in your initial application for coverage. Many insurers offer in-home exams, but some ask you to visit a testing facility.
You’ll also need to give your consent for the insurer to pull your Medical Information Bureau file. This file contains important information about your medical history and previous insurance applications, helping would-be insurers check the information you provide on your application against the public record.
Is Life Insurance Worth It?
Often, yes. One of the most harmful myths about life insurance is that only certain people need it, such as parents of young children or people with lots of debt. In fact, there are many reasons to buy life insurance:
- Covering final expenses, such as funeral and burial costs
- Preventing major debts from passing to a surviving spouse or partner
- Covering higher costs borne by survivors, such as child care and health insurance
- Covering future education expenses for your children
- Protecting your business partners’ financial interests
- Maintaining your survivors’ standard of living
- Creating a store of cash value that you can borrow against during your lifetime
Chances are, at least one of these reasons applies to you. And if that’s the case, some form of life insurance is probably worth it.
How to Choose the Best Online Life Insurance Company
These are the best online life insurance companies on the market right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. The best choice for your life insurance needs might not be the best choice for your neighbor — or even your spouse.
To choose the best online life insurer for you, think about why you’re applying for life insurance in the first place.
Do you want an affordable term life policy that lasts until you pay off your house in 15 years? Do you want to make sure your future kids’ college education is paid for, 20 or 25 years down the road? Do you want a policy that lasts indefinitely, creating a cash value reserve that you can tap as you age and possibly establishing generational wealth for your heirs?
Likewise, think about what you want out of your relationship with your insurer, beginning with the application process. Are you willing to pay more to forgo medical underwriting? Or do you prefer a seamless, super-fast application process that produces an answer — and an active policy — within minutes?
It’s your call. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list.