Applying for Life Insurance: A Step-by-Step Guide


Bryan Huynh

- Updated February 14, 2024

Applying for Life Insurance: A Step-by-Step Guide

A Guide to the Life Insurance Application Process

So, you’ve decided that investing in life insurance is the right choice for your family and you’ve checked out a few policies that you’re interested, but now what?

It is time to settle on the perfect agency and policy and apply!

Applying for life insurance can be a long process since there are several steps, but the peace of mind that your loved ones will have a nice chunk of change to fall back on when you’re no longer with them is worth it.

Do not fret. We are here to guide you through the life insurance application process. You are not alone in this process.

What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance

When applying for life insurance, things get personal—really personal. You will have to share some sensitive information, such as a detailed medical history and financial records.

After you shop around and find the policy that is right for you, you will fill out an application, undergo a physical examination and then wait as the underwriter writes up your policy. The process may take over a month, but the wait is worth it.

Preparing to Apply for Life Insurance

The application process for life insurance can be a long one, so it is best to prepare all of the proper materials before you get started. You’ll want to gather all of the required paperwork and information about your beneficiaries so that you’re not scrambling after you’ve started the application.

Some people also choose to get their health in check before applying so that they get a better bang for their buck. If you are in the position to make some simple lifestyle changes before applying for life insurance, you should certainly do so.

Documents Needed to Apply for Life Insurance

The stack of paperwork that you will fill out during the life insurance will require information from even more paperwork. First and foremost, you need to have your government issued ID, including your social security card.

You’ll also need documents that detail your income, wealth and ownership of any business or properties. Medical records may come in handy at this time as well.

In order to provide accurate information on your beneficiaries, you may want to ask them for copies of their identification materials, as well. Have any other insurance policies and insurance cards on hand.

Choosing Life Insurance Beneficiaries

You’re likely looking into life insurance policies because you have loved ones that you would like to support after you’ve passed, but if you have a lot of loved ones, you’ll need to choose your beneficiaries wisely.

Your primary beneficiary should be somebody that you trust to handle the payout accordingly. This person should be somebody who is fair and responsible. Choose somebody who will uphold you wishes and is going to make sure each of your loved ones is given the proper amount of money.

When choosing other beneficiaries, you’ll need to specify how the money is broken down. You can set percentages for each person to receive, which is referred to as a “per capita” breakdown. You can also go with a “per stirpes” option, which is allocating amounts of money per branch of the family tree.

Have a conversation with your beneficiaries so they know what to expect and there is no room for argument about money following your passing.

Improving Your Health Before Your Physical

Life insurance policies often offer cheaper premiums and greater payouts to those who are in good health. There are a few healthy habits that you should adopt in the months leading up to your life insurance application. These lifestyle changes will also improve your quality of life, so it’s truly a win-win!

Here are some changes that you can make:

  • Stop smoking: Tobacco use is a turn off to life insurance companies because of the dangers involved in this activity. Use of tobacco products can cause emphysema, COPD, lung cancer and more ailments that could lead to a premature death.
  • Make healthy food choices: Cut out the soda, junk food, fast food and other heavily processed foods. Incorporate more fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Stay away from fad diets such as those that eliminate all carbs or all fat. Find a healthy balance that works for you.
  • Drink more water: Since over half of your body is made of water, drinking plenty of water helps to keep all of your systems working properly. Water is a healthy alternative to sodas and other sugary drinks.
  • Get active: Incorporate physical activity into your day-to-day life. Cardiovascular workouts are the best. This can be as simple as swimming laps or taking a walk. Do whatever feels best for you.
  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule: Getting enough sleep is very important to maintain your health. Put down the devices and make an effort to get some rest. Everybody needs a different amount of sleep, but most adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night.
  • Manage your stress: Stress can truly affect your mental and physical wellbeing. Exercise, particularly meditative practices like yoga, is great for managing stress.
  • Drive safe: While driving safe should be a no brainer, there are definitely times that you’re in a pinch or running late and your inner NASCAR driver comes out to play. Traffic infractions do not look good on a life insurance application. Try to avoid them by driving by the law.

While all of these changes are great, the importance of getting physical cannot be emphasized enough. Just a half hour walk each day can help you lose weight, manage blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reduce stress. Taking time to take care of yourself should be a priority.

The money from your life insurance policy will definitely help your loved ones in a time of need, but offering them the best version of you while you’re still in their presence is invaluable.

Finding a Life Insurance Provider

There are tons and tons of life insurance providers that provide a wide variety of policies, but you want to choose the best agency that provides the most inclusive policy.

When shopping for life insurance, there are multiple ways to go. You can buy from an independent insurance agent, an insurance company or an online broker. Most people go the independent insurance agent route.

When you choose to shop with an independent agent, you have a one-on-one support throughout the purchasing process. If you choose to use an independent agent, make sure you’re doing some research on your own so that you are not taken advantage of.

The most convenient and pressure-free way to purchase life insurance is with an online broker. This way, nobody is pressuring you to buy a policy. You can do things on your own terms.

No matter which way you decide to go, you should get a couple of free online quotes so that you are equipped with the information that you need to make the best decision possible.

The Life Insurance Application Process

The life insurance application process has a few essential steps that you’ll have to complete. After you’ve gotten a quote on a policy that you’ve deemed the perfect fit, you have to file the initial application.This will include personal details and information regarding your beneficiaries.

1. File the Initial Application

In your initial life insurance application, you’ll be expected to answer questions similar to those on the form you’d fill out the first time you go to a new doctor. You’ll have to list your name, social security number, date of birth, height and weight. These things will be checked again during your physical, so make sure you’re completely honest.

This application will also ask you questions about your lifestyle and habits. The agency wants to know if you smoke, skydive, drive recklessly, travel internationally and more.

You will be required to list information about your beneficiaries, as well. You’ll have the option of listing primary and contingent beneficiaries. Their names, dates of birth, social security numbers and your relationship to them must be provided. You’ll also have to determine what percentage each person gets and state which payouts will be to a trust.

There are typically more questions related to other policies that you hold and any wealth or assets that you may have.

2. Schedule Your Physical Examination

You will schedule your physical examination with a paramedical professional. This appointment can be scheduled whenever it’s most convenient to you. The paramedical can meet you at your home or workplace in order to accommodate to your demanding schedule.

These practitioners are typically flexible with scheduling since conducting physicals for insurance agencies is their sole responsibility. Some are willing to make house calls as early as 7:00 AM to fit you in before work.

3. Get Examined

Now for the fun part: the physical.

Okay, so maybe physicals are not that fun, but they are 100% necessary to be approved. The paramedical will meet you at your scheduled time and place. Be prepared to answer some personal questions.

The paramedical will take your blood pressure and listen to your heartbeat. He or she will also collect samples of your blood and urine for testing. Make sure you’re hydrated before your exam so that these samples can be drawn with ease.

You will be asked a multitude of questions relating to your physical health and habits. Be prepared with your height, weight and detailed medical history. While you may wish to be a little bit taller or weigh a little less, you have to be honest during your physical.

Be completely transparent. Holding things back or changing some small details will cause trouble once the truth is revealed.

Depending on your age, previous health conditions or the type of life insurance policy you’re applying for, you may be required to undergo other kinds of testing. These tests could include MRIs, EEGs, EKGs, x-rays, stress tests and more.

How to Get the Best Price on Life Insurance

Life insurance is all about providing financial stability to your loved ones after you’ve passed. There is no reason for your monthly premium to break the bank in the meantime.

There are a few ways that can help you save money on life insurance:

  1. Improve your health: Life insurance is cheaper for those who are in good health and are not prone to serious diseases or disorders. Staying active and managing your weight are two simple ways to improve your health before you apply for health insurance.
  2. Only buy what you need: Buy a policy that fits the needs of your family. Find something that will allow your family to live comfortably until they can stand on their own two feet.
  3. Buy now: Life insurance is cheaper when bought sooner than later. Premiums are much cheaper when you’re young.
  4. Compare types of life insurance: Explore your options and look into different types of policies. You can choose between term and whole life insurance. Term life insurance is usually cheaper, but it expires after the term is done. Unless you get whole life insurance, you may outlive your policy.

With these four tips, you will be able to find a life insurance policy that meets your needs and fits perfectly into your budget. Make sure to shop around so you don’t settle for a subpar policy.

Life insurance doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The key is shopping smart. There are cost-effective policies out there. You’ll come to find that some term life insurance premiums cost as little as $15 a month for quarter of a million dollars in protection.

Not sure where to start? Explore our top life insurance services here.

Becoming the Most Ideal Life Insurance Candidate

Life insurance agencies want to sell policies to those who are young, fit and healthy, so these people get the lowest premiums.

If you do not fall into the “young, fit and healthy” category, don’t worry. There are some simple changes that you can make in your lifestyle so that your application reflects an amazing candidate.

As we talked about before, there are several ways to get your health in check, namely staying active. You should also quit smoking, because tobacco use will jack up the price of your premium.

You’ll also want to steer clear of high risk activities. Skydiving, flying planes or helicopters, riding in hot air balloons and bungee jumping are all activities that you should leave in the past. Candidates with clean driving records are also great!

Last but not least, you’re going to want to make sure your credit is great. To maintain good credit, you should never miss payments on loans or credit cards. Avoid racking up debt, and pay off any debt in a timely fashion. Avoid hard credit checks as much as possible.

If you don’t have the greatest credit, there are specialists who can help you fix your score by resolving harmful elements on your report.

Waiting for Your Application’s Approval

So after your application has been submitted and the paramedical sends in the results from your physical, you’ll have a few weeks of waiting to do. In this time, the underwriter will work on writing up your policy.

This process can be a bit time consuming because the document that is being created is essentially a contract. This contract includes all of ins and outs of your policy and will be used to ensure that your loved ones receive the money that they are entitled to upon your death.

After You’ve Been Approved for Life Insurance


It’s time to open your wallet.

Once you’ve been approved for life insurance, it is time to make your first payment. Different policies become active at different times. If you’ve chosen a policy that is active immediately, your payout will be ready as soon as your death certificate is signed.

Other policies have clauses that state your policy is not active until you’ve made all of your payments for a year or two. Do your family a favor and avoid these policies at all costs.

Make sure that you are consistent with your payments so that your policy remains active. Late payments can be made within a grace period with added fees.

Get a Life Insurance Quote

Once you have been approved for life insurance and start your payments, you can rest assured that your family will have the resources to carry on once you’re no longer there to offer financial support.

If you are ready to get started on your life insurance application process, check out our policies and get a life insurance policy quote from our top ranked life insurance companies today.

With the security of a great life insurance policy, you can spend more time doing the things that you love rather than worrying about the future.

About The Author

Bryan Huynh

Bryan Huynh

Product Tester & Writer

Bryan Huynh is a dedicated Product Tester & Writer. Just as insurance has your back, Bryan works to review and inform you about the wide range of insurance products available, ranging from business, auto, health, home, pet, to life insurance.

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