It’s a question that comes up frequently among dental students around the country. It’s important to know the
differences between these two types of underwriting for life insurance policies, so you can make an informed
decision about the process for obtaining this valuable protection.
What is underwriting?
When you apply for insurance, you are essentially asking the insurance company to take the risk of having to pay
a claim in the future. Underwriting is how an insurance company can determine the level of risk involved with insuring
you and how much insurance you may be qualified to purchase and at what cost. For life insurance, this determination
is usually based on your health and age.
Medical underwriting typically follows these steps:
1. You fill out an insurance application to provide personal details, such as your health status.
This will include information such as any health conditions, your family medical history, medications you’re taking
and health-related information such as your height and weight.
2. After you submit your application, the insurance company will order a medical exam. The medical
exam is standard; a nurse or paramedic will draw blood, measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure and
ask some medical questions.
3. The insurance company will request your medical records from your primary care physician and review them along
with the results from your medical exam. Getting your medical records from your healthcare provider
can sometimes delay the approval process.
4. The insurance company may also look at other factors. They may review your driving record, occupation
5. Based on the review, the insurance company will make an "offer." This offer will include the amount
of insurance they are willing to provide and how much it will cost for you to purchase it.
The entire underwriting process typically takes four to ten weeks depending on how much information is needed.
Guaranteed-issue skips the medical underwriting process.
With guaranteed-issue insurance, you won’t have to go through a medical exam or answer any medical questions,
and approval usually takes a fraction of the time of an underwritten policy. Keep in mind, the coverage may be
subject to a pre-existing conditions limitation. This means benefits may not be payable for death resulting
from a sickness or condition that existed or was treated prior to enrollment.
It’s understandable why this coverage is so appealing. After all, why go through a medical exam and answer
personal medical questions if you don’t have to? Why wait ten weeks if you can receive an approval so much
faster? The reason is simple: cost.
With most guaranteed-issue policies, you will generally pay more for the convenience of skipping the underwriting
process. Likewise, there may be a limitation on your coverage amount (typically $50K–$100K depending on age).
So, it comes down to a choice between the speed and convenience of guaranteed-issue insurance or the higher
coverage and typically lower cost of an underwritten policy.
A good choice: ADA student members insurance issued by Protective Life at no cost.
There is a guaranteed-issue life insurance policy available to ADA student members at no cost throughout
dental school*. It’s a benefit of your ADA student membership. This coverage includes $50,000 of term life
insurance and $50,000 of accidental death coverage — which doubles to $100,000 on July 1 of the year you
graduate. And because it’s guaranteed-issue, you won’t have any medical exams or underwriting to worry about.
The no-cost coverage will remain in effect through December 31 of the year you graduate.
In December, you’ll receive an invoice to keep the coverage in place. This specific insurance offer was
designed with you in mind to be guaranteed-issued without a cost markup and offered at a standard rate,
giving you an easy way to stay protected during a typically busy time as you begin your career. Simply
pay the invoice to continue the coverage trusted by generations of ADA members and dental students to help
protect their families.
and follow the prompts to request activation — it will just take a few minutes. Once the insurance is activated, you can apply
for additional coverage as your needs change, as well as coverage for a spouse, by completing an application and going through
the normal underwriting process.
If you have questions about underwriting, guaranteed-issue, or the no-cost ADA student members insurance available to you,
contact an Insurance Plan Specialist at 888.463.4545 or at ADAPlanSpecialist@protective.com