How long do you have to have life insurance before you die?

How long do you have to have life insurance before you die? Dying right after getting life insurance may leave your beneficiaries without a death benefit. While some life insurance companies have waiting periods of one to two years, certain life insurance policies do not have a waiting period. If you're able to find a policy without a waiting period, you may have to pay more.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The Rundown

  • Life insurance policies differ on the length of the waiting period before taking effect
  • It is important to get a life insurance policy early to reduce the risk of dying within the waiting period
  • There are exceptions to immediate coverage which are geared toward preventing insurance fraud

How long do you have to have life insurance before you die? This is a primary concern for anyone intending to purchase a life insurance policy.

In most cases, life insurance policies become a concern for people when they are older or believe they have limited time to put their affairs in order.

However, the sooner you get a life insurance policy, the earlier it goes into effect. This helps lower the risk of dying before the waiting period is over.

A good insurance company will offer preferred options to limit or even remove waiting periods before the life insurance takes effect.

Before learning more about how long you have to have life insurance before you die, enter your ZIP code above to find affordable insurance companies near you.

How long do you have to have life insurance before you die?

Some companies have a waiting period of one or two years before the policy goes into effect and the death benefit is unlocked.

Insurance companies tend to have waiting periods to prevent insurance fraud and losses. Life insurance payouts come from the premiums policyholders pay during their lives, and the longer they live, the more the life insurance payout grows.

The policyholder will most likely want to get a policy with lower premiums. However, the insurance company is looking to profit from the amount you pay in premiums over your life. Hence, the waiting period ensures they do not lose money.

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Do all life insurance policies have a waiting period?

Not all life insurance policies have a waiting period. In some cases, an insurance company will waive the waiting period, but this comes at a cost to the policyholder who will have to pay much higher premiums than normal.

There are a few limited exceptions where you can get a life insurance policy without a waiting period and these are:

  • By getting a fully underwritten policy
  • By getting a guaranteed issue policy
  • By getting an insurance policy with an early effective date

The above exceptions differ from one company to another, but some of the best insurance companies should offer these options to you.

What happens if you die right after getting a life insurance policy?

Death is often unforeseeable and sudden. Therefore, it is difficult to predict when someone will die.

How long do you have to have a life insurance policy before it pays out? Insurance companies have a contestability period of about one or two years.

Dying right after getting life insurance may cause the company to investigate whether you gave false information when you applied.

If they find no foul play, they will pay the death benefit. However, if you’re within your waiting period, your beneficiaries may not receive the death benefit

If you’re worried about dying before your waiting period is up, simply choose an insurance company that offers a low to no waiting period.

Now that you’ve found out how long you have to have life insurance before you die, enter your ZIP code below to use our free quote comparison tool.

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