When Does Life Insurance Coverage Begin?

If you’re considering purchasing a life insurance policy, it’s important to understand when your coverage begins. The effective date is the day your coverage begins, and it’s essential to know because your beneficiaries won’t receive a payout if you die before that date. Here’s what you need to know about when life insurance coverage begins:

Policy TypeEffective DateWaiting PeriodContestability Period
Traditional Life InsuranceThe date your policy is issued for your acceptanceN/AUsually one to two years from the effective date
Temporary Life InsuranceThe date you begin paying premiumsN/AN/A
Guaranteed/Simplified Issue Life InsuranceThe date specified in the policyTwo yearsUsually one to two years from the effective date
Permanent Life InsuranceThe date your policy is issued for your acceptanceN/AUsually one to two years from the effective date

The waiting period for guaranteed and simplified issue life insurance policies is two years. If you die within the first two years of having coverage, the policy won’t pay out. The contestability period is usually one to two years from the effective date. During this period, the insurance company can request your medical history if you die, and if they discover that you lied on your application or failed to disclose important facts, they can invalidate the policy.

If you’re undergoing underwriting for a traditional life insurance policy, your provider may offer temporary coverage in the interim. This coverage ends once you’re approved for full coverage. If you have no previous life insurance policy in effect, some insurance companies provide conditional or temporary life insurance until the underwriting process is complete. It’s essential to check with your insurance provider to see if you have a two-year waiting period or a contestability period.

Permanent life insurance lasts your lifetime, while term life insurance lasts for a specific time period and must be renewed. Understanding when your life insurance coverage begins is essential to ensure your beneficiaries receive a payout if you pass away. For more information, read our guide to life insurance terms and definitions.

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