A free look is an important part of life insurance laws and benefits in the United States. The free look period for a life insurance contract is sort of a trial period. This period is for policy owners to asses the policy and it is mandated by most states in the United States. The free look period allows a policy owner to review their contract after it is delivered, without having to make an unchangeable financial commitment. If an owner wants to return the policy after reviewing the contract, he/she may do so for a full refund of all money given to the insurance company. In this article we cover:
- The Definition of a Free Look Period
- The Purpose of a Free Look Period
- How to Return a Policy During the Free Look Period
Definition Of Free Look Period For Life Insurance
A free look is the period of time beginning when a life insurance policy is delivered to the policy owner, and ending after the prescribed amount of time defined by law and or company guidelines. During this time the policyholder has the right to return a life insurance policy for a full refund of all monies submitted for payment to the insurance company. The life insurance company can not charge any fees or penalties, can not refuse future coverage because of this, or refuse the free look request for any reason.
More simply put, during the free look period a policy owner can return the policy and get all of their money back. It is a no-obligation period to “try out” the policy.
Most free look periods are 10 to 20 days in length, but it can vary from state to state, depends on the specific product type, and some companies may give longer periods than the minimum requirement. While most states in the country do require a free look period, not every state does, and we recommend that our clients always check with their insurance company before submitting payment to see what the free look rules are. Some life insurance companies may extend a free look period to clients even if it is not required by law because it is a benefit that they give clients in other states.
Purpose Of Free Look
The purpose of a free look period for life insurance policy owners is to provide time for the owner to review the actual policy before committing to paying. Life insurance contracts are long, can sometimes be confusing for many people, especially less educated folks. It is also important because the actual insurance contracts (insurance policies) are delivered after payment is made in most cases. Without a free look, it would be impossible for the owner to review the actual language of the insurance contract before paying the insurance company.
To deliver a contract without a free look period is like asking someone to buy a house without an inspection. The physical life insurance policy outlines every right and limitation of the coverage, and it would be difficult to say the least for an agent to go over these details with their clients before the policy is delivered.
State regulators, knowing that some unscrupulous life insurance companies in the past would basically swindle people out of money by taking payment and then delivering a life insurance contract with language that would allow them to deny many death claims, decided that serious protection for consumers was needed. Today because of the state regulations, life insurance companies are often considered in the highest regard for ethics and corporate responsibility in the financial world. Even though the industry is very ethical as a whole, every owner has a right to review a contract before committing to it. The free look period provides this time.
Another reason for the free look is that life insurance agents can sometimes be pushy, and people may forge ahead with insurance without really understanding the product. While good agents will explain the options in detail before asking the client to commit, some are hungry for commissions and may lure clients into purchasing a product that does not fit their needs or their budget. People sometimes put such blind faith in an insurance agent or adviser, they trust any product recommendations they give them. The free look period allows a “cool off time” away from the pressure of a financial adviser, where the life insurance owner can consider the product from their own perspective.
Life Ant believes in both educating our clients and helping them comparison shop for the least expensive policy that fits their needs. We like to think that by putting the knowledge in our client’s hands it takes the pressure off of the decision, and ultimately our clients end up happier and more satisfied.
Death Benefit Must Be Paid During Free Look Period
Even though a life insurance policy owner can return their policy for a full refund, coverage is still completely active at this time. If an insured person dies during the free look period, a full death benefit must be paid to beneficiaries of the contract.
How To Return a Policy During the Free Look Period
Returning a policy during the free look period is very easy and straightforward. Life insurance companies will not try to fight you. Simply follow the steps outlined below and the life insurance company is obligated and bound by law to return your premiums in a fast and expeditious manner.
1. Contact your financial adviser to express your desire to free look a policy, and have the proper forms sent to you.
2. Contact the customer service area of your insurance company to get on the official record your free look request.
3. Fill out the free look return paperwork, and promptly send it to the company.
4. The money should be returned immediately.
Ideally, you will not need to return your policy, but the need does occasionally arise. If it does it is important to understand your right to a refund, and how to go about efficiently getting your money returned.