What Is the Free Look Period for Life Insurance?

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The free look period for life insurance is the period of time following the receipt of a life insurance policy within which you can end your contract for a full premium refund.

The free look period for life insurance is the period of time following the receipt of a life insurance policy within which you can end your contract for a full premium refund. 

A free look period can be at least 10 days for new policies or at least 30 days when replacing existing coverage. During the free look period, you may return the policy to your insurer without paying surrender charges. 

Learn more about the free look period, how it works, and what it means for your life insurance policy.

Definition and Examples of the Free Look Period

The free look period is when you can freely cancel your life insurance contract without incurring surrender charges, which are fees you may pay when you cancel your policy within a certain number of years after it’s issued. 

During the free look period, you can receive a full refund of any premium paid for the insurance contract, including policy fees, if you decide you don’t want the coverage. It starts on the day you receive your life insurance contract and usually lasts for 10 days or more, depending on your state’s laws.  

Let’s take a hypothetical example of Jane, who lives in Maryland and buys a whole life insurance policy from her preferred carrier. Three days after buying the policy, she receives the policy documents. Jane’s free look period starts the day she physically receives the documents.

In Maryland, like most states, Jane would have a minimum of 10 days to assess the contract and decide whether she wants to keep it. If she decides during this period that she doesn’t want the policy, she can return the contract and get all her money back.

How the Free Look Period Works

An insurance policy is a legal contract between an insurance provider and the entity or person being insured. The free look period gives you a chance to read your contract so you can verify that it satisfies your needs, which can help you avoid conflicts with your insurance carrier. 

If you don’t agree with the terms and conditions of the contract, you can cancel and return the policy within the “free look” timeframe and receive a full premium refund.

Once you receive the physical documents and your free look period begins, consult your insurance representative to better understand the intricacies of the contract.

If you decide to terminate the contract during the free look period, you might have to return the policy documents to your insurance company by mail, or deliver them to a home or branch office or your insurance agent. You may also need to provide a request in writing stating your intention to cancel the contract. Check with your state insurance commissioner and life insurance company for the proper procedure.

What It Means for Your Life Insurance

Besides being able to terminate your insurance contract, the free look period gives you time to continue asking questions that will help you understand the policy and ensure it’s right for you. 

Be sure to review your life insurance contract immediately after you receive the policy documents. If you’re not satisfied with the contract, contact your insurance representative and ask how you can take advantage of the free look period for a full refund of the initial purchase payment.

Free Look Period vs Grace Period for Life Insurance

Life insurance contracts have both a free look period and a grace period and they are not the same thing. As discussed, the free look period for life insurance is a time period during which you can cancel your contract without paying surrender charges.

In contrast, the grace period for life insurance is a stipulated window after your premium’s due date during which your policy remains active even though you have an unpaid premium. You can make a late payment without incurring any interest charges and still maintain coverage during the grace period. 

Typically, the grace period is one month (no less than 30 days) and applies to subsequent premiums rather than the initial purchase payment.

Free Look Period Grace Period
Lets you cancel your contract for a full premium refund Lets you make a late premium payment without losing coverage
Is 10 days or more Is usually one month, no less than 30 days
Applies to the initial purchase payment Applies to the subsequent premium payments

Key Takeaways

  • The free look period for life insurance provides a window during which you can terminate your policy for any reason. 
  • The free look period gives you at least 10 days to review the insurance contract and seek clarification on clauses you don’t understand.
  • The free look period begins the date you physically receive the insurance contract documents. 
  • You won’t pay any surrender charges if you cancel your policy during the free look period.

Article Sources

  1. North Carolina Department of Insurance. "FAQs About Life Insurance." Accessed Oct. 27, 2021.

  2. Maryland Insurance Administration. "Life Insurance for Military Personnel." Accessed Oct. 27, 2021.

  3. Oregon Insurance Division. "Your Rights When Purchasing Insurance and Annuities." Accessed Oct. 27, 2021.