What Is the Free Look Period for Life Insurance?

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The free look period is a window of time that lets you review a life insurance policy after you’ve received it to make sure the coverage is right for you. During the free look period, you can cancel the policy and get a refund for any premiums you’ve paid.

Key Takeaways

  • The free look period for life insurance provides a window of time when you can cancel your policy for any reason. 
  • The free look period gives you at least 10 days to review the policy and figure out whether the coverage meets your needs.
  • The free look period begins the day that you receive the policy documents and/or make your first payment.
  • You won’t pay any financial penalties, such as surrender charges, if you cancel your policy during the free look period.

How Do Free Look Periods Work for Life Insurance?

A free look period for life insurance is like a return policy for, say, an appliance or a pair of shoes. It’s designed to protect you in case you want to “return” a life insurance policy for any reason, within a certain amount of time. If you cancel a policy within the allowable free look period, your insurer should refund any premiums you’ve paid without making you pay a surrender charge.

The clock on a free look period starts once you receive your policy. The period normally lasts at least 10 days but could be as long as 30 days, depending on the state laws where you live.

For instance, Texas law requires the free look period to be at least 10 to 20 days. In New York, the period must be 10-30 days. A 30-day period is required in New York for any policy offered by mail.


Free look periods affect term, whole, and variable life insurance policies.

Keep in mind that the free look period for a new life insurance policy might be shorter than it is for a replacement life insurance policy. For instance, a North Carolina policyholder has a minimum 10-day free look period for new coverage and a minimum 20-day free look period for replacement coverage.

An Example of a Free Look Period for Insurance

Let’s say Rasha purchases a $500,000 life insurance policy and then reads through the policy after she receives it. The payments are somewhat high, so she checks in with her financial advisor about whether the policy is a good use of her money.

After the meeting, Rasha realizes she’d rather invest the money that she planned to use for monthly insurance premiums. She’s within her free look period, so Rasha asks her insurance company to cancel her policy and refund any premiums she’s paid


Once you receive a life insurance policy, look it over as soon as possible. You might also want an attorney, trusted relative, financial advisor, or tax accountant to review it before the free look period ends.

Free Look Period vs. Grace Period for Life Insurance

Typically, life insurance policies have a free look period as well as a grace period.

The free look period refers to the window of time when you can cancel an insurance policy for any reason and receive a refund of your premiums paid. The grace period refers to a period of time after your premium due date when you can make a late payment without losing your coverage. Most states make insurance companies give you a grace period of around one month.

 Free Look Period   Grace Period
Allows you to cancel a policy for any reason and receive a full refund Lets you make a late payment and keep your coverage
Usually lasts 10 to 30 days Normally lasts around one month
Applies to premiums paid before and during free look period Applies to premium payments due that payment period 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long is the free look period for a life insurance policy?

Typically, free look periods lasts at least 10 days, and some last as long as 30 days, depending on which state you’re in.

How do I cancel my policy during my free look period?

To cancel your policy during the free look period, contact your insurer or the financial representative who helped you purchase your policy and let them know you want to cancel.

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  1. Texas Department of Insurance. “Life Insurance Guide.”

  2. New York State Department of Financial Services. “Life Insurance.”

  3. North Carolina Department of Insurance. “FAQs About Life Insurance,” Click on “What does “free look” mean?”

  4. Fidelity Life. “Life Insurance Alws By State.”

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