Term Life Insurance Companies, Their Ratings And More

There are countless term insurance life insurance companies. As someone who’s been a life insurance professional for more than 20 years, I can honestly say that the best term life insurance companies, the top rated term life insurance companies, and the best rated term life insurance companies are very similar. It’s not to say they are all exactly alike but they are usually similar. To compare term life insurance companies is really a matter of what’s important to prospective insurance client.

Your priority

My experience has been that what most people are concerned with when it comes to term insurance is what it will cost them.

Clearly some term life insurance companies are more highly rated by companies such as A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor.

Some of the factors that determine a company’s rating are:

  • Financial strength
  • Financial stability
  • Ability to pay claims
  • Claims paying expediency

If any of these factors, among the others that are used, are important to you when you compare term life insurance companies, how important are these factors to you in comparison to price?

What if one company is considered one of the best term life insurance companies in the industry but the premium cost is double that for the same amount of coverage by one that is not considered one of the best rated term life insurance companies?

What’s your priority?

Ratings

Similar to being in school, term life insurance companies and all insurance companies are rated on an A-F basis.

Seems easy to understand, right?

Did you know that and “A” rated company can be rated anywhere from A++ to A-?

Did you know that different ratings companies, including those mentioned above use different criteria to determine ratings?

Did you know that an insurance company can be rated differently by the different ratings companies?

If an insurer receives a favorable rating from one rating company and a less favorable one from another rating company, which one do you think they’re going to make sure you’re aware of?

Underwriting

Insurance companies use the term underwriting to determine who pays how much for what. Different companies have different underwriting guidelines. Its name literally means that someone in the company places a signature on the policy saying a particular person meets the company’s underwriting guidelines.

There are three main methods used for underwriting life insurance policies:

  • Fully underwritten-most common-may involve medical exam (blood/urine specimen/attending physician statement).
  • Simplified issue-less common-no medical exam-decision regarding issue usually swift
  • Guaranteed issue-anyone who applies and meets certain conditions is guaranteed that a policy will be issued-(includes accidental death insurance and graded death benefit policies)

There are also different underwriting classifications. The most common:

  • Preferred-best rates
  • Standard-most common
  • Sub-standard, also known as rated or table

Some companies subdivide the classifications. For example:

  • Super preferred
  • Ultra preferred
  • Standard plus

Table can be in the form of a number (usually 1-6) or a letter (usually A-G) – the higher the number or letter, the higher the premium.

Convertibility

Some companies allow for conversion of a term policy to a permanent policy at a later date without proving insurability.

Other companies allow for conversion but require proof of insurability.

Some companies do not offer convertibility at all.

If convertibility is offered, it is often within certain time limits.

If you’re sure you want term and nothing else, then this is not something you need to consider.

Price

The main factors that affect price:

1. Health

2. Age

3. Life style

They are numbered as such because that is generally the order of priority companies use to classify prospective clients.

Poor health can and will exclude someone regardless of age and lifestyle and no amount of money will buy insurance. On the other hand excellent health can go a long way in reducing premiums.

A person’s age is the next factor. The age is compared to mortality rates. Different companies have different charts for mortality rates.

Another way to describe mortality rate is how many years someone of their age is away from death.

Statistically speaking, insurance companies know pretty accurately how many people of a certain age will die before their next birthday.

Life style is the third factor. The most common consideration is whether someone smokes but there are others as well, such as what someone does for a living. Certain professions are more hazardous than others.

A person’s hobbies have an effect as well. Sky diving, and speed racing are often frowned upon, and may not result in denial of coverage, but could result in higher premiums.

Regardless of all factors, female rates are nearly always lower than male rates.

Fully underwritten vs. simplified issue vs. guaranteed issue

All things being equal, fully underwritten is going to result in the best priced premium. However, often times all things are not equal.

Are you sure your health is as good as you think it is or is it possible a blood/urine sample, saliva swab, or doctor’s report could reveal something you’re not aware of, or if you’re not the most ethical person, perhaps something you simply don’t want to reveal?

A fully underwritten policy takes much more into consideration when determining rating class and price than a simplified issue policy.

Depending on your point of view, that can be an advantage or a disadvantage.

Assuming you’re being honest and there’s not already information reported about you to the medical information bureau (MIB), your chances of a policy being issued as applied for are as high as 9 out of 10 if you apply for a simplified issue policy.

On the other hand, there is about a 60% chance you will not qualify for a fully underwritten policy as applied for.

A guaranteed issue policy will definitely be issued. You will know if you qualify before actually signing the application. It’s either yes or no. However because it’s guaranteed, the price is usually much higher, unless it is a conditional policy such as an accidental death policy.

Conclusion

Unless you know the ropes and/or can take the time to weigh all the factors when comparing term life insurance companies, an experienced professional can steer you the best term life insurance companies for you to consider.

Having said that, if you want to be absolutely sure that you’ll get the insurance you want, it’s best to buy a guaranteed issue policy.

If you’re pretty sure you’re in good health but don’t want to go to the trouble of a medical exam or paramedical exam (blood/urine), or you don’t want to reveal certain matters that could affect your ability to obtain insurance, you should consider a simplified issue policy.

Once you qualify for a policy, assuming no fraud is involved, the only one who can cancel the policy once it’s been issued is you. The insurance company cannot cancel you as long as the premiums are paid.

Perhaps it makes sense to apply for a guaranteed or simplified issue policy first. Once issued then shop for the best price and/or the best rated term life insurance companies.

What’s best for you?

I invite any and all questions and comments.

Reasons to Buy Life Insurance

For many people, the first introduction to life insurance is when a friend or a “friend of a friend” gets an insurance license. For others, a close friend or relative died without having adequate coverage or any life insurance. For me, I was introduced to a life insurance company where I had to set appointments with friends and family as I learned the ends and outs of the industry and hopefully, make some sales.

Unfortunately, however, this is how most people acquire life insurance – they don’t buy it, it is sold to them. But is life insurance something that you truly need, or is it merely an inconvenience shoved under your nose by a salesperson? While it may seem like the latter is true, there are actually many reasons why you should purchase life insurance.

As we grow older, get married, start a family, or begin a business, we need to understand that life insurance is absolutely necessary. For example, picture a safety net. You may be the greatest tightrope walker in the world, without a doubt. You could perform without a net, but, “Why?” You cherish your life and the life of those close to you and you wouldn’t do anything that showed that you felt differently. Let’s face it, we have no control over the unpredictability of life or of unforeseen occurrences. With that in mind, just as a safety net protects the uncertainty life, so does life insurance. It is an indispensable and fundamental foundation to a sound financial plan. Over the years, life insurance has given many caring and responsible people the peace of mind knowing that money would be available to protect the ones most important in their life, family and estate in a number of ways, including:

1. To Pay Final Expenses

The cost of a funeral and burial can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and I don’t want my wife, parents, or children to suffer financially in addition to emotionally at my death.

2. To Cover Children’s Expenses

Like most caring and responsible parents, it is necessary to be sure that our children are well taken care of and can afford a quality college education. For this reason, additional coverage is absolutely essential while children are still at home.

3. To Replace the Spouse’s Income

If one parent passes away while the children are young, the surviving caring parent would need to replace that income, which is essential to their lifestyle. The responsible surviving parent would need to hire help for domestic tasks like cleaning the house, laundry, and cooking. Add to that equation if it is a single parent, helping with schoolwork, and taking your children to doctor’s visits.

4. To Pay Off Debts

In addition to providing income to cover everyday living expenses, a family would need insurance to cover debts like the mortgage, so they wouldn’t have to sell the house to stay afloat.

5. To Buy a Business Partner’s Shares

In a business partnership, the partners need insurance on each other partner’s life. The reason is so if one dies, the others will have enough cash to buy his interest from his heirs and pay his share of the company’s obligations without having to sell the company itself. They have the same needs (due to the risk that one of the partners might die), and they simultaneously purchased insurance on each other’s life.

6. To Pay Off Estate Taxes

Estate taxes can be steep, so having insurance in place to pay them is essential to avoid jeopardizing assets or funds built for retirement. Use of insurance for this purpose is most common in large estates, and uses permanent (rather than term) insurance to ensure that coverage remains until the end of life.

7. To Provide Living Benefits

With the advancements in medicine and rising healthcare costs, people are living longer, but cannot afford to. Living benefits is an option to use death proceeds before the insured dies to help with obligations or necessities to ease the pressure on themselves and others.

How Much Coverage Should I Buy?

The face amount, or “death benefit” of an insurance policy (i.e., the amount of proceeds paid to the beneficiary) should be high enough to replace the after-tax income you would have earned had you lived a full life, presuming you can afford the annual premiums for that amount. In other words, the insurance replaces the income you didn’t have the chance to earn by living and working until retirement due to a premature death.

The proper amount of insurance allows your family to continue their lifestyle, even though your income is no longer available. The actual amount that you should purchase depends upon your present and probable future incomes, any special circumstances affecting you or your family, and your existing budget for premiums.

Whole Life or Term?

Some people prefer to drive Cadillac, Lincoln or Rolls Royce, which come with all of the electronic gadgets that make driving safe and as easy as possible. Others prefer less customized makes, equally reliable to their more expensive cousins, but requiring more hands-on attention.

Whole life is the “Cadillac” of insurance; these companies try to do everything for you, specifically investing a portion of your premiums so that the annual cost doesn’t increase as you grow older. The investment characteristic of the insurance means that premiums are generally higher than a similar term policy with the same face value. After all, whole life insurance is intended to cover your whole life.

Term insurance, on the other hand, is temporary life insurance. There are no excess premiums to be invested, and no promises or guarantees beyond the end of the term, which can range from 1 to 30 years. The annual premium for term insurance is always less than whole life, lacking the investment component, but your premiums will rise (often substantially) once the term period expires.

Both types of life insurance, term or whole life (or one of their derivatives) have benefits and drawbacks; both have their place depending upon the needs, desires, and financial objectives of the purchaser. A knowledgeable professional insurance agent can help you decide which type of policy is best for you depending upon your circumstances. But whichever you select, be sure that you have enough coverage to meet your objectives in the short term and the long term.

The Last Word

Some people mistakenly believe that life insurance is a scam. This is because the money for premiums is lost if death doesn’t occur during the coverage period (in the case of term insurance), or because many people live to a ripe old age and continue to pay their permanent insurance premiums. Such naysayers compare life insurance protection to gambling, and forgo the protection entirely.

There are others, who have the belief that life insurance does not help them. To those individuals, the answer is: You are absolutely correct! The truth of the matter is that life insurance is a way for caring and responsible people to help ensure that their family can continue to move forward in the event of your untimely demise, a truly difficult time of loss. Of course, there is no bet – you will die, but no one knows when. It could be today, tomorrow, or 50 years into the future, but it will happen eventually.

Do you have life insurance? Why or why not?

Life Insurance Policies Explained

Six Basic Kinds of Life Insurance

Regardless of how fancy the policy title or sales presentation might appear, all life insurance policies contain benefits derived from one or more of the three basic kinds shown below. Some policies due combine more than one kind of life insurance and can be confusing.

Term Life Insurance

Endowment Life Insurance

Whole Life Insurance

Variable Life Insurance

Universal Life Insurance

Variable Universal Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is death protection for a term of one or more years. Some companies are offering policies with terms up to thirty years. Premiums on term insurance remain level during the life of the policy. Term Life Insurance has no cash value account. Death benefits will be paid only if you die within that term of years. Term insurance generally provides the largest immediate death protection for your premium dollar.

Some term life insurance policies are renewable for one or more additional terms even if your health has changed. Each time you renew the policy for a new term, premiums will be higher. You should check the premiums at older ages and the length of time the policy can be continued.

Some term insurance policies are also convertible. This means that before the end of the conversion period, you may trade the term policy for a whole life or endowment insurance policy even if you are not in good health. Premiums for the new policy will be higher than you have been paying for the term insurance.

Life Insurance “Endowment”

An endowment insurance policy pays a sum or income to you, the policyholder, if you live to a certain age. If you were to die before then, the death benefit would be paid to your beneficiary. Premiums and cash values for endowment insurance are higher than for the same amount of whole life insurance. Thus endowment insurance gives you the least amount of death protection for your premium dollar.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance gives death protection for as long as you live. The most common type is called straight life or ordinary life insurance, for which you pay the same premiums for as long as you live. These premiums can be several times higher than you would pay initially for the same amount of term insurance. But they are smaller than the premiums you would eventually pay if you were to keep renewing a term insurance policy until your later years.

Some whole life policies let you pay premiums for a shorter period such as 20 years, or until age 65. Premiums for these policies are higher than for ordinary life insurance since the premium payments are squeezed into a shorter period.

Although you pay higher premiums, to begin with, for whole life insurance than for term insurance, whole life insurance policies develop cash values which you may have if you stop paying premiums. You can generally either take the cash, or use it to buy some continuing insurance protection. Technically speaking, these values are called nonforfeiture benefits. This refers to benefits you do not lose or forfeit when you stop paying premiums. The amount of these benefits depends on the kind of policy you have, its size, and how long you have owned it.

A policy with cash values may also be used as collateral for a loan. If you borrow from the life insurance company, the rate of interest is shown in your policy. Any money which you owe on a policy loan would be deducted from the benefits if you were to die, or from the cash value if you were to stop paying premiums.

Variable Life Insurance

Variable life insurance, provides permanent protection for you and death benefits to your beneficiary upon your death. The value of the death benefits may fluctuate up or down depending on the performance of the investment portion of the policy. Most variable life insurance policies guarantee that the death benefit will not fall below a specified minimum, however, a minimum cash value is seldom guaranteed. Variable is a form of whole life insurance and because of investment risks it is also considered a securities contract and is regulated as securities under the Federal Securities Laws and must be sold with a prospectus.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal Life insurance is a variation of Whole Life. The insurance part of the policy is separated from the investment portion of the policy. The investment portion is invested in bonds and mortgages, the investment portion of Universal Life is invested in money market funds. The cash value portion of the policy is set up as an accumulation fund. Investment income is credited to the accumulation fund. The death benefit portion is paid for out of the accumulation fund. Unlike Whole Life Insurance, the cash value of Universal Life Insurance grows at a variable rate. Normally, there is a guaranteed minimum interest rate applied to the policy. No matter how badly the investments go by the insurance company, you are guaranteed a certain minimal return on the cash portion. If the insurance company does well with its investments, the interest return on the cash portion will increase.

Variable-Universal Life

Variable universal life insurance pays your beneficiary a death benefit. The amount of the benefit is dependent on the success of your investments. If the investments fail, there is a guaranteed minimum death benefit paid to your beneficiary upon your death. Variable universal gives you more control of the cash value account portion of your policy than any other insurance type. A form of whole life insurance, it has elements of both life insurance and a securities contract. Because the policy owner assumes investment risks, variable universal products are regulated as securities under the Federal Securities Laws and must be sold with a prospectus.

Rates and coverage vary form state to state. Shop around on your own and talk to an independent insurance agent to make sure you get a plan that’s right for you. It’s amazing how much rates may vary from company to company for the same coverage.