Banner Life Insurance Review

A core line-up of policies with coverage available to age 100

Family
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Banner Life Insurance offers several types of policies that can be customized with different types of riders. While Banner offers a good line-up of core coverages, they don’t offer as many policies as some other insurers. Nor do they have the lowest premiums. Below, we reviewed Banner’s offerings, pricing, financial stability ratings, and customer satisfaction reports. Read on for our full take.

What We Like

  • Dedicated final expense policies available

  • Universal life coverage available to age 100

  • Superior financial stability ratings from multiple agencies

  • Riders available to get the most from your policy

What We Don't Like

  • Only three types of coverage available

  • Monthly payments only available with automatic bank draft

  • Limited customer service hours

  • Some complaints about trouble changing policies or policies being canceled unexpectedly

Company Overview: Young Company But Financially Solid 

Banner Life was founded in 1949 as Government Employees Life Insurance Company (GELICO). In 1981, the company became part of the London-based Legal & General Group. It's headquartered in Frederick, Maryland, and the company specializes in providing three main types of life insurance to meet customers’ core needs.

Available Plans: Just the Basics

Banner Life only offers three different types of life insurance coverage—fewer than are available through most insurers. Banner offers one type of term life policy, one type of universal life policy that accumulates cash value, and one final expense policy designed to cover medical bills, funeral expenses, and any unpaid debts.

Banner Life offers the following policies:

Term

Banner Life offers term life policies for customers between the ages of 20 and 75 years old. Term life policies provide a predetermined amount of coverage, ranging from $100,000 to $10 million, for a fixed premium. Policies last for pre-set terms ranging from one to 40 years.

Term life insurance allows you to meet your financial obligations today, while still protecting your family's future tomorrow.

Universal

Banner Life universal policies must be purchased through an agent. These policies offer coverage ranging from $50,000 to $10 million and accumulate cash value in addition to offering a death benefit and guaranteed lifetime coverage.

Banner Life’s offers the following universal life policy:

  • Life Step UL: Banner Life’s Life Step UL policy is a flexible premium universal life insurance plan. The policy provides guaranteed lifetime coverage with a death benefit as well as guaranteed cash values. Policyholders also get premium flexibility that let them guarantee coverage for shorter durations such as a defined age. 

Universal life policies through Banner Life also provide policyholders with a short pay guarantee. This guarantees that policyholders can design premium payments over a fixed number of years to guarantee lifetime coverage or complete lifetime premium payments before retirement.

Final Expense

Final expense policies from Banner Life are available from $1,000 to $15,000 in $1,000 increments. Policies also offer guaranteed acceptance for applicants aged 50 to 80—no one can be turned down because of their health. There’s no medical exam or lengthy health questionnaire. Banner also advertises the “best rates for non-tobacco users” and guarantees that premiums will never go up. Banner also promises that “approved claims paid within one business day.”

Available Riders: A Few Key Add-ons

Banner Life policyholders who want to get more out of their policies can add riders to their policy for added benefits. Banner Life doesn’t offer many different types of riders, but makes several key add-ons available. The riders that can be added vary by policy type—not all riders are available for all policy types.

Banner Life policyholders can add the following riders to their coverage:

Waiver of Premium

A waiver of premium rider pays for a policyholders’ premiums if they become disabled or suffer a serious long-term illness for at least six months. This rider is only available for policyholders aged 25 to 55 who have certain types of coverage. 

Policy Conversion

The conversion option allows customers to exchange their term policies for universal life coverage. This conversion option also allows policyholders to convert their policies in the same health class—even if there’s been a change in their health. Conversions can be requested anytime during a policy’s guaranteed level premium period up to attained age 70.

Term Riders

Term riders allow policyholders to add term life coverage to an existing universal life policy.

Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

Accelerated death benefit riders let universal life policyholders access their death benefits early if they’re diagnosed with a qualifying terminal illness. Qualifying policyholders can access up to $500,000 or 75% of the policy's primary death benefit (less any outstanding loan balance), whichever is less. Accelerated death benefits are treated as loans and accrue interest that reduce the death benefit to be paid when the insured dies.

Children's Rider

A children's life insurance rider adds death benefit coverage for children of an insured. Universal life policyholders who add this rider get coverage on children until the child turns 25, the insured turns 65, or the policy is canceled.

Customer Service: Only During Business Hours

Banner Life policyholders who need assistance can call 1-800-638-8428 from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday. Alternatively, customers can fax 301-294-6960, email customerservice@bannerlife.com, or log in through Legal & General’s website (https://www.lgamerica.com/).

Customer Satisfaction: Good Reviews & Few Complaints

Banner Life isn’t rated by JD Power. However, the company has an A+ rating from the BBB and only has three registered complaints. There are a few negative reviews online that reference trouble making changes to policies or having policies canceled unexpectedly, but most reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

Financial Strength: Excellent Anyway You Cut It

As a subsidiary of Legal & General, Banner doesn’t get its own financial ratings. However, Legal & Genral gets superior ratings from several agencies. The company gets an A+ rating from AM Best, AA- from S&P, and AA- from Fitch.

Cancellation Policy: Easy But Potentially Expensive

Customers who decide to cancel a policy with Banner Life can do so relatively easily. To cancel, all you have to do is complete a simple surrender form that’s available online. Surrender charges vary by policy type and individual policy documents. There are no surrender charges for term policies, but surrender charges apply for universal policies for the first 14 years after issue.

Price: Nothing Special

Prices for life insurance policies through Banner Life are reasonable but not stellar. While prices aren’t unreasonable, Banner isn’t the least expensive provider available. Premiums are paid annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly if a policyholder sets up automatic payments.

Below are sample premiums for $150,000 in term life coverage for 20 years for non-smokers in average health:

Competition: Banner Life vs. Colonial Penn

Both Banner Life and Colonial Penn are established life insurance companies that are owned by larger companies. Banner Life receives superior ratings for financial stability and customer satisfaction. Banner also has more riders available and premiums for term life policies are lower, even with higher coverage amounts. Customers debating between the two will likely be more satisfied with Banner Life.

Many people who shop for life insurance with Banner Life also shop with Colonial Penn. It's important to note that Banner Life doesn't offer a policy below $150,000 in term and Colonial Penn doesn't offer a traditional term life policy over $50,000. Consumers should pay attention to the differences to make an apples-to-apples comparison.

Final Verdict: A Solid Option But Not Unbeatable

Banner Life is a solid life insurance company for customers looking to purchase insurance from a company with excellent ratings for financial stability and customer satisfaction. However, the company only provides a few core policies and isn’t the cheapest option for customers who have particular needs or are cost-conscious shoppers.

Specs 

Article Sources

  1. Legal & General. "Final Expense Policy." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  2. Legal & General. "Corporate Financials." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  3. Legal & General. "Administrative Service Form." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  4. Legal & General. "Products At a Glance." Accessed March 15, 2020.