Ethos Life Insurance Review

Affordable, online, same-day life insurance policies

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Ethos

Ethos

Our Take

Ethos is an online life insurance marketplace that sells whole and term life insurance policies underwritten by third-party insurers they have partnerships with. It offers quick coverage, often without a medical exam, and does not require any paperwork to apply for a policy.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Low rates

  • Same-day life insurance

  • Quick online quotes

  • No paperwork or hassle

  • No medical exams on some policies

Cons
  • Only one whole life insurance option

  • Difficult to access an experienced agent

  • Coverage not guaranteed

  • Limited coverage on certain conditions, such as "invasive cancer"

  • No other forms of insurance like critical illness or disability

Key Takeaways
  • Ethos is an online marketplace that makes it easy to buy whole and term life insurance.
  • They reduce the work it takes to get coverage using an online application.
  • They offer lower coverage amounts than many other insurers. 
Specifications
  • Year Founded 2016
  • Kinds of Plans Whole, term
  • Number of Plans 2
  • Payment Options Monthly payments by debit or credit card
  • Official Website www.ethoslife.com

Introduction

Ethos is an online life insurance company that sells whole and term life insurance policies for those who want to get coverage quickly and without a lot of paperwork. There are limited plan options, but there are some that are guaranteed-issue plans and don’t require a medical exam. Although Ethos’ rates are affordable, it doesn’t directly insure its customers but instead works with a network of partners.

In this review, we will break down the Ethos’ life insurance policies and tell you what you need to know if you’re considering buying a policy from them. 

Company Overview

Ethos was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in San Francisco. It’s a rapidly growing tech startup, and the company raised an additional $60 million in 2019. There are around 100 employees across three offices in San Francisco, Singapore, and Austin, but all of its policies are sold online through partnerships with third-party national insurance companies.

Available Plans 

Ethos allows you to purchase term and whole life insurance policies through their third-party insurance partners and is a third-party administrator of those policies. With Ethos, you can get between $50,000 and $1.5 million in protection, and the company works with several well-respected carriers including:

  • Legal & General America
  • Ameritas Life Insurance Corp
  • AAA Life Insurance Company
  • Principal
  • TruStage

Note, though, that some plans and options aren’t available in every state.

Term Life

Ethos offers several different term life insurance options via its partners. You can choose between 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year terms. Two of its carriers, Ameritas and TruStage, offer simplified issue term coverage, which means that you can get approved for coverage instantly based on third-party data and your responses to a questionnaire. There is no medical exam required for these plans.

There are also fully underwritten policies with insurers like Legal & General America, which require a full application and a medical exam. This option is a good choice for those who are in good health since they might be able to save money by getting a medical exam, which could qualify you for a lower rate than you would get for a guaranteed-acceptance policy, and for anyone looking to qualify for a higher death benefit. 

Ethos offers you the option to extend your term coverage when the term ends. 

Whole Life

Ethos offers several different whole life insurance options that will cover you for the rest of your life and which build cash value over time. However, Ethos says that these policies tend to cost between five and 10 times more than a term policy. 

One plan offered is a simple guaranteed-issue whole life insurance in partnership with AAA Life Insurance Company available for people between the ages of 65 and 85. Approval happens in minutes and without a medical exam. Your premiums will never increase and you’re covered for life. With this policy, you can choose between coverage valued at $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, and $25,000. 

Note that it has a graded death benefit that doesn’t cover you fully until two years have passed. During those two years, if you die, your beneficiaries get back 100% of your premiums paid, plus 30%. After the two years, you will get 100% of the policy value, unless death happens in a travel-related accident and then the policy pays out 200% of its value.  

Available Riders

Life insurance policy riders are add-ons to your base policy that let you purchase additional coverage for very specific risks. Many policies that Ethos sells include rider options, but which riders are available will depend on the third-party underwriter you purchase your coverage from. 

Ethos offers a variety of riders. Prices for the riders aren’t disclosed, so you’ll need to contact the company for that information. 

Return of Premium Rider

If your coverage is not needed during the full term of your term life insurance policy, purchasing this rider will mean you will be paid back all your premiums. 

Accidental Death Benefit Rider

If you get in an accident and die as a result, this rider will increase your policy claim, helping your family navigate your unexpected death.  

Child Life Insurance Rider

If you want life insurance for your children without significant additional cost, this rider can provide you with a term life insurance policy to cover children under 25.

Spouse Life Insurance Rider

You can cover a spouse with this rider, often without an additional medical exam.

Waiver of Premium Rider

If you are afraid of becoming totally disabled and not being able to pay your premiums, this rider will protect you by paying your premiums for you should you become disabled.

Some of Ethos’ partners also offer highly customizable riders, so be sure to ask what your options are before choosing a policy. 

Customer Service: Limited

You can contact Ethos customer service by calling (415) 322-2031 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST Monday through Friday. There are no weekend phone hours.

Ethos also offers an email address you can use (support@ethoslife.com) to send questions, and you’ll receive a response via text. However, similar to other companies that use third-party underwriters, your post-purchase questions will be answered by those companies rather than Ethos. This could affect your customer service experience (and how you contact the company).

Customer Satisfaction: Better Than Average

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides a rating of insurance company complaints to rate customer satisfaction. If a company has an average number of complaints relative to its market share, its complaint index would be 1.0. Scores that are below 1.0 would mean that the company has fewer complaints than its competitors. Higher than 1.0 would mean that it has more complaints than its competitors. 

Ethos is not rated by NAIC since it doesn’t offer insurance directly, but its three main carriers all have complaint indexes below 1.0: AAA (0.93), TruStage (0.61, through its parent company CMFG), and Principal (0.33).

Shop Directly

Before you buy a policy from a third-party insurer from Ethos, get a quote directly from the insurer to see if you can save money. 

Financial Strength: A (Excellent), A (Excellent), A+ (Superior)

AM Best's ratings analyze a company’s financial health, which is important for understanding if it will be able to pay your claim. Since Ethos doesn’t issue policies directly, it doesn’t have an AM Best rating, but the ratings of its primary partners are: 

  • AAA LIfe: A (Excellent)
  • TruStage: A (Excellent)
  • Principal Life Insurance: A+ (Superior) 

Cancellation Policy: Flexible 

Ethos has a 30-day free look money-back guarantee for a full refund on your policy. If you cancel anytime after the first 30 days, you don’t get a refund but there are no cancellation fees. Canceling your policy is easy—you can either fill out a surrender form or stop paying for your policy. 

Better Terms

Because Ethos sets the cancellation terms for policies sold through their site, you might be able to get better cancellation terms than if you bought directly through their partner insurers. 

Price of Ethos Life Insurance: Affordable

Ethos’ life insurance policies can range in price based on factors including the company you are purchasing coverage from, your age, your health, the level of coverage, and what riders are attached to your policy.

For a 30-year-old female non-smoker who is in average health, a term policy of $550,000 for 20 years will cost between $20 to $36 per month, according to Ethos’ premium estimator. 

For a 30-year-old male non-smoker in average health, a term policy of $550,000 for 20 years will cost $25 to $44 per month, according to the same premium estimator.

Premiums will be more expensive for those who are older, smoke, want more coverage, want whole life insurance, or have additional health problems. Note that when using their online quote estimator, it shows you term rates with the lowest rates for your demographic. This could make comparing quotes with other providers hard, as you can’t specify the variables you’d like to compare (e.g., length of policy or if you prefer a term vs. whole life insurance policy).  

How Ethos Compares to Other Life Insurance

Ethos is a life insurance marketplace that sells third-party life insurance via its website. They compete with other online insurance marketplaces as well as with other insurers who don’t directly sell life insurance but underwrite policies through third-party insurers. 

Ethos gives you access to several whole and term life insurance policies from their partners, allowing you to shop around for a great rate. However, you might also want to consider other companies that sell third-party insurance. 

Ethos vs GEICO Review

Ethos and GEICO both offer life insurance policies that are underwritten by partner companies. While Ethos is a financial technology company that tries to simplify purchasing life insurance by allowing customers to do it completely online, GEICO tries to simplify things by offering multiple types of insurance, allowing you to purchase all your policies from one company.  

Some key differences between Ethos and GEICO include 

  • With Ethos, you get coverage the same day versus GEICO’s longer process.
  • GEICO gives you access to more insurers, potentially getting you a better deal.   
  • GEICO offers universal life insurance policies and Ethos does not. 
  • Both offer a variety of riders that vary depending on which insurer you choose.
  Ethos GEICO
Kinds of plans Whole, term Whole, term, universal
Customer service Phone, email, online Phone, online, app, agent, chat
Customer satisfaction (NAIC Complaint Index) Companies they work with range from 0.33 to 0.93 1.41
More than four optional riders? Yes Yes
Verdict

Ethos is part of a growing number of online life insurance companies founded specifically to make getting insurance easy and hassle-free. Getting a plan with Ethos is simple and possible to do in a single day. However, their options are limited, and you are likely to get a better deal and have more options if you get insurance from a more traditional insurer. 

That said, Ethos makes getting life insurance simple and quick, and that convenience might be something you’re willing to pay for and make tradeoffs to get. Whether Ethos is right for you will depend on your lifestyle and needs.

Methodology 

All of our reviews of life insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company based on offerings, customer service, financial stability, cost, and more. For each company, we compared the life insurance products offered, as well as available features and reported customer experiences. Visit our life insurance review methodology for the full breakdown of what we evaluated for over two dozen companies.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Venture Beat. "GV leads $60 million investment in Ethos for data-driven life insurance." Accessed April 11, 2021.