Great Western Life Insurance Review

Preneed funeral insurance and final expense plans for seniors

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Great Western Life Insurance

Great Western Life Insurance

Our Take 

Great Western Life Insurance offers funeral and final expense life insurance to seniors but doesn’t offer term, universal, or traditional whole life insurance. Seniors looking to cover final expenses can find a decent policy with Great Western, but those looking for high coverage amounts and more policy options will need to look elsewhere.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Most policies are simplified-issue (no exam required)

  • Can borrow against cash value of some policies

  • Most policies offer a level premiums

  • Multiple preneed insurance options available

Cons
  • No term or universal life policies available

  • No online policy quotes available

  • Very few riders available

Key Takeaways
  • Great Western Life Insurance is a small life insurance company focused on end-of-life insurance coverage.
  • Great Western Life Insurance is a strong financial company with an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best.
  • Great Western Life Insurance has fewer customer complaints than other life insurance companies its size, according to NAIC.
  • Great Western Life Insurance offers two types of life insurance policies with several riders available.
Specifications
  • Year Founded 1983
  • Kinds of Plans Preneed, Final Expense
  • Number of Plans 5
  • Payment Options Monthly, Annual
  • Official Website www.gwic.com

Introduction

Great Western Life Insurance offers life insurance policies for seniors to cover end-of-life and funeral expenses. We researched Great Western Life Insurance’s financial stability, policy plan options, riders, website tools, and customer service reviews to help you compare the life insurance policy options of Great Western Life Insurance with the competition. 

Company Overview

Great Western Life Insurance was founded in 1983 by John E. Lindquist, who owned a mortuary at the time. The goal of his company was to provide funeral and final expense coverage to seniors. 

Great Western Life Insurance offers preneed insurance, which is not common among insurers. It is complete funeral coverage insurance that allows customers to partner with a funeral home, plan out every detail of the funeral event, and purchase insurance to cover it. Great Western Life Insurance also offers standard final expense life insurance to cover other end-of-life costs. 

Policy pricing is not available online and requires you to talk directly to an agent for an exact quote. Great Western Life Insurance is licensed in 49 states (not available in New York), but actual availability varies by product and state. 

Great Western Life Insurance offers an online funeral expense calculator to estimate how much insurance you need.

Available Plans

Great Western Life Insurance offers three different types of preneed insurance and two final expense life insurance plans.

Preneed Insurance

Designed to cover all costs included in a funeral, Great Western Life Insurance’s preneed insurance comes with three policy options.

  • Voyage: This preneed insurance offers cash value growth or return of premiums paid to cover funeral expenses, whichever is more. This means that policies pay out at least the amount paid into the policy for funeral coverage. Premiums available are single-pay, as well as 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year payment plans.
  • Course: This policy pays out based on cash value growth to the face value of the policy. Premiums are slightly lower than the Voyage offering, but a return of premium is not available with this plan. Premiums available are single-pay, as well as 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year payment plans.
  • Destination: This plan is designed for imminent death scenarios where the insured may be days or weeks away from death. This policy is a single-premium policy that pays out the greater of the premium paid or the cash surrender value.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Great Western Life Insurance offers two final expense life insurance policies, designed to help cover end-of-life costs such as burial and funeral expenses. These are whole life policies that accrue tax-deferred cash value that can be borrowed against if needed.

  • Assurance Plus: This is a simplified-issue policy that offers a 25% face value bonus to qualified individuals. This policy is designed for healthier applicants who pass a qualifying health questionnaire.
  • Guaranteed Assurance: This is a guaranteed-issue policy that offers life insurance coverage regardless of health status. This policy is designed for those in poor health who want guaranteed coverage. 

The Guaranteed Assurance plan is not available in Washington state.

Available Riders

Great Western Life Insurance offers a few riders for its life insurance policies. A rider is an optional policy enhancement that adds additional benefits to the insurance policies. Rider fees are typically billed as a small percentage of the policy premium, or as a flat annual fee. Fees vary by policy, product, and options selected.

Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

While subject to state availability, this rider pays the policy face value upon a terminal diagnosis. The total paid would first pay back any interest discount, loans, administrative charge, or any premiums that would be due in the next year (upon diagnosis or nursing home confinement).

The Accelerated Death Benefit rider is not available in the state of California.

Dependent Child or Grandchild Benefit Rider

With up to $2,500 in coverage, this rider offers life insurance for your child or grandchild but only pays out upon the first death of one of your dependents. 

Customer Service: Many Ways To Connect

Great Western Life Insurance offers support via phone, website, email, fax, or traditional mail. Online account management is available for setting up automatic payments, as well as updating policy beneficiaries.

Great Western Life Insurance customer service business hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. Customers can call 800-995-9010 for phone support or email customerservice@gwic.com.

Customer Satisfaction: Low Number of Complaints 

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index, Great Western Life Insurance receives fewer complaints than the industry average life insurance company. While an average complaint score is 1.0 (the lower, the better, based on market share), Great Western Life Insurance received a 0.81 score. This is an improvement on the 2019 score of 0.91, but slightly up from the 2018 score of 0.34. Overall, this is better than expected from a life insurance company its size.

J.D. Power also ranks companies based on customer satisfaction in the U.S. in its 2020 Life Insurance Study, but Great American Life Insurance was not ranked.

Financial Strength: A (Excellent)

Great Western Life Insurance is a strong financial company with an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best. This rating is based on its strong balance sheet, favorable operating performance, and enterprise risk management. Good financial stability and a high rating from AM Best give customers confidence that Great Western Life Insurance can pay out policy claims. 

Cancellation Policy: 30 Days

Most states require a minimum “free look” period for insurance policies, which is usually 10 to 30 days. Great Western Life Insurance offers a full 30 days for clients to cancel a new insurance policy for a full refund, including preneed policies.

After the free look period, cancellation terms vary among life insurance policies. For both preneed and final expense policy cancellations, you will need to reach out to a Great Western Life Insurance agent for specifics.

Price of Great Western Life Insurance: Not Available Online

Great Western Life Insurance premiums will vary by policy, but quotes are not available online. To obtain a quote for final expense plans, users can submit an online form or call customer service directly. While preneed insurance quotes are not available, users can use the online calculator to help estimate the amount of coverage needed for their funeral. 

Preneed and final expense policies typically carry low coverage amounts, which may result in lower premiums than larger permanent life policies, but may cost more than comparable term policies.

How Great Western Life Insurance Compares to Other Life Insurance

Great Western Life Insurance focuses solely on insuring against end-of-life expenses, offering both preneed insurance and final expense life insurance. It does not carry term or universal policies, and coverage amounts are low.

That being said, the customer service scores are above average according to NAIC, and Great Western Life Insurance has a unique positioning in partnering with funeral homes to write preneed coverage policies. The company also does not offer online quotes but requires applicants to talk to an insurance agent for pricing details. Here’s how Great Western Life Insurance compares to a large insurer.

Great Western Life Insurance vs. Allstate Life Insurance

Both Great Western Life Insurance and Allstate offer life insurance policies, including no-exam coverage options. Both companies also have better-than-average customer service ratings, according to NAIC. Great Western Life Insurance focuses on end-of-life expense insurance, while Allstate is a large insurer covering everything from automobiles to homes to life insurance coverage.

Here are a few key differences between Great Western Life Insurance and Allstate:

  • Allstate offers flexible term life insurance, allowing users to choose exact lengths and benefit coverage totals.
  • Great Western Life Insurance offers comprehensive preneed insurance, while Allstate does not.
  • Allstate life insurance is available in all 50 states, while Great Western Life Insurance covers 49 states (not available in New York).
  • Great Western Life Insurance offers a 25% coverage increase on final expense policies for healthy applicants.

While Great Western Life Insurance offers comprehensive coverage to seniors looking to cover funeral expenses, Allstate has far more life insurance coverage options (term, whole, universal), as well as discounts for existing policyholders. 

Read our full Allstate Life Insurance review.

  Great Western Life Insurance Allstate Life Insurance 
Market Share  N/A Eight-largest in the U.S., 2.80%
Number of Plans 
Online Quotes Available?  No  Yes (term life only)
Service Method  Email, phone, in-person  Email, phone, in-person, social media 
AM Best Rating  A (Excellent)  A+ (Superior) 
Complaints Index  0.81 (good)  0.29 (very good) 
Final Verdict

Great Western Life Insurance offers quality end-of-life insurance options, including less-common preneed insurance. It has high marks for customer service, as well as a high rating from AM Best as a strong financial company. With full-service funeral expense planning, as well as multiple payment options available, Great Western Life Insurance may be a good option for seniors looking just to cover final expenses.

If you are looking for low-cost insurance options, such as term life insurance, or more flexible permanent insurance options, you will need to look elsewhere. As with any life insurance policy, we recommend comparing the top insurance providers to find which one is the best fit for you.

Methodology

All of our reviews of life insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company’s 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.