John Hancock Life Insurance Review

Offering perks (and discounts) for healthy lifestyles

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.
John Hancock

John Hancock

overall rating
4.2

You should be aware that not all life insurance companies are currently accepting insurance applications due to COVID-19 pandemic. We'll update our reviews as we find more information about what companies are currently accepting new applications.

Our Take

John Hancock is the only insurer we reviewed that offered discounts, perks, and benefits based on your lifestyle. They enable a hands-on approach to savings and investments with the Vitality program and universal life plan’s LifeTrack interactive tool. John Hancock life insurance is a great bet if you are looking for a life insurance company that goes the extra mile to help you lead a healthy lifestyle.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Vitality Plan – only life insurer to offer discounts for a healthy lifestyle

  • Great rates for smokers with some policy incentives to quit smoking

  • Life insurance plans available for people with diabetes

  • A free fitness tracker

  • Discounts or perks with partners like Amazon and others

  • Range of universal life with conservative to aggressive style investing

  • Life Track interactive tool to help you track premium adjustments and goals

  • A Quit-Smoking Incentive with non-smoker rates

Cons
  • Does not offer options to convert term life to permanent

  • Suicide is never covered – industry standard is after two years

  • Final expense guaranteed issue coverage is expensive

Key Takeaways
  • John Hancock offers great rates and a special life insurance program for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They offer a tailored plan with access to advice to help manage and improve your health. 
  • If you lead a healthy lifestyle or want to get healthy, John Hancock has a great plan called “Vitality” to help meet or keep those fitness goals. It’s life insurance with health perks: they will give you a fitness tracker or an Apple Watch, and give you points and discounts on your life insurance based on results. 
  • Variable universal life allows you to aggressively grow your cash value and save on premium increases when the market is good.  
  • There is an incentive to quit smoking to qualify for more affordable non-smoker rates after 12 months.  
  • Consumers give John Hancock the thumbs up with one of the smallest Complaint Indexes in the industry.
Specifications
  • Year Founded 1862
  • Kinds of Plans Term life, universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life, survivorship life, final expense, guaranteed acceptance.
  • Number of Plans 14
  • Official Website https://www.johnhancock.com/index.html

John Hancock offers options for all types of life insurance, including term and permanent life insurance. They have a wide range of universal life products with survivorship life options. As you compare life insurance policy options, one major feature that makes John Hancock stand out is their focus on health and prevention.

We reviewed 25 insurance companies to see how John Hancock stacks up against the competition, taking into account price, underwriting, service, and more. Read on to see our full take.

Company Overview

John Hancock is a U.S. division of Manulife Financial Corporation. Manulife is the 13th largest insurance company in the world. John Hancock Life Insurance Company has been in business for over 150 years and is in the top ten life insurers in the U.S. by direct premiums written. In addition to life insurance, they also offer annuities, investments, 401(k) plans, and education savings plans.  

Available Plans 

John Hancock offers 14 different life insurance plans with health features that are an innate part of the policy or added by a rider. Their plans are based in three fundamental policy types: term life, final expense, and a large selection of universal life plans. They uniquely market a life insurance policy designed for people with diabetes.

Our expert says

John Hancock’s term life insurance offers simplified underwriting options which may give you an instant decision on your life insurance purchase, however, keep in mind that they are one of the few insurers who do not offer conversion options on their term life plans.

Aspire With Vitality Plan - For People with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes

Aspire with Vitality is a special life insurance plan designed for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. It combines a life insurance product with diabetes management and support. This is available in both term and permanent policy types.

Perks of the Aspire Vitality Plan are:

  • Participation in the Vitality GO or Vitality PLUS programs.
  • People in the Vitality Plus program can save up to 25% in premiums.
  • Access to Onduo, subject to eligibility criteria. Onduo is a state-of-the-art program for people with Type 2 diabetes that provides coaching, clinical support, and education.

Vitality Wellness Rewards Program

Vitality allows policyholders with a Vitality Plan or rider add-on to participate in one of two programs that support a healthy and financially fit life. They do this by giving discounts and points based on your physical activity. These discounts can result in perks or savings on your life insurance policy. There are two options for the Vitality program: Vitality Go and Vitality Plus.

Vitality Go benefits include:

  • A fitness device discount 
  • Amazon.com discounts
  • Healthy gear discounts
  • HealthyFood benefit points and savings 
  • Free subscription to Tufts Health & Nutrition letter

Vitality Plus benefits include everything in Vitality Go, plus additional perks such as:

  • Annual premium savings up to 15% on the life insurance premium
  • The ability to earn an Apple Watch (earnings are based on regular exercise which translates into points that then accumulate to either help finance or pay for the watch, depending on your activity levels.)
  • A free Fitbit
  • Amazon.com gift cards
  • Amazon Prime membership
  • Discounts on hotel stays with Hotels.com
  • Premium subscription to the Headspace app
  • Shopping and entertainment gift cards
  • HealthyFood benefit points and savings of up to $600 a year in fresh fruit and vegetables
Our expert says

For smokers participating in the Quit Smoking Incentive, they will benefit from non-smoker rates for three years to give them a chance to quit smoking, and these savings are significant. No other insurer we reviewed offered a program like this.

Quit Smoking Incentive (QSI)

The Quit Smoking Incentive (QSI) gives qualified smokers the opportunity to benefit from standard non-smoker charges for the first three years of the policy. After the first three years, the policyholder must provide evidence that they have quit smoking for 12 months, or the premiums will change to smoker rates. The program is available for ages 20 to 70 with certain conditions. This can be a huge advantage in premium savings for smokers to give them a chance to quit while benefiting from lower rates.

If you lead a healthy lifestyle or want to get healthy, John Hancock has a great plan called “Vitality” to help meet or keep those fitness goals. It’s life insurance with health perks: they will give you a fitness tracker or an Apple Watch, and give you points and discounts on your life insurance based on results.

Term Life Insurance

John Hancock offers term life insurance with several term length options, from a 10-year to a 30-year term, depending on your age and which products you qualify for.

Coverage limits on the term life insurance products depend on how much you want to purchase. John Hancock has a large capacity to insure you for between $25,000 to $65,000,000 in death benefits. You can purchase term life online through John Hancock for amounts of up to $5,000,000. For amounts over $5,000,000, you can ask to speak to a financial representative who will be able to provide quotes.

John Hancock offers two types of term life insurance, both with Vitality Plan options: Simple Term and Fully Underwritten. John Hanock’s term life insurance policies are not convertible, which means that once the term ends you can not change this into a permanent life policy, as may be the case with other life insurance companies.

Simple Term: This policy type is quotable online, with simplified underwriting (which means if you pass the questions, you will not have to take a life insurance medical exam). The advantage is that you can get an instant decision, and coverage is available from $25,000 to $250,000.

Fully Underwritten: The fully underwritten policy can provide coverage if you do not meet the medical history requirements of the Simple Term plan, or if you would like over $5,000,000 of coverage. Coverage starts at $100,000.

Although details about adding a spouse to the policy are not available online, we contacted John Hancock and were told by their agent that there is an option to add coverage for a spouse to the policy within 3 years, which could be an option to inquire about if you are looking to insure yourself and your spouse but do not want to have to purchase two life insurance policies to save money.

Whole Life Insurance

John Hancock offers a few different types of permanent life insurance policies but only one whole life policy, which is a guaranteed issue final expense policy.

John Hancock’s term life insurance offers simplified underwriting options which may give you an instant decision on your life insurance purchase, however, keep in mind that they are one of the few insurers who do not offer conversion options on their term life plans.

Final Expense

John Hancock’s final expense policy has guaranteed acceptance and has the option for an online quote. The plan requires no medical questions or exams, and also allows participation in the Vitality GO program (available everywhere except New York, Washington, and Puerto Rico), which can give you discounts on your life insurance. The final expense policy also offers the option to accumulate cash values. The issue ages for the final expense policy are from 55 to 80 years old. Coverage is available from $2,000 to $20,000 and may be available for as little as $11 a month. 

Universal Life Insurance

John Hancock offers three universal life insurance options: universal life indexed, universal life, and variable universal life. They also offer survivorship universal life plans in each of the three options and plans with guaranteed death benefits. 

The Vitality Plan is also available to be added as an option on some plans.

Universal life insurance provides the opportunity to have whole life coverage with cash value options that you can select depending on your long term goals. The different plans with John Hancock provide various investment options for the cash value allocation of the premium. The universal life policies also give you flexibility with premium payments to allow you to adjust how you pay them over time as needed.  

  • Universal Life (UL): This plan allows you to adjust the amount of your premium payments as well as the frequency. The cash value account growth is based on a credited interest rate but does not place your funds directly in the market, so they remain protected. You can borrow or withdraw money from the cash values in this account.
  • Protection UL: The Protection UL plan is one of John Hancock’s most affordable universal life policies. It includes a Death Benefit Protection which is a no-lapse guarantee up until age 121, which guarantees that the policy will not default even if the cash surrender value drops to zero or below. The guarantee is subject to certain criteria, such as making sure that the debt on the policy never exceeds the death benefit value. 

Indexed Universal Life

The John Hancock indexed universal life policies offer premium flexibility, cash values, and a death benefit, but also include the added advantage of earning interest on a linked indexed account. The policy takes advantage of building more cash value than the standard universal life policy and is available with different plan options to give you the opportunity to decide what level of risk you are comfortable with. 

  • Protection IUL: The Protection Indexed Universal Life (IUL) plan includes similar features of the Universal Life (UL), but it allows you to earn interest based on placing cash values in a linked indexed account. The linked account does not participate in equity or stock investments directly, performance will depend on which indexed account options you select. Like the universal life policy, you may switch how your premiums are allocated as your needs or strategy changes, and the plan offers the use of the LifeTrack tool to help you see the impact of the various changes. The Protection IUL policies also include the no-lapse guarantee Death Benefit Protection.
  • Accumulation IUL: This plan is available for issue ages 20 to 90 years old, the minimum value is $50,000. The policy provides you with cash value account options where you can allocate your values: a fixed account and indexed accounts. The indexed accounts are linked to the markets, but provide the security of a 0% floor which means you will not go into the negative based on the market performance but may benefit from interest crediting when the market results are good. The fixed account has a guaranteed rate of 2% or higher. As with the other line of John Hancock products you may opt for living benefits riders and participation in the Vitality Plan which could result in savings on your premiums. 

In all cases, policy products, interest rates, and guarantees should be discussed with a John Hancock advisor since the terms and conditions of these policies will change over time or based on market performance. The information we researched should provide a good basis to start the conversation and understand some of the differences in the available plans.

Variable Universal Life

The Variable Universal Life (VUL) plans with John Hancock are similar to the Indexed Universal life plans, except the performance of the cash value account is based on the performance of the investment options and there is no guarantee. The variable universal life plan includes the ability to access the cash values via withdrawals and loans, as well as to transfer funds between various investment options and build your own investment strategy. In the Variable UL plans, you have the option of the Protection VUL plan or Accumulation VUL as well.

Survivorship Universal Life

John Hanock offers different options for survivorship universal life insurance, based on the Universal Life plans described above. The plan features are similar, except that instead of insuring one life, it is a survivorship life policy which means it insures two people on the policy and only pays out on the second to die. Plans include Survivorship UL (SUL), Protection SUL, and Protection SIUL. 

List of John Hancock Life Insurance Policy Riders

John Hancock offers a number of riders, in particular a series of living benefits riders, and the option to add the Vitality Plan to many of their policies. A life insurance rider is like an endorsement on an insurance policy; it may be included as part of a policy package, but often has a cost associated with it. You may have to request to add it to the policy or it may not be included. 

Depending on the type of life insurance policy or plan you choose with John Hancock, there are various riders available. Here is an example of some of the riders they offer:

  • Vitality Plan: Although the Vitality Plan is included with some insurance plans, it may be added to others, such as Protection UL, for example. 
  • Unemployment Protection Waiver of Premium Rider: For an additional fee you can add this rider to your policy. It provides coverage to waive your insurance premiums for the policy (and any riders) for up to 12 months, and up to a premium value of $10,000 (with a maximum policy limit value of $5,000,000). This rider comes into effect if you become unemployed for more than four weeks and can prove that you have been receiving federal or state unemployment benefits during this time and is subject to a waiting period. The coverage can be used twice during the level term period.  
  • Critical Illness Benefit Rider: This rider is part of the living benefits options and offers a lump sum income tax-free payment in addition to the life insurance benefit. It may be used in the event of a critical illness, such as a heart attack, cancer, or stroke. 
  • Long-Term Care Rider: This rider is part of the living benefits options John Hancock offers. This is an optional rider that can be added to some policies which offer the option to have an accelerated death benefit to help pay costs of long-term care insurance. This amount is taken from the death benefit value of the policy, so any amount not used would be paid out in the death benefit.

Customer Service

John Hancock offers information on its programs and products through the website.

The value-added perks in the Vitality Plan include support for helping you lead a healthy lifestyle, and discounts on things like fresh fruits and vegetables, health and nutrition newsletters, and partner discounts and free perks with companies like Amazon. They go above and beyond trying to provide resources to their policyholders so they have resources to improve or maintain health, which is unusual for a life insurance company.    

John Hancock offers a few options for customer service. Online or call center support is provided via an online service representative who is able to answer basic questions on the term life products and the guaranteed issue policies. However, if you want to discuss any of the permanent life options, such as Universal Life, they will transfer you to another department that takes care of the permanent insurance and connect you with an advisor. 

Life Track Policy Management Interactive Service

John Hancock empowers their policyholders with a number of tools and support services to keep them healthy, but they also offer another tool: Life Track. Lifetrack is an interactive tool to help you manage your policy premiums for certain types of policies that offer flexible premium payment options, like the Protection UL plan. 

The advantage of the Life Track tool is that you can use it to make sure that as you adjust your premium payments, you are still in line with your insurance objectives and cash value accumulation plans. Another nice perk is that if you participate in a Vitality Plan, this information will also be integrated into the tool so that you can take into account any premium savings you are getting from that program.

Vitality is not a guarantee that you will get lower rates; it is contingent on meeting designated milestones of success.

Customer Satisfaction: 18th out of 25

John Hancock scored 18th out of 25 life insurers reviewed for Customer Satisfaction Overall in the 2019 J.D. Power Life Insurance Study. The study rates various areas of customer experience including price, product offerings, and application and orientation. Here’s how John Hancock ranked with customers in each of the related areas: 

Customer Service Category Rank
Overall Satisfaction The rest
Product Offerings About average
Price About average
Statements About average
Interaction The rest
Communication About average
Application and Orientation Insufficient base for rating

Complaints About John Hancock: Very Few

John Hancock has a low level of complaints in comparison to what is expected in the market for their premium volume. We researched John Hancock’s complaints trends for the most recent three years and complaints have been consistently low, with the most recent complaint trend score at 0.14 for a total of 28 complaints in 2019 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s (NAIC) National Complaint Index Report. John Hancock is also a Better Business Bureau accredited company, this means they have a track record of addressing complaints, their BBB rating is A+.

Financial Strength: A+ (Superior)

If you are researching life insurance companies to choose the best one for you, it is a good idea to check the financial strength of the company. John Hancock has an AM Best financial strength rating of A+ (Superior) and they have held this rating for several years running. 

Price of John Hancock Life Insurance

The price of John Hancock life insurance is ranked about average by customers in the 2019 J.D. Power study. 

For smokers participating in the Quit Smoking Incentive, they will benefit from non-smoker rates for three years to give them a chance to quit smoking, and these savings are significant. No other insurer we reviewed offered a program like this.

We looked up the rates for John Hancock’s Vitality Simple Term Life Insurance for sample ages 25, 35, and 45-years old. In the table below we included our finding for the monthly cost for a healthy non-smoker and smoker pricing for $250,000 of term life insurance. It is important to note, the choice of “health options” on their quote are: fair, average, good and excellent.

When we tested the 45-year-old male and female and used “excellent” health for a smoker rating, instead of the average health rating, we found that prices were the same.

  • $179.45 per month for the female smoker
  • $235.20 per month for the male smoker

Rates were obtained from the John Hancock website where you can enter your own personal information and get a quote, note that your email address and phone number are required, but the quote is shown instantly, so you do not need to wait for a call back to have your price estimate.

John Hancock Smoker vs. Non-Smoker Life Insurance Term Rate Samples
Age Term 20 - Male Term 20 - Female
25 years old $75.05 vs. $50.33 $62.18 vs. $38.15
35 years old $113.00 vs. $57.90 $85.95 vs. $46.30
45 years old $235.20 vs. $112.45 $179.45 vs. $82.25

The Competition

John Hancock is the only life insurer out of the 25 that we reviewed that offered discounts and tools to policyholders for getting fit and living healthy lifestyles. They were one of the few companies that also offered an unemployment protection rider, which is a good feature, especially for younger clients and families.

John Hancock vs. MassMutual

John Hancock and MassMutual both provide a variety of options for life insurance, one key difference is that MassMutual also pays dividends on participating policies because they are a mutual company which means they are owned by the policyholders and not the shareholders. 

John Hancock is not a mutual company, but they do provide the Vitality Plan, the special program for diabetics, and they also offer the Quit Smoking Incentive program, which basically gives qualifying smokers the non-smoker rates for three years to give them a chance to quit smoking. This would make a significant difference in price savings if, for example, we use the rates below. In comparing John Hancock with MassMutual, there could be a definite advantage for smokers with the QIS, and John Hancock comes out on top. 

Monthly Rates $250,000 Smoker vs. Non-smoker
Age MassMutual Term 20 John Hancock Term 20
25 years old $54.38 vs. $18.71 $75.05 vs. $50.33
35 years old $72.87 vs. $19.80 $113.00 vs. $57.90
45 years old $165.31 vs. $38.07 $235.20 vs. $112.45

John Hancock vs. Northwestern Mutual vs. New York Life

When comparing John Hancock with Northwestern Mutual and New York Life, all three companies are able to provide options for permanent life insurance. Northwestern Mutual and John Hancock have the most options, both providing various levels of investment in the universal life plans for people who want to be more (or less) involved. New York Life and Northwestern Mutual offer dividends, whereas John Hancock does not. 

However, John Hancock provides the benefit of the Vitality Plan, with its associated perks and benefits, which may include discounts on the cost of your life insurance, in addition to giving you tools and motivation to be active and healthy. 

When comparing these three companies, if being fit or staying in shape is important to you, John Hanock definitely works with you to keep you on the path. For diabetics and smokers, they also provide incentives and customized plans, which we did not see with either Northwestern Mutual or New York Life. For their health incentives and the number of plan options available, John Hancock is the stronger choice.

  John Hancock Northwestern Mutual New York Life
Market share Sixth largest in the U.S., 3.6% Largest in U.S., 8.2% Third largest in U.S., 5.7%
Number of Plans 14 17 10
Dividends for 2020 Not Applicable $6 billion $1.9 billion
Wellness Program Discounts/ Quit Smoking Incentives Yes Not applicable Not applicable
Service Method Financial Advisors and Agents Financial Advisors and Agents Agents
Customer Satisfaction (J.D. Power) Score 739 out of 1000 (18th out of 25) Score 810 out of 1000 (Award winner, #1 out of 25) Score 770 out of 1000 (8th out of 25)
Price Rank About Average Among the best Better than most
Complaints Trend 0.14 Excellent 0.02 Excellent 0.15 Excellent

John Hancock vs. Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance

Although we feel that the Vitality Plan and life insurance for diabetics programs can provide many advantages to people who take insurance with John Hancock, we found other policy types to be more expensive, or offering fewer options than the competition. 

For example, we compared the guaranteed issue prices, issue ages and coverage amounts for John Hancock and Mutual of Omaha. We found that Mutual of Omaha not only provided lower rates but also offered higher levels of coverage. John Hancock only offered the guarantee issue insurance from ages 55 to 80, whereas Mutual of Omaha offered the product for ages 45 to 85, a much broader age range. For these reasons, on guaranteed issue policies, Mutual of Omaha was our top pick. 

Rates used were based on the profile of a female in California for both $25,000 and $20,000 of coverage. John Hancock’s maximum coverage is $20,000, however, we quoted the different rates to show that in our research, the Mutual of Omaha policy has $5,000 more coverage, and was still less expensive across the board.

Monthly Cost of $20,000 Guaranteed Issue Life
Age John Hancock Mutual of Omaha
45 NA $53.00
55 $97.96 $74.00
65 $145.92 $101.00
75 $255.88 $195.00
85 Only available up to age 80, at age 80 price is $357.86 $278.00
Final Verdict

John Hancock goes the extra mile when it comes to helping you get or stay healthy by providing perks and discounts based on leading an active lifestyle with their Vitality Plan. If you are shopping around for life insurance options, John Hancock offers term life plans with the possibility of an instant decision and simplified underwriting. They offer special programs for smokers and diabetics. For those who want to improve their health, or have a hands-on approach to their life insurance options and strategy, then John Hancock is a top pick.

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. Insurance Information Institute. "Insurance Factbook 2019." Page 53-54. Accessed March 4, 2020. 

  2. John Hancock. "Life Insurance Products." Accessed March 4, 2020.

  3. John Hancock. "How It Works." Accessed March 4, 2020.

  4. John Hancock. "John Hancock Aspire." Accessed March 4, 2020.

  5. John Hancock. "Final Expense life insurance with Guaranteed Acceptance." Accessed March 4, 2020. 

  6. John Hancock. "Permanent Life Insurance Options." Accessed March 4, 2020. 

  7. John Hancock Advisor. "Everything You Need to Sell Protection UL and Protection SUL." Accessed March 11, 2020.

  8. John Hancock. "John Hancock's Protection Universal Life Product Now Features Extended Guarantees to Help Consumers Secure Greater and Longer Financial Protection." Accessed March 22, 2020.

  9. John Hancock. "John Hancock Insurance Enhances Its Flagship Universal Life Product, Protection UL." Accessed March 4, 2020.

  10. John Hancock. "New Term Life Insurance Portfolio from John Hancock Features Significantly Lower Premiums to Appeal to a Broader Range of Consumers." Accessed March 4, 2020.

  11. John Hancock. "John Hancock's New Accumulation Indexed Universal Life Now Features Greater Income Potential to Help Consumers Prepare for the Future." Accessed March 4, 2020.

  12. John Hancock. "Save With Healthy-Food Benefit." Accessed March 18, 2020. 

  13. J.D. Power. "J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study." Accessed Feb. 28, 2020. 

  14. J.D. Power. "J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study." Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.

  15. NAIC. "John Hancock Life Ins Co USA National Complaint Index Report." Accessed Feb, 28, 2020.

  16. Better Business Bureau. "John Hancock Financial Services, Inc." Accessed March 6, 2020.

  17. AM Best. "John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.)." Accessed Feb. 28, 2020

  18. John Hancock. "Get Life Insurance That Pays You Back Now." Accessed March 6, 2020.