Knights of Columbus Life Insurance Review

Permanent and term policies for practicing Catholic males

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Knights of Columbus Life Insurance

Knights of Columbus Life Insurance

Our Take

Knights of Columbus is a nonprofit fraternal membership organization open only to practicing Catholic males. The nonprofit has excellent financial strength ratings and few complaints with the NAIC, making it a good option for people who can benefit from other membership resources that Knights of Columbus provides. However, you’ll need to connect with an agent to get a quote, and you should compare rates with other life insurance companies. If you aren’t a Catholic male, you’ll need to look elsewhere for your life insurance needs. 

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Nonprofit organization that gives back to religious charitable causes

  • A+ financial strength rating with AM Best

  • Fewer complaints than expected with the NAIC

  • Permanent and term life insurance with riders available

  • Members can get local support and faith formation resources

Cons
  • Recent allegations of fraud

  • Membership only open to Catholic males

  • Insurance products only available to paying members

  • No online quotes or pricing estimates

  • Limited policy information available online

Key Takeaways
  • Knights of Columbus is a fraternal membership organization that not only offers life insurance products but also long-term care insurance, disability insurance, and retirement annuities. Membership typically costs $30 per year, though local fees may differ. 
  • Knights of Columbus offers a variety of riders that make its term and permanent life insurance policies customizable. However, requirements and details aren’t readily available online.
  • Knights of Columbus was accused of insurance fraud for inflating its membership numbers. While there was anecdotal evidence of the claims, jurors sided with Knights of Columbus on all counts except breach of contract with the plaintiff.
Specifications
  • Year Founded 1882
  • Kinds of Plans Term, Whole, Universal
  • Number of Plans 8
  • Payment Options Varies by policy
  • Official Website www.kofc.org

Knights of Columbus is a nonprofit fraternal membership organization offering permanent and term life insurance policies to Catholic male members. We researched the Knights of Columbus policy offerings, financial strength ratings, customer satisfaction indicators, website tools, and requirements to help you compare the life insurance policy options that Knights of Columbus offers with the competition. 

Company Overview

Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 and is headquartered in New Haven, CT. It’s the world’s largest Catholic fraternal membership society and is also one of the largest life insurers in the U.S. Knights of Columbus, also known as the Order, has over 1.9 million members in more than a dozen countries and has more than $100 billion of life insurance in force. The Order has also donated more than $1.55 billion to charity, and its members have collectively performed more than 700 million hours of volunteer work. 

Knights of Columbus sells life insurance policies through local captive agents, so you won’t be able to get a quote or purchase a policy online. 

In 2017, Knights of Columbus was accused of “fraud, deception, theft, and broken promises” in a lawsuit brought by an IT firm that said they uncovered the scandal. Sources reported that the Knights of Columbus inflated their membership numbers by failing to remove old memberships, with local chapters sometimes paying dues for the nonexistent members with money intended for charity. 

The suit alleged that by artificially driving up enrollment numbers, Knights of Columbus was able to achieve a higher rating from AM Best than the organization deserves. However, Knights of Columbus denied claims of fraud, and the jury agreed. The Order paid a judgment for breach of contract but was not found liable on the other counts. 

Available Plans

Knights of Columbus offers several options for whole, universal, and term life policies. The website lacks some specific details about the plans, so you’ll need to connect with an agent for more information. 

Term Life

Term life insurance is designed to protect your family during a specific period when you have financial obligations, such as paying off a mortgage or saving for your child’s education. Knights of Columbus offers a few options for term life insurance. 

Accelerator Term Insurance 

Available in 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms, this unique product gives you the option to increase your coverage by 25% at a low cost. 

Annual Renewable Term Insurance

With this plan, the death benefit stays level but you have the option to review and renew your coverage each year. Premiums will increase annually. 

Young Adult Insurance

This is a unique program offered to members ages 18-29. Details about the product are not available online. If you’re eligible, ask your agent about the benefits of this option. 

Whole Life

Whole life insurance is permanent and builds cash value over time. Knights of Columbus offers several options for whole life insurance. 

Limited Pay Whole Life

With this plan, you decide how long you want to pay premiums, with a minimum of five years. Premiums stay level and the death benefit remains fixed and guaranteed. 

Single Premium Whole Life

This plan requires you to make one lump-sum payment in exchange for a guaranteed death benefit. 

Graded Death Benefit Whole Life

This is a final expense policy that doesn’t require underwriting, which means you won’t have to answer health questions or undergo a medical exam to get coverage. 

Universal Life

Universal life insurance allows you to adjust your premium payments and death benefit as you go. It provides permanent coverage but is typically more affordable than whole life insurance. Knights of Columbus has two universal life insurance plans to choose from. 

Survivorship Universal Life

This is a policy that covers two lives and pays beneficiaries after the second insured passes away. It offers flexible premium payments and is designed for couples using life insurance for estate planning purposes. 

Protector NLG Universal Life

Available for applicants ages 50 through 80, this product offers flexible premium payments and more affordable permanent coverage than a whole life policy. It includes a Lapse Protection Rider, which guarantees lifetime death benefit protection as long as minimum premiums are paid. 

This plan also comes with accelerated death benefit riders for chronic and terminal illness, which allow the policyholder to access a portion of the death benefit while living should they be diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness. 

Available Riders

Riders are add-ons to an insurance policy that allow you to customize your coverage, access living benefits, waive premiums in certain circumstances, and more. Knights of Columbus offers a variety of different riders, but not every endorsement is available with every plan. You’ll need to speak with an agent to determine which riders are available with your policy. 

Spousal Waiver of Premium

If a member and his wife simultaneously purchase permanent life insurance policies, this rider is included automatically and waives premiums for the spouse’s contract should the insured pass away. 

Disability Waiver of Premium

Available with most permanent plans, this rider allows you to cease premium payments if you become totally disabled before the age of 60. 

Guaranteed Purchase Option

Available with most permanent plans, this rider lets you purchase additional coverage at certain points in time without showing evidence of insurability. You won’t need a medical exam to get additional coverage at predetermined intervals. 

Income Protection Rider

This endorsement provides monthly income for your beneficiaries in addition to the death benefit. It’s available with most permanent life insurance plans. 

Children’s Term Insurance Rider

Available with most plans, this rider provides term coverage for your children until they turn 26 or until you turn 65, whichever comes first. 

Chronic Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

If you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, this rider would allow you to access a portion of the death benefit while you’re still alive. It’s only available with select permanent plans. 

Terminal Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

This optional add-on to permanent policies allows you to access a portion of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness expected to result in death within 12 months. It’s optional with all permanent policies. 

Accidental Death Benefit Rider

Available with most plans, this rider provides an additional payout if the insured dies in an accident as defined by the contract. 

Payor Death and Disability Rider

Some permanent plans have the option to include this rider, which waives premiums on juvenile policies should the payor die or become totally disabled. 

Waiver of Premium for Level Term

This is an add-on available with all term policies that allows you to skip premium payments should you become totally and permanently disabled. 

Customer Service: Phone or Online Form

Knights of Columbus has limited options for reaching customer service and does not list business hours online. You can fill out this online form to be contacted or call 800-380-9995 if you have questions about insurance. If you’re already a member, your best bet may be to contact your agent for assistance. 

Customer Satisfaction: Few Complaints

Knights of Columbus had a total of nine complaints about individual life insurance with the NAIC in 2020, resulting in a complaint index of 0.73. The industry average is 1.00, and the lower the score, the better, so Knights of Columbus had fewer complaints than expected given its share of the market. 

Knights of Columbus is not rated in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study

Financial Strength: A+ (Excellent)

Knights of Columbus received an A+ (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best, an independent rating agency that assesses the financial stability of insurance companies. A rating in the “A” bracket indicates that a company is likely to be reliable in paying claims for years to come. 

Cancellation Policy: Unknown

Knights of Columbus doesn’t list their cancellation policy online, but insurance companies are required to provide at least a 10-day "free look" period (or up to 30 days in some states). Most insurance companies allow you to cancel within 30 days and receive all paid premiums refunded. 

Before signing up for a Knights of Columbus insurance plan, you should speak with an agent to understand the cancellation policy. Ask about refunds for both insurance premiums and membership dues so you know what you’re getting into. 

Price of Knights of Columbus Life Insurance: Ask an Agent

Knights of Columbus doesn’t provide online quotes or pricing estimates, so you’ll need to ask your local agent about what premiums would cost for each plan you’re interested in. 

While Knights of Columbus may offer you a low rate because they're a nonprofit membership organization, you shouldn’t assume you’ll get the lowest rates from the Order. Be sure to shop around for quotes from several different insurers before making a decision. 

How Knights of Columbus Compares to Other Life Insurance

Knights of Columbus is far more exclusive than other life insurance companies with regard to eligibility. You must be a paying member to access the Order’s insurance products, and you must meet membership criteria to join. In addition, Knights of Columbus does not offer online quotes like many other life insurance companies, and policy details online are vague. Customer service options are also limited in comparison to other companies. 

Knights of Columbus vs. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

Knights of Columbus and Northwestern Mutual both offer a range of term and permanent policies with a variety of riders. Both companies pay dividends to eligible policyholders. With both companies, you’ll need to speak to an agent to get a quote and detailed policy information. However, there are several key differences between these two companies. 

  • Northwestern Mutual is not a membership organization and is open to all individual applicants, while Knights of Columbus is only open to practicing Catholic males.
  • Northwestern Mutual offers many more plan options than Knights of Columbus, including a blended whole life/term policy and a variable universal life insurance policy.
  • Northwestern Mutual ranks in the top five in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, while Knights of Columbus is not rated.
  • Northwestern Mutual provides some online pricing estimates, while Knights of Columbus does not.

Unless you can take advantage of other benefits that Knights of Columbus offers while securing a low rate, Northwestern Mutual will be a better option for most people. People of any gender and religion can apply for a policy with Northwestern Mutual, which has a great reputation for customer satisfaction. 

Read our full Northwestern Mutual review.

Insurer AM Best Rating  J.D. Power Ranking Number of Plans  Membership Required? 
Knights of Columbus A+ (Excellent) Not Rated 8 Yes
Northwestern Mutual  A++ (Superior)  4th  17  No
Final Verdict

If you are a practicing Catholic male who can take advantage of the faith formation resources that Knights of Columbus offers, consider getting a quote from Knights of Columbus. The company has a good reputation for financial strength and customer satisfaction and offers a variety of plans and riders. However, be sure to compare quotes with other companies. People who prefer to transact online or who are looking for an individual policy that does not have any membership requirements should look at other top insurance companies.

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.