Banner Life Insurance Review – Products, Pricing, and Financial Strength
Last Updated: 10/25/2017
AM Best Grade: A+ (Superior) 5 stars
Address: 1701 Research Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850
Also known as: Legal and General of America, William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York
Banner Life Insurance is Legal and General’s flagship life insurance company in the United States, but has been in business long before being bought out. Founded in 1949 as the Government Employee’s Life Insurance Company (GELICO), Banner Life has been providing life insurance to thousands of people for many, many years.
Quick Article Guide:
1. Company History
2. Insurance Products
3. Product Pricing
4. Underwriting Niches
5. Customer Service & Approval Process
6. Financial Stability & Ratings
7. Why We Like Banner Life
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Banner Life was originally founded as GELICO (or the Government Employee’s Life Insurance Company) in 1949, by the same company that also founded the auto insurance company GEICO. By 1975 the company had over $124 million dollars in assets and $1.7 billion dollars of life insurance in force.
This success caught the attention of the international life insurance company Legal and General—which has its own storied history—and they were acquired by them in 1981. In 1983, GELICO changed its name to Banner Life and is now Legal and General’s flagship life insurance company in the United States.
Banner life specializes in term life insurance and guaranteed universal life insurance.
They offer term life insurance policies in 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30-year increments where the rates are level and guaranteed not to change. The company is able to offer clients, depending on their age, up to 35 times their current income in coverage. Their term life insurance offers an accelerated death benefit that allows you to collect benefits from your policy, while you are still alive, in the event you become terminally ill.
Banner also offers guaranteed universal life (GUL) insurance, which works just like a term policy but will guarantee your rates and coverage to the age of 100, or even 121. These policies are surprisingly affordable and are a great way to leave an inheritance for your loved ones or protect your estate from estate taxes for future generations.
Another great service that Banner offers is to allow you a second medical opinion if you disagree with the rate class the underwriter assessed your risk at. This can save you money since you can actually get your medical results re-evaluated to confirm you don’t qualify for a better rate.
If you’re looking at pricing, Banner Life is one of the top life insurance companies in the industry. Their rates for healthy individuals and “high-risk” individuals are usually in the top five companies most affordable.
Banner is extremely aggressive with underwriting and will almost always try to bump your application up to the highest rate class available by offering underwriting credits.
These credits are assigned to individuals who are in overall great health but may have one or two minor health issues such as:
• Being overweight
• Having an unfavorable family medical history
• Having elevated blood pressure
• Having high cholesterol
However, Banner Life doesn’t always offer the best rates, especially for certain medical conditions or lifestyle choices, like having:
• A DUI or DWI
• A family history of heart disease
• A habit of smoking cigarettes, marijuana, pipes, cigars, or any other form of tobacco
• A high net worth
• A mental health disorder (anxiety, depression, PTSD)
The company might not offer the best pricing for clients in the military, for frequent travelers outside the US, or non-US residents.
Banner Life is great with underwriting—this is how they are able to keep their rates so competitive. The company offers underwriting credits that help ensure they’re able to find you the lowest rates possible.
If you’re within a few pounds of Banner’s weight requirement, they’ll sometimes consider your weight as if you were an inch taller; in some cases, this could allow you an additional 6-8 pounds of leniency.
In addition, they may offer you underwriting credits if you engage in regular exercise or have regular check-ups with your primary care doctor.
Epilepsy is another underwriting niche for Banner. If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy but have not taken an epileptic medication or had a seizure in 5 or more years, you may be able to qualify for preferred rates.
Past Substance Abuse
Banner is able to offer their second best rate or “preferred rates” to someone who has been treated for alcohol or drugs more than 10 years ago with no relapses.
Other Underwriting Niches
Banner also allows credits for family history, blood pressure, even cholesterol, and has unique underwriting niches where they are much more aggressive than their competition.
The company can offer their top “preferred plus” rates to someone who has:
• A history of depression or anxiety but no longer takes medications
• Evidence of mitral valve prolapse
• Mild asthma
• Some skin cancers
Banner is an excellent life insurance company for senior applicants. They are typically very lenient with maintenance medications that most seniors take for blood pressure and cholesterol. And while some companies won’t offer their best rate class to someone who takes a blood pressure or cholesterol medication, Banner will. They’re also very lenient with overall cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
Seniors have a longer period of time to lock in their policy as well. Most other life insurance companies will limit the length of time you can guarantee your rates as you get older, but Banner will still offer a 20-year level term to someone after the age of 55.
In addition, Banner offers much higher income multipliers than most carriers. They will allow up to 15 times your current income after the age of 60, while most life insurance companies will limit the amount of coverage you can buy to 5-10 times your current income after the age of 60.
Customer Service & Approval Process
Banner has excellent reviews for customer service. Their policyholder services department is dedicated to servicing existing client’s policies. One potential downside is that because they are located on the East Coast—Frederick, Maryland, to be exact—the business is operated based on EST business hours. However, if you’re using Term Life Advice as your insurance agency, you can contact us at any time and we will contact them directly on your behalf, so you’re not restricted by Banner’s business hours.
Industry standard for life insurance approvals is anywhere from 4-8 weeks, but Banner offers an expedited approval process that most companies do not. The company is very fast with their approval process, typically approving their life insurance policies within 3-6 weeks. One exception is if you have extensive medical records, in which case it could take additional time to approve your policy. But if you have no significant health history, Banner will not need to access your attending physician’s statements, saving you at least a week’s time in underwriting.
In addition, if you are applying for less than $1,000,000 of coverage and you are under the age of 50, Banner offers express underwriting to get your policy approved as fast as possible.
Financial Stability & Ratings
The life insurance industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the United States. Each state has its own appointed commissioner to oversee the life insurance companies and the industry also relies on third-party assessments to determine the financial strength of each life insurance company. AM Best is the most trusted and widely used third-party assessor, and they have given Banner Life an A+, or “Superior,” rating.
This is partially due to Banner’s high-quality investment portfolio, history of meeting claims obligations, and the likelihood of future claims being paid out.
Investment Portfolio Risk
The biggest risk to any insurance carrier is its “investment portfolio risk.” Banner’s investment portfolio is considered highly liquid and is comprised of highly rated structured securities and diversified investment grade corporate bonds. It’s compromised of 93% investment grade assets and is not exposed to equities, collateralized debt obligations, collateralized loan obligations, or credit default swaps.
Banner has assets valued at $6.2 billion and as of 2015, Banner had over $634 billion of life insurance in force.
Why We Like Banner Life
We work with dozens of top-rated life insurance companies, and Banner Life almost always seems to be one of the best. Here are six reasons why Banner Life is an excellent option for life insurance coverage:
• Competitive underwriting
• Outstanding customer service reputation
• History of excellence
• Liquid investment portfolio
• Suite of term and guaranteed universal life products
• Niche markets (such as epilepsy, diabetes, sleep apnea)
Term Life Advice is owner-operated, so while Banner Life Insurance is one of the best in the industry, we have nearly unlimited options when it comes to finding you the best rate and policy. We’re here to help you make an informed decision and take the time to accurately assess your specific life insurance needs.
Give us a call today toll-free at: 855-902-6494 or request a free instant quote online below to compare rates from more than 60 highly rated life insurance companies.