There are countless term insurance life insurance companies. As someone who’s been a life insurance professional for more than 20 years, I can honestly say that the best term life insurance companies, the top rated term life insurance companies, and the best rated term life insurance companies are very similar. It’s not to say they are all exactly alike but they are usually similar. To compare term life insurance companies is really a matter of what’s important to prospective insurance client.
My experience has been that what most people are concerned with when it comes to term insurance is what it will cost them.
Clearly some term life insurance companies are more highly rated by companies such as A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor.
Some of the factors that determine a company’s rating are:
Ability to pay claims
Claims paying expediency
If any of these factors, among the others that are used, are important to you when you compare term life insurance companies, how important are these factors to you in comparison to price?
What if one company is considered one of the best term life insurance companies in the industry but the premium cost is double that for the same amount of coverage by one that is not considered one of the best rated term life insurance companies?
What’s your priority?
Similar to being in school, term life insurance companies and all insurance companies are rated on an A-F basis.
Seems easy to understand, right?
Did you know that and “A” rated company can be rated anywhere from A++ to A-?
Did you know that different ratings companies, including those mentioned above use different criteria to determine ratings?
Did you know that an insurance company can be rated differently by the different ratings companies?
If an insurer receives a favorable rating from one rating company and a less favorable one from another rating company, which one do you think they’re going to make sure you’re aware of?
Insurance companies use the term underwriting to determine who pays how much for what. Different companies have different underwriting guidelines. Its name literally means that someone in the company places a signature on the policy saying a particular person meets the company’s underwriting guidelines.
There are three main methods used for underwriting life insurance policies:
Fully underwritten-most common-may involve medical exam (blood/urine specimen/attending physician statement).
Simplified issue-less common-no medical exam-decision regarding issue usually swift
Guaranteed issue-anyone who applies and meets certain conditions is guaranteed that a policy will be issued-(includes accidental death insurance and graded death benefit policies)
There are also different underwriting classifications. The most common:
Sub-standard, also known as rated or table
Some companies subdivide the classifications. For example:
Table can be in the form of a number (usually 1-6) or a letter (usually A-G) – the higher the number or letter, the higher the premium.
Some companies allow for conversion of a term policy to a permanent policy at a later date without proving insurability.
Other companies allow for conversion but require proof of insurability.
Some companies do not offer convertibility at all.
If convertibility is offered, it is often within certain time limits.
If you’re sure you want term and nothing else, then this is not something you need to consider.
The main factors that affect price:
3. Life style
They are numbered as such because that is generally the order of priority companies use to classify prospective clients.
Poor health can and will exclude someone regardless of age and lifestyle and no amount of money will buy insurance. On the other hand excellent health can go a long way in reducing premiums.
A person’s age is the next factor. The age is compared to mortality rates. Different companies have different charts for mortality rates.
Another way to describe mortality rate is how many years someone of their age is away from death.
Statistically speaking, insurance companies know pretty accurately how many people of a certain age will die before their next birthday.
Life style is the third factor. The most common consideration is whether someone smokes but there are others as well, such as what someone does for a living. Certain professions are more hazardous than others.
A person’s hobbies have an effect as well. Sky diving, and speed racing are often frowned upon, and may not result in denial of coverage, but could result in higher premiums.
Regardless of all factors, female rates are nearly always lower than male rates.
Fully underwritten vs. simplified issue vs. guaranteed issue
All things being equal, fully underwritten is going to result in the best priced premium. However, often times all things are not equal.
Are you sure your health is as good as you think it is or is it possible a blood/urine sample, saliva swab, or doctor’s report could reveal something you’re not aware of, or if you’re not the most ethical person, perhaps something you simply don’t want to reveal?
A fully underwritten policy takes much more into consideration when determining rating class and price than a simplified issue policy.
Depending on your point of view, that can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
Assuming you’re being honest and there’s not already information reported about you to the medical information bureau (MIB), your chances of a policy being issued as applied for are as high as 9 out of 10 if you apply for a simplified issue policy.
On the other hand, there is about a 60% chance you will not qualify for a fully underwritten policy as applied for.
A guaranteed issue policy will definitely be issued. You will know if you qualify before actually signing the application. It’s either yes or no. However because it’s guaranteed, the price is usually much higher, unless it is a conditional policy such as an accidental death policy.
Unless you know the ropes and/or can take the time to weigh all the factors when comparing term life insurance companies, an experienced professional can steer you the best term life insurance companies for you to consider.
Having said that, if you want to be absolutely sure that you’ll get the insurance you want, it’s best to buy a guaranteed issue policy.
If you’re pretty sure you’re in good health but don’t want to go to the trouble of a medical exam or paramedical exam (blood/urine), or you don’t want to reveal certain matters that could affect your ability to obtain insurance, you should consider a simplified issue policy.
Once you qualify for a policy, assuming no fraud is involved, the only one who can cancel the policy once it’s been issued is you. The insurance company cannot cancel you as long as the premiums are paid.
Perhaps it makes sense to apply for a guaranteed or simplified issue policy first. Once issued then shop for the best price and/or the best rated term life insurance companies.
What’s best for you?
I invite any and all questions and comments.
Bob is a retirement planning and safe money professional who specializes in life insurance products and who has more than 20 years experience.