Banner Life Insurance Company offers aggressively priced, flexibly underwritten term policies and backs them with the financial strength of its powerful British parent company.
Banner Life Insurance is known as a go-to insurance company for anyone not in perfect health, thanks to how it handles its underwriting and pricing. Banner, a company founded over 65 years ago, today is a subsidiary of London-based Legal & General Group Plc. The U.S. operations are referred to as Legal & General America and, through Banner, insure over one million customers. Banner ranks consistently in the top ten for new insurance coverage written each year. Combining the company’s A.M Best financial rating of A+ (Superior) with excellent pricing and a certain leniency explains the constant growth and popularity of Banner. So why have you not heard of Banner? Because it rarely advertises and prefers to pass the savings on to its customers. Instead, it markets by offering competitive prices and fair underwriting that agents are happy to promote and sell.
What services are covered?
|Death Benefits, plus Accelerated Death Benefit, Waiver of Premium and Term riders None|
How soon can services be used?
|As soon as the policy is approved, if you qualify|
Ease of access
|Phone or email a licensed life insurance agent|
Medical exam required
s a medical exam required?
What is the maximum coverage available?
|$100,000 to $1,000,000+, depending on plan|
Coverage age limit
To what age is coverage available?
|Coverage can be renewed to age 95|
Can benefits be accessed while living?
|Terminal illness rider available|
What isn’t covered?
|Suicide, if it occurs during the first two years of the policy|
Will the rates increase each year?
|Not during the initial term of policy, then annually|
Ease of enrollment
Ways you can enroll
|Online quote tool, online calculator and ‘Find an agent’ tool for a local agency|
|Varies based on age, health and other factors, with a $60 annual policy fee included|
Banner’s term life policies are convertible and renewable to the age of 95, compared with most competitors who allow renewals to age 90. For seniors who ‘age out’ of term policies, Banner also offers a Guaranteed Universal Life policy that functions as a hybrid between term and whole: monthly premiums are relatively affordable despite advanced age, and coverage is ‘permanent,’ i.e., up to age 121. Minimum coverage is a comfortable $50,000, which could also replace the need for ‘burial insurance,’ but it requires a medical exam which most burial insurance does not. These policies can go up to $10+ million and can be issued from ages 20 to 85.
Banner is said to be a great carrier for higher-risk applicants, by offering good underwriting for those with significant health history and both type 2 and type 1 diabetics. In addition, since its policies are convertible to permanent life at the same underwriting class as your existing term policy, you can acquire life-long coverage with no change in underwriting class because of your health issue. Conversion is available at any time during the initial term of your term policy or up to age 70, whichever comes first (or during first five years for term policies issued at age 66 or over).
Banner is said to be the insurance company for anyone not in perfect health but looking for low-cost term life insurance. One review quotes it as “the king of the standard and table rate classes.” It remains in the lead for those who struggle with diabetes, sleep apnea, atrial fibrillation and other such health conditions familiar to seniors. It is worth checking to see if your health condition is handled favorably by Banner. The company itself is financially strong, thanks to its British parent Legal & General Group who covers 10 million policyholders worldwide (Banner covers one million in the U.S.) Its sister company, William Penn Life Insurance, issues policies in New York State, and Banner covers the rest of the U.S. and D.C.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does your term coverage include an ‘accelerated death benefit?’ Yes, funds can be made available in cases of terminal illness. “The maximum accelerated death benefit amount is the lesser of $500,000 or 75% of the policy's primary death benefit, less any policy loan. The accelerated death benefit is treated as a lien, which accrues interest. Upon the death of the insured, the payable death benefits are reduced by the total accelerated death benefit lien.”
How do I get started? Banner lists five steps: get its life insurance quote. Fill out the online application or call for an advisor to help you do that. Possibly have a free medical evaluation at home or at a facility near you, if your chosen policy requires one. If approved, the company will advise you of your health class and premiums. Sign a copy of your policy, pay your first premium and you are insured.
What security measures do you provide for my personal information if I contact your company online? According to Banner and Legal & General America, “Any information you enter on our site is strongly encrypted by industry-standard protocol, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).”
Overview: Banner offers Term Life, Guaranteed Whole Life, Universal Life and Retirement Annuities Only term life insurance is being reviewed here.
Premium rates vary by coverage amount (ranging from $100,000 to $1+ million) and by underwriting classification. Premiums will include a $60 annual policy fee. Both the premium and the death benefit are guaranteed to stay level for the initial term you select (10 to 30 years) but will increase annually after the end of that term. The benefit may be continued to age 95 if appropriate premiums are paid.
Policy conversionallows you to exchange your term policy for a universal life policy, at the same underwriting class as under your existing term policy. No change in health would affect your underwriting class. You can request conversion at any time during your initial term or up to age 70, whichever comes first. If your term policy was issued at age 66 or above, it is convertible during the first five years.
Initial quotes will be based on information you provided but will then be adjusted by your complete medical history, plus any occupational or hobby risks. You can return an issued policy without obligation within 30 days of receipt in most states. Policies include 2-year contestability and suicide provisions: during the first two years, coverage can be contested if you gave false statements to obtain that coverage and benefits will not be paid in case of suicide during that same period.
Premiums can be paid annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly, but more frequent payments will incur an upcharge. Monthly payments must be paid by automatic bank draft (electronic funds transfer, or EFT). All others can be paid by check or automatic bank draft (EFT).
Policy names refer to the term of their initial coverage, and are available to different age ranges and underwriting classes (minor variations for New York):
NOTE: Along with other insurers, Banner is offering a Guaranteed Universal Life (GUL) plan with more favorable details than earlier plans with the same name. This plan, called Life Choice UL, might replace a traditional term life plan, as it has many of term life’s characteristics, but with coverage that can extend to age 121. It can be issued from ages 20-85, can have a face value of $50,000 to $10+ million, and has Waiver of Premium and Accelerated Death Benefit riders available. It may have no cash value accumulation. It is like “a guaranteed level term for life” which offers a guaranteed, tax-free death benefit to loved ones.
Needless to say, the fine print of all policies must be read before signing, to be certain no hidden terms or conditions would affect the viability of the policy for you.
Optional Accessories or Add-on Services: Banner offers several riders to customize its basic term policies:
. Accelerated Death Benefit Rider allows you to access death benefits, up to 75 percent of the benefit or $500,000, whichever is less, while dealing with a qualifying terminal illness. It allows you to cover any uninsured costs at a most difficult time and not drain the resources of your loved ones.
Waiver of Premium waives all premiums that are due during total disability, requiring proof of total disability which has already existed continuously for six months. (Optional, at extra cost and upon certain conditions and policies.)
Term Riders allow you to ‘ladder’ life insurance coverage to provide additional coverage temporarily, for a term shorter than your base policy. This might interest a senior to cover a mortgage payoff: at 55 you might add a 10-year rider to an existing 25-year policy.
Contract Details: N/A
Accreditations: Banner Life Insurance Company is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau but holds a rating of A+ with the BBB website. Its financial strength is A+ (Superior) according to A.M. Best. Its Comdex Ranking is 94 out of 100.
Company Details: Banner Life Insurance is part of Legal & General Group, a formidable insurance company started in a London coffeehouse in 1836. As such, Banner benefits from Legal & General’s tremendous financial strength. In 1981, Legal & General Group bought Government Employees Life Insurance Company (GELICO) and its NY affiliate and renamed it Banner Life Insurance Company. The U.S. branch of the London company, Legal & General America, issues and underwrites policies by Banner Life Insurance Company and William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York. William Penn is available in New York only, and Banner covers the rest of the U.S. and D.C. The parent company is the seventh largest insurer in the world with over 10 million customers worldwide and has over $1 trillion in worldwide assets under management.
Legal & General America
3275 Bennett Creek Avenue
Frederick, Maryland 21704