New York Life Insurance

Banner Life Insurance Company offers aggressively priced, flexibly underwritten term policies and backs them with the financial strength of its powerful British parent company.

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9.1
Grand Score
8
User Score
9.1
Grand Score
8
User Score
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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. 

Grandfolk Scoring
Coverage 9/10
Waiting period 8/10
Customer support 8/10
Medical exam required 7/10
Maximum coverage 6/10
Coverage age limit 9/10
Living benefits 9/10
Exclusions 8/10
Rate increases 9/10
Ease of enrollment 9/10
Cost 10/10
Coverage
What services are covered?
Death Benefits, plus Accelerated Death Benefit, Waiver of Premium and Term riders None
Waiting period
How soon can services be used?
As soon as the policy is approved, if you qualify
Customer support
Ease of access
Phone or email a licensed life insurance agent
Medical exam required
s a medical exam required?
Yes
Maximum coverage
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
Living benefits
Can benefits be accessed while living?
Terminal illness rider available
Exclusions
What isn’t covered?
Suicide, if it occurs during the first two years of the policy
Rate increases
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
Cost
Monthly premium
Varies based on age, health and other factors, with a $60 annual policy fee included
Age Score:
10
50-65 Years
10
65-75 Years
10
75-85 Years
10
85-Above

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. 

Health Score:
10
Great Health
10
Good Health
10
Fair Health
10
Poor Health

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).

Pros:

  • One of the lowest-cost term insurance providers on the market.
  • Coverage will never decrease, and premiums will never increase for the initial term of the policy; premiums may rise annually after that.
  • Policies have terms of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years.
  • It extends lenient underwriting to people with a significant health history and to diabetics.
  • It offers a Guaranteed Universal Life policy called Life Choice UL which extends available coverage to age 121.
  • Banner is known for its stellar customer service.
  • It has a long history of service: its parent company was founded in 1836 in the U.K.
  • The company is committed to business practices that reduce our impact on the environment.
  • Products offered by Banner are sold through independent insurance brokers.

Cons:

  • Just because Banner is lenient for certain conditions, that does not mean it is lenient for them all; each needs to be checked.
  • The company has a 2-year contestability period, to contest a policy for inaccuracies or fraud (contestability); also, two years before suicide is covered.  
  • Banner uses ‘nearest birthday’ instead of your actual age, so it can jump ahead six months from your birthday. If age is critical to having access to a policy, Banner may not be the most favorable insurer.
  • As Banner is headquartered on the East Coast, from the West Coast, you will have to call by 2 pm.
  • Banner does have competitors on low-cost term insurance, so you do need to obtain various quotes.

Bottom Line:

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).”

More Information:

Product Details 

Overview:  Banner offers Term Life, Guaranteed Whole Life, Universal Life and Retirement Annuities Only term life insurance is being reviewed here. 

Package Details:

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): 

  • OPTerm 10: available at ages 20-75 to all risk classes.
  • OPTerm 15: available at ages 20-75 to all risk classes.
  • OPTerm 20: available at ages 20-70 for non-tobacco classes and 20-65 for tobacco classes.
  • OPTerm 25: available at ages 20-60 for non-tobacco classes and 20-55 for tobacco classes.
  • OPTerm 30: available at ages 20-55 for non-tobacco classes and 20-50 for tobacco classes.

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.

Additional Company Details

Contract Details: N/A

Warranty: 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.

Contact:

Legal & General America
3275 Bennett Creek Avenue
Frederick, Maryland 21704 

Phone: 800-638-8428

Website: https://www.lgamerica.com/corporate/banner-life

Sharon O'Day - Senior Advisor

Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.