Every major life insurance agency in the United States, including SelectQuote and eQUOTE, are contracted to sell for Banner Life Insurance.
… so why haven’t you heard of them?
Simply put, Banner rarely advertises.
Their marketing plan is simple. Offer competitive prices with fair underwriting, and agents will promote and sell their products.
So if you’ve been pitched Banner Life by an agent and are wondering if they’re legitimate, you’ve come to the right place. In this Banner Life Insurance Review, we’ll reveal their ratings, pricing and service, tell you who Banner is best for, and provide sample illustrations for their products.
Quick Article Guide:
- How Do Banner’s Prices Compare?
- How Does Banner Compare with Underwriting?
- Are They Good for Seniors?
- Financial Stability and Ratings
- How is Banner’s Service and How Quickly Do They Approve a Policy?
- What Kind of Products Does Banner Life Insurance Offer?
- Does Banner Life Insurance Pay Their Claims?
- Banner Life Insurance vs. American General Life Insurance Review
- Banner Life Insurance Company vs. Protective Life Insurance Review
Who Is Banner Life Insurance?
Banner Life Insurance Company is owned by Legal and General, a life insurance company that started in the United Kingdom in 1836.
Legal and General operates their life insurance division under the name Banner Life in 49 states.
In New York, Legal and General operates under the company name, William Penn.
Banner Life is one of the top life insurance companies for price in the industry.
Their rates for healthy individuals and individuals considered to be a high-risk are usually in the top 5 companies available for that individual.
How does Banner beat everyone’s rates?
Banner is extremely aggressive with underwriting and will automatically try to bump your application 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 non-severe health issue like being:
CASES WHERE BANNER IS USUALLY NOT THE BEST COMPANY:
- Overweight clients (see example below)
- High net worth individuals
- Clients with a DUI or DWI on their record
- Family history of heart disease
- Clients in active military
- Clients who smoke cigarettes, marijuana, pipes, cigars or any other form of tobacco
- Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD
- Frequent travelers outside the US or non US residents
- Clients concerned about Financial Ratings – As you’ll see below, Banner is rated very highly at A+ by A.M. Best, but they’ve recently begun increasing their allocations in slightly riskier investments. If financial security is a big priority, you might consider getting a quote from us for Prudential, also A+ with a positive outlook, and they’ve been in business 100+ years.
In life insurance, the name of the game is applying to the company who will give you the best rating. So let’s say you’re over age 65 and are a bit overweight. You might get Banner’s preferred rating (a very good rating), but could probably save 15% to 25% by applying with one of our specialty companies where you could qualify for their BEST rating, since they have more lenient build charts for individuals over age 65.
… It’s always best to get a second opinion for an independent agent who knows which company is right for you. Get a free quote below from over 40 of our top carriers:
Banner is great with underwriting – this is how they are able to keep their rates so competitive.
Banner Life Insurance Company allows underwriting credits to make sure they are always able to find the lowest rates.
If someone is within a few pounds of the weight requirement, Banner will consider your weight if you were an inch taller. In some cases, this could allow you an additional 6-8 pounds of leniency.
Banner also allows credits for family history, blood pressure, even cholesterol.
In addition they may be able to offer underwriting credits for someone who engages in regular exercise programs or has regular annual check-ups with their primary care doctor.
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.
One of my clients who was recently approved for life insurance decided to apply with Banner and his local home and auto insurance agent.
My client, Frank G., is a well-controlled diabetic who is 56 years old. Frank got approved for both policies, and the local agent was able to get him a “substandard table 2 rate” which is 6th best category out of 12 categories.
Banner offered Frank a “standard plus rate” which is the 3rd best category of 12. Banner was able to offer Frank improved rates because of their additional underwriting credits. Frank’s blood sugar is in excellent control, while Frank’s height and weight are in great proportion, and Frank sees his primary care doctor regularly.
Franks local agent could only offer him 15 years of coverage while Banner was able to offer 20 years of level coverage; both polices were for $150,000 of coverage.
The end result:
The local agent offered Frank a policy for $119.42 per month, while Banner offered the same policy for 20 years for $84.79 per month. Banner saved Frank $1,146 dollars and he will have an additional 5 years of coverage.
Banner also has some unique underwriting niches where they are much more aggressive than the competition.
Banner is able offer their top “preferred plus” rates to someone who has:
- Mild asthma,
- A history of depression or anxiety but no longer takes medications,
- Some skin cancers,
- Evidence of mitral valve prolapse, or
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.
If you take an anxiety, depression, or mood disorder medication daily, Banner will also consider you for their preferred rates.
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.
BANNER MAY NOT BE THE BEST CARRIER FOR MANY HEALTH CONDITIONS. COMPARE RATES FROM OVER 45 CARRIERS HERE:
Yes, Banner is an excellent company for seniors.
In addition to their ability to offer “underwriting credits” they are also very lenient with maintenance medications that most seniors take for blood pressure and cholesterol.
In fact, some companies will not offer someone who takes a blood pressure or cholesterol medication their best rate class while Banner will. Banner is also very lenient with overall cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
Banner is also very lenient with the amount of time you are able to lock in a policy.
Most companies limit the length of time that 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.
The life insurance industry is heavily regulated by the Insurance Commissioner in each state.
In addition to this regulation, the life insurance industry also relies on third-party assessments of each life insurance company’s overall financial strength and stability.
The company that the insurance industry primarily uses to assess the financial strength of each life insurance company is A.M. Best.
A.M. Best’s Report on Banner Life Insurance Company
A.M. Best has assigned Banner an A + Superior rating. This is due to Banner’s high quality investment portfolio, history of meeting claims obligations, and A.M. Best’s opinion of their future claims paying ability.
“Of equal importance,” according to David Stein, “A.M. Best gives Banner an outlook of ‘stable.'” Stein is a writer and investor from http://www.jdavidstein.com/ and creator of the podcast, Money for the Rest of Us.
Stein explained that the biggest risk any insurance carrier has is “investment portfolio risk”.
Investment Portfolio Risk
Banner’s portfolio is 93% investment grade assets and is not exposed to equities, collateralized debt obligations, collateralized loan obligations, or credit default swaps.
Note: Investment grade bonds are “municipal or corporate bonds that have a relatively low risk of default,” according to Investopedia.
Banner has assets valued at $6.2 billion and as of 2015, Banner had over $634 billion of life insurance in force.
Banner’s investment portfolio is considered highly liquid and is comprised of highly rated structured securities and diversified investment grade corporate bonds.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of their investment portfolio:
You can view Banner’s full review of their financial strength from their website here.
Having said this, a complete and fair Banner Life Insurance review should include any negative comments about the company as well.
While Stein generally considers Banner as a financially healthy company, he did express concern over A.M. Best’s mention of Banner’s recent reduction of cash and U.S. Government asset classes, while increasing its allocations to high yield and non-144A private placement bonds.
Stein cited A.M. Best’s full report which said “these assets are less liquid and expose the group to potential asset impairments should the global economic recovery stall or deteriorate.”
In my cursory review, Banner is quite financially strong and achieved a superior rating of A+ from AM Best, but they are changing at the margins. I think they are finding it difficult to maintain such a high quality investment portfolio given the low interest rate environment and still meet the higher reserve requirements for U.S. based term life insurers.
Consequently, they have begun to diversify into some riskier assets such as non-investment grade bonds and private placement bonds that are managed outside investment firms.
For A.M. Best’s full report, click here.
What Does this Mean for Banner?
Banner is finding itself in a similar position as every other U.S. life insurance carrier at this point.
In 2000, life insurers were forced to raise their reserves against guaranteed products such as term and universal life contracts with no lapse provisions. Banner’s asset valuation reserve doubled from 2012 to 2013. Obviously, this puts a strain on any insurance carrier’s finances.
Over the past 10 years, this increased reserve requirement has made it impossible for some carriers to continue offering some of their products. Some “casualties” of this requirement (products that have since been discontinued) are:
- Transamerica’s TransACE UL
- Genworth’s Genguard UL
- Genworth’s Colony Term UL (30 Year)
Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis released this report, explaining that “increasing use of ‘captive reinsurance,’ which was triggered by tighter capital requirements for life insurance policies after 2000,” is a major development over the past 15 years that has changed the risk profile of U.S. life insurers.
Overall, we’ve seen many other companies have to be more aggressive with their investment portfolios in the past 5 years, and have even seen some (like ING and Genworth) be downgraded by A.M. Best during this time. Banner has maintained their A+ rating through it all, and still has never failed to pay a valid claim.
At JRC, we will continue to recommend Banner with confidence.
With Legal and General behind them, and a spotless track record going back over 120 years, Banner easily finds its way into the top 1% of life insurance companies in the United States.
We would recommend them to anyone, and many of us here at JRC actually own Banner policies on ourselves.
However, we do represent multiple other A+ rated carriers here at JRC, so if you are concerned at all about Banner’s financial viability, be sure to speak to one of our knowledgeable agents for a quote. You can call us at 855-247-9555.
Banner has excellent reviews for customer service.
They have a policy holder services department that is dedicated to servicing existing client’s policies.
The only downside to Banner is that because they are located in Frederick, Maryland, they run East Coast hours so if you are on the West Coast, you will need to reach them before 2pm or you can have your agent contact them directly on your behalf.
Banner is very fast with their approval process. Typically, they approve their life insurance policies within 3-6 weeks, although if you have extensive medical records, it could take additional time to approve your policy.
Industry standard for life insurance approvals is anywhere from 4-8 weeks, but Banner offers an expedited approval process that most companies do not.
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.
Banner life specializes in term life insurance and Guaranteed Universal life insurance. They offer term life insurance in 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, or 40-year increments where the rates are level and guaranteed not to change.
Banner is able to offer clients, depending on their age, up to 35 times their current income in coverage. Banner’s term life insurance offers an accelerated death benefit that allows you to collect benefits from your policy, while you are still alive, if you become terminally ill.
Banner also offer Guaranteed Universal Life insurance until the age of 100 or later. Banner’s Guaranteed Universal Life policy works just like a term policy but you can actually guarantee your rates and coverage to the age of 100, or even 121.
Another great service that Banner offers is the fact that Banner allows you to make sure you get the best rates with a second medical opinion.
If you disagree with the rate class that Banner’s underwriter assessed your risk at, you can actually get your medical results re-evaluated to confirm you don’t qualify for a better rate.
Banner wants to make sure that they are one of the most competitive life insurance companies in the industry and because they do not rely on heavily advertising they must rely on recommendations from insurance agents.
Quick Video Description of How Banner’s Term Policies Work
Banner Life has a perfect history of paying claims, in fact they have never failed to pay a valid claim. If a life insurance company fails to pay a claim, they will be barred from selling another policy until this claim is settled as long as the claim is valid.
What Makes a Claim Valid or Invalid?
A valid claim is a claim where there is no fraud suspected.
What is life insurance fraud?
Life insurance fraud means that you had someone else pretend to be you and essentially “stood-in” for your medical exam.
Fraud may be also suspected if foul-play is involved, if a criminal investigation is being conducted on the person who passed away, and you are not found to be guilty of ending that person’s life, the life insurance company will pay out.
Fraud may also be suspected if the insurance company finds out that you were diagnosed with a terminal illness prior to your application and you did not disclose it. An example of a terminal illness is advanced stage cancer, HIV, or heart disease.
Both companies are well established life insurance institutions and have stellar reputations. Banner specializes in a more limited range of life insurance products range but they also offer some of the most competitive rates and are especially known for their leniency when it comes to health issues.
Banner is one of the best companies for accepting policies for those who have health conditions such as diabetes and sleep apnea. They are considered very aggressive underwriters.
American General on the other hand is a bit more diversified than Banner as they offer a broader range of life insurance products including Term, Indexed Universal Life, Quality of Life, Whole Life and Variable Life. American General is also highly regarded when it comes to accepting impaired risk claims and known for underwriting tough health situations.
They are also especially in high regard when it comes to non-working spouses and world traveler life insurance.
Banner is considered one of the most competitive when it comes to its underwriting practices which is the reason why so many independent agents are pleased to use this carrier. Banner also has one of the best reputations when it comes to both customer service and in how they manage their claim settlement pay outs.
Protective Life insurance also has high regard when it comes to customer service and has a similar product range such as Banner Life Insurance including Term, and Universal Life. Protective also offers other UL products including Custom Choice Universal Life, Variable Universal Life and Survivor Universal Life.
Do you want to compare Banner’s rates, or shop over 40 companies to find the lowest rates available to you?
Call JRC today at 855-247-9555 and we will shop the market to find the lowest rates available for you.
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