Banner Life Insurance Review
Banner Life is a heavy hitter in the term life insurance field. With consistently competitive prices, accelerated approval options, and responsive customer service, Banner Life should be on the radar of any life insurance seeker.
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- Financial Strength Rating: Superior
- No Exam Option? Yes
- Customer Service: Excellent
- Policy Option: Convertable Terms & Universal Life
Banner Life Insurance Company Overview
Banner Life, and its sister company William Penn, has been a flagship for reliable and affordable life insurance for nearly 50 years. It is about as niche an insurance company can be with its limited product offering. However, that only serves to bolster Banner’s specialty in term life insurance. The company offers a wide range of term policy plans and offers add-ons to help you customize a policy to fit better fit your needs.
Banner Life has maintained top ratings from agencies like A.M. Best, Fitch, and S&P since its inception. There’s little to worry about with Banner when it comes to the company paying a claim. On top of that, this life insurance company can quickly approve you for the best rate with its Horizon digital tool, even if you are dealing with certain health conditions. Overall, Banner Life is a strong life insurer. But because of its hyperfocus on term policies, the company may not be for everyone.
How Banner Life Got Its Start
Banner Life Insurance Company and its New York sibling, William Penn, are the cornerstone of a near-100-year legacy. Banner’s parent company, Legal & General Group, began in 1836 in London. The company built a reputation of trust and dependability that allowed it to expand overseas. In 1981, Legal & General acquired Banner Life, which was known back then as Government Employees Life Insurance Company (GELICO). Prior to its absorption, GELICO had been inducted into A.M. Best’s select group of A+ rated insurance companies in 1976. This is a difficult feat in itself but is all the more impressive because the company has maintained that rating ever since.
Under the umbrella of Legal & General, GELICO changed its name to Banner Life Insurance Company. Soon after, Banner purchases the New York-based William Penn Life Insurance Company. Together, these two insurers are able to offer competitive policies in all 50 U.S. States. And following the path of many insurers, in 2011, it was time for another rebrand. Banner Life and William Penn, now collectively known as Legal & General America, continue the company’s mission to be customer-focused and committed to advancing technology for more efficient and personalized insurance products.
Banner Life and, by extension, William Penn primarily offer term life products. While there is a permanent insurance option, it is not available unless you are already a policyholder with the company. Its rates are influenced by risk metrics and the evolution of no-exam technology. Banner is a niche and innovative player in the term insurance market. By constantly adjusting rates and pricing, this company is able to maintain its competitive streak. However, competitive doesn’t always mean cheapest. And while Banner may not always come back with the cheapest rate, it does deliver on stability and favorable options for those with certain long-term health issues.
Banner Life Ratings:
|Banner Life Insurance Company|
|A.M. Best||A+||90th percentile|
|Fitch Ratings||AA-||90th precentile|
|Standard & Poor's||AA-||90th percentile|
Banner Life Insurance Products
Banner Life technically offers two types of life insurance: term and permanent. Unlike other insurers who cast a wide net of products, Banner’s offerings are lean but mean. At its core, the company is a term life insurance issuer. Its universal life product is an exclusive offering designed for converting existing term policies. Banner’s life insurance is available in every state, except New York (that’s where William Penn comes in), and its flexible underwriting guidelines can be assets to those with certain health conditions, like asthma.
What sets Banner Life apart from other insurers is its low coverage minimums and affordable policy riders. Besides the obvious benefit of life insurance, Banner’s varied term plans can also be helpful for protecting loans and can add further security in buy/sell situations. In short, Banner Life products can be personalized in ways that best meet your personal or business needs.
Banner’s OPTerm products are renewable and convertible term life insurance policies. The offering comes in a variety of lengths that range from 10 to 40 years of level term periods. “Level term” simply means the cost of insurance you pay at the beginning does not change during the lifespan of the policy. The issue age for Banner’s term policies is capped older than many other insurers, with some restrictions for tobacco users for 20 to 40-year terms. In general, the age cap creates a term coverage cap that ends at age 85. For example, Banner Life’s OPTerm 10-year policy is available to buy up until age 75, while its OPTerm 40-year policy caps the eligible age at 45.
With that being said, Banner Life’s term coverage can extend up to age 95 if you renew. Renewals occur at the end of your policy’s level term agreement. If you reach year 10 of your 10-year policy, for instance, and you still need coverage, Banner allows you to extend that coverage. However, the premium cost will increase, and they will increase significantly for every year a policy is extended. This holds true for just about every insurance company, so it shouldn’t be cast negatively on Banner.
One positive feature of Banner’s term products is its convertible options. Now conversions, like renewals, is an option that has only gotten more expensive across the insurance industry. Conversions are best utilized when your policy term is about to run out, and your health has reached a point where you may be uninsurable. Convertible options allow you to “convert” your term policy into a permanent policy without any additional underwriting. What makes Banner’s conversion option stand out is that it is available until the end of a policy’s term, and all of its term policies are convertible. Unlike many other insurance companies that only offer policy conversion for the first five years or not at all. And even though conversions have gone from a once exciting benefit to an expensive last resort, at least with Banner, you will know you have it if you need it.
Another bonus for buying insurance with Banner is the inclusion of the Accelerated Death Benefit. Banner includes this automatically in all OPTerm and Life Step UL plans. We’ll delve deeper into this and the other “policy riders” that Banner offers below.
Life Step UL
Banner’s universal life product is geared specifically for term conversions. So if you are specifically seeking out permanent life insurance, then Banner may not be for you. However, for those Banner policyholders looking to convert, the company does offer some decent benefits. Along with your Accelerated Death Benefit carrying over, Life Step UL guarantees coverage up to age 121 as long as the premium payments are made. The premium payment itself is also flexible, as well as an additional protective layer called the Coverage Guarantee Amount that can save a policy from lapsing under certain circumstances.
Unlike other insurance companies, Banner’s Life Step UL is a conversion-only option. This means that an insurance seeker cannot purchase a universal life policy from Banner without first having a term policy to convert. This is what separates Banner’s universal life product from other companies. It’s not a separate product, so much as it is the next evolution of Banner’s term products.
Banner Life offers a variety of product attachments, also called policy riders, that can use to personalize your policy. The Accelerated Death Benefit is automatically packaged into every term and permenent life insurance plan. Meanwhile, Banner’s Term Rider, Waiver of Premium, and Children’s Rider are optional additions available only for term policies. Excluding the Term Rider, these policy additions are generally affordable and available to all applicants.
Accelerated Death Benefit
While Accelerated Death Benefit is not free, it is a generally cheap benefit to keep active. Essentially, this benefit allows you to take out a portion of the policy death benefit in the event you become terminally ill. Typically this “early withdrawal” of your benefit goes towards paying medical bills, hospice care, and other medical needs.
Waiver of Premium
A Waiver of Premium rider is an optional policy attachment that provides a policyholder the benefit of waiving premium payments during a period in which they become disabled. This is not the same as disability insurance. While this rider would allow you to stop paying premiums during the period you are disabled, you would not collect a portion of the insurance benefit during this time.
Term Riders are more or less a splintered insurance strategy. It is temporary additional coverage. Let’s say you want a 30-year life insurance policy of $500,000 for your family, but you must also take out a $100,000 loan from the bank. The bank requires a collateral assignment on your life insurance to guarantee that the loan gets paid. In many cases, you would be advised to take out a $600,000 30-year term to cover both the loan and your family’s needs.
This could put you in a position with more insurance than you need and paying too much for it. However, a Term Rider gives you the option to add additional coverage over a smaller term period. Essentially, you would apply for a $500,000 30-year term and a $100,000 Term Rider of either 10, 15, or 20 years, whatever length of time you are going to need to fully pay off the loan. Once the Term Rider reaches its term expiration, it will terminate, and your base coverage remains untouched. This could be a valuable option for business owners and individuals alike.
Finally, the Children’s Rider is an extension of life insurance that covers families with one or more children. These death benefits range from $5,000 to $10,000 and last until either the child reaches age 25 or the insured reaches 65 years old. Banner offers this rider as an affordable first step for insuring your entire family, with annual premiums capping out at around $50 per child. And in the event the insured dies before the rider’s expiration, the remaining premiums are waived, and the child is guaranteed coverage until age 25 – at which point, they will have the option to convert the coverage into something more permanent.
Banner Life Product Summary
|Banner Life Products||OPTerm||Life Step UL|
|Product Specs||Level premium term with guaranteed death benefit. Coverage decreases after the level term period.|
10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, & 40 year plans
Not designed to build cash value.
Focused on providing death benefit guarantees.
|Issue Ages||10 Year Term:|
20-75 (All health classes)
15 Year Term:
20-75 (All health classes)
20 Year Term:
25 Year Term:
30 Year Term:
35 Year Term:
40 Year Term:
|20-85 (All health classes)|
|Product Highlights||Premiums guaranteed during term.|
Renewable & convertible
Applicants with a family history of cancer are still eligible for the best rate.
|Coverage guaranteed to age 121.|
|Surrender Charges||N/A||Decreases over 14 years|
|Conversion Details||Convertible options available for the full life of the term or up to age 70. Policies issued at age 66 or older are convertible only for the first 5 policy years.||N/A|
|Benefits||Accelerated Death Benefit Rider||Accelerated Death Benefit Rider|
|Optional Benefits||Waiver of Premium|
Term Rider 10, 15, & 20 Year
Children's Rider (not available in NY or MD)
Although Banner’s product line is limited, what they offer is difficult to beat. There’s a reason why this insurance company hasn’t expanded its policy services because what they do, they do really well. Banner Life’s term policies can be adjusted to fit a variety of needs with the addition of a policy rider, and its conversion options are designed solely for long-term clients. The company is constantly adjusting its rates to stay competitive, and Banner Life actively innovates its methods to remain an efficient and effective insurer.
Banner Life Specialties
Life insurance companies are not monoliths. Every insurer views certain risks more favorably than others, and treat age, body type, and lifestyle on their own metrics. If you get the best rate with Banner, that doesn’t guarantee you will have the same luck somewhere else. This is why it’s so important for all policy seekers to understand just how much every aspect of their life can impact their rate, and know which company will treat them the most fairly.
When it comes to body type, Banner provides little room for confusion in its underwriting methodology. The table below provides a general overview of how height and weight factor into your insurance rates. Bear in mind that for every inch, there is an average 3-4 lbs bump in the table range. The most important takeaway here is to understand just how much an extra inch could save you in premiums. And luckily, Banner Life offers 1” height adjustments to those eligible. This underwriting credit is available to everyone, including tobacco users.
Banner Life’s Build Chart
|4'10"||89 - 134||135 - 144||145 - 155||156 - 181||182 - 196|
|4'11"||92 - 139||140 - 149||150 - 160||161 - 188||189 - 203|
|5'0"||95 - 144||145 - 154||155 - 166||167 - 194||195 - 209|
|5'1"||98 - 149||150 - 159||160 - 171||172 - 201||202 - 216|
|5'2"||101 - 153||154 - 164||165 - 177||178 - 207||208 - 224|
|5'3"||104 - 158||159 - 170||171 - 183||184 - 214||215 - 231|
|5'4"||108 - 164||165 - 175||175 - 188||189 - 221||222 - 238|
|5'5"||111 - 169||170 - 181||182 - 194||195 - 228||229 - 246|
|5'6"||115 - 174||175 - 186||187 - 200||201 - 235||236 - 253|
|5'7"||118 - 179||180 - 192||193 - 207||208 - 242||243 - 261|
|5'8"||122 - 185||186 - 198||199 - 213||214 - 249||250 - 269|
|5'9"||125 - 190||191 - 204||205 - 219||220 - 257||258 - 277|
|5'10"||129 - 196||197 - 210||211 - 225||226 - 264||265 - 285|
|5'11"||133 - 201||202 - 216||217 - 232||233 - 272||273 - 293|
|6'0"||136 - 207||208 - 222||223 - 239||240 - 279||280 - 302|
|6'1"||140 - 213||214 - 228||229 - 245||246 - 287||288 - 310|
|6'2"||144 - 219||220 - 234||235 - 252||253 - 295||296 - 319|
|6'3"||148 - 225||226 - 241||242 - 259||260 - 303||304 - 327|
|6'4"||152 - 231||232 - 247||248 - 266||267 - 311||312 - 336|
|6'5"||156 - 237||238 - 254||255 - 273||274 - 320||321 - 345|
|6'6"||160 - 243||244 - 260||261 - 280||281 - 328||329 - 354|
|6'7"||164 - 249||250 - 267||268 - 287||288 - 336||337 - 363|
|6'8"||168 - 256||257 - 274||275 - 295||296 - 345||346 - 372|
|6'9"||173 - 262||263 - 281||282 - 302||303 - 354||355 - 382|
|6'10"||177 - 268||269 - 288||289 - 309||310 - 363||364 - 391|
|6'11"||181 - 275||276 - 295||296 - 317||318 - 371||372 - 401|
*This Standard range is not eligible for height adjustment credits.
Health & Lifestyle
Every insurance company has its sweet spots when it comes to accommodating policy seekers. Banner Life is accommodating to many, but not all. So if you don’t see your health condition or lifestyle listed, chances are a different insurer is underwriting with you in mind. With that being said, Banner is especially kind to those with controlled health conditions, such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension(HTN), and a combination of treated HTN and high cholesterol. And if your cholesterol is under 300, treated or not, Banner considers you eligible for its best rate as well.
For those with a tobacco history, most companies won’t offer you their best health class until you are at least five years smoke-free. With Banner, on the other hand, you are eligible for its Preferred Plus after only three years. Even scuba divers are considered for the best rates, so long as they don’t dive more than 100 feet.
In general, Banner Life is a fair option for those with cancer histories. The company’s best rate is available to individuals with a non-genetic family history of cancer. Meanwhile, even if you have a personal cancer history, you can still be considered for Banner’s Standard Plus rate class.
How Do I Get Banner Life’s Best Rate?
Of course, everyone wants the best rate. The truth is a lot of stars need to align to make it happen… or you’re young. However, it is possible to improve your rate if you’re willing to make certain lifestyle changes. On top of that, Banner will still consider you for its Preferred health class even if you have asthma, anxiety, depression, or sleep apnea as long as these conditions are well controlled. Those with severe sleep apnea still have the opportunity to receive Banner’s Standard Plus rate (third best), so long as the client is CPAP compliant. Meanwhile, controlled type-II diabetics are also eligible for the third best rate.
Many combining factors go into a health class rating. But the key to securing the best rate for your needs is to know what you can control and know where to go for the things you can’t. Not every insurance company will consider someone with sleep apnea or hypertension the best rates; however, other companies have their own niche considerations whereas Banner does not. For instance, Transplant recipients and individuals with cardiomyopathy are instant declines with Banner Life. (Find a good example)
Banner Life, like many other insurers, continues to roll out more technology to better enhance the client experience and more effectively assess underwriting risks. From digital application pathways to utilizing the Medical Information Bureau’s database for top-level views of applicant medical histories. Banner offers no-exam, digital insurance options to healthy individuals 60 and below. The company has established an AI underwriting tool to efficiently asses risk and quickly approve policies. It’s an amazing option for those who need insurance in a pinch, but the technology still has a few wrinkles to iron out.
The main issue we have personally run into is in the AI’s rigorous assessments. It is difficult to take advantage of certain underwriting credits, as well as specific exceptions to a client’s medical history. With human underwriters, it’s possible to submit letters and justify medical exceptions. But with an AI, you are either approved or declined based on the guidelines and only the guidelines.
How Much Does Banner Life Insurance Cost?
The cost of insurance with Banner Life is going to be a unique number for just about everyone. While there will be overlaps and similarities, there is no firm price tag on any life insurance product. The value of an insurance policy is weighed by risk to the insurer. Generally and bluntly speaking, if Banner Life thinks you have a good chance of outliving your term, you’re rates will be cheap. If Banner thinks you will likely die before the policy expires, then your insurance will be expensive because Banner anticipates paying a claim.
However, we can come up with baseline estimates related to gender and age. But understand that the table below is not a promised rate, as many other factors besides age and gender play a role in the cost of life insurance.
Two Ways to Buy A Banner Life Insurance Policy
Accelerated underwriting is typically a fully digital, no-exam pathway to insurance. Banner Life offers two tools for its accelerated program: AppAssist and Horizon. AppAssist is for those who would prefer a tele-interview over completing the application online. After your agent submits a drop ticket application, you can schedule a phone call with Banner’s service team to complete your insurance application in 30 minutes or less.
Horizon is Banner’s fully digital underwriting application. The majority of applicants 60 years and under are eligible to apply this way. And as long as your health class is rated Standard non-tobacco or above, you should be able to avoid a medical exam and simply complete the non-med portion of the application. For those who need more than $2 million of life insurance, Banner will expect you to submit 2-3 years of medical history in order to avoid the exam.
Banner’s tried and true full app process is your best bet for nuance over speed. While no-med options are still available in traditional underwriting, the process takes more time to complete. If you have a complicated health history and believe that you can justify a better health class based on Banner’s guidelines alone, then the long application is likely your best bet.
Banner Life’s Customer Satisfaction
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides consumers with thorough data on customer service reviews via its complaint index. While Financial Strength Ratings from independent agencies are an important aspect of quality, it’s the client experience that matters most.
So what does NAIC’s complaint index say about Banner Life? Well, there are three people in California who had something negative to say. Besides that, Banner Life’s complaint index score for 2022 was 0.08, which is far below the industry standard of 1.0. This index is scored by dividing the insurance company’s share of complaints within the US market by the insurance company’s share of premiums within that same market. In other words, Banner Life receives far fewer complaints than is generally expected for that kind of company.
The Pros & Cons of Banner Life
|Banner Life Insurance Company|
|Variety of term options||Limited universal life option|
|Affordable policy riders|
|No exam options|
|Auto-draft (EFT) available for all premium modes|
Why Should You Use Banner Life?
The reality is that you should use Banner if it is the best insurer for you. If you have type II diabetes, then Banner should definitely be at the top of your list. However, if you’re wanting a policy that can build cash value, you won’t find it here. What Banner does, it does really well. Affordable premiums, customizable plans, and quality customer care are so important. However, they aren’t exactly what makes Banner unique from other insurance companies. What makes Banner unique is its stackable add-ons and its term-to-conversion design. Finally, the answer to whether this life insurance company is the right one for you is almost always found in its underwriting niches.
What is Banner favorable to that other companies aren’t? You should consider using Banner Life if you are a smoker or if you recently quit. If you are diabetic or fly airplanes for a living, then Banner is a good option. If you are being treated for diabetes or depression and you need protection for a loan, then Banner Life is an excellent company to consider using. Quality life insurance products are just as much about the company that offers them as they are about the individual who wants them. The smartest way to know which path to take is to gather quotes, talk to industry professionals, and honestly assess your needs.