2023 Pacific Life Insurance Review

Written by Michael Gray

Pacific Life Insurance Review

The Pacific Life Insurance Company is one of the most reliable insurers out there based on its longevity alone. With over a century of experience, Pacific Life has had time to fine-tune its products and develop smart risk management plans. It’s a company that has seen it all, and its life insurance products reflect that wisdom.

At MEG Financial, our mission is to provide you with the best information, so you can take the next right step. Our promise is to remain a trust, independent source to help you navigate your life insurance options. And while we are contracted with every insurnace company we discuss, our opinions and our content is never influence by paid sponsorships.

The Pacific Life Insurance Company logo. A humpback whale breaching the ocean.

  • Financial Strength Rating: A+
  • No Exam Option? Yes
  • Customer Service: Good
  • Policy Options: Term & Universal Life


Pacific Life Insurance Company Overview

Pacific Life Insurance Company is one of the oldest insurance companies in the United States. Its legacy has given them ample experience, and the insurer has weathered many storms. This has allowed the company to rise among the best life insurance companies out there. Pacific Life is customer focused and continues to take the long-view approach to its business practices.

How Pacific Life Got Its Start

Pacific Life Insurance Company celebrated its 155th year in January of 2023, making the insurer one of the oldest operating insurance companies in the country. It takes ingenuity and solid investment strategies to achieve such a feat. From the beginning, Pacific Life – born as Pacific Mutual – took a long-view business approach. In 1866, Simon Schreiber and Josiah Howell took on the task of offering affordable and reliable life insurance in the Wild West. It was a venture that many Eastern-dwelling companies felt was too risky. Because of the perceived hazards of frontier living, life insurance premiums at the time were costly, and it took months for beneficiaries to collect their claims. Schreiber and Howell planned to change all of that. The duo moved quickly. After securing funding from the former California governor and future university founder, Leland Stanford, Howell and Schreiber established The Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1868. Stanford was named president with Schreiber and Howells as the company’s first general agents.

Time and time again, the company faced seemingly insurmountable odds. Inevitable loss and unforeseeable chaos. But Pacific Mutual consistently planned smart and developed strategies for the long-term. The company weathered recessions, earthquakes, and modernization with one exception that nearly brought them down: The Great Depression. Prior to one of the most trying times in United States history, Pacific Mutual had introduced its most popular product at the time – the non-cancellable disability income policy. The first of its kind in the United States, the company had sold at least 49,000 non-cancellables by 1930. And it nearly destroyed them.

This is a perfect example of how an insurance company can bring about its own ruin. And it’s an experience that Pacific Mutual was luckily able to learn from. You see, non-cancellable policyholders quickly realized how valuable this insurance was. There was a sharp uptick in claims, and Pacific Mutual found itself paying $4 million per year. The company had over-extended itself during a horrible economic time, and there wasn’t an entity around crazy enough to reinsure. In 1936, California Insurance Commissioner Samuel Carpenter seized the company.

A move that is so often a death sentence for an institution, Carpenter saw a path for rehabilitation. Led by Carpenter, the company underwent a number of major changes. Besides stopping the sale of non-cancellable policies, Pacific Mutual also went against the grain and became a true mutual company in 1959. The insurer turned its focus toward training, education, and service. It involved itself in a number of charitable organizations, like United Way, and partnered with an independent brokerage which created a more effective and positive environment for its policyholders.

business team celebrates a victory in their office

The company continued to expand and diversify throughout the 20th Century, such as through bond investments and aircraft leasing. By 1997, it was time to take everything it had to offer and unite it under one brand: Pacific Life. The whale was born.

What we refer to as Pacific Life today is typically its life insurance division, “Pacific Life Insurance Company,” and this is what our review will focus on. Pacific Life, the parent company, offers much more than life insurance, including annuities, real estate, mutual funds, and more. However, its life insurance offerings are simple, effective, and typical: convertible term and universal life policies.

Pacific Life has maintained a strong A+ rating for many years. And even though its past is more checkered than some other insurers, Pacific Life has proven itself to be an innovative and diligent company. The company’s long history has made it something of a guinea pig for what some younger insurance companies had the privilege to learn from. But it has also allowed Pacific Life to fine-tune its products in ways that many other insurers cannot. Time is a double-edged sword, and it has cut Pacific Life almost as much as it has sharpened the company’s strategies.

Pacific Life Insurance Company
A.M. BestA+90th percentile
Fitch RatingsAA-90th precentile
Moody'sAa390th percentile
Standard & Poor'sAA-90th percentile
Comdex9590th percentile

Pacific Life Insurance Products

At first glance, Pacific Life Insurance Company’s product offerings look no different than any other insurer. Term policies with variable lengths, convertible periods, and competitive pricing. Universal life policies with no-lapse guarantees, fixed premiums, and some benefit riders to sweeten the deal. So how does Pacific Life make its products stand out? What makes Pacific Life’s PL Promise term policy different from another company’s term product? Like everything else about Pacific Life, to truly see the difference, you have to take the long-view approach to their products.

Pacific Life Term Options

This insurer offers two roads for term life insurance: PL Promise and PL Elite. Term life insurance is a policy with variable lengths of level premiums. Meaning that a 10-year term policy is guaranteed to maintain the same value and cost for the term period. The PL Promise Term is Pacific Life’s basic package – designed with both families and business owners in mind. The product’s term length options can give you leeway and work with your needs, whether it’s for income replacement, mortgage or loan protection, or recovery from a business loss.

An Accelerated Death Benefit is packaged with every term policy; however, unless you opt-in to the additional premium payments, the benefit eventually expires. Other optional benefits include a Waiver of Premium Rider and a Children’s Term Rider. Both the PL Promise and PL Elite are eligible for these benefits.

The key difference between an Elite Term and a Promise Term is that the Elite is ineligible for 15 and 25-year term lengths, but it does offer added benefits like a Terminal Illness Rider, a Conversion Credit, and an extended issue age for 10-year terms. If you are looking to use insurance in support of a succession plan or a buy-sell, PL Elite is designed with you in mind.

Pacific Life Universal Life Options

Universal Life policies is Pacific Life’s bread and butter. The variety of products and options is appealing in that just about any financial need can be covered by a Pacific Life UL policy, but it can also be overwhelming for prospective policyholders as they flip through the company’s numerous options. There are three basic UL categories that Pacific Life offers: Guaranteed, Indexed, and Variable.

Guaranteed UL

A Guaranteed Universal Life insurance policy is a standard type of universal life insurance. Flexible premiums combined with a no-lapse guarantee protect the policy from terminating or becoming devalued so long as the set minimum premium requirement continues to be paid. Pacific Life packages this guarantee up to age 90, although an optional rider can be added to extend the guarantee for life. The PL Promise GUL is this insurer’s standard offering.

This UL policy is a simple design. A long-term insurance policy with flexible premiums that focuses purely on protecting the death benefit. Like the majority of standard ULs out there, there is little to no cash value growth. This means if you need an asset-oriented policy for loans or to boost your employee benefits, this product probably isn’t for you. The PL Promise UL is a family and income protection plan. Its living benefits, like the terminal illness rider, can provide some asset potential, but this GUL is ultimately fixed coverage for your beneficiaries.

For those who want a life insurance policy that can grow in value without having to place it in the hands of the market, Pacific Life offers its Venture UL. This is a guaranteed universal life policy that provides all the same benefits as the PL Promise GUL, with an added Versa-Flex Benefit. 2% minimum interest credit can help you build the cash value of your policy. The benefit of cash value growth is in its use flexibility. Withdraw from the cash value to pay off debt or use it as a source for paying the insurance premiums.

Indexed Universal Life

elderly businessman celebrating by dancing to music on his headphones

Indexed policies are asset-oriented. They provide the same guaranteed death benefit as any other universal life insurance product, except indexed policies also attach cash value to stock market performance. This can benefit the policyholder by gaining access to a higher and faster-growing cash-value product.

Pacific Life offers seven different types of indexed universal life products. Each one is designed for specific needs, including estate planning, executive benefits, and supplemented income. For instance, an indexed universal life policy can provide your key employees with an excellent reason to stick around. The company pays the premiums as an employee benefit, the employee names their own beneficiary, but the company has access to the accumulating cash value as an asset. This is called a split-dollar arrangement.

Variable Universal Life

Essentially, a variable universal life insurance policy is the best of both indexed and guaranteed ULs. Perhaps the most flexible of the trio, a VUL can build value by investing a portion of its cash value into the stock market. Pacific Life, in particular, offers four different variable universal life insurance products.

Much like with the insurer’s IULs, its variable products are each designed for different needs in mind. For example, The VUL Protector is best for those who want to make sure their family is taken care of. Each product comes customizable with a range of indexed and guaranteed design options, as well as living benefit riders. Like any other universal life policy, the no-lapse guarantee can be extended beyond age 90.

Pacific Life Benefit Riders

Across all of Pacific Life’s product offerings, there is the opportunity for personalization with its benefit riders. Many of these benefits are standard for the insurance market, like the children’s term rider, no-lapse guarantee, and terminal illness rider. Some are more specialized, such as the downside protection rider, which is eligible for some universal life products. This rider guarantees a minimum accumulated cash value. Not every benefit rider is available for all Pacific Life products. However, the more detailed you are about your insurance needs, the easier it will be to navigate the insurer’s offerings and select added benefits that fit your life the best.

Product NamePL Promise TermPL Promise GULPL Promise Conversion UL
TypeLevel Premium Term Life InsuranceNo-Lapse Guarantee Universal Life InsuranceNo-Lapse Guarantee Universal Life Insurance (available upon PL Promise Term Conversion)
Features- Guaranteed death benefit for term length as long as premiums are maintained.

- 10, 15, 20, 25, 30-year term options.

- Competitive pricing for non-nicotine risk classes.

- Competitive conversion rates

- Accelerated underwriting process up to $3M in coverage.
- Affordable premiums.

- Level pay & single pay options.

- Up to age 90 & lifetime guarantee options

- Return of Premium & Terminal Illness Riders included at no extra cost.

- Late premium protection.

- No-med option up to $2M in coverage.
- Up to two partial conversions per one PL Promise Term policy.

- Competitive premiums compared to non-converted UL products.

- Return of premium feature during year 15, 20, & 25.
Issue AgesMinimum: 180 - 80 (nearest birthday)18 - 70 (nearest birthday)
Face AmountMinimum: $50,000Minimum: $25,000Minimum: $50,000
Underwriting Risk Classes- No Nicotine: Preferred Best, Preferred, Select, Standard

- Nicotine: Preferred & Standard
- No Nicotine: Preferred Best, Preferred, Select, Standard

- Nicotine: Preferred & Standard
Policy converts to equivalent risk class as selected term policy. No underwriting/medical required.
Surrender ChargesN/AApplies upon a full policy surrender and any face amount decrease or withdrawal occurring within the policy's first 19 years.Applies upon a full policy surrender and any face amount decrease or withdrawal occurring within the policy's first 15 years.
Optional Benefits- Accelerated Death Benefit

- Children's Level Term Insurance

- Waiver of Premium
- Accelerated Death Benefit

- Children's Level Term Insurance

- Enhanced Surrender Value

- Waiver of Monthly Deduction

- Chronic Illness Care
- Accelerated Death Benefit

- Children's Level Term Insurance

- Enhanced Surrender Value

Pacific Life Underwriting Specialties

smiling pilot sitting in the cockpit of a plane

At its very foundation, Pacific Life is unique in the way it evaluates risk. The company divides underwriting criteria into two classes: under age 65 & 65 or older. This typically gives the older class more leeway on categories like build and health. On top of that, Pacific Life is no so risk-averse when it comes to certain lifestyles. For instance, recreational scuba divers can receive a standard or better rate so long as they aren’t cave diving. Private pilots can receive the second-best rate from Pacific Life, as well as frequent foreign travelers. And if you are in the military, Pacific Life will consider you for all rate classes up to $1 million in coverage.

Build Criteria

While Pacific Life’s build criteria are more favorable than some other insurance companies, age also plays a significant role in the way Pacific Life classifies an applicant’s body type. Individuals 65 and older have separate rate criteria than younger applicants (chart below). In general, to be considered for Pacific Life’s best rate, there are about 15 pounds added to the range. For example, a 65-year-old who weighs 174 and is 5’1” is eligible for the best rate. Meanwhile, a 64-year-old with the same build is only eligible for the second-best rate.

HeightExcellent Health Class
Preferred Best
Great Health Class
Average Health Class
4'10"86 - 143144 - 158159 - 167
4'11"89 - 148149 -163164 - 173
5'0"92 - 153154 - 168169 - 179
5'1"95 - 158159 - 174175 - 185
5'2"98 - 164165 - 180181 - 191
5'3"101 - 169170 - 186187 - 197
5'4"105 - 174175 - 192193 - 204
5'5"108 - 180181 - 198199 - 210
5'6"111 - 186187 - 204205 - 216
5'7"115 - 191192 - 211212 - 223
5'8"118 - 197198 - 216217 - 230
5'9"122 - 203204 - 223224 - 236
5'10"125 - 209210 - 229230 - 243
5'11"129 - 215216 - 236237 - 250
6'0"132 - 221222 - 242243 - 258
6'1"136 - 227228 - 250250 - 265
6'2"140 -233234 - 256257 - 272
6'3"144 - 240241 - 264265 - 279
6'4"148 - 246247 - 271272 - 287
6'5"151 - 253254 - 278279 - 295
6'6"155 - 259260 - 285286 - 302
6'7"159 - 266267 - 292293 - 310
6'8"164 - 273274 - 300301 - 318
6'9"168 - 280281 - 307308 - 326
6'10"172 - 286287 - 315316 - 334
6'11"176 - 294295 - 323324 - 343

Health Criteria

Pacific Life Insurance Company is kind towards many health conditions. As we already mentioned, the company writes competitively for individuals with untreated or treated cholesterol as high as 300. The second-best rate is considered for those with depression or anxiety, so long as they aren’t taking more than two prescription drugs for treatment. Mild sleep apnea, seasonal asthma, and even arthritis are all evaluated favorably with this insurer. And when it comes to certain gastrointestinal disorders, like Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Proctitis, and Ulcerative Colitis, Pacific Life will consider insuring you so long as the symptoms are mild.

How Much Does a Pacific Life Insurance Policy Cost?

When it comes to life insurance, the cost of coverage is unique to the individual. The value of an insurance policy is measured by the risk of the insurer. Pacific Life, like any other life insurance company, prices your policy in terms of how likely the company will have to pay your claim. Now life insurance is not all about the death benefit, but that is the number an insurer looks at when determining your approval and premiums. Because of this, there is no firm price tag on any life insurance product.

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.

The Pacific Life Insurance Company logo. A humpback whale breaching the ocean.10 Year Term15 Year Term20 Year Term30 Year Term
MaleAge 30$17.83$21.94$29.69$51.22
Age 40$26.31$33.68$48.78$91.80
Age 50$69.08$100.50$129.81$240.63
Age 60$206.36$277.29$381.01N/A
Age 70$589.03$920.16N/AN/A
FemaleAge 30$15.28$17.83$23.50$39.41
Age 40$23.78$31.92$40.54$72.40
Age 50$56.64$72.84$95.79$179.06
Age 60$136.01$178.56$265.33N/A
Age 70$366.75$559.98N/AN/A
Age 0-64.

Rates featured for $1,000,000 life insurance at the best health class. Monthly rates shown. The data represented is an estimate and is not a guarantee of an actual offer.

Three Ways To Buy A Pacific Life Policy

Pacific Life is constantly pushing its underwriting technology towards a simpler, swifter, and more satisfying customer experience. The company currently offers three paths to insurance: accelerated, modified, and traditional. Each path is hedged by various applicant requirements, such as age, amount of coverage, and health. Basically, Pacific Life will fast-track simple cases. But the more complex an applicant’s history or needs, the more detail and careful evaluation Pacific Life will require.

Pacific Accelerate Life+ (PAL)

Pacific Life has embraced the rise of AI technology with its accelerated underwriting tool, PAL+. This is a fully online, nonmedical exam option for healthy policy seekers who need $3 million or less in coverage. Your insurance agent completes the initial electronic application, also called a drop ticket, on your behalf. From there, you have the option of completing a short health questionnaire online or taking it over the phone with a trusted Pacific Life representative. The underwriting process is typically fast but final. If you are approved at a higher rate than you think you should be, then you will have to start the process over.


The primary challenge with AI underwriting tools is that there is no room for exceptions. You can be the healthiest 60-year-old on the planet, but if your BMI is 31 instead of 30, you may not get the best rate. Unfortunately, AI is still not advanced enough to reason with. The guidelines are the guidelines. However, if you are in good health and need insurance fast, say, for a loan, then Pacific Life’s accelerated option is one to consider.

elderly man in a suit, sits outside, and smiles while he reads

Pacific Life’s Modified Underwriting

PAL+ may not necessarily end in an approval or denial. Pacific Life’s underwriting system may find something in your health history that requires more information. This can push you out of accelerated underwriting and into the company’s modified pathway. While still potentially a no-med option, the modified road requires physical labs within 1 year of the application. However, there are other reasons to go with modified underwriting at the very beginning of the process. For one, individuals 61 or older are not eligible for PAL+, and neither are key person policies.

Pacific Accelerate Life+ModifiedTraditional
No medical examPhysical & labs within the past 12 monthsMedical exam, likely
Physical & labs, likely
Additional health information required upon request
Age 18-60

Up to $3 million term life coverage

Standard or better health class

Online or phone health questionnaire
Age 18-70

Up to $3 million term coverage

Up to $2 million universal life coverage

All health classes

Online or phone health questionnaire
All ages

All coverage amounts

Pacific Life’s Traditional Underwriting

The insurer’s traditional application is recommended for policy seekers with complex health histories or who need high-dollar coverage. Unless you are completely uninsurable, there is little limitation to who can apply via Pacific Life’s traditional underwriting. And while you do have the option to apply online, you are limited to $3 million or less in coverage. For larger insurance amounts, a paper application will be required.

The traditional underwriting process typically takes much longer than the accelerated route. A human underwriter is tasked to dive deep into your history and your reasons for insurance. Additional information is often requested during the process, such as medical records or even a medical follow-up. In most cases, getting insured is no easy task, and it’s important to be prepared to jump through a lot of hoops to secure the protection you need.

Pacific 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 and independent rating agencies are an important aspect of quality, at the end of the day, it’s the client experience that matters most.

two business women smile as they work on the computer

So what does NAIC’s complaint index say about Pacific Life? According to its National Complaint Index, Pacific Life’s 0.01 is far below the 1.0 market average. In an industry that deals in worst-case scenarios, Pacific Life’s customer satisfaction is impressive, to say the least. However, we at Key Person Insurance and MEG Financial can say from experience that Pacific Life tends to have long call wait times. Being one of the largest insurance companies in the country, it makes sense that Pacific Life is receiving an endless wave of calls. The most important thing is that when you do get ahold of a Pacific Life representative, they are knowledgeable and respond quickly to your needs.

Pacific Life Insurance Company
Variety of universal life optionsLimited conversion windows
Customizable insurance plansLong call waiting times
Favorable rates for world travellers
Products designed for executive benefits

Why Should I Use Pacific Life?

Pacific Life is one of the strongest life insurance companies out there. Throughout the company’s 150 years of operating, Pacific Life has had to overcome numerous recessions, a depression, and even an earthquake. And through all of it, the insurer has cultivated excellent products for families and business owners. The insurer’s universal life catalog is tough to beat. With an expert agent by your side, you can easily personalize a Pacific Life policy to match your needs and reach your goals.

We have worked with countless business owners and families to secure Pacific Life Insurance policies with not one legitimate claim going unpaid. MEG Financial has a strong relationship with Pacific Life and many other top life insurance companies. We will help you manage risks, protect what you care about most, and find you the best rate for your needs.

About KeyPersonInsurance.com
About KeyPersonInsurance.com

We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates.

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