5Star Life Insurance Review

Life insurance coverage for federal and first response employees and contractors

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5Star Life Insurance

5Star Life Insurance

Our Take

Both voluntary group and individual term life policies are offered nationwide through 5Star Life Insurance Company, which serves as the underwriter for the Armed Forces Benefit Association (AFBA). This carrier provides life insurance coverage to a range of federal and government contractors and employees, as well as eligible military and first responders. 

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Available nationwide

  • No-exam options offered

  • No war or terrorism exclusions

  • Coverage is portable

Cons
  • Policies only offered to eligible members and employees

  • Coverage is sold through producers (brokers)

  • No whole life or universal life products

  • No online quotes available

Key Takeaways
  • Founded in 1996, 5Star Life underwrites life insurance policies for the non-profit Armed Forces Benefit Association, which was established in 1947.
  • 5Star Life offers life insurance coverage to eligible federal government employees and contractors, military members, and first responders. 
  • Policies can be provided as individual or voluntary group life insurance, and coverage is portable as long as premiums are paid.
  • Only term life and guaranteed issue policies are available; there are no whole life or universal life options offered.
Company Overview

Founded in 1996, 5Star Life Insurance Company provides principal underwriting services for the Armed Forces Benefit Association. Together, they provide life insurance coverage to military families, government employees and contractors, and first responders (including law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel). 

5Star Life is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and offers individual, group, and worksite policies to eligible members through its network of producers. AFBA currently boasts more than 53,000 members and has paid out more than $2 billion in claims since its inception.

Geographical Restrictions

5Star Life currently offers coverage in 49 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. 

  • Year Founded 1996
  • Kinds of Plans Term life, guaranteed issue, AD&D
  • Number of Plans 4
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly payroll deduction
  • Customer Service Email or phone (866-863-9753 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday)
  • Official Website www.5starlifeinsurance.com

5Star Life is not one of our top-rated life insurance companies. You can review our list of the best life insurance companies for what we think are better options.

Pros Explained

  • Available nationwide: 5Star Life is currently offered in 49 states plus the District of Columbia, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
  • No-exam options offered: Certain plans are considered guaranteed issue and have no paramedical exam requirements in order to elect coverage.
  • No war or terrorism exclusions: Many carriers have coverage exclusions when traveling to high-risk areas or even being active duty military. With the government contractor employer group term life policy from 5Star Life, though, there are no war or terrorism exclusions, no geographical limitations, and no activity or occupation exclusions. 
  • Coverage is portable: As long as premiums are paid, employees can keep their 5Star Life coverage without any evidence of insurability requirement even after leaving their job.

Cons Explained

  • Policies only offered to eligible members and employees: In order to purchase a 5Star Life policy, you will need to be an employee of a participating company. You may also be an eligible member of the armed services, a government employee or federal contractor, or a first responder.
  • Coverage is sold through producers (brokers): All 5Star Life policies are sold through a network of producers. They cannot be purchased directly. 
  • No whole or universal life products: 5Star Life currently only sells term life and simplified issue/guaranteed issue products to eligible members. There are no universal or whole life policies offered.
  • No online quotes available: In order to price out coverage, you’ll need to speak with a producer or your employer’s benefits coordinator. No online quote or pricing is available.

Available Plans

5Star Life offers a few different policies to individuals and voluntary group life participants. These plans are provided through participating workplaces or certain associations and unions.

Family Protection Plan

This policy offers individual, level term life coverage as well as terminal illness protection through age 121. Policies are customizable as well as portable, enabling employees to remain covered even after they leave the company. Optional coverage offered for spouses and children, in addition to a terminal illness rider. This product is available with or without a Quality of Life benefit.

Though level term policies retain a consistent death benefit amount for the life of the policy, premiums can increase with age and may be affected by other personal factors.

Group Term Life and AD&D

Basic Life and AD&D is 5Star Life’s core product. Offered as a guaranteed issue group plan through a participating workplace or as an individual member policy, it provides blended term life insurance with accidental death and dismemberment. This coverage is portable, and optional spouse and/or child coverage is available on voluntary group policies.

Federal Government Contractor Employee Group Term Life

This policy is designed to provide short-term coverage to government contractor employees who may otherwise have a gap in coverage. This policy is offered as one-year renewable term coverage with benefits starting at $10,000. It’s guaranteed issue (so no medical exams or health questions) and covers all types of deaths. There are no exclusions for geographical locations, combat, war, terrorism, certain occupations, or travel. 

Available Riders

Riders provide additional protection to policyholders and their families on top of the policy’s basic death benefit. These riders may be included at an additional cost or free of charge. Not all riders will be available in all areas or on all policy types.

Automatic Increase Rider

At the cost of $1 per week, this rider allows policyholders to increase their total coverage amount on each of the first five coverage anniversaries. This increase is a guaranteed issue and will not depend on factors like health, medical concerns, or occupation.

Quality of Life Rider

If you are diagnosed with a chronic condition or are unable to perform at least two Activities of Daily Living, the Quality of Life rider will offer you access to a portion of your policy’s benefits while you’re living. These benefits can be used to pay for medical bills, provide for long-term care needs, replace income, cover out-of-pocket expenses, and more. 

Policyholders can withdraw either 3% or 4% of the policy’s death benefit each month, up to a total of 75% of its face value. Any remaining funds will be issued to your beneficiaries after you pass away.

Spouse and Child Riders

Policyholders and eligible members are able to add optional coverage for their spouse and/or child(ren) with these riders. Depending on policy type, coverage may be available even if the eligible member does not elect coverage on themself. 

Child riders are offered for dependents between the ages of 14 days and 23 years on individual policies, or between 14 days and 19 years (26 if they are a student) for group policies. The funds can be used to cover final expenses, medical bills, or provide an additional benefit to loved ones.

Terminal Illness Acceleration of Benefits

With this rider, you will be able to access up to 30% of your policy’s overall coverage amount (in one lump sum payment) while you’re still living. You may qualify for this benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and given 12 months or less to live (in Illinois, 24 months).

Waiver of Premium Rider

If you are totally disabled over the course of your policy, the waiver of premium rider will keep your life insurance coverage intact while also waiving future premiums. There is a six-month waiting period before this benefit kicks in, but the rider lasts as long as you are disabled or until the policy’s term ends (whichever comes first).

When buying life insurance coverage through an employer or association group, you are limited to the features, benefits, and even coverage limits that they set. In many cases, this coverage limit may be factored as a multiple of your salary; if this doesn’t offer enough coverage to adequately protect your family, you may need to consider shopping for a policy privately.

Customer Service

5Star Life offers customer service support via phone or email. Phone agents can be reached toll free at 866-863-9753 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. The company also offers an online email contact form.

Complaint Index

Each year, insurance carriers are assigned a complaint index from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). This index has a baseline score of 1.0, which indicates the average number of complaints that a carrier is expected to receive based on its size and market share. 

A complaint index greater than 1.0 indicates that more complaints were received than expected;  an index less than 1.0 means fewer-than-expected complaints were received. A complaint index of 2.0, for instance, means that the company received twice as many complaints as were expected.

In 2020, 5Star Life was assigned a complaint index of 0.69, indicating fewer complaints than average. In 2019, its complaint index was 0.43, and in 2018 it was 1.74. While 2018 was higher than average, the last two years have indicated a consistent downward trend. 

Third-Party Ratings

A company’s third-party ratings give consumers a good idea of the company’s stability and financial strength, as well as how they perform compared to other carriers. This can give policyholders peace of mind that if and when their loved ones ever need to file a claim, the carrier will be able to pay.

AM Best is a trusted third-party agency that offers credit and financial strength ratings to carriers. 5Star Life has been assigned an A- (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best, indicating that the company is likely to remain sustainable over the long term.

Another trusted third-party agency is J.D. Power, which publishes an industry study each year that ranks top carriers based on factors like pricing, availability, customer service, and the claims process. 5Star Life was not named in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, though the company’s smaller size could have played a role.

Cancellation Policy

Life insurance policies through 5Star Life can be cancelled at any time without penalty. Since these policies do not accrue a cash value, there is no refund offered on premiums paid up to that point. 

Price

Life insurance coverage from 5Star Life is offered as either group policies through the workplace or as individual policies offered through unions or associations. Because of this, rates for coverage can vary depending on the policy options offered by that workplace, the number of life insurance participants, and even the makeup of the specific employee group (including average ages and gender). 

This can be beneficial for applicants, as coverage is generally more affordable when offered through a group, and individual factors—such as health history and medical concerns—don’t impact rates the same as they would when buying an individual policy on your own. 

Competition

So, how does 5Star Life compare to other top life insurance companies, especially armed forces providers like USAA?

Both USAA and 5Star Life offer life insurance coverage to military members and their families. 5Star also covers government contractors and first responders, however, extending coverage to law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMTs. Both carriers have good NAIC complaint indices and AM Best ratings, though USAA does edge 5Star Life out in each category.

Another difference is that 5Star Life is only offered by producers to employees of eligible companies and members of certain associations or unions. On the other hand, USAA is available for individual purchase, directly through the company’s website or over the phone. 5Star Life policies are also guaranteed issue and don’t require a medical exam, while all USAA policies will require applicants to submit to a paramedical exam.

For military members and their families, both USAA and 5Star Life may be worth a look. For those looking to purchase individual (not group) coverage, though, or want to buy an individual policy instead of buying through their employer, USAA is the better pick. 

  5Star Life USAA 
Market Share Unranked, 0.008% market share Unranked, 0.20% market share
Number of Plans  4
Dividends for 2020  Not applicable Not applicable 
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  Not applicable Not applicable 
Service Method  Producers/brokers Phone, web
AM Best Rating  A- A++
Price Rank  Not applicable Average
Complaints Trend  0.69 Very Good 0.11 Excellent 
Final Verdict

For eligible employees and contractors, 5Star Life offers trusted life insurance coverage at group life insurance rates. Renewable term policies provide a level death benefit through age 121, while also offering a range of benefits and riders from which to choose. This carrier may be especially beneficial to military and government contractors who travel to dangerous areas, engage in war, or encounter other job-related hazards, as certain policies provide term coverage with no terrorism, war, or combat exclusions.

Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

We utilize a comprehensive methodology process when reviewing life insurance carriers, to ensure that readers have an accurate and thorough idea of what is offered. This involves looking at each carrier’s third-party ratings, industry ranking, reviews, and consumer complaints. We also compare that carrier’s products, pricing, availability, and factors like customer service and policy management options.

Article Sources

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  1. NAIC. "5Star Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed August 24, 2021.