American Income Life Insurance Review

Agent-based life insurance coverage from an international carrier

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American Income

American Income

Our Take

Life insurance through American Income Life (AIL) is generally offered to members of labor unions, credit unions, and specific organizations, with coverage extending across the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand. Policy information is extremely limited online, and coverage needs to be both priced out and purchased through one of the independent agents in the AIL network.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Nationwide (and even international) coverage

  • Complimentary riders

Cons
  • Working with an agent is required

  • Serious lack of transparency

  • No online quotes or pricing information

  • Recently downgraded financial strength rating

Key Takeaways
  • Primarily provides coverage for members of labor unions, credit unions, and various associations.
  • Online policy and pricing information is virtually nonexistent.
  • Coverage will need to be built out and purchased directly through an independent AIL agent. 
  • There are a few unique, supplemental coverage options to choose from.
  • Financial strength ratings were recently downgraded, and the company received twice as many consumer complaints as expected last year.
Company Overview

American Income Life was founded in 1951 and offers life, accident, and supplemental health insurance in the U.S. and beyond. The company is headquartered in Waco, Texas, but also provides coverage to customers across the U.S., in Canada, and in New Zealand.

American Income Life—a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Life, Inc.—primarily serves working-class families, working with members of labor unions, credit unions, various associations, and their loved ones. They offer policies for individuals, single parents, and families, with coverage that is portable whether you change your job or move.

  • Year Founded 1951
  • Kinds of Plans Whole life, term life
  • Number of Plans 4 (plus supplemental health plan options)
  • Payment Plan Options Not disclosed
  • Customer Service By phone, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST (800-433-3405), or by email (pos@ailife.com)
  • Official Website www.ailife.com
Important

American Income 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

  • Nationwide (and even international) coverage: American Income Life provides life insurance coverage in 49 states, Canada, and New Zealand, ensuring that you are able to obtain a policy no matter where in the country you live. (In New York, policies are underwritten by AIL’s subsidiary company, National Income Life.)
  • Complimentary riders: Terminal illness riders are available to policyholders at no extra charge. Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage is also offered on many policies; depending on your group and policy, this may be complimentary as well.

Cons Explained

  • Working with an agent is required: You cannot purchase a policy or even see your coverage options without working directly with a local, independent agent. Many people claim that AIL’s agent program closely resembles a multi-level marketing (MLM) operating structure.
  • Serious lack of transparency: You’ll have a tough time figuring out coverage limits, policy options, pricing, or even the features of certain policies without speaking to an agent. AIL provides very little online information.
  • No online quotes or pricing information: To get pricing information, you’ll again need to talk to an agent. There are no online quotes offered, nor are their pricing examples or charts on AIL’s website.
  • Recently downgraded financial strength rating: American Income Life currently holds an A financial strength rating from AM Best, which is still a very good score. However, this was recently downgraded from an A+ in 2020, which raises some concerns.
What You Need to Know

Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage is often available as a rider or as standalone coverage, providing policyholders with sliding-scale benefits if they are injured or killed in a covered accident.

Available Plans

There are four life insurance plans to choose from with American Income Life. It’s important to note that because AIL generally provides group policies for various unions and groups—who can determine the coverage limits and features they want to provide to their members—your options may vary greatly. 

Term Life

American Income Life term policies offer 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years of temporary life insurance coverage, which could financially protect your loved ones if you were to pass away. Term coverage is generally less expensive than whole life coverage with the same death benefit, though it only lasts for the designated term. 

Term life proceeds can be paid out in a lump sum or as a monthly benefit amount. A medical exam is required for applicants in order to buy term coverage; you’ll need to speak with an agent to determine the coverage limits available to you.

Whole Life

If you’d prefer coverage that lasts the rest of your life, consider a permanent whole life policy. This policy also requires a medical exam to purchase, and you will need to work with an agent to determine your coverage options and apply for a policy. Dividends are not paid on whole life policies at American Income Life.

It’s imperative to not only determine how much life insurance you need but also how long you’ll need it before buying either term or whole life coverage. If you’re unsure what you need (or can’t afford permanent coverage right now), buy a term life policy that can be converted later on.

Children’s Life Insurance Program (Head Start)

The Head Start policy is a children’s whole life insurance product offered by American Income Life. It is available for children up to 17 years of age and offers the option of purchasing more coverage down the line without proving insurability.

Final Expense

Offering lower coverage limits, the final expense life insurance policy is intended to cover any applicable final expenses. This could mean covering things like final medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, or other immediate needs. This policy—also called the Freedom of Choice plan—also allows you to designate your chosen funeral home as the beneficiary, saving time and stress for your family when the time comes.

Supplemental Health Policies

Though American Income Life classifies the following policies as supplemental health coverage, they overlap with the coverage provided by many life insurance policies and optional riders. These include:

  • Accident Policy
  • Hospital Indemnity Plan
  • Cancer Protection Plan
  • Critical Illness Policy

The terms, conditions, exclusions, and availability of these plans may vary, so it’s important to speak with your agent to learn what’s available to you and exactly what it covers.

Available Riders

Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D)

American Income Life offers AD&D rider coverage to eligible policyholders. This rider provides an additional benefit to your loved ones if you pass away as the result of a covered accident, or protects you if you are permanently injured or maimed.

Terminal Illness Rider

The terminal illness rider is available on life insurance policies at no additional charge. This coverage allows you to access up to 50% of your policy’s death benefit ahead of time, if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of less than 12 months (24 months in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington). 

Customer Service

To build, purchase, and manage a policy through American Income Life, you’ll work with a local, independent agent. However, if you want to contact AIL customer service directly, they are also available. 

You can call customer service Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST. Their toll-free number is 800-433-3405. You can also reach the company by email at pos@ailife.com or through the online contact form.

Complaint Index

One way to gauge a company’s reliability and customer satisfaction is through its complaint index. This number, provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, demonstrates the relationship between how many consumer complaints a carrier received that year and its size. 

The industry average, adjusted for each carrier’s market share, is 1.00. If a company has a complaint index below 1.00, that means it received fewer consumer complaints than expected; above 1.00 means it got more than the average number of complaints.

For 2020, American Income Life had a complaint index of 2.12, or more than double the national average for its size and market share. It’s relevant to note that this equated to 33 total consumer complaints for the year. In 2019, the carrier had a complaint index of 2.35 and in 2018, it was 1.51. 

Third-Party Ratings

Another gauge for a company’s reliability is its AM Best rating. This rating is based on a carrier’s perceived financial strength and indicates how likely it is that the company will be able to pay out on policy claims in the years to come.

American Income Life’s parent company, Globe Life, Inc., currently holds an A financial strength rating from AM Best. This was downgraded in 2020 from an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating. 

American Income Life is a Better Business Bureau (BBB)-accredited company with an A+ business rating. The company has more than 350 consumer reviews on the BBB site, though, with an overall rating of 2.07 out of 5. Many of the consumer comments mention concerns with customer service, rather than issues with the policies themselves.

Cancellation Policy

Generally, it’s much easier to cancel a term life policy than a permanent one. 

Term life coverage can be canceled by calling and speaking with an agent or customer service representative. Alternatively, you can just stop making premium payments on your policy and it will be canceled for non-payment automatically.

To cancel a permanent life insurance policy, you’ll also need to contact your agent. Typically, you’ll be eligible to receive a portion of your policy’s cash value back, minus a surrender fee.

Price

The cost of life insurance coverage varies greatly according to your individual factors. Prices can be impacted by everything from your age and gender to your location, coverage limits, policy options/features, marital status, tobacco use, and even the participating group of which you’re a member.

You can generally expect that the younger you are, the more affordable your coverage will be. Term life insurance is typically more affordable than whole life coverage, and the lower your coverage limits, the cheaper the policy will be. 

Additionally, we should note that life insurance carriers calculate policy premiums based on birth biology. If you identify as non-binary or transgender, you can qualify for coverage, but many life insurance companies haven’t updated their underwriting processes and applications to reflect that. 

Since American Income Life does not offer online quotes or pricing charts, you’ll need to contact a local agent to get a personalized cost for coverage. 

Competition

Finding a close competitor to American Income Life is tricky, as it’s one of the few companies that operate exclusively through agents and primarily provides coverage to unions and other membership-based groups. 

Colonial Penn is a small carrier that offers a similar number of plans as American Income Life. Both companies have a good rating from AM Best—with AIL’s A rating edging out Colonial Penn’s A- rating slightly—and neither company pays out dividends on whole life policies.

American Income Life has a notable advantage when it comes to consumer complaints, however. While AIL received more than twice the average number of complaints in 2020, Colonial Penn received nearly nine times the average (or 26 total complaints).

  American Income Life Colonial Penn
Market Share  Not applicable (<1%) 1.28%
Number of Plans
Dividends for 2020  None  None
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Service Method  Agents  Phone or online
AM Best Rating  A-
Complaints Trend  2.12 (Poor)  8.83 (Very Poor)
Final Verdict

If you’re looking for coverage that you can price out or buy online—or even just get a detailed idea of before you buy—American Income Life probably isn’t for you. This coverage is available through independent agents only, and there are no online options for quotes or building out coverage.

The company does provide life insurance across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in New Zealand. They offer a variety of supplemental coverage options that you may not commonly find elsewhere, potentially making them worth a look if your union or company offers AIL coverage.

Methodology

In order to provide you with the most comprehensive life insurance carrier review, we investigate and analyze each company thoroughly through our methodology. We compare the plan and coverage options offered, look at consumer and third-party reviews, and consider financial strength ratings. We also evaluate the ease with which you can shop for coverage, price out a plan, and purchase the policy that suits you best.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. NAIC. "American Income Life Ins CoNational Complaint Index Report." Accessed April 4, 2021.

  2. AM Best. "AM Best Downgrades Credit Ratings of Globe Life Inc. and its Subsidiaries." Accessed April 4, 2021.

  3. Better Business Bureau. "American Income Life Insurance Company." Accessed April 4, 2021.