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Ameritas offers a wide variety of life insurance policies, with a large selection of policy riders available, including three living benefit riders included at no upfront cost on some policies. The company also offers online quotes and affordable term coverage, but lacks an online application option without an agent’s assistance.
- Pros & Cons
- Company Overview
Low number of customer complaints
Whole life policies pay dividends
Large selection of policy types
Living benefit riders included
Can’t apply without an agent
No burial insurance option
Ameritas was founded as The Old Line Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska in 1887 by five businessmen in Lincoln, Nebraska. Also known as Ameritas Mutual Holding Co., it remains headquartered in Lincoln but has grown to serve more than 5.3 million customers. Ameritas offers life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance and vision insurance for both individuals and companies, as well as annuities.
- Low number of customer complaints: Ameritas receives fewer customer complaints than similarly sized life insurance companies, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners complaint index scores. A score of 1.00 indicates a typical number of complaints, with lower scores showing a company receives fewer complaints than expected. Ameritas had a three-year average score of 0.397.
- Whole life policies pay dividends: Ameritas whole life policies allow you to earn dividends. Dividends aren’t guaranteed, but when they’re paid, you can use them to accumulate cash value, reduce premiums, or increase the death benefit.
- Large selection of policy types: Ameritas offers term life, whole life, universal, variable universal, index universal life insurance policies. If you’re not sure which type of coverage you want, you’re likely to find it here.
- Living benefit riders included: Some policies include living benefits for chronic, critical, and terminal illnesses at no additional upfront cost.
Life insurance dividends typically aren’t taxable as long as they don’t exceed the net premium of policy payments. The reason? Dividends are considered a return of policy premiums, meaning you made excess payments, rather than investment income.
- Can’t apply without an agent: While you can get a quote online, you won’t be able to apply for any policy without an agent’s assistance. Some of our best life insurance companies let you apply online without an agent.
- No burial insurance option: Ameritas doesn’t have burial insurance, also known as final expense insurance. Burial insurance is a marketing term in the insurance industry for whole life insurance policies with a death benefit of $50,000 or less.
Ameritas receives very few complaints compared to similarly sized companies. Complaint-related data is based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ complaint index, which measures the number of consumer complaints a company receives relative to its size.
A company with a complaint index above 1.00 receives more complaints than similarly sized companies, while a score below 1.00 indicates that a company receives fewer complaints relative to its peers.
We averaged three years of complaint index scores to compare life insurance companies: Ameritas has a three-year average score of 0.397, indicating that the number of complaints is very low compared to similar companies over the last three years.
To evaluate a company’s financial stability, we use AM Best’s Financial Strength Ratings. AM Best evaluates insurance companies based on their financial strength and ability to meet their insurance obligations. Companies are rated on a scale from A++ to D. An A++ rating is considered “superior,” while a D rating is “poor.”
Ameritas gets a respectable mark from AM Best in terms of financial stability. The company earned an A (Excellent) rating, a status the credit agency gives to companies that are in an “excellent” position to meet their ongoing insurance obligations.
Ameritas offers several types of life insurance policies, including the following:
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance provides a death benefit if the insured person dies within the policy term, such as 20 years or 30 years. A term life policy has no cash value. If the insured person doesn’t die during the term, the policy won’t pay a death benefit. However, many policies allow you to renew coverage at the end of the term or convert to permanent coverage before the end of the term. It's also typically far more affordable than permanent life insurance.
Ameritas offers term life policies for terms of one, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. Its term policies are renewable at the end of the term and offer the option to convert to a permanent life insurance policy within the first five years, with no medical exam. Policyholders can also purchase a conversion extension rider that allows you to convert the policy at a later date.
Whole Life Insurance
Ameritas offers a range of whole life insurance policies. Whole life a type of permanent life insurance that allows you to leave a guaranteed death benefit. Whole life policies have a cash value component that earns interest at a guaranteed rate, and the policyholder can draw from or borrow against the cash value if needed. Many policies, including Ameritas’s whole life products, allow you to earn dividends that you can reinvest to build cash value or use to reduce premiums.
Universal Life Insurance
Ameritas also offers universal life (UL) insurance, which is another type of permanent life insurance that offers flexible premiums. Universal life policies have two components: the cost of insurance, which is the minimum payment for the policy to remain in effect, and an excess premium, known as the savings component, that builds cash value. While UL policies are more affordable than whole life, they come with fewer guarantees. If the cash value does not accumulate as expected or if premium payments aren’t sufficient, the policyholder may need to increase premiums in the later years to keep the policy in force.
Variable Life Insurance
Variable life policies are another type of permanent life insurance policy Ameritas offers. As with universal life insurance, variable life insurance offers flexible premiums that you can adjust according to your financial goals. Unlike either whole life or UL, the cash component can be invested in various securities. Because you can invest the savings account portion, the policy value may grow faster compared to other permanent life insurance policies. However, you also face the risk of reducing the cash value and death benefit if your investments underperform.
Variable life policies are at a higher risk of lapsing relative to other types of permanent coverage.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance
Indexed universal life (IUL) policies also feature both a death benefit and cash value, but cash value growth is tied to the performance of a market index. Ameritas offers indexed universal life policies that allow you to link the cash value accumulation to the performance of the S&P 500 index, the Russell 2000 index, the MSCI EAFE index, or the BNP Paribas Momentum Multi-Asset 5 index, or any combination. Policies have a “floor,” meaning that policies won’t lose value if indexes have negative returns. Ameritas also guarantees index credits will average at least 4% annually during the first 10 years of the policy.
Though less risky than variable policies—because you’re not directly invested in the market—IUL policies can still lose value if index returns are insufficient to keep up with policy costs.
A policy rider adds extra coverage and benefits to a standard insurance policy. Ameritas life insurance policy riders include:
Accelerated Death Benefit Riders
An accelerated death benefit rider allows a policyholder to receive a cash advance on the policy’s death benefit while still living. The following accelerated death benefit riders are available at no additional cost on some policies:
- Chronic illness rider: The policyholder can access 50% of the death benefit up to $1 million if they’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness that interferes with daily living activities.
- Critical illness rider: The policyholder can receive 25% of the death benefit up to $250,000 if diagnosed with certain life-threatening illnesses.
- Terminal illness rider: The policyholder can access 75% of the death benefit up to $1 million if they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will likely result in death within 12 months.
Accidental Death Benefit
An accidental death benefit rider offers an additional benefit on top of the standard death benefit if the insured dies due to an accident.
Child Term Rider
Policyholders can add a child’s insurance rider that provides term life insurance for children up to a specific age. Later, the child can convert the policy to permanent life insurance.
Guaranteed Insurability Rider
With some policies, you can purchase a conversion extension or guaranteed insurability rider, which lets you increase or expand your life insurance coverage without a medical exam.
Waiver of Premium
With some policies, you can purchase a waiver of premium rider that waives premiums if the insured person becomes disabled.
Ameritas has customer support representatives available by phone and email Monday through Friday. Current policyholders can submit questions via the company’s website by providing their name, email address, and policy numbers.
Ameritas allows customers to obtain an online quote for some policies, though the additional cost for optional riders is not included. However, to submit an application, you’ll need to go through an agent. The website also doesn’t allow customers with individual policies to start their claims online.
Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers
We designed a comprehensive ranking methodology based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost.
In order to do this, we collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics. We grouped metrics by category to see how insurers performed in each; we then weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.
To learn more, read our full Life Insurance Methodology.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Ameritas Life Ins Corp: National Complaint Index Report, Results by Complaint Index."
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Life Insurance: FAQ & Questions," Select "What is a 'participating' policy?"
Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income," Page 22.
A.M. Best. "Ameritas Life Insurance Corp."
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Investor Bulletin: Variable Life Insurance."
Ameritas. "Ameritas Growth Index Universal Life Insurance," Pages 2, 4-5.