Atlanta Life Insurance Review

Insurance products through one of the oldest Black-owned companies in the U.S.

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Atlanta Life

Atlanta Life

Our Take

Atlanta Life Insurance Company has been providing coverage to customers in the Atlanta area and beyond for more than 115 years. Though the carrier still underwrites some products, it primarily acts as an agency today, facilitating the purchase of personal insurance, commercial insurance, and group reinsurance products in select states.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Long company history

  • One of the most well-known African American businesses in the country

Cons
  • Only offered in 17 states

  • Almost no information offered online

  • AM Best rating has been withdrawn

Key Takeaways
  • Atlanta Life was founded in 1905, serving low- and moderate-income families in the Atlanta area and playing a pivotal role during the civil rights era.
  • Today, the company operates in 17 states but acts primarily as an agent for other carriers.
  • In April 2021, the company’s previously downgraded AM Best rating was withdrawn.
  • Online information is extremely scarce; interested customers will have a tough time answering questions about policy options, pricing, claims, and more.
Company Overview

Atlanta Life was founded in 1905 by Alonzo Herndon, a barbershop owner and former slave. The company was started with an initial investment of just $140 and was focused on offering life insurance benefits to low- and middle-income African American families in the Atlanta area. In many cases, salesmen collected premiums weekly.

Atlanta Life was known for playing a pivotal role in the civil rights movement, quietly providing bail for students who were arrested during sit-in movements and even selling a life insurance policy to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, Atlanta Life operates primarily as an agency, offering a range of products through producers in 17 states. This includes life insurance, renters and homeowners insurance, auto insurance, and pet insurance, as well as insurance for boats, motorcycles, RVs, and even golf carts. (Atlanta Life does appear to underwrite business insurance directly, however.) The company also brokers group reinsurance and commercial insurance to a variety of business clients.

Though Atlanta Life is one of the most successful African American-founded companies in the U.S., and its founder became Atlanta’s wealthiest Black man, the company has struggled in recent years. Its financial outlook is weak, and it has experienced operating losses consistently since 2017.

Geographical Restrictions

Since its founding, Atlanta Life has focused its efforts on providing insurance products for customers in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. Today, Atlanta Life products are offered in 17 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

  • Year Founded 1905
  • Kinds of Plans Not known
  • Number of Plans Not known
  • Payment Plan Options Not known
  • Customer Service Telephone (888-407-3209) or online form
  • Official Website www.atlantalife.com

Atlanta 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

  • Long company history: Atlanta Life was formed in 1905 and has spent the last 115-plus years providing a variety of insurance products to consumers in 17 different states.
  • One of the most well-known African American businesses in the country: Atlanta Life was founded by a former slave named Alonzo Herndon. From its inception, Atlanta Life has sought to serve low- to moderate-income African American families, primarily in the Atlanta area, and became the second-largest African American life insurance company in the U.S. 

Cons Explained

  • Only offered in 17 states: Atlanta Life has a limited customer service area and only operates in 17 states across the U.S.
  • Almost no information offered online: Atlanta Life’s website offers little information regarding policies, coverage options, pricing, or the claims process. To get more information, see what sort of coverage you can buy, or get a price quote, you’ll need to contact the company directly.
  • AM Best rating has been withdrawn: As of April 2021, Atlanta Life’s AM Best rating has been withdrawn. AM Best cites the company’s weak operating performance, weak balance sheet, and a downward trend of operating losses as the reason for the company’s score downgrades. AM Best also predicts that regulatory action against Atlanta Life will be necessary within the next 12 months. 

In addition to downgraded and withdrawn AM Best ratings, Atlanta Life has a very minimal online presence. No specific information is offered regarding products, coverage limits, or claims.

Available Plans

Atlanta Life operates primarily as an insurance agency. The company helps insurance shoppers compare quotes for various types of coverage, which will actually be serviced by other providers. 

Each provider will offer its own plans and coverage options. These may include a variety of the following life insurance policy types.

Term Life

Also called temporary coverage, term life insurance is designed to protect the insured for a specific period of time (or term). Terms generally range from 10 to 30 years in length, though some carriers offer coverage for as little as a year or as much as 40 years. Term life insurance policies do not offer dividends or build a cash value, so any premiums paid are lost if a claim is not made against the policy (i.e., you outlive your coverage). However, these tend to be the most affordable life insurance policies when comparing coverage dollar-for-dollar.

Whole Life

Permanent life insurance, such as a whole life policy, is meant to stay in effect until the insured passes away, regardless of when that happens. This type of policy is generally more expensive than term life but offers both a cash value (which can be borrowed against) and coverage that follows the insured for the rest of their life. Whole life policies may offer dividends, depending on the carrier, and may provide a surrender value if cancelled.

Universal Life

A universal life insurance policy is another permanent coverage option, with an added investment component. These policies generally offer lower premiums than whole life insurance, as well as flexibility in terms of monthly premiums and coverage limits. Policies often accrue a cash value, which can be borrowed against or withdrawn if the policy is surrendered (cancelled). Universal life insurance policies may be indexed or variable and offer the potential for investment growth over time.

Final Expense

A final expense policy, also known as burial insurance, is generally a low-limit insurance product. It is intended to provide loved ones with coverage for final expenses such as medical bills or a funeral. These policies are often guaranteed issue, meaning that you will not be denied coverage; however, premiums will depend on your age, medical history, and current health.

Available Riders

Riders offer consumers additional coverage on top of their life insurance policy’s death benefit. These riders may provide benefits to loved ones after your passing or may even offer certain coverage options while you’re still alive, called living benefits.

The available riders on Atlanta Life policies will vary from one provider to the next and even from policy to policy. Here are some popular riders that may be offered.

Accelerated Benefits

If you are diagnosed with a terminal, chronic, or critical illness, an accelerated benefits rider may offer access to a portion of your life insurance policy’s death benefit while you’re still alive. These funds can be used to cover monthly expenses, pay medical bills, cover specialized care, or simply let you enjoy the time you have left. Any funds withdrawn from the policy with an accelerated benefits rider will be deducted from the final death benefit that beneficiaries will receive.

Accidental Death

An accidental death is typically unexpected and sudden and may be more traumatic in nature. Because of this, the financial and emotional impacts on loved ones may be greater. With an accidental death rider, beneficiaries can receive an additional death benefit on top of the policy’s base payout. 

Spouse/Child Rider

A policy’s spouse or child rider allows the policyholder to add coverage for his or her significant other and dependent child(ren), without needing to buy a separate policy. The coverage limits for spouses and children are generally lower than the policy’s overall death benefit, but may provide enough coverage for things like final expenses or medical bills.

Waiver of Premium

If you are totally disabled during the course of your coverage, a waiver of premium rider will allow you to keep your life insurance policy in good standing while waiving monthly premiums. To qualify, you may need to be disabled for a specific period of time and be unable to complete a number of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

Customer Service

Atlanta Life offers an online form for those wanting additional information. Customers can also contact customer service via phone by calling 888-407-3209.

Complaint Index

Each year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) assigns a complaint index to carriers, which is used to discuss trends. This index, with an average score of 1.0, allows consumers to see how a company is performing in terms of consumer complaints from one year to the next. 

A score below 1.0 means the company received fewer complaints than expected in a given year. A score higher than 1.0 means that more complaints were received than expected for the company’s size and market share. So, for example, a score of 2.0 indicates that the company received twice the expected number of complaints in that year.  

In 2020, Atlanta Life received an NAIC complaint index score of 165.58 (three total complaints). In 2019, the complaint index was 84.56 (three complaints), while in 2018, it was 215.06 (10 complaints). While the number of complaints each year was relatively small, the company’s final complaint index each year was well beyond the expected range for a company of its size.

Third-Party Ratings

Certain third-party ratings can help consumers determine whether an insurance carrier is both reliable and financially solvent. One of the most trusted ratings is that of AM Best, which offers both a credit rating and a financial strength rating for insurance companies.

Though Atlanta Life has had strong AM Best ratings in the past, these ratings were withdrawn in April 2021. Prior to withdrawal, AM Best assigned Atlanta Life a C (Weak) financial strength rating and a ccc+ long-term issuer credit rating (ICR), which is considered negative.

Atlanta Life is not accredited (NR) with the Better Business Bureau.

Cancellation Policy

Atlanta Life does not offer any information regarding life insurance cancellation policies. 

Generally, term life insurance may be cancelled at any time, without penalty. Since temporary life insurance policies do not build a cash value, no refund will be received when cancelling.

Permanent life insurance policies, such as whole or universal life, may have a cash value component. When cancelling, you may receive a portion of that cash value back, minus a surrender fee.

Price

Atlanta Life does not offer online quotes or pricing information. Additionally, this agency offers coverage through other providers, which may have their own pricing structure, policy options, etc. For this reason, we are unable to analyze Atlanta Life’s pricing.

In general, though, life insurance premiums are impacted by a variety of personal factors, such as age, gender, location, medical history, family health history, and even occupation. Premiums are also dictated by policy options chosen, such as the type of life insurance and the policy’s coverage limit.

Non-binary and transgender applicants may still purchase life insurance. It’s important to note, though, that most life insurance carriers will base premiums on the applicant’s birth gender.

When buying group life insurance, pricing will be calculated according to the overall group statistics as well as individual factors such as age. Lower coverage limits may also be imposed, which are often calculated as a multiple of your salary.

Competition

Both Atlanta Life and Prudential have been providing insurance coverage for more than 115 years, each offering a range of insurance products and services. While Atlanta Life has expanded into 17 states, however, Prudential has the fifth-largest market share in the U.S. and is licensed in all 50 states. Prudential also underwrites its own policies, while Atlanta Life now operates primarily as an agency, only underwriting business insurance products.

Prudential boasts an A+ (Excellent) AM Best rating for financial strength, whereas Atlanta Life’s rating has been withdrawn (previously downgraded to a C). Though neither carrier has an excellent rating in terms of consumer complaints, Prudential still outperforms with a 4.09, compared to Atlanta Life’s 165.58.

If you’re looking to purchase life insurance from a national carrier, want to be able to buy online, or are looking for strong financial ratings, Prudential easily wins out.

  Atlanta Life Prudential 
Market Share Unranked, 0.0009% market share Fifth-largest in the U.S., 5%
Number of Plans  Not known  12 
Dividends for 2020  Not applicable  Not applicable
Service Method  Producers  Financial Professionals and Online 
AM Best Rating  Withdrawn  A+ 
Price Rank  Not known  About Average 
Complaints Trend 165.58 Very Poor  4.09 Poor 
Final Verdict

Though boasting a strong and community-based history, Atlanta Life is not the company it once was. This insurance company now operates almost entirely as an agency, brokering personal insurance, commercial insurance, and group reinsurance products in the 17 states it serves. Online information regarding products, pricing, and even claims is nearly non-existent, and recent industry ratings raise concerns about the company’s solvency and financial strength.

Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

We implement a comprehensive methodology process when reviewing life insurance carriers. In order to offer readers a reliable and complete overview of each company, we analyze factors such as financial strength, third-party ratings, consumer complaints, and product availability. We also consider things like pricing, customer service access, and the ease of managing a policy once it’s purchased. With this information, we can offer readers an idea of how that company compares to the rest of the industry, and whether it is a worthwhile consideration when shopping for a new life insurance policy.

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. Harvard Business School. "Alonzo F. Herndon." Accessed August 27, 2021.

  2. AM Best. "AM Best Withdraws Credit Ratings of Atlanta Life Insurance Company." Accessed August 27, 2021.

  3. NAIC. "Atlanta Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed August 27, 2021.

  4. BBB. "Atlanta Life Insurance." Accessed August 27, 2021.