Founded in 1879, Bankers Life and Casualty Company is an insurance company with a lengthy history. More commonly known as Bankers Life, the company sells term, whole, and universal life policies. It has low minimum coverage amounts, making it a useful choice if you’re looking for a basic, affordable policy. However, Bankers Life has received far more complaints from customers than other companies of its size, with many of the complaints surrounding how claims were handled.
- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Extensive list of riders
Multiple life insurance types
In-person assistance available
High level of complaints from policyholders
Shorter term lengths
Online quotes not available for any policy
- Bankers Life is part of CNO Financial Group.
- The company was founded in 1879 and is based in Chicago, Illinois.
- It sells life insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, and Medicare supplement insurance.
- Bankers Life’s policies are available in all 50 states.
- Policies can only be purchased through agents.
Bankers Life is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, but it operates branches located all over the United States. The company is a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group and sells annuities, long-term care insurance, and Medicare supplement insurance in addition to life insurance.
Bankers Life is agent-based, meaning you can only get quotes and apply for insurance through an agent.
- Year Founded 1879
- Kinds of Plans Term, Whole, Universal
- Number of Plans 9
- Payment Plan Options Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-annually, Annually
- Customer Service Agent
- Phone 800-621-3724
- Official Website www.bankerslife.com
Bankers 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.
- Extensive list of riders: Insurance riders allow you to customize your policy. Bankers Life has a long list of riders you can add to your policy, including accelerated benefits and waiver of premium riders.
- Multiple life insurance types: While some companies only sell term life insurance, Bankers Life sells term, whole, and universal policies.
- In-person assistance available: If you want to meet with a Bankers Life agent in person, the company has over 250 branches nationwide.
- High level of complaints from policyholders: Bankers Life has a very high complaint ratio, meaning it received far more complaints than is typical for its size. A high number of complaints indicates that it may be difficult to get questions answered, or that there may be delays with any claims.
- Shorter term lengths: Some insurance companies have term life policies with covered terms as long as 30 years. With Bankers Life, the longest possible term is just 20 years.
- Online quotes not available for any policy: Most insurance companies allow you to get online quotes for at least term life policies. However, Bankers Life doesn’t offer online quotes for any of its policy types, so you’ll have to contact an agent for more information.
In 2018, Bankers Life paid life insurance claims to over 700,000 people, totalling $187 million.
Bankers Life has nine different life insurance plans available. Whether you want a basic term life insurance policy or a more flexible universal life policy, Bankers Life has several options to choose from.
Online quotes are not available, so you’ll have to contact a Bankers Life insurance agent for rates.
As the most affordable form of life insurance, term life coverage provides you with temporary coverage. When you purchase a policy, you choose a fixed term. With Bankers Life, you can choose a term length of five, 10, or 20 years. Face value amounts start at $25,000, and you can get level premiums for the length of your term.
Whole life insurance lasts for your lifetime. It also has a savings component where you can accumulate cash value. With the cash value, the covered person can access the money while alive through loans or withdrawals.
Bankers Life has five whole life policy options:
- BasicLife: With Basic Life, coverage amounts start at $2,500. These plans have level premiums, so your out-of-pocket costs never change. You get access to the full death benefit on the first day of coverage.
- BasicLife Graded: Basic Life Graded gives you a lower initial death benefit. The benefit increases steadily over the first two years until it reaches 100% of the selected benefit.
- Innovative Life SPI: Available to people up to age 85, this plan’s coverage amounts start at $30,000.
- Innovative Life SPII: The Innovative Life SPII plan is similar to SPI, but has higher minimum coverage amounts.
- Secure View: The Secure View plan features level premiums, a wide range of face amounts, and is available to people between ages 17 and 75.
Like whole life policies, universal life insurance is a type of permanent insurance. It has a death benefit and a savings option, but gives you more flexibility than other insurance types. Universal life plans include benefits like the ability to adjust your death benefit over time, and to decrease your premium payments if your circumstances change.
Bankers Life has two universal life options:
- TurningPoint: TurningPoint is a fixed interest universal life plan. It builds cash value at a guaranteed minimum interest rate of 3%.
- Clearvantage IUL: The Clearvantage plan is an indexed universal life policy, meaning your cash value is tied to a market index. With this plan, your cash value is based on the performance of the S&P 500.
Juvenile Whole Life Insurance
Bankers Life’s juvenile whole life insurance plan gives permanent protection to children. Regardless of future health issues, the child will have coverage for their entire lives and can lock in the lower rates for life.
Juvenile policies are available for children up to age 16. The minimum coverage amount is $10,000.
Life insurance companies typically have optional insurance riders you can add to your policy for an additional cost. Riders allow you to customize your coverage, access benefits early, or cover other family members.
Bankers Life has many riders you can add to your policy:
Accelerated Death Benefit
If you are diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness and have a whole or universal life policy, you can receive a portion of your benefits while you’re still living.
Accidental Death Benefit
If you die within 90 to 180 days of an accident, your beneficiaries will receive an additional benefit.
Additional Insured Level Term
With universal life policies, you can add the additional insured level term rider to your plan to get coverage for your spouse or business partner.
Children’s Term Insurance
If you have a universal or whole life policy, you can get term life coverage for your children.
Universal life policies have an optional disability income rider. If you add this rider to your policy, you can receive a benefit if you become totally and permanently disabled.
For juvenile whole life policies, the guaranteed insurability rider allows the covered child to purchase additional insurance at specified intervals regardless of the child’s health.
Available on juvenile whole life policies, the payor benefit rider will waive the premiums on the covered child’s policy if the adult applicant or payor becomes totally and permanently disabled.
Waiver of Cost
If you become totally and permanently disabled and have the waiver of cost rider added to your policy, your premiums and the cost of your riders will be waived.
To get a quote for life insurance or to apply for a policy, you must contact a Bankers Life agent; online quotes are not available. To find a local agent, you can use the company’s locator tool.
Current policyholders can reach customer service by calling 800-283-8011. Policyholders who live in New York should call 800-845-5512.
Bankers Life has an online portal for policyholders. By logging into the site, you can make payments, request documents, and view policy benefits.
When shopping for a life insurance policy, pay attention to companies’ complaint ratios. Issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the complaint ratio is indicative of how many complaints a company received relative to its market share.
The industry standard is 1.0. A company with a complaint ratio above 1.0 received more complaints than is expected for its size, while a complaint ratio below 1.0 shows the company received fewer complaints than is typical.
In 2019, the complaint ratio for Bankers Life’s individual life insurance segment was 3.84, more than three times as high as expected in the market.
Because Bankers Life has such a high complaint ratio, we researched the complaints that customers submitted. The majority of submitted complaints were about how the company handled claims and policyholder service.
Over the past three years, Bankers Life’s complaint ratio was significantly higher than the national complaint index, indicating that the company received far more complaints than expected for its size.
AM Best is a credit rating agency focused on the insurance industry. It issues Financial Strength Ratings (FSRs) for each company. The FSRs are AM Best’s opinions on a company’s financial strength and its ability to meet its policy obligations.
In 2020, AM Best issued CNO Financial Group, the parent company of Bankers Life, an A- (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating.
Bankers Life was not included in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, which evaluated 24 top life insurers based on their product offerings and customer service.
Like other life insurance companies, new Bankers Life customers can take advantage of a 10-day free look period. However, in some states, the free look period can be longer.
During the free look period, you can cancel your policy and get a full refund of all premiums paid.
Once the free look period ends, the cancellation policy is dependent on the type of coverage you have. With term life policies, you can cancel without penalty, but you won’t receive a refund of any premiums you’ve paid. With whole or universal policies, you may be eligible for a surrender cash value.
To cancel your policy, contact a Bankers Life agent.
Bankers Life doesn’t offer online quotes for any of its insurance policies. However, its pricing tends to be higher than average.
Like other companies, Bankers Life requires you to select either “male” or “female” when completing an insurance application. Being nonbinary won’t prohibit you from qualifying for life insurance. However, you should be aware that most insurers haven’t yet updated their underwriting processes to reflect an awareness of gender issues, and their application processes may be outdated and restrictive.
While Bankers Life offers multiple insurance options, its significant number of customer complaints and limited term life insurance options are major drawbacks. If you’re looking for a highly rated insurance company with a better reputation for customer service, consider Northwestern Mutual.
Northwestern Mutual has 12 insurance plans, including term, whole, universal, and variable universal policies. What makes Northwestern Mutual stand apart from Bankers Life is its remarkably low complaint ratio. Despite being a major insurance company, Northwestern Mutual’s complaint ratio in 2019 was just 0.0195. In fact, it received just eight customer complaints the whole year.
Plus, Northwestern Mutual is recognized as an industry leader due to its excellent service and products. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, Northwestern Mutual was ranked fourth out of 24 companies, with a rating well above the industry average.
|Bankers Life||Northwestern Mutual|
|Market Share||Not applicable||Largest in the U.S., 8.6%|
|Number of Plans||9||12|
|Dividends for 2020||Not applicable||$6 billion|
|Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Service Method||Agent||Agents and advisors|
|AM Best Rating||A- (Excellent)||A++ (Superior)|
|Price Rank||Above Average||Above Average|
While Bankers Life offers multiple insurance plans and riders, the number of complaints submitted by policyholders should make you think twice about purchasing a policy.
There are other companies that offer transparent pricing, customizable policies and riders, and responsive customer service. When considering an insurance company, look for one with an excellent reputation in the industry to ensure that your claims are honored in a timely manner.
How We Review Life Insurance Companies
Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative approach that analyzes each insurer on their stability and reliability, customer service, claims experience, diversity of product lines, and cost. We compare the terms of each type of policy offered—including available coverage amounts, optional riders, and premium payment options—with those of other major life insurance companies. Lastly, we look at how the company is rated by third-party organizations to determine its reliability and overall reputation.
NAIC. "Bankers Life & Casualty Company-Complaint Code." Accessed February 16, 2021.
Businesswire. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of CNO Financial Group, Inc. and Its Life/Health Subsidiaries." Accessed February 16, 2021.
J.D. Power. "Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed February 16, 2021.
NAIC. "Northwestern Mutual-Complaint Index." Accessed February 16, 2021.