Banner Life Insurance Review

Permanent and temporary protection through parent company, Legal & General

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Legal & General America

 Legal & General America

overall rating
3.9

Banner Life provides far-reaching life insurance coverage for its parent company, Legal & General, covering 49 out of 50 states (not including New York) as well as the District of Columbia. Plan options include universal and term life, with the latter lasting as long as 40 years. Policies are purchased through licensed agents, and all applicants are subject to a paramedical exam prior to approval.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Term life coverage is available for up to 40 years

  • Approved claims are paid within one business day

  • Preferred underwriting classes are available even with a family history of cancer

Cons
  • Not available in New York state

  • Policies need to be purchased through a licensed agent

  • Term policies incur an annual fee

  • Whole life policies not offered

Key Takeaways
  • Banner Life offers coverage in 49 states and the District of Columbia (excluding New York) through its parent company, Legal & General.
  • The company offers one universal life product as well as term life insurance policies ranging from 10 to 40 years in length. 
  • Approved claims are paid out within one business day and, in 2018, 99.9% of claims filed with the company were approved.
  • All policies are subject to a paramedical exam, and, while you can get a rough quote for term policies online, coverage can only be purchased through an agent.
Company Overview

Banner Life was originally founded as GELICO in 1949, though it became part of Legal & General, its parent company, in 1981. As the primary life insurance provider for Legal & General, Banner Life offers term and universal life coverage to customers in 49 states plus Washington, D.C. They do not operate in New York.

According to the company’s website, Legal & General currently boasts 1.3 million U.S. customers and has more than $5 billion in assets. Though their market share is small—accounting for less than 1% of U.S. life insurance policies written—they hold stellar consumer satisfaction ratings and reviews in addition to excellent third-party ratings.

Geographical Restrictions

Though Legal & General operates across the entire country, Banner Life only provides its policies for 49 out of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Banner Life does not operate in New York state; there, William Penn provides the policies for Legal & General.

  • Year Founded 1949*
  • Kinds of Plans Term and universal life
  • Number of Plans 9
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually
  • Customer Service Phone and email
  • Phone 800-638-8428
  • Official Website www.lgamerica.com

*Though Banner Life was founded in 1949, its parent company, Legal & General, has roots dating back to 1836.

Banner 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 

  • Term life coverage is available for up to 40 years: While many term life insurance providers offer as many as 30 years of coverage, Banner Life takes it up a notch. Through this insurer, you can purchase 35- or 40-year term policies, protecting you and your family for even longer. 
  • Approved claims are paid within one business day: You buy life insurance coverage so that it is there for you and your loved ones when it’s needed most, without added delay or frustration. So, it may be comforting to know that Banner Life insurance claims are paid out within a single business day of approval. Additionally, 99.9% of the claims filed with Legal & General in 2018 were approved and paid. 
  • Preferred underwriting classes are available even with a family history of cancer: While some insurers may exclude you from preferred underwriting classes if you have a family history of cancer (potentially resulting in higher premiums, lower coverage limits, or both), this isn’t the case with Banner Life. Even if you have had family members diagnosed with cancer, you are still able to be considered for preferred underwriting classes (assuming that you qualify for such with your own personal factors).

Cons Explained

  • Not available in New York state: Banner Life provides the life insurance coverage for Legal & General in 49 of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. They do not, however, operate in New York state. While you can still purchase a Legal & General policy in New York, it will instead be provided by William Penn.
  • Policies need to be purchased through a licensed agent: You can get term life quotes through Banner Life’s online platform, but you cannot actually purchase said coverage without first speaking to a licensed agent. This agent will be able to provide you with a more complete quote, schedule any applicable exams, answer additional questions, and finalize your policy contract.
  • Term policies incur an annual fee: Each of the term life policies offered by Banner Life is subject to a $60 annual fee. 
  • Whole life policies not offered: Currently, Banner Life only offers term and universal life coverage; there are no whole life policies available.

Banner Life falls under the umbrella of its parent company, Legal & General America. Though Legal & General offers coverage in all 50 states, Banner Life only provides life insurance in 49 of those (plus the District of Columbia); in New York, coverage is offered by William Penn.

Available Plans

While Banner Life does not offer whole life insurance coverage (technically, whole life isn’t an option through Legal & General at all), this insurer does offer a number of term and universal life coverage options.

OPTerm 10

Available to applicants between the ages of 20 and 75, this 10-year term policy provides temporary life insurance coverage starting at $100,000. 

OPTerm 15

This 15-year level term policy also starts at $100,000 and is available to applicants between the ages of 20 and 75.

OPTerm 20

This policy provides 20 years of term life insurance, starting with as little as $100,000 in coverage. It is available to issue ages 20 through 70 if you don’t use tobacco, or 20 through 65 if you’re a tobacco user.

OPTerm 25

Banner Life’s 25-year term policy is available to applicants between the ages of 20 and 60 for non-tobacco users, and 20 to 55 for tobacco users. As with the other term life policies, coverage options start at $100,000.

OPTerm 30

If you’re between the ages of 20 and 55 (non-tobacco; 20 and 50 for tobacco use), you can purchase the OPTerm 30 policy. It provides $100,000+ in coverage for a full 30 years.

OPTerm 35

While many insurers only offer term coverage through 30 years, this isn’t the case with Banner Life. The OPTerm 35 policy provides term coverage for 35 years, and non-tobacco applicants can be between the ages of 20 and 50 (20 and 45 if tobacco users) at the time of purchase.

OPTerm 40

Far exceeding the typical term policy length, Banner Life’s OPTerm 40 policy offers 40 years of term life coverage starting at $100,000. Issue ages for this policy range from 20 to 45 if you’re not a tobacco user, and ages 20 to 40 if you are.

All Banner Life term life policies include an accelerated death benefit rider at no additional charge, though they all include a $60 annual policy fee. All are annually renewable through age 95, and convertible to a universal life plan through the end of the term or age 70, whichever comes first.

Life Step Universal Life

This policy provides permanent, universal life insurance coverage starting at $50,000 for applicants between the ages of 20 and 85. Death benefits are guaranteed through age 121, and the policy includes two riders at no additional charge: an accelerated death benefit and a partial surrender benefit.

Available Riders

Banner Life policies include a handful of riders at no additional charge, as well as some optional benefits that can be added to provide further peace of mind.

Accelerated Death Benefit

All term and universal life policies from Banner Life include an accelerated death benefit at no additional charge. This coverage allows you to withdraw up to 75% of your policy’s death benefit or $500,000, whichever is less, prior to your death. In order to utilize this benefit, you’ll need to be diagnosed with a terminal illness and have 12 months or less to live. 

Waiver of Premium

If you are diagnosed with an eligible disability, this rider will waive the premiums due on your policy while still keeping it active and in good standing.

Term Rider (10, 15, and 20)

If you need more coverage for a specific period of time—say, until your mortgage is paid off in 10 years—but don’t need that level of coverage for the duration of your policy, a term rider can help. This rider allows you to purchase temporary, supplemental coverage in 10-, 15-, or 20-year increments. 

Children’s Rider

This rider allows you to include life insurance protection on behalf of your minor children as an add-on to your own policy. Coverage for your children will continue through age 25 (or until you hit age 65, whichever comes first), with level premiums. (Not available in Maryland.)

Partial Surrender Benefit

This rider is automatically included on all Banner Life universal life policies. It allows for the surrender of your policy with decreasing penalty charges over the course of a nine-year period.

Note

Banner Life term policies are available with up to 40 years of coverage and can be stacked with supplemental term rider insurance for as many as 20 of those years.

Customer Service

If you are not yet a customer of Banner Life and want to reach a representative, you have two options: phone or email. 

Banner Life reps are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. The toll-free number to call for life insurance information is 800-638-8428. Additionally, you can email Banner Life anytime at customerservice@bannerlife.com

If you’re already a Banner Life customer, you can manage your policy 24/7 by logging on through the company’s online portal or utilizing the company’s automated telephone line options.

Complaint Index

According to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Banner Life performed much better than expected in terms of consumer complaints, based on the size and market share of the company. 

The average number of expected complaints for a specific company is always 1.00, based on the NAIC’s system. In 2019, Banner Life had a complaint index of only 0.0504, which is about one-twentieth of the expected number. This number has even gone down since 2018, when the company received a (still-impressive) complaint index of 0.3121.

Third-Party Ratings

According to AM Best, Legal & General holds an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating. This rating indicates that the insurer has a strong future outlook and is likely to be financially secure if and when you (or your loved ones) need to call on the benefits provided by your life insurance policy.

Legal & General also holds an AA- (Very Strong) rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. Additionally, consumers have given the company a 4.4 out of 5.0 rating through Trustpilot, with over 1,300 reviews.

While these ratings are representative of Legal & General as a whole, Banner Life is responsible for securing the policies in 49 of the 50 states (as well as the District of Columbia). As a result, it can be said that these ratings are then largely representative of Banner Life directly. 

Cancellation Policy

In most states, Banner Life policies offer a free look period, which means that you may cancel your policy within 30 days of receipt, without any obligation. So, it’s no problem if you change your mind a few weeks after purchasing coverage.

Beyond that first month, however, canceling may involve certain penalties, depending on the type of coverage you purchased and your location. You’ll want to read the terms of your specific policy to learn more, especially if you think there’s a chance that the policy you buy today won’t suit your needs in the future. 

Cancellation policies are particularly important when it comes to policies that accrue a cash value over time. For example, a permanent policy may allow for cancellation but still impose a surrender fee, which would reduce your surrender cash value (or the amount you’d receive upon cancellation). 

Price

The amount you’ll pay for your life insurance policy depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which are the policy type and coverage amount chosen. Personal factors that also influence the price tag include your age, location, health, medical history, and gender. 

If applying for coverage as someone who identifies as non-binary, you’ll find that most insurance companies base underwriting on your gender assigned at birth. However, being non-binary will not prevent you from purchasing a policy, nor will it directly impact your premiums. 

Through Legal & General’s online quote calculator, you are able to get an idea of term life pricing for Banner Life coverage. In order to finalize this policy—or price out universal life coverage—you’ll still need to contact a licensed agent. 

Using this online quote tool, we found that a 35-year-old female non-smoker located in Virginia could purchase $1 million in term life coverage for about $52 a month. That price is for a 30-year term, and assumes that the applicant is in great health. 

Competition

One of the best ways to adequately gauge an insurer’s strength when shopping around is to stack it up against a similar company. This allows you to best compare apples to apples and ensure that you’re choosing the right insurer at the right price. 

To help your efforts, we have compared Banner Life against American General. Both companies are smaller and neither is offered in New York state, and they both have a similar offering of policies.

  Banner Life American General
Market Share 0.82% Ninth-largest in the U.S., 2.9%
Number of States Where Coverage is Available 49 49
Number of Plans 8 9
Service Method Agents Agents
AM Best Rating A+ A
Price Rank Average Average
Complaints Trend 0.0504 Exceptional 1.47 Average

Both of these companies are very similar in that they provide the majority of policies under a larger, parent company. Both insurers operate in 49 states (excluding New York), are only sold through licensed agents, and offer fewer than 10 policy options. The two companies also have strong third-party ratings, including those provided by AM Best, and average pricing.

While Banner Life is considerably smaller than American General in terms of market share, the company boasts an impressive complaints trend according to NAIC data. In fact, Banner Life received just over one-twentieth of the expected complaints last year—adjusted for market share—whereas American General received nearly 50% more than expected. For this reason and its competitive pricing, we recommend Banner Life over American General.

Verdict

Banner Life is a smaller life insurance company operating under the umbrella of Legal & General. Though this insurer represents a small sliver of the U.S. life insurance market share, the policies it does write seem to perform well. With one-day claim payouts, high consumer ratings, low complaint ratios, and longer-than-average term policy lengths, it’s safe to say that Banner Life is at least worth a look, though policies do require a medical exam and are only offered through licensed agents.

How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

In an effort to thoroughly and effectively review life insurance carriers, we analyze and compare a number of key factors. These include a company’s market share and history, consumer ratings and financial strength grades, customer reviews, and overall reputation. We also look at factors like availability, pricing, customer service accessibility, and the number and type of plans offered to consumers.

Learn more: Read our full Life Insurance Review Methodology.

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. "Banner Life." Accessed September 20, 2020.

  2. TrustPilot. "Legal & General America." Accessed September 20, 2020.