The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company underwrites policies sold through SureBridge, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Health Markets. In 2019, the company was acquired by UnitedHealthOne, a major insurance company that sells health and supplemental insurance policies.
Before its acquisition, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company issued term life policies. Now, the only form of life insurance it sells is final expense policies.
For those who want simple coverage to cover their burial expenses—and who don’t want to go through the hassle of a medical exam—a final expense policy may be a valuable option. However, benefit amounts are limited, and coverage isn’t guaranteed.
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company does not sell policies to residents of Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, or Vermont.
- Pros and Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Medical exams not required
Accelerated benefit rider available
Online quotes not available
Low coverage amounts
Age restrictions apply
- The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company was initially founded in 1956.
- It was acquired by UnitedHealthOne in 2019.
- The only life insurance coverage it offers are final expense policies.
- The company also sells supplemental policies, including disability and accident insurance.
- Its policies are not available in Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, or Vermont.
Founded in 1956, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company is now based in North Richland Hills, Texas.
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company underwrites all policies that are sold through the SureBridge brand. Through SureBridge, it sells supplemental insurance policies, such as final expense policies, accident insurance, and disability coverage.
Unlike some other insurance companies, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company doesn’t allow you to get quotes or purchase policies online. You have to connect with an insurance agent to get information on policies, premiums, and to submit an application.
- Year Founded 1956
- Kinds of Plans Final expense
- Number of Plans 1
- Payment Plan Options Monthly
- Customer Service Phone, agent
- Phone 800-815-8535
- Official Website www.surebridgeinsurance.com
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company 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.
- Medical exams not required: While most life insurance policies require you to undergo a medical exam when you apply, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company’s final expense policies do not. To apply, you just need to answer a few questions about your health.
- Accidental death benefit available: With its final expense policies, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company allows you to add an accidental death benefit to your policy. With this rider added, your beneficiaries will receive a higher death benefit if you die as a result of an accident.
- Online quotes not available: Instead of allowing you to get quotes for final expenses online, you have to contact an agent for information on rates.
- Low coverage amounts: The maximum amount of coverage you can get through the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company is $35,000. For many families, that benefit amount will not be enough to cover their needs.
- Age restrictions apply: You can only purchase a final expense policy from the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company If you are between the ages of 45 and 85. If you are younger or older than that, you’ll have to get coverage from another company.
While life insurance companies typically sell multiple types of coverage, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company only has one life insurance option.
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company only sells final expense whole life policies. These plans are relatively small; coverage amounts range from $2,000 to $35,000 and are designed to cover your burial and other expenses.
Final expense policies are a type of whole life coverage. They are permanent and last for your lifetime. Like other whole life policies, final expense plans can accumulate cash value over time.
All policies from the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company have fixed premiums and are non-cancellable as long as you pay your premiums on time.
Depending on your age or health, you may qualify for one of the two final expense plans:
- Level Benefit Plan: With the level benefit plan, you get an immediate full death benefit and accelerated benefit for terminal illness. These policies are available to people who are 45 to 85. Level benefit final expense policies include accelerated benefits for terminal illness. If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live, you can access 50% of your death benefit while you’re still living.
- Graded Benefit Plan: If you don’t qualify for the level benefit plan, you may be approved for the graded benefit plan. With this option, your benefit for the first year of your policy is 30% of your death benefit amount. In the second year, the benefit is 70% of your coverage amount and 100% after that. Accelerated benefits for terminal illness are not available.
Most life insurance companies allow you to add riders, also known as insurance endorsements, to your policy. Optional riders add to your premiums, but adding them to your policy may allow you to access your benefits early if you become ill or get coverage for a loved one.
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company has two riders.
Accelerated Death Benefit
The accelerated death benefit is included in your policy if you qualify for the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company’s level benefit plan. If eligible, the accelerated benefit rider allows you to use up to 50% of your death benefit while you’re still living if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live.
The accidental death rider gives your beneficiaries extra benefits if you die due to a covered accident.
To get a quote or for questions you may have about the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company’s policies, contact a local insurance agent or call SureBridge at 800-815-8535.
SureBridge and the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company also have an online portal you can use to view your policy documents, adjust your beneficiaries, or make payments.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index is a tool you can use when shopping for an insurance company. Each year, the NAIC releases company complaint ratios, a number that reflects the number of complaints that consumers submitted relative to the company’s share of the insurance industry.
The industry standard complaint ratio is 1.0. If a company’s complaint ratio is below that number, that means it received fewer complaints than expected for its size. Likewise, if the ratio is over 1.0, the company received more complaints than expected.
In 2020, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company’s complaint ratio was 5.52 for its individual life insurance segment, more than five times as high as expected for its share of the market.
Since 2018, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company’s complaint ratio was five to seven times the national complaint index.
Because the complaint ratio was so high, we looked into what types of complaints that customers submitted. In 2020, complaints primarily were about policyholder service and marketing. Customers alleged misrepresentations in marketing materials and delays or lack of response from customer service.
When looking at insurance companies, it's important to ensure that the insurer is stable and will be around for a long time.
One ranking that can help you is AM Best’s Financial Strength Ratings (FSRs). The FSR is AM Best’s opinion on a company’s ability to meet its contractual obligations and a measure of its financial stability.
In 2020, AM Best affirmed Chesapeake Life's “A” (Excellent rating), noting the company’s balance sheet strength and solid operating performance.
Neither the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company nor SureBridge is included in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study. In the study, J.D. Power ranked 24 top life insurance companies based on their plan options, pricing, and customer service.
As with other insurance companies, you have a 10-day free look period that starts after you receive your policy documents from the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company. If you decide to cancel your policy within this period, you are entitled to a full refund of all premiums paid.
After the free look period ends, you may receive a surrender cash value when you cancel your policy. However, it can take a while for cash value to accumulate, so you may not get anything when you cancel your coverage.
Cancel your policy by contacting your agent or by calling 800-815-8535.
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company does not include pricing information on its website, and you cannot get quotes online. To find out how much your premiums would be, you must call the company or talk to an insurance agent.
Like other insurance companies, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company requires you to select “male” or “female” when applying for a life insurance policy. Being nonbinary doesn’t disqualify you from getting life insurance. However, you should be aware that most insurance companies haven’t updated their underwriting processes to reflect a current awareness of gender issues.
The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company only sells final expense policies, and not everyone will qualify for its plans. Because of its limited coverage amounts, we compared it to New York Life, a top life insurance company.
Like the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company, New York Life doesn’t offer online quotes, and you can’t purchase policies online. However, New York Life has many more policy options than the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company, and several optional riders you can add to your policy.
New York Life has 10 different life insurance plans available, including term, whole, and universal life policies.
New York Life also has a much stronger reputation for customer service. Its complaint ratio for 2020 was just 0.24. And, it was ranked fifth out of 24 companies in the J.D. Power U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.
|Chesapeake Life Insurance Company||New York Life|
|Market Share||N/A||Fourth-largest in the U.S., 4.6%|
|Number of Plans||1||10|
|Dividends for 2020||Not applicable||$1.9 billion|
|Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives||N/A||N/A|
|Service Method||Agents, phone||Agents, phone|
|AM Best Rating||A (Excellent)||A++ (Superior)|
If you are looking for a relatively small policy to cover your burial expenses so your beneficiaries don’t have to worry about the cost of a funeral, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company could be an option. You can get a policy for up to $35,000, and may add an accidental death rider to your coverage.
However, the Chesapeake Life Insurance Company doesn’t have a strong track record for customer service. It also has limited policy options and coverage amounts, so you may be better off with another insurer if you want a more highly-rated company that sells larger policies.
How We Review Life Insurance Companies
Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative methodology 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 that 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. "Complaint Index - Chesapeake Life Insurance Company." Accessed April 20, 2021.
NAIC. "Complaint Code - Chesapeake Life Insurance Company." Accessed April 20, 2021.
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of UnitedHealth Group and Most Subsidiaries; Upgrades Credit Ratings of Certain Subsidiaries." Accessed April 20, 2021.
J.D. Power. "Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed April 20, 2021.