Columbian Life Insurance Review

Basic term and whole life policies

We publish unbiased product reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payment we receive from our advertising partners. Learn more about how we review products and read our advertiser disclosure for how we make money.

Columbian Financial Group

Columbian Financial Group

Our Take

Columbian Life Insurance offers multiple basic term and whole life insurance plans. However, the company’s financial stability ratings were recently downgraded, and little information about its plans is available online. You are likely better off with another company that has stronger ratings and more transparency about its life insurance options.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Medical exams not required for most policies

  • Multiple riders available

Cons
  • Limited policy information provided

  • Online quotes not available

  • Financial stability ratings recently downgraded

Key Takeaways
  • Founded in 1882, the company is based in Binghamton, New York.
  • It sells whole and term life policies.
  • Policies are only sold through insurance agents.
  • Its AM Best Financial Strength Rating was recently downgraded.
  • Columbian life insurance policies are not available in all states.
Company Overview

Columbian Financial Group, the company behind Columbian Life Insurance Company and the Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company, was founded in 1882. Based in Binghampton, New York, the company sells term, whole life, and final expense policies. It specializes in basic policies that provide coverage for final expenses. 

Its policies are not available in all states; Columbian Life is not licensed in New York, North Dakota, Maine, or Alaska.

  • Year Founded 1882
  • Kinds of Plans Term, whole
  • Number of Plans 4
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, quarterly, annually
  • Customer Service Insurance agent
  • Phone 800-423-9765
  • Official Website www.cfglife.com

The Columbian Financial Group 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

  • Medical exams are not required for most policies: While many life insurance companies will require you to get a medical exam when you apply for a policy, Columbian offers simplified issue insurance on some policies. You can get coverage by just completing a questionnaire. 
  • Multiple riders available: Columbian has several optional insurance riders you can add to your policy to get additional coverage. Riders include accelerated death benefits, children’s insurance, and accidental death benefits. 

Cons Explained

  • Limited policy information available: Columbian has very limited policy information for consumers on its website. For details about coverage amounts, available riders, and underwriting criteria, you need to contact an insurance agent. 
  • Online quotes not available for most policies: The company does not allow you to get quotes for its policies online. The only way to get information about its rates is to work directly with an agent. 
  • Financial ratings recently downgraded: AM Best, a credit rating agency that evaluates insurance companies, recently downgraded Columbian’s Financial Strength Rating from B++ (good) to B (fair). Any downgrades are significant and signal potential issues with operating performance. A rating of B indicates that AM Best believes the company is vulnerable to changing economic conditions. 

Available Plans

Columbian Life sells term and whole life policies. It specializes in final expense policies and plans for senior citizens, but it also has insurance options for younger adults. It offers four coverage options: 

Term Life

Term life insurance is the least expensive form of life insurance since it only provides temporary coverage. With Columbian’s SafeShield Simplified Issue Term policy, you can get $25,000 to $250,000 in coverage. You can choose a term of 15, 20, or 30 years. If you pass away during the covered term, your beneficiaries will receive the policy’s face amount. 

The SafeShield Simplified Issue Term plan uses simplified underwriting, so you don’t have to get a medical exam to qualify for a policy. 

Whole Life

Unlike term insurance, whole life policies provide coverage for your entire lifetime. As long as you pay your premiums, your policy doesn’t expire. Plus, whole life policies can build cash value over time. 

Columbian Financial Group sells three forms of whole life insurance: 

  • Dignified Choice Final Expense: With this option, you can purchase up to $35,000 in whole life coverage to pay for your final expenses. The Dignified Choice Final Expense plan requires a telephone interview, and the company may review your prescription drug and motor vehicle reports. 
  • Life’s Solutions Whole Life: The Life’s Solutions Whole Life plan is Columbian’s most robust policy. You can purchase $20,000 to $500,000 of coverage, and premiums are payable until you turn 90. 
  • Simple Security Whole Life: This provides a very basic plan for people who need just a small amount of insurance to cover burial expenses. The maximum benefit amount is $15,000. 

Available Riders

By adding insurance riders to your Columbian policy, you can get coverage for family members, access your benefits if you become ill, or even waive your premiums in some situations. 

The following riders are available through Columbian Financial Group: 

Accelerated Benefits

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 12 months or less, you can use some of your policy’s death benefit while you’re still living. 

Accidental Death 

If you die in a covered accident, your beneficiaries will receive a larger death benefit. 

Children’s Term 

You can purchase term life insurance for your children or grandchildren. Coverage lasts until the child turns 25; at that time, term coverage can be converted into permanent insurance. 

Guaranteed Purchase

Available on certain policies, the guaranteed purchase rider allows you to purchase additional coverage at specified ages or after major life events without further evidence of insurability. 

Waiver of Premium

If you have the waiver of premium rider added to your policy and become permanently disabled, Columbian will waive your premiums after six months. 

Customer Service

All of Columbian Financial Group’s policies are sold exclusively through insurance agents. You must contact the company to get connected to a partnering agent. 

Unlike other companies, Columbian doesn’t have a customer portal for online payments or claims. It does allow you to download some forms, but the site is fairly barebones for existing policyholders. 

If you need to contact customer service, you can submit a secure message through the company’s website. Or, you can call 800-423-9765 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. EST. 

Complaint Index

When it comes to customer complaints, Columbian Financial Group has received more complaints than is typical for an insurer of its size. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) issues complaint ratios that reflect the number of complaints customers submitted relative to a company’s share of the insurance market. The standard ratio is 1.0. If a company’s ratio is over 1.0, that means they received more complaints than is expected.  

In 2020, Columbian’s complaint ratio was 1.42, worse than the industry standard. 

Over the past three years, the most common complaints customers submitted were about delays with claims and policyholder service. 

Third-Party Ratings

AM Best is a credit rating agency that is focused on the insurance industry. It evaluates companies’ financials, operating performance, and business outlook to determine their Financial Strength Ratings (FSRs). The ratings are AM Best’s opinions on how financially sound companies are and how likely they are to be able to meet their policy obligations. 

In 2021, AM Best downgraded Columbian’s FSR from B++ (good) to B (fair). Any downgrade to an FSR is significant, but a downgrade to the B level indicates that AM Best believes Columbian is financially vulnerable and at risk of future operating losses. 

Columbian was not included in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. The study evaluated 23 top life insurance companies and ranked them based on price, policy options, and customer communications. 

Cancellation Policy

Columbian Financial Group has very little policy information online. However, all insurance companies offer 10-day "free look periods," though it could be longer in your state. During the free look period, you can cancel your policy and get a full refund. 

Once the free look period ends, how cancellations are handled is dependent on your policy type. With whole life policies, there may be a surrender charge, but term life policies can typically be canceled without penalty. 

Talk to an insurance agent about cancellation procedures and make sure you read your contract carefully before signing. 

Price

Columbian Life doesn’t publicly list its rates, nor does it have a rate quote tool. For personalized information about policy costs, contact an insurance agent. 

Like other insurance companies, Columbian Life requires you to select either “male” or “female” when you apply for life insurance. 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. 

Competition

While Columbian Financial Group offers multiple policy options and riders, its downgraded AM Best financial rating and worse-than-typical complaint ratio are concerning. And, you must work with an insurance agent to learn about or purchase a policy. 

With those drawbacks in mind, we compared Columbian to Mutual of Omaha, one of our choices for the best life insurance companies in 2021. 

Mutual of Omaha stands out from Columbian for several reasons: 

  • Purchase online: Some of Mutual of Omaha’s policies can be purchased entirely online, with no need to get a medical exam. 
  • Policy options: Mutual of Omaha has more policy options than Columbian. You can purchase term, whole, universal, or indexed universal life coverage. 
  • Customer service: Mutual of Omaha performed well in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. It was ranked fifth out of 23 companies in terms of customer satisfaction and pricing. 
  • Financial stability: Mutual of Omaha has an A+ rating from AM Best, indicating that the company is fiscally stable and able to meet its policy obligations.
  Columbian Financial Group Mutual of Omaha
Market Share N/A 17th-largest in the U.S., 1.4%
Number of Plans  4 11 
Dividends for 2020  N/A  N/A 
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  N/A  N/A 
Service Method  Agent  Direct, agents, or employer-based (group) 
AM Best Rating  A+ 
Price Rank  Not available  Average 
Complaints Trend  1.42  0.65 
Final Verdict

If you’re shopping for a life insurance policy, Columbian Financial Group may not be the best choice. While it has multiple policies and optional riders, its Financial Strength Rating was recently downgraded and the company has received more complaints from customers than is typical. You can likely find more options and better service elsewhere, so it makes sense to shop around.

Methodology

Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative methodology 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.

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. Businesswire. "AM Best Downgrades Credit Ratings of Members of Columbian Financial Group." Accessed June 1, 2021. 

  2. AM Best. "Guide to Best's Financial Strength Ratings." Accessed June 1, 2021. 

  3. NAIC. "Complaint Index - Columbian Life Insurance Company." Accessed June 1, 2021. 

  4. NAIC. "Results By Complaint Code - Columbian Life Insurance Company." Accessed June 1, 2021. 

  5. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed June 1, 2021.