Life Insurance Companies A-E

Erie Family Life Insurance Company Review

High coverage amounts available to residents of select states

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Our Take

Available in only a few states, Erie Family Life Insurance Company sells group and individual whole, term, and universal life policies. If you live in one of the states where Erie sells insurance, you can purchase up to $10 million in coverage, making the insurer a good choice for high-income families who want to provide long-lasting financial protection to their beneficiaries. 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • High coverage amounts available

  • Accelerated death benefit included

  • Coverage available without a medical exam

Cons
  • Only available in select states

  • Life insurance must be purchased through agents

  • Limited information online

Key Takeaways

  • Erie Family Life Insurance Company sells term, whole, and universal life policies
  • Some policies include riders like accelerated death benefits at no added cost
  • The company is licensed to sell life insurance in only 11 states
  • Erie also sells auto, homeowners, renters, Medicare supplement, and business insurance plans
  • All of its policies are sold through independent insurance agents

Company Overview

Erie Family Life Insurance Company is a subsidiary of Erie Insurance. Founded in 1925 in Erie, Pennsylvania, Erie Insurance is a Fortune 500 company with over 6,000 employees. 

Erie offers a variety of insurance products, including auto, homeowners, renters, and business insurance policies. Through the Erie Family Life Insurance Company, Erie also sells term, whole, and universal life insurance coverage. 

A small insurer, the Erie Family Life Insurance Company is licensed to sell life insurance in just 11 states. While other companies sell life insurance policies online or over the phone, Erie’s policies are only available through independent agents.

The Erie Family 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.

Pros Explained

  • High coverage amounts available: Some life insurance companies have fairly low coverage limits, such as a maximum death benefit of $500,000. Erie Family Life Insurance Company offers policies with up to $10 million in coverage. 
  • Accelerated death benefit included: With most insurers, an accelerated death benefit rider comes at an additional cost. With at least some and potentially all of Erie’s policies, this rider is included and doesn’t increase your premiums. 
  • Coverage available without a medical exam: Erie’s ERIExpress plan allows you to get up to $500,000 in coverage, without having to go through the hassle of a medical exam. 

Cons Explained

  • Only available in select states: Erie is a fairly small life insurance company licensed in Washington, D.C., and 11 states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. If you live in another state, you’ll have to purchase insurance from a different company. 
  • Life insurance must be purchased through agents: While some companies allow you to buy insurance over the phone or through their websites, that’s not the case with Erie. To purchase a policy, you must contact an insurance agent. Erie agents work solely on commission, so they have financial motivation to guide you toward certain products. 
  • Limited information online: Erie doesn’t include very much information about its available plans or riders online. Instead, it encourages customers to contact an agent for information about coverage details, fees, riders, and premiums. The limited information can make it difficult to compare its plans to other companies’ policies. 

Note

The Erie Family Life Insurance Company is a relatively small company. In 2021, its annual premiums only totaled over $268 million. By contrast, Northwestern Mutual—the largest writer of individual life insurance based on direct premiums written—had over $17.7 billion in annual life premiums.

Available Plans

The Erie Family Life Insurance Company sells group and individual term, whole, and universal life policies. While most of its policies are fully underwritten, its ERIExpress program offers simplified issue policies and that don't require a medical exam. 

Erie has four life insurance options: 

Term Life Insurance

If you’re looking for a simple, affordable plan, term life insurance may be for you. Term life policies provide a death benefit for a specific period of time. If you pass away during the policy’s term, your beneficiaries will receive a lump-sum death benefit. 

With the Erie Family Life Insurance Company, you can choose a term of 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. If you purchase term life insurance and later decide you need a permanent life insurance policy, Erie allows customers to convert their policies to whole or universal life policies regardless of their health. 

Whole Life Insurance

Unlike the temporary coverage that term life policies provide, whole life insurance gives you permanent protection. Whole life policies can also accumulate cash value, giving you the option of borrowing against that value later on to cover major expenses. 

With an Erie whole life plan, you can get up to $10 million in coverage, leaving your beneficiaries a substantial benefit to provide for their long-term needs. Whole life policies are available to individuals ages 85 or younger. 

Universal Life Insurance

Like whole life policies, universal life insurance lasts for your lifetime and can grow cash value. However, universal plans are more flexible than whole life insurance. You can adjust your premiums and your death benefit if your finances or goals change, and you can borrow or withdraw your cash value when you need it.  

ERIExpress Life

ERIExpress Life is an option customers can use to buy either term or whole coverage without a medical exam. To apply, customers simply answer a few health questions. Eligible applicants can get $10,000 to $500,000 of term or whole life coverage. 

Available Riders

When you buy a life insurance policy, most companies offer insurance riders. By utilizing riders, you can get additional coverage, purchase insurance for family members, or use a portion of your death benefit to pay for expenses if you become ill. While riders usually cost extra, they can be a valuable addition to your policy.   

The Erie Family Life Insurance Company offers the following riders: 

Accelerated Death Benefit

If you become terminally ill and have a life expectancy of two years or less, the accelerated death benefit rider allows you to use some of your policy’s benefit amount while you’re still living. The accelerated death benefit rider is included at no additional cost. 

Waiver of Premium

If you become disabled this rider allows you to keep your policy in force without paying the premiums. It is available to those between 18 and 60 years old.

Guaranteed Insurability

With the guaranteed insurability option, you can purchase additional insurance at different stages of your life without having to answer medical underwriting questions. 

Long-Term Care Rider

Available to whole and universal life policyholders, the long-term care rider can provide you with financial support if you require care from a nurse or health aide after an accident or illness.  

Customer Service

The Erie website is barebones in terms of education and policy information. For details about Erie’s policies or to find out information about its pricing, you must contact one of Erie’s independent insurance agents

While Erie’s website is limited for prospective customers, its offerings for existing policyholders are much more robust. Policyholders can make payments online, start a claim, and download necessary forms. 

Erie launched has an app for customers to manage their policies from their phones. Available for both Android and iOS devices, policyholders can view and send plan documents, make payments, view past statements, and contact a local Erie agent. 

If you need assistance with your policy, you can contact customer service at 800-458-0811, Option 3. You can also send an email. Customer support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. EST. 

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) collects all the complaints customers submit and uses them to calculate companies’ complaint ratios. The ratios are a measure of the number of complaints submitted relative to the company’s share of the insurance market. 

The industry standard for complaint ratios 1.0. If a company has a ratio above 1.0, that means customers submitted more complaints than the NAIC expected for a company of its size. Likewise, a company with a ratio below 1.0 received fewer complaints than expected. 

As a small insurer, very few customers have submitted complaints about the Erie Family Life Insurance Company. 

In 2021 Erie Family Life Insurance Company's complaint index was 0.23 which is much better than average. It received just two complaints. In 2019 and 2020 things were even better, Erie Family Life Insurance Company received no complaint in either year for an index of 0.00. 

Third-Party Ratings

When you purchase life insurance, you want to know that the company is financially sound and able to pay out any claims if the worst should happen. AM Best is a credit rating agency that evaluates insurance companies’ financial stability. 

In 2021, AM Best affirmed Erie Family Life Insurance’s A (excellent) rating, while Erie Insurance Group received an A+ (Superior) rating. In the press release announcing the ratings, AM Best cited Erie’s balance sheet strength, extensive independent agent network, and large market share in its home states as its rationale for the ratings. 

J.D. Power does not include Erie in its life insurance studies due to the company's extremely small market share and limited geographic range.

Cancellation Policy

As with other insurance companies, you’re entitled to a "free look" period of usually 10 and possibly as long as 30 days. During that time, you can cancel your policy and get a full refund. Once the free look period ends, how cancellations are handled is dependent on the type of coverage you have. 

With term life insurance, you can cancel at any time without penalty. However, Erie won’t refund the premiums you paid. 

With whole and universal life policies, there may be a surrender charge. However, you may get some of your accumulated cash value if you’ve held your policy for several years before canceling. 

To end your policy, contact your Erie insurance agent. 

Price

The Erie Family Life Insurance Company doesn’t have a price calculator or rate chart on its website. The only way to get information on its pricing is to request a quote from an insurance agent. However, Erie does state on its site that $250,000 of term life coverage can be as low as $14.24 a month.

As with other life insurance companies, Erie requires you to select either “male” or “female” when you apply for 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

The Erie Family Life Insurance Company offers several life insurance options, high coverage, and multiple optional riders. However, the company is only licensed in 11 states. 

If you live outside of Erie’s service areas, consider Northwestern Mutual, the largest life insurer in the country. The company has many different life insurance options and multiple optional riders you can use to customize your policy. Northwestern Mutual also has an excellent reputation for customer service. In the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, Northwestern Mutual was ranked third out of 21 companies based on its customer service, product offerings, and pricing. 

Northwestern also has received remarkably few complaints from customers; in 2021, its complaint ratio was just 0.03, well below the industry average. It also stands out from Erie in that policyholders may qualify to receive dividends. In 2022, Northwestern Mutual paid $6.5 billion in dividends.

  Erie Family Life Insurance Company Northwestern Mutual 
Market Share Very small Largest in the U.S., 9.5%
Number of Plans  5 At least 5
Dividends for 2022 None $6.5 billion
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  N/A  N/A 
Service Method  Agents Agents 
AM Best Rating  A (Excellent) A++ (Superior)
Complaints Trend  0.23 0.03

Final Verdict

If you live within one of the 11 states where the Erie Family Life Insurance Company is licensed to sell life insurance, you can get up to $10 million in coverage. It’s a good option for those with high incomes or young families that would need a substantial amount of financial assistance if the breadwinner wasn’t there to provide for them. However, Erie’s service area is limited, and you have to go through agents to get information or to apply for insurance. If you’re looking for a more direct way to get insurance, you’ll have to apply with another company.

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 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.

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