Ethos Life Insurance Review

Get quotes and apply for term life insurance entirely online

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Ethos

Ethos

Our Take

Ethos Technologies, more commonly known simply as Ethos, was founded in 2016 to make life insurance more accessible and affordable. Rather than lengthy application processes and long waiting periods, Ethos allows people to get quotes and apply for coverage online. With a simplified underwriting option, some applicants can qualify for coverage right away, without undergoing a medical exam. 

Ethos offers both term life insurance and guaranteed issue whole life policies. While it has limited coverage amounts, Ethos may be a good choice for those who want to get life insurance quickly, without going through the hassle of a complex application process. However, those looking for more policy options or personalized assistance will likely be better off with another life insurance company.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Get quotes and apply online

  • Coverage available for some without a medical exam

  • Accelerated death benefit included in all policies

Cons
  • Only two insurance types

  • No customizable riders

  • Limited coverage amounts

Key Takeaways
  • The company was founded in 2016 and is based in San Francisco, California
  • Insurance policies are issued by partner insurance companies
  • The company only sells term life insurance policies and guaranteed issue whole life policies
  • You can get quotes and apply for insurance online
  • Life insurance policies are not available to residents of New York
Company Overview

Ethos founders Peter Colis and Lingke Wang started Ethos after having negative experiences with traditional life insurance. They designed Ethos to help people get only the coverage that they need and can afford. 

Ethos does not underwrite the insurance policies it sells. Instead, its policies are issued by major insurers like Banner Life Insurance, Legal & General America, Ameritas Life Insurance Company, AAA Life Insurance Company, CMFG Life Insurance Company, and TruStage Insurance Agency. 

Ethos policies are sold entirely online. While some policies do require medical exams, simplified underwriting and guaranteed issue policies are available. 

Ethos sells life insurance policies in every state, except for New York.

  • Year Founded 2016
  • Kinds of Plans Term life insurance, whole life insurance
  • Number of Plans 3
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly
  • Customer Service Online, phone
  • Phone 415-322-2037
  • Official Website www.ethoslife.com

Ethos 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

  • Get quotes and apply online: Some companies require you to speak with an insurance agent before you can get a rate quote. By contrast, Ethos has transparent pricing and allows you to get quotes and apply online. 
  • Coverage available for some without a medical exam: Ethos has both guaranteed issue whole life policies and simplified term life plans, allowing some applicants to get coverage without undergoing a medical exam. 
  • Accelerated death benefit included in all policies: Ethos life insurance policies include an accelerated death benefit rider. If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can access a portion of your benefit to pay for your medical bills or living expenses. 

Cons Explained

  • Only two insurance types: Ethos only sells term and guaranteed issue whole life policies. If you are looking for a larger permanent life insurance or universal life policy, you’ll need to work with another insurance company. 
  • No customizable riders: While most life insurance companies offer optional riders you can use to customize your coverage, Ethos does not have any riders you can add to your policy. 
  • Limited coverage amount: Ethos only offers $50,000 to $1.5 million in term life coverage. If you opt for a guaranteed issue whole life policy, the maximum coverage amount available is just $25,000. 

Available Plans

Ethos sells both term life insurance and guaranteed issue whole life policies. You can get quotes for all of its policies online and, depending on which plan you pick, you may get coverage without a medical exam. 

Ethos has three different policies available. 

Term Life 

As one of the least expensive forms of life insurance, term life policies are popular for families who want to ensure their families have some protection if they pass away. 

Term life insurance is a form of temporary coverage. When you purchase a policy, you select a coverage term. At Ethos, terms are 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. If the covered person dies during the covered term, the beneficiaries receive a death benefit. If the covered person dies after the term expires, the beneficiaries receive nothing. 

Ethos has two different term life policies. With either option, you can get between $50,000 and $1.5 million in coverage. 

  • Simplified issue: Issued by Ameritas and TruStage, simplified issue policies provide instant decisions based on the answers you submit in your application. There is no medical exam required with simplified issue policies. 
  • Fully underwritten: Underwritten by Legal & General, fully underwritten term life policies require you to complete an application and undergo a medical exam if you’re applying for a higher coverage amount. 

Guaranteed Issue Whole Life

With whole life insurance, you get permanent coverage for your lifetime. Because they last for your entire life and can build cash value, whole life policies are typically more expensive than term life policies. 

Ethos only offers simple guaranteed issue whole life policies, meaning you don’t need to have a medical exam or answer questions about your health. Only available to people between the ages of 65 and 85, you’re guaranteed to be approved, regardless of your medical history, and coverage begins immediately. 

With a whole life policy from Ethos, you can choose a coverage amount of $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, or $25,000. 

Available Riders

Most insurance companies offer insurance riders, also known as endorsements. You can add riders to your policy to personalize your coverage or get added protection for your spouse or children. 

Ethos doesn’t have any optional riders, but it does include an accelerated death benefit on all policies. If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can use a portion of your policy coverage amount while you’re still living to pay for your medical bills, living expenses, or to prepay your funeral costs. 

Customer Service

Ethos has multiple customer service options. 

You can reach customer support via email, phone, or text. 

Ethos’ team is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. CST. 

Complaint Index

When shopping for life insurance, it’s a good idea to look up company complaint ratios issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC complaint ratio is a number that reflects how many complaints a company received relative to its market share. 

The industry standard is 1.0. A company with a ratio lower than 1.0 received fewer complaints than expected for its size. 

Ethos does not issue policies, so it doesn’t have its own complaint ratio. Here are the 2019 complaint ratios for the companies that underwrite Ethos policies: 

  • AAA Life Insurance Company: 1.24
  • Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.: 0.31
  • Banner Life Insurance: 0.13
  • CMFG Life Insurance Company: 0.90
  • Legal & General America: Not listed
  • TruStage Insurance Agency: Not listed

Third-Party Ratings

The companies that underwrite Ethos’ policies are major insurance companies with strong reputations. AM Best, the credit rating agency that focuses on the insurance industry, issued each of the companies behind Ethos an A rating or higher. A high rating from AM Best says that the insurance companies are sound and financially able to pay out their policy obligations and claims. 

These are the AM Best Financial Strength Ratings for each of the companies that issue Ethos policies: 

  • AAA Life Insurance Company: A (Excellent)
  • Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.: A (Excellent)
  • Banner Life Insurance: A+ (Superior)
  • CMFG Life Insurance Company: A (Excellent)
  • Legal & General America: A+ (Superior)
  • TruStage Insurance Agency: A (Excellent)

None of these insurance companies are included in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study. The study ranked 24 insurance companies based on their customer satisfaction, pricing, and product offerings. 

Cancellation Policy

Most insurance companies offer 10-day free look periods. During the free look period, you can review your policy and cancel to get a full refund. 

Ethos offers customers more time. Ethos has a 30-day money-back guarantee for its policies. If you decide to cancel your policy within the first 30 days of its issuance, you’ll get a full refund. If you decide to cancel after 30 days, there is no cancellation fee. 

Current policyholders can cancel by calling 415-855-4331. 

Price

In terms of price, Ethos’ policies are in line with industry averages for its premiums. 

To compare rates, we got quotes for term life policies for a 30-year-old woman in excellent health. When you get an initial quote from Ethos, the company will provide you with a range. You’ll get a finalized rate quote once you answer some more questions. 

Each quote assumes $250,000 in coverage.

  Term Length   Monthly Premium
10 Years $9 to $15
15 Years $11 to $18
20 Years $12 to $19
30 Years $17 to $30

When you apply for coverage from Ethos or any life insurance company, you’ll be asked to select either “male” or “female” on the application. While being nonbinary doesn’t disqualify you from getting life insurance, be aware that most insurance companies haven’t updated their underwriting processes to reflect a current awareness of gender issues. 

Competition: Ethos vs. State Farm

Ethos only offers term life policies and simple guaranteed issue whole life policies. Its coverage amounts may not be enough to meet your needs, or you may want different insurance types and riders. If you are looking for whole life policies with higher coverage amounts, universal policies, or additional riders, consider State Farm, one of our picks for the best life insurance companies of 2021

A leading insurance company, State Farm has 10 different insurance plans available. It also has multiple riders you can use to customize your coverage, including a children’s term rider, flexible care benefit, and waiver of monthly deduction for disability rider.

    Ethos   State Farm
Market Share N/A Seventh-largest in the U.S., 3.5%
Number of Plans 3 10
Dividends for 2020 Not applicable $600 million
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives Not applicable Not applicable
Service Method Online, phone Agents
AM Best Rating A and higher (based on company underwriting the policy) A++ (Superior)
Price Rank Average Better Than Most
Complaints Trend 0.12 to 1.24 (based on company underwriting the policy) 0.24
Verdict

If you want a simple, no-frills life insurance policy and don’t need one-on-one assistance from an agent, Ethos can be a smart solution. You can get rate quotes and apply for coverage online, and many applicants won’t have to get a medical exam. 

However, Ethos only makes sense if you want term life insurance or a whole life policy that only covers your final expenses. If you want more coverage and customization options, you’ll need to work with another insurance company.

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. 

Learn more: Read our full Life Insurance 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. "AAA Life Insurance Company - Complaint Index." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  2. NAIC. "Ameritas Life Insurance Company." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  3. NAIC. "Banner Life Insurance - Complaint Index." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  4. Naic. "CMFG Life Insurance Company - Complaint Index." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  5. AM Best. "AAA Life Insurance Company." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  6. AM Best. "Ameritas Life Insurance Corp." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  7. Businesswire. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Legal & General Group Plc and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  8. AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Subsidiaries of CUNA Mutual Holding Company." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  9. Businesswire. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Legal & General Group Plc and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed February 11, 2021. 

  10. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed February 11, 2021.