Great American Life Insurance Company Review

The potential to grow your money while protecting against market loss

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Great American Insurance Group

Great American Insurance Group

Our Take

Great American Life Insurance Company offers multiple annuity plans plus riders that you can use to customize your coverage to meet your needs. Great American doesn’t provide online quotes, so you need to talk to an insurance agent to get the details about annuities.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple plans

  • Guaranteed retirement income

  • Penalty-free withdrawals

  • Early declining withdrawal charges

Cons
  • No online quotes

Key Takeaways
  • Great American Life Insurance Company was founded in 1872 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • The company offers indexed, registered indexed-linked, fixed, and immediate annuities plus riders to customize plans.
  • To get a quote, you’ll need to contact one of the company’s insurance agents.
Company Overview

Great American Life Insurance Company was founded in 1872 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company has been known for offering insurance solutions designed to serve niche marketplaces across the country. The company also has operations in Europe, Canada, and Singapore.

Although the company offered a wide range of products throughout its history, it narrowed its focus to annuities and specialty property and casualty insurance business. Great American Insurance is now a market-leading annuity operation with over 500,000 contract owners.

  • Year Founded 1872
  • Kinds of Plans Indexed, registered indexed-linked, fixed, immediate annuities
  • Number of Plans 19
  • Payment Plan Options Single purchase, subsequent, all purchase
  • Customer Service Phone, email, agent
  • Official Website www.greatamericaninsurancegroup.com

Great American is not one of our top-rated life insurance companies and chiefly offers annuities. You can review our list of the best life insurance companies for what we think are better options for obtaining life insurance coverage.

Pros Explained

  • Multiple plans: Great American Life Insurance Company has 19 different annuity plans to choose from, so you can be sure to find one that best fits your needs.
  • Guaranteed retirement income: Most of the products offered by Great American give you the opportunity to turn in your plan into a reliable stream of retirement income.
  • Penalty-free withdrawals: With Great American Life Insurance Company products, you can access up to 10% of your money without incurring a penalty. 
  • Early declining withdrawal charges: Nearly all the products offered have early decreasing withdrawal charges that end after the contract term.

Cons Explained

  • No online quotes: Great American Life Insurance Company doesn’t provide online quotes for any of its products.

Great American Life Insurance Company offers annuities as their only major products available.

Available Plans

Great American Life Insurance Company offers multiple plans, including fixed-indexed, fixed, registered indexed-linked, and immediate annuities. Annuities are contracts sold by insurance companies that guarantee the buyer regular income, often for a lifetime. 

Whether you’re looking to protect your loved ones or supplement your retirement income, Great American has 19 different plans to meet your needs.

Indexed

An indexed annuity, also known as a fixed-indexed annuity, is an insurance contract whose income payments are based on the performance of a specific market index. 

Great American Life Insurance company has six different indexed annuities options:

  • American Landmark 3: Accumulate money while receiving a level of protection against market loss. Using indexed strategies, you can earn interest based on market performance. Any interest credited to your account is locked in and can’t be lost as a result of market performance. You can access your money penalty-free after three years.
  • American Landmark 5: Multiple interest strategies to help you build your savings without the need to worry about market loss. One year point-to-point indexed strategy guarantees cap or participation rate at the end of a one-year term. The five-year cap lock annual point-to-point strategy guarantees a maximum interest rate for five years. The point-to-point indexed strategy compares the closing value at the end of the one-year term and the closing value on the first day of the new term. If the result is positive, interest is credited, but for a negative outcome, the credited interest rate is 0%. 
  • American Legend 3: Allocate your money to interest strategies that can help build more assets to supplement your retirement income. Regardless of the market conditions, you won’t lose your money. American Legend 3 offers two indexed strategies: point-to-point and monthly sum. The monthly sum indexed strategy compares the closing value at the end of the month and the closing value at the start of the month. Positive monthly changes get a maximum interest rate, while negative changes are not less than 0%.
  • American Legend 7: Build money while receiving protection against market loss. Apart from protecting your principal, you can earn interest based on a market index. This plan also allows you to choose an index strategy that’s right for you, either a point-to-point or a monthly sum strategy. 
  • Premier Income Bonus: With this plan, you won’t lose your money regardless of the market conditions, plus it comes with a built-in rider that offers guaranteed growth of your retirement income with a 6% bonus and 10-year rollup period.
  • Safe Return: This plan guarantees a return of premium, retirement income, and a level of protection from market loss. With Safe Return, you’ll be able to grow your money tax-deferred using a point-to-point index strategy. The plan also offers a bailout feature that lets you withdraw your funds without incurring early withdrawal charges.

Fee-Based

A fee-based annuity is essentially a fixed-indexed annuity that allows you to lock in your earnings on an annual basis regardless of what’s happening in the market.

Great American Life Insurance Company has three fee-based annuity options:

  • Index Protector 4: Allocating a portion of your portfolio to Index Protector 4 guarantees principal protection, higher earning potential, and an income stream that could last the rest of your life. It earns interest based on the performance of a market index with point-to-point index strategies. 
  • Index Protector 5 MVA: Offers point-to-point indexed strategies and a market value adjustment (MVA) that ends in five years. You can then turn your accumulated funds into a steady stream of reliable retirement income. 
  • Index Protector 7: Grow your plan with strategies that earn interest based on a market index. This annuity offers a return of premium guarantee after the third contract year and guaranteed retirement income. 

Registered Index-Linked

A registered indexed-linked annuity allows you to take advantage of the market growth while minimizing your losses. This type of annuity uses a market index, such as S&P 500, to determine gains and losses. 

Great American Life Insurance Company has six registered indexed-linked product options:

  • Index Frontier 5: This plan lets you grow your investment tax-deferred until withdrawn while offering a level of protection from market loss. Choose to allocate your money using either of the two credit rating strategies: declared rate strategy and indexed strategies. With a declared rate strategy, your cash builds up at a fixed interest rate, while indexed strategies earn you a return based on market performance.   
  • Index Frontier 7: Grow your money tax-deferred while partially protecting it from market loss by either using a buffer or a floor. Buffer indexed strategies offer protection against 10% index losses each term. Floor indexed strategies protect against index losses that exceed -10%.
  • Index Summit 6: Offers two kinds of indexed strategies: term with cap and term with participation rate. Both approaches limit losses to 50%.
  • Index Frontier 5 Pro: Grow your savings while protecting your money against market downturn. Typically, your money earns a return based on the performance of the market index. You can choose between a buffer or a floor to limit your downside risk.
  • Index Frontier 7 Pro: Grow your money at a faster rate while protecting your investments from the impact of inflation. You can set the amount of downside protection you need using either a buffer or a floor. With this product, you’ll also need to pay an annual fee of 1%. 
  • Index Summit 6 Pro: Unlike investing your money directly into the stock market, this plan protects your money from market turndown. Index Summit 6 Pro protects your investments using either term with cap or term with participation rate. Both strategies provide up to 50% protection from loss. The plan also deducts a daily fee, which compounds to a yearly rate of 0.75%.

Fixed

A fixed annuity guarantees a fixed interest rate on your contributions for a specific period of time. This type of annuity often offers protection from loss since the interest rate credited is not dependent on the market performance. If you’re looking to protect your principal while safely growing your interest tax-deferred, fixed annuities may be perfect for you.

Great American Life Insurance Company has three fixed annuity product options: 

  • SecureGain 3: Offers a guaranteed interest rate for a three-year term with reliable income regardless of the market conditions. Turn the money you’ve accumulated in your annuity into a reliable stream of retirement income. If you pass away, your beneficiaries will receive death benefits.
  • SecureGain 5: SecureGain 5 has a five-year initial term with a 0.25% first-year interest rate bonus and a 0.10% bonus in years two through five.
  • SecureGain 7: Offers a 1% interest rate bonus in the first year of the contract, and a 0.25% interest rate bonus added to the base interest rate for years two through seven. Each year, you’ll have access to a portion of your money with penalty-free withdrawals—you can withdraw up to 10% of your purchase payment in the first contract year.

Immediate

An immediate annuity is an insurance contract that allows you to convert a lump sum of money into an annuity so that you can start receiving regular income. Payments typically begin around a month after you purchase the annuity. If you want financial security in the form of consistent cash flow, either for a set period or a lifetime, you may want to consider immediate annuities.

Great American Life Insurance Company has one basic immediate annuity product:

  • SPIA: With a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA), you can choose the length of time you want to receive payments. If you choose to receive payment for life, you’ll have a steady stream of retirement income. This product, however, doesn’t provide death benefits.

Available Riders

Riders are additional benefits you can purchase to add to your annuity. You can customize your plan with riders to either increase or decrease your coverage.

Great American Life Insurance Company has the following rider options: 

IncomeDefender

IncomeDefender rider offers guaranteed growth of your retirement income at an extra cost of 0.85% of the benefit base at the end of each year. You can add the rider to Index Protector 7 and grow your benefit base in two ways—rollup credits and resets.

Your benefit base will increase by 8% of your purchase payments at the end of your first contract year, with the maximum rollup period being seven years. You also have the option to reset your benefit base if your annuity’s account is more than the benefit base.

IncomeSecure

Available for American Legend III, American Legend 7, and Safe Return, the IncomeSecure rider offers guaranteed growth of your benefit base at an annual charge of 0.95%. Your benefit base will rise by 6% at the end of your first contact year, with the maximum rollup period being 10 years. 

You can also choose how you want to receive your income, either single lifetime (at least 55 years of age) or joint lifetime income (you and your spouse must be at least 55 years of age)

Inheritance Enhancer

This rider is available for American Legend 7 and Safe Return. Inheritance Enhancer rider offers guaranteed growth of your benefit over a 10-year rollup period. At the end of the first contact year, your benefit base will rise by 9% for issue ages 50 to 75 and 6% for issue ages 76 to 85.

After the fifth contract year, your contract’s death benefit is replaced with the rider’s enhanced death benefit. Your beneficiaries can choose to receive the death benefits either in a lump sum or a series of payments.

Customer Service

If you need more information about Great American Life Insurance Company’s products, you can contact their customer service in several ways, including by phone at (800) 952-8138 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) keeps track of complaints submitted by consumers about insurance companies. According to NAIC, a company with an average number of complaints has a complaint index score of 1.0. A score below 1.0 means the company has fewer complaints than expected, while a score above 1.0 means a higher number of complaints than is expected relative to the market share. 

In 2020, Great American Life Insurance Company’s complaint index was 0.07, which is way better than the industry average. 

Note

Since 2018, Great American Life Insurance Company has had a complaint index below 1.0.

Third-Party Ratings

Several rating agencies issue the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) to insurance companies, with the most popular being AM Best. A strong rating shows that the company is likely going to stay in business and pay out claims.

AM Best awarded Great American Life Insurance Company A+ (Superior), one of their highest possible ratings. Great American Life also received an A+ (Strong) rating from Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and an A2 (Good) rating from Moody's. 

What You Need to Know

Since 1910, Great American Life Insurance Company has received an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best or better. 

Cancellation Policy

To cancel your policy with Great American Life Insurance Company, you can call their customer service team at (888) 863-5891 or fill out a surrender form.

If you cancel your plan, you’ll get your total purchase amount plus interest less any surrender fees. Surrender fees only apply to interest and won't affect your principal amount.

Price

Great American Life Insurance Company doesn’t have online quotes. To find out if a plan is right for you, talk to the company’s financial professionals and discuss the available plans, your budget, and your needs. A financial professional will give you a quote based on the best annuity plan to serve your needs.

Competition

When shopping around for an annuity, it’s wise to compare prices and plans offered by multiple companies. By doing so, you might get the best deal for a financial product that meets your needs. 

Great American Life Insurance Company is an annuity provider. If you’re looking for life insurance, the company is not the provider for you. We’d recommend looking at Mutual of Omaha where you’ll get coverage plans beyond annuities.

Though both insurers received an A+ rating from AM Best and offer annuities as one of their products, Mutual of Omaha provides multiple life insurance policies, long-term care insurance, and investments in addition to annuities, giving it an edge over Great American Life Insurance Company.

Additionally, Mutual of Omaha allows you to get free online quotes for any of its policies, and you can purchase term and whole life insurance policies without a medical exam as long as you qualify.

  Great American Life Insurance Company Mutual of Omaha 
Market Share  Not applicable Not applicable
Number of Plans  19 11 
Dividends for 2020  Not applicable Not offered
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentive  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Service Method  Agents Direct, agents, employer-based (group)
AM Best Rating  A+ (Superior)  A+ (Superior) 
Price Rank  Not applicable  Average 
Complaints Trend  0.07  1.20 
Final Verdict

Though Great American Life Insurance Company offers annuities as their only product, the plans come with added benefits, plus optional riders to customize your coverage to meet your needs. 

If you’re looking to grow and protect your money against market loss, and later turn your accumulated funds into a steady stream of retirement income, you may want to take a close look at Great American Life Insurance Company. But, if you need life insurance policies in addition to annuities, you may want to look at other companies.

Methodology

Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on both qualitative and quantitative methodology approaches, including stability and reliability, third-party ratings, customer satisfaction, claims experience and complaints, coverage options, cost, and diversity of product lines. We also consider policies, premium payment options, and whether the company has riders.

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. "Great Amer Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed May 18, 2021.