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Protective is our top choice for best term life insurance company. This is because it tied for having the lowest term rates of the companies we reviewed and is one of a handful of companies that provides 40-year term life insurance. It also offers a wide array of other policy types, meaning there’s a good chance you can find a policy suitable for you. But the company scored poorly in a consumer satisfaction survey and doesn’t include as many no-cost living benefit riders as some other companies we reviewed.
- Pros & Cons
- Company Overview
Tied for cheapest term life insurance
Offers 40-year term life insurance
Wide range of policy types available
No-medical-exam life insurance up to $1 million
No final expense coverage
Scored poorly for customer satisfaction
Founded in 1907, Protective provides policies in all 50 states and has three operating locations. Its headquarters is in Birmingham, Alabama, and its two other core sites are in Greater Cincinnati and St. Louis. As one of five subsidiaries of the Protective Life Corporation, it provides a variety of methods to obtain coverage, including through Costco and independent agents.
- Year Founded 1907
- Kinds of Plans Term, whole, universal, indexed universal, and variable universal
- Payment Options Bank draft, check, credit card (for initial payments on some products)
- Customer Service 800-866-9933
- Official Website www.protective.com/life-insurance
- Tied for cheapest term life insurance: Protective provided the cheapest term policies along with Banner out of all companies we reviewed. We collected term life insurance quotes for six different individuals across 32 life insurance companies for $250,000 30-year term policies—Protective had the cheapest quotes across all age groups or tied for the cheapest term quotes.
- Offers 40-year term life insurance: Out of the 91 companies we reviewed, only two others offer term policies that can last this long—which makes Protective a great choice is you want coverage that lasts longer than 30 years, but you don’t need permanent coverage or want to pay the extra cost for a permanent policy.
- Wide range of policy types available: Protective offers a range of policy types, including term, universal life (UL), variable UL, indexed UL, and whole life. Of the 91 companies we reviewed, only two others offered a wider array of policies.
- No-medical-exam life insurance up to $1 million: You can get up to $1 million in life insurance coverage without a medical exam with Protective. With no-medical-exam life insurance, applicants can avoid the hassle of undergoing an exam when they apply, which also means that coverage can be issued more quickly compared to policies that require an exam, especially since Protective lets you apply online for some policies.
- No final expense coverage: This type of coverage, also referred to as burial insurance or funeral insurance, is intended to pay a relatively small amount that can cover final expenses after death. It’s best for people with health issues that may disqualify them from other types of coverage, as it does not require a medical exam. Coverage amounts are low, but premiums tend to be high per death benefit dollar.
- Scored poorly for customer satisfaction: Protective came in well below market competitors in a J.D. Power 2021 survey. It ranked 16th out of 21 major life insurance companies studied.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks the number of consumer complaints individual insurers receive, and uses that number to create a complaint index. The NAIC complaint index allows you to compare customer complaints across a range of companies, no matter their size. In this way, you can get an idea of how satisfied (or dissatisfied) customers are with the company.
The benchmark is 1.0—which represents the number of complaints a company is expected to receive. A company with a score above 1.0 indicates it received more complaints than expected. Conversely, a score below 1.0 means the company had fewer complaints than expected.
Protective’s complaint index, averaged over three years, was 0.79, meaning the company received fewer complaints than expected.
Financial strength is a critical component to consider when choosing a life insurance company because a life insurance policy is a long-term financial contract—you want to be confident the company will be there and able to pay your beneficiaries when needed and as promised. A life insurance company’s AM Best rating is a good measure of this.
AM Best is a credit rating agency that grades the financial strength of life insurance companies. Financial strength ratings range from A++ (the highest) to D. Protective received an A+ financial strength rating, which indicates that AM Best deems it to have a “superior” ability to honor its ongoing financial obligations.
However, Protective does not perform as well when it comes to customer service. In fact, it scored well below average in the 2021 J.D. Power Individual Life Insurance Study. It came in 16th out of 21 carriers, scoring 752 out of a possible 1,000 points (the industry average was 776).
|Types of Coverage||Term, whole, universal, indexed universal, and variable universal||Term, universal, indexed universal, and variable universal||Whole, universal, term|
|Online Application||Available||Not available||Available|
|AM Best Rating||A+||A+||A++|
|Price for Term Policies||Excellent||Excellent||Worse than average|
|NAIC Complaint Index (averaged over 3 years)||0.730||0.128||0.177|
|J.D. Power Ranking||16||10||Not ranked|
Protective offers a variety of policies and optional features so you can customize your coverage to best suit your needs. You can get a quote and apply for term life insurance online, but you’ll need to contact an agent for all other policy types. Most policies include a terminal illness accelerated benefit rider at no extra charge. The terminal illness rider allows you to accelerate up to 60% of the death benefit (or $1 million, whichever is less) if you have less than six months to live.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance offers death benefit protection that lasts anywhere from one to 40 years or more. Unlike most permanent policies, it doesn't build a cash value, and is the most affordable type of life insurance coverage.
Protective Classic Choice Term
According to Protective, its premiums are usually among the top three on the market for similar product types, across all issue ages and face amounts—and our research supports this for term policies. Of the companies we collected term quotes for, Protective tied with Banner for cheapest term life insurance coverage.
Coverage lengths range from 10 to 40 years, with the option to convert to a permanent policy with no medical exam. Protective is one of only three companies we reviewed that offers 40-year term life insurance coverage.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life policies provide life-long guaranteed protection, and build a cash value. Cash value is an essential component to permanent life insurance as it reduces the high cost of life insurance as you age. Over time it can become a source of funds that you can borrow from. In whole life policies, the cash value grows at a fixed rate and is guaranteed as long as you make payments when they are due.
If you decide a whole life policy is best for you because it grows cash value, it is wise to replace any cash you borrow or withdraw from your policy. Otherwise, you could reduce the death benefit for your beneficiaries, or, in some cases, the policy could lapse.
Non-Participating Whole Life
Protective offers its whole life policy to applicants from 0 to 90 years old for coverage of as little as $1,000 and as much as $5,000,000. The policy comes standard with a terminal illness accelerated death benefit at no extra cost.
Universal Life Insurance
Universal life (UL) insurance is a permanent policy that grows cash value; but unlike whole life, universal life allows you to adjust your premiums and death benefit.
Unlike other universal life policies, Custom Choice is not designed to provide permanent coverage, but is structured similarly to a term policy. You have the option to exchange it for a permanent policy during the second through 20th policy years, and you’ll pay a relatively low, level premium for a term of up to 30 years. If you want to exchange the policy for permanent coverage (with a higher premium), you won’t have to take a medical exam. It’s available to applicants 18-75 years old.
Permanent UL Products
- Advantage Choice UL: This product is built to provide low-risk, low-cost long-term protection with a permanent death benefit. You can adjust the premium payment and access the cash value if needed. It’s available to applicants 18-85 years old.
- Lifetime Assurance UL: This product is also meant to provide long-term protection to applicants between 18 and 85 years old. It may be less expensive than Advantage Choice, but may offer fewer perks (depending on your needs) and guarantees.
- Survivor UL: This policy offers permanent death benefit coverage for two people.
- Executive UL: This policy offers coverage for employers and executive employees.
Variable Universal Life Insurance
Variable life insurance can provide coverage for life. It gives you the ability to invest the policy’s tax-deferred cash value in the stock market. Investment options are available via “subaccounts;” choose which to invest in based on your risk tolerance and goals. You can use cash value to pay premiums, but if the investments lose value, your premium could go up.
Strategic Objectives II VUL
Protective offers one VUL policy with a range of available features and investment options for applicants up to age 80.
While variable universal life insurance offers higher potential returns, higher returns often come with higher risks. For example, if your investments perform poorly, your premium could increase drastically or the policy could lapse.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance
If you’re looking for a permanent policy with more potential growth than whole life, but with less risk/reward potential than a variable UL policy, this might be the right choice for you. Indexed universal life (IUL) insurance has growth potential and flexibility with premiums and cash value options like other UL policies. However, the cash value is credited an interest rate based on the performance of a stock market index.
Indexed Choice UL
With Protective’s IUL policy, the stock market index used is the S&P 500. You also can choose to invest some (or all) of the cash value in a fixed account that earns interest at a flat rate.
The rate credited to your cash value will never be negative but is subject to limits. For example, if your policy caps gains at 6%, and the index gained 8%, you would be credited no more than 6%.
Guaranteed Insurability Rider (GI): A guaranteed insurability rider is ideal for a young person purchasing a permanent policy who thinks they may want more coverage in the future (say, because they intend to get married or have more children).
- Protected Insurability Rider: Protective’s GI rider allows you to purchase additional coverage without a medical exam at specific ages: 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, and 40. You must be 37 or younger to purchase this rider and it expires at the last option date, which is age 40. It’s only available on Protective’s VUL policy.
Children’s Term Rider: Available on Protective’s IUL, VUL, UL, and term policies, this optional rider provides death benefit protection for all children aged 15 days through 18 years. Coverage continues until age 25 (if the base policy is in force) and can be converted to permanent coverage without having to prove insurability - —meaning your child doesn’t have to take a medical or apply for coverage. A child term rider is an excellent way for parents to establish coverage for their children without purchasing a separate policy.
Waiver of Premium: This optional rider let’s you skip premium payments if you become disabled. Protective’s waiver of premium rider has a six-month elimination period—meaning you must live with the disability for six months before you’re eligible to have premiums waived (an elimination period is a common feature). The rider is available to applicants up to age 55, it expires once you turn 65, and is available on Protective’s term, UL, IUL, and VUL policies.
Accidental Death Benefit: An accidental death benefit rider pays an additional death benefit if you die as the result of an accident. Protective’s version is available on its term, UL, IUL, and VUL policies. It’s available up to age 60 and expires at age 65.
Accelerated Death Benefit: Life insurance with living benefits or accelerated benefit riders allows you to receive a portion of the death benefit early if you experience certain health-related events. Protective offers two—one for terminal illness and one for chronic illness. Only its terminal illness rider is available at no extra cost.
- Terminal Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Endorsement: If you have been diagnosed with a life expectancy of six months or less, you can accelerate (or access early) up to 60% of the death benefit with Protective’s terminal illness rider. This benefit comes at no extra cost and is available on Protective’s term, UL, IUL, and VUL policies.
- Extend Care Rider: This may be added to Protective’s UL, IUL, and VUL policies for an extra charge. It allows the policy owner to receive either a lump sum or monthly benefit while the insured is still alive if they have been certified as chronically ill by a doctor, which means they’re unable to perform at least two activities of daily living (ADLs) for at least 90 days without assistance. Examples of ADLs include feeding and bathing oneself.
Protective representatives are available by phone at 800-866-9933 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central Time (CT) Monday through Thursday, and between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Friday. Account management features are available to policyholders online, such as submitting payments and submitting a claim.
When it comes to price, Protective can’t be beat. At least not in our analysis of quotes for 30-year $250,000 term life insurance policies for healthy individuals aged 25, 40, and 55 years old. In each age group, Protective had the cheapest term life insurance or tied for having the cheapest. And according to the company, premiums typically rank in the top three for similar products across issue ages and face amounts.
If price is a priority, start with Protective.
Who Is Protective Best For?
If you’re in the market for affordable, no-frills, long-term term coverage, you should consider Protective. It’s top-ranked for cheap term coverage, and offers 40-year-term life insurance—which is uncommon in the industry. The company has a wide range of universal life policies available as well, including a term-like UL policy that may be suitable if you want the flexibility of a cash value component, or the potential to build one.
However, if a comprehensive suite of living benefits is important to you, such as no-cost accelerated death benefit riders for chronic, critical, and terminal illnesses, consider other companies' offerings. And if you’re looking for a policy that pays dividends or if you have health issues and need a final expense policy, you should look elsewhere.
Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers
We designed a comprehensive ranking methodology based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost.
In order to do this, we collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics. We grouped metrics by category to see how insurers performed in each; we then weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.
To learn more, read our full Life Insurance Methodology.