Prudential Life Insurance Review

Diverse permanent and term life insurance options

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Prudential

 Prudential

overall rating
3.5

Founded in 1875, Prudential is a financial services company that offers a range of products, including life insurance, health insurance, annuities, and investment options. With over $4 trillion of gross life insurance in force worldwide, Prudential is one of the largest life insurance companies in the country. 

The company provides customers with term and universal life insurance policies. Whether you need coverage so your loved ones have protection if you pass away or you want a plan that can continue your business after you’re gone, Prudential has options for you.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple universal life policies available

  • Robust online resources and tools

  • You can consult with a financial professional to choose an insurance plan

Cons
  • Medical exams required for all policies

  • Online quotes not available for most policies

  • Final expense policies are not available

Key Takeaways
  • Prudential Individual Life Insurance is based in Newark, New Jersey.
  • In 2019, Prudential wrote over $6.2 billion in direct premiums.
  • The company offers term and universal life insurance policies.
  • Prudential connects customers with financial professionals to discuss their insurance needs.
  • Some term life policies can be purchased online.
Company Overview

Prudential is a worldwide company with several different subsidiaries, and it has over 51,000 employees and sales associates worldwide. Its individual life insurance segment—Prudential Individual Life Insurance—is based in Newark, New Jersey.

While many insurance companies sell insurance through agents, Prudential adds another layer of service. If you need assistance choosing an insurance plan, you can connect with a Prudential financial professional to discuss your budget, your needs, and your risk tolerance. 

Prudential is licensed in all 50 states.

  • Year Founded 1875
  • Kinds of Plans Term, universal
  • Number of Plans 11
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, annually, semiannually, quarterly
  • Customer Service Financial professional, online
  • Phone 800-944-8786 (policy numbers beginning with the letter "V") OR 800-778-2255 (all other policy numbers)
  • Official Website www.prudential.com/personal/life-insurance

Pros Explained

  • Multiple universal life policies available: Universal life policies are a form of permanent life insurance with flexible premiums and a cash value that can earn interest. Prudential has eight different universal life policies to choose from based on your needs and goals. 
  • Robust online resources and tools: Prudential has a range of online tools and resources, including a life insurance calculator to help you determine how much coverage you need, quizzes you can take to narrow down your options, and explanatory articles about life insurance concepts. 
  • You can consult with a financial professional to choose an insurance plan: While other companies have insurance agents you can talk to, Prudential connects customers with financial professionals. These professionals are typically certified financial advisors or chartered financial consultants that can help you select the best plan based on your budget, financial needs, and how actively you want to manage your policy. 

Cons Explained

  • Medical exams required for all policies: Prudential’s plans require you to undergo a medical exam. There are no guaranteed issue policies that you can get without a medical exam or answering health questions. 
  • Online quotes not available for most policies: Some customers can get online quotes for term life insurance, but only select applicants will qualify. Most customers will have to contact a financial professional for a quote.
  • Final expense policies are not available: Final expense policies are inexpensive, basic policies that typically don’t require a medical exam. They are only intended to cover your burial expenses. Unfortunately, Prudential doesn’t offer them; the smallest policy it has is a $100,000 term life plan. 
Note

In terms of direct premiums written, Prudential is the fifth-largest writer of individual life insurance in the country.

Available Plans

Prudential has 11 different life insurance plans to choose from, including term life policies and universal life policies. All of its plans require medical exams, but qualified candidates can get online quotes for term life policies and even complete the purchase online. All other customers, including those shopping for universal life coverage, will have to contact a financial professional to get a quote and apply for a policy. 

Term Life

Term life insurance is an affordable coverage option that gives you coverage for a set period, such as 10, 20, or 30 years. You make regular premium payments throughout your term, and your beneficiary receives the death benefit if you die during the time that you’re covered. 

  • Term Essential: Term Essential is Prudential’s most affordable policy. You can get $100,000 to $10 million in coverage and choose a term of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Your premiums stay the same for the length of your term, and you can convert your policy to permanent life insurance without undergoing another medical exam. 
  • Term Elite: Term Elite provides similar coverages to Term Essential, but has an added benefit. If you choose to convert your policy to permanent coverage within the first five years, you will receive a credit on your first-year premium. 
  • PruTerm One: Unlike other term policies, PruTerm One only offers coverage one year at a time. It’s best for business owners who may have business loans or lines of credit to pay off, and who don’t need long-term policies. 

Universal Life

Universal life insurance policies combine permanent insurance with an investment savings element. Prudential offers one basic universal life policy: 

  • PruLife Essential UL: With this plan, you can leave a death benefit to your beneficiaries and access cash value when you need it. Your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit free from income taxes, and your policy can help offset estate taxes. 

Indexed Universal Life

With an indexed universal life policy, you have more growth potential. Your cash value can fluctuate based on the performance of a stock index, such as the S&P 500. Prudential has two indexed universal life policies: 

  • PruLife Founders Plus UL: This plan can build cash value. You can access this money for anything you choose, including additional income during retirement. You can choose to build cash value through a fixed, declared interest rate (basic interest), or the other option is tied to the performance of the S&P 500. However, the latter option does not pay dividends. 
  • PruLife Index Advantage UL: This policy has the greatest potential to grow cash value. It has four different options to build cash value. One is based on a fixed, declared interest rate. The other three are based on the performance of the S&P 500 but do not include dividends.

Survivorship Universal Life

  • PruLife SUL Protector: This plan covers two people and pays a death benefit when the second insured person passes away. There is a death benefit guarantee, meaning the policy will provide the death benefit when you die as long as you pay the lifetime no-lapse premiums. 
  • PruLife Survivorship Index UL: An indexed universal life policy, the PruLife Survivorship Index UL plan is designed to grow and protect a legacy for your children or grandchildren. It covers two people and only pays the death benefit when both covered persons have died. It has the potential to build cash value and has a modest guaranteed minimum interest rate. 

Variable Universal Life

Variable universal life insurance policies are best for people who want to take a more active role in managing their plans. Variable universal life insurance policies combine protection with the potential to accumulate cash value through underlying investment options. 

You choose from the underlying investment options based on your risk tolerance and goals, and the value of your money can change over time. You’ll typically need to check on your policy and investment options periodically, often with the assistance of a financial professional. 

To build cash value, you make payments beyond the cost of your insurance. The money is placed into the underlying investment options, and you can access the money through withdrawals or loans. 

Prudential has three variable universal life policies: 

  • VUL Protector: If your primary focus is on providing your family with protection, then the VUL Protector plan may be for you. It may provide moderate returns with moderate levels of risk. It offers a no-lapse guarantee that can last for the rest of your life. 
  • PruLife Custom Premier II: If you’re younger and looking for long-term growth, you may want to consider the PruLife Custom Premier II plan. It has a higher level of risk, but the potential for higher returns. The policy offers two no-lapse guarantee periods to give you protection from a lapse in the early years of your policy when you might not have enough value accumulated to take on any downturns in the underlying investment options. 
  • PruLife SVUL Protector: If you want to leave a legacy to your loved ones or a charity, the PruLife SVUL Protector plan may be a good option. This policy covers two people and pays the death benefit after the second insured person dies. The amount of risk and returns is dependent on your choice of underlying investment options. This policy also offers a no-lapse guarantee. 

Available Riders

Riders, also known as insurance endorsements, are optional features you can add to your insurance policy. Riders can be used to enhance, adjust, and customize your coverage and tailor your plan to meet your needs. 

Most riders are only available when you purchase or renew your policy. Riders usually have an additional cost and may have added underwriting criteria. 

Prudential offers the following riders: 

Accidental Death

If you’re in an accident that directly causes your death, the accidental death rider provides an additional death benefit to your family. This rider has an added cost and is not available in Massachusetts. 

BenefitAccess 

If you become chronically or terminally ill, the BenefitAccess rider allows you to access your death benefits early. To add this rider to your policy, you’ll have to go through additional underwriting and pay an added cost. 

Children Level Term 

Available for permanent insurance policies, the Children Level Term rider allows you to get life insurance for young children. You can also convert the coverage to permanent insurance when they get older. 

Children’s Protection 

The Children’s Protection rider is available on term life policies. You can add life insurance for your young children and convert the coverage to permanent insurance when they’re older. 

Enhanced Cash Value

The Enhanced Cash Value rider is typically for business uses. This rider offers the highest surrender values if you need to give up your policy in the early years. 

Enhanced Disability Benefit

If you become disabled and unable to work, the Enhanced Disability Benefit will keep your life insurance policy in force. It’s available only on permanent life insurance plans. 

Estate Protection

Available on survivorship plans, the Estate Protection rider increases the death benefit by up to 100% if both insured persons die before the fourth policy anniversary. 

Guaranteed Policy Split

With the Guaranteed Policy Split rider, you can split survivorship policies into two separate policies if estate laws change or if you divorce. 

Living Needs

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or, in some states, need a vital organ transplant or are expected to be permanently confined to a nursing home, you can use the Living Needs rider to access your death benefit early. There is no charge to add the Living Needs rider to your policy; you only pay for the rider if you use it. It’s not available in Washington. 

Overloan Protection

If you have an outstanding policy loan on a universal life insurance plan, there’s a chance your policy could lapse. The Overloan Protection rider can prevent that from happening. This rider has a one-time charge. 

Survivorship BenefitAccess

With the Survivorship BenefitAccess rider, you and the other insured person on your survivorship insurance policy can access your death benefits early if one or both of you become chronically or terminally ill. You will have to go through additional underwriting, and there is an added cost for this rider. 

Waiver of Monthly Deductions

With the Waiver of Monthly Deductions rider, Prudential will pay the monthly charges into the contract fund if you become totally disabled for at least six continuous months. 

Waiver of Premium

Available on term life policies, the Waiver of Premium rider keeps your insurance policy intact if you become disabled, are unable to work, and cannot pay your insurance premiums. 

Customer Service

With Prudential, qualified insurance candidates can get quotes for term life insurance online, and some people can even purchase their policies through the website. However, most people will have to contact a Prudential financial professional to get a quote and purchase a policy. 

You can talk with professionals over the phone or in-person. Prudential financial professionals can give you advice with other concerns beyond life insurance; they’re also equipped to help you with retirement planning, saving for college, small business planning, and financial strategy. 

Once you have a Prudential account, you can get help from the company’s customer service team. Unfortunately, Prudential doesn’t offer 24/7 support; customer service is only available Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. ET. 

You can reach customer support by calling: 

  • 800-944-8786 (policy numbers beginning with the letter "V")
  • 800-778-2255 (all other policy numbers)

However, you can file a claim online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Complaint Index

In terms of complaints, Prudential has had a higher-than-average number of complaints lodged against it. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) collects all complaints consumers submit about insurance companies. Each year, the NAIC releases companies’ complaint ratios. The complaint ratios are a number that reflects the number of complaints a company had relative to its market share. 

According to the NAIC, 1.0 is the industry standard. Complaint ratios above 1.0 are worse-than-average, while ratios below 1.0 indicate that a company received fewer complaints than is typical. 

In 2019, Prudential’s complaint ratio was 2.51 for individual life insurance, far worse than the industry standard. The majority of complaints were about how claims were handled, including delays and denials of claims. 

For the past three years, Prudential’s complaint ratio is much worse than what’s expected in the market.

Third-Party Ratings

When it comes to financial stability, Prudential is well-regarded. AM Best, the credit rating agency focused on the insurance industry, granted Prudential a Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior). A strong Financial Strength Rating indicates that a company has a favorable business profile and is likely to meet its policy and contractual obligations. 

In the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study, Prudential was ranked 11th out of 24 insurance companies, with a rating of “about average.” The study took into account factors like product offerings, pricing, communications, and customer interactions. 

Cancellation Policy

Prudential typically offers a 10-day free look period. Depending on your state’s regulations, you may have a longer period where your policy can be returned for a refund. During the free look stage, you can review the policy and cancel it without any penalties or fees. You’ll either get all of your premiums refunded to you, or the current account value, whichever is greater. 

After the free look period expires, the cancellation policy varies based on the type of policy you have and your state. You may have to pay surrender charges or other administrative fees, so make sure you read your contract carefully and talk to a Prudential financial professional about any questions you may have. 

Price

For pricing, Prudential was rated as about average in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study. With most plans, you must contact a Prudential financial professional for a quote. However, some candidates can get a quote for term life insurance online. 

Like all insurance companies, Prudential considers several factors when determining your premiums, including your gender, age, and health. 

We got quotes for Prudential’s Term Essential policies for two people who are 35 and in excellent health. Quotes are for 10-year term policies. 

Coverage Amount 35-Year-Old Female 35-Year-Old Male
$100,000 $12.08 $13.65
$250,000 $15.32 $18.82
$500,000 $23.19 $30.19
$750,000 $31.07 $41.57

Like other insurance companies, Prudential requires you to choose between “male” or “female” when you get a quote and apply for life insurance. Being nonbinary doesn’t prohibit you from qualifying for life insurance. However, most companies haven’t yet updated their underwriting processes to reflect current awareness of gender issues, so their application processes may be frustrating for some. 

Competition

Prudential offers term and universal life insurance policies, but there are some significant drawbacks with this insurer. You’ll have to contact a financial professional to get a quote for most plans, and all of its plans require a medical exam. And, Prudential has received more than two times the typical number of complaints for life insurance companies of its size. 

If you’re looking for a company with a better reputation for customer service, consider State Farm. The company offers term, universal, and whole life policies, and also has a final expense option. 

When it comes to customer service, State Farm is the clear winner over Prudential. Over the past three years, State Farm’s complaint ratios have been consistently lower than the industry average. And, State Farm was ranked second in the 2019 J.D. Power Life Insurance Study, scoring among the best in terms of customer satisfaction.

  Prudential State Farm
Market Share Fifth-largest in the U.S., 4.6% Seventh-largest in U.S., 3.5%
Number of Plans 11 10
Dividends for 2020 Not applicable $600 million
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives Not applicable Not applicable
Service Method Financial Professional, online Agents, online
AM Best Rating A+ (Superior) A++ (Superior)
J.D. Power’s Price Rank About Average Better Than Most
Complaints Trend 2.51 0.14
Verdict

Prudential offers a wide range of life insurance options and riders you can use to customize your policy. And, you can connect with a Prudential financial professional to discuss your insurance needs and develop a strategy for your long-term goals that includes planning for retirement and saving for college. 

However, Prudential’s history of customer complaints is concerning, and the company doesn’t offer 24/7 customer support. If customer service is your main priority, you’re likely better off with another life insurance company that has a better reputation, and that is accessible around the clock.

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 Review 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. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts and Statistics: Life Insurance." Accessed September 6, 2020. 

  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Complaint Index." Accessed September 6, 2020. 

  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Complaint Code." Accessed September 6, 2020. 

  4. Businesswire. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Prudential Financial, Inc. and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed September 6, 2020. 

  5. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric but Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed September 6, 2020.