TIAA Life Insurance Review

Prior issuer of life insurance policies for term and permanent life

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TIAA

TIAA

Our Take

Although it is a financially sound company, TIAA Life Insurance Company is not available for new policies, with service exclusively reserved for existing policies established prior to 2020.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Financially sound

  • Educator-focused

  • Excellent customer satisfaction

Cons
  • No new policies after 2019

  • Few details available online

  • No whole life insurance

Key Takeaways
  • Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) was established in 1918 to support educators.
  • It no longer issues new life insurance policies.
  • TIAA continues to service existing policies for term, universal, and variable universal life insurance, as well as its monthly income replacement plan.
Company Overview

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) was established in 1918 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Today, it is a Fortune 100 Company with 5 million customers, 15,000 associates, and offices in 22 countries.

TIAA is no longer issuing new life insurance policies as of January 1, 2020, but it still services existing policies.

Geographical Restrictions

Unfortunately, TIAA is no longer available anywhere in the U.S. for new policies.

TIAA is no longer issuing new life insurance policies. 

  • Year Founded 1918
  • Kinds of Plans Term, universal, variable universal, monthly income replacement
  • Number of Plans 4
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, quarterly, semiannually, annually
  • Customer Service 1-800-842-2252 - Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Official Website https://www.tiaa.org/

TIAA 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

  • Financially sound: TIAA receives top scores for financial strength with an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best.
  • Educator-focused: TIAA was formed as the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America to provide educators with life insurance coverage.
  • Excellent customer satisfaction: For the last several years, TIAA has received excellent ratings for customer satisfaction from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Cons Explained 

  • No new policies after 2019: TIAA stopped issuing new life insurance policies as of January 2020.
  • Few details available online: There are few details available online regarding many of TIAA’s life insurance policies.
  • No whole life insurance: TIAA does not offer whole life insurance, although other forms of permanent life insurance are available.

Available Plans

Although no new policies are available, TIAA continues to maintain policies established prior to 2020. This includes several types of life insurance, including term, universal, variable universal, and a monthly income replacement plan.

Term Life Insurance

TIAA has term life insurance policies, which serve as a temporary form of coverage. The policies include an expiration date, typically lasting between 10 and 30 years. If the policyholder dies before the policy ends, a death benefit is then paid out to the beneficiary. 

Universal Life

TIAA has two forms of universal life insurance. Universal life insurance is available for both single and dual policyholders with a survivorship option if you also want to include a spouse or business partner on your policy.

Intelligent Life Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance that allows you to accumulate cash value that earns interest over time. 

TIAA has its Intelligent Life Universal Life Insurance, available with or without survivorship. It carries a guaranteed minimum interest rate of 3% and no surrender charges.

Intelligent Life Survivorship Universal Life Insurance

Similar to TIAA’s Intelligent Life Universal Life Insurance policy, the Intelligent Life Survivorship Universal Life Insurance features flexible premiums and accumulates cash value. However, instead of covering just one person, this policy is designed to cover two policyholders. 

Variable Universal Life

TIAA also offers variable universal life insurance, which allows you the opportunity to invest earnings in the market through its Intelligent Life VUL policy.

Intelligent Life VUL

The Intelligent Life VUL policy from TIAA offers flexible premiums and is also available with a survivorship option. You can choose from different investment options to accumulate cash value and grow your policy’s death benefit. However, there are no guarantees for policy growth, leaving your funds susceptible to potential market loss. 

There are three death benefit options:

  • Option A: Equal or greater to the Face Amount, or the minimum death benefit required by law
  • Option B: Equal to the greater of the Face Amount plus the policy value, or minimum benefit required by law
  • Option C: Equal to the greater of the Face Amount plus all premiums since issue date, or minimum benefit required by law

As of September 2021, TIAA’s Intelligent Life VUL policy has a crediting rate of 3.10%, with a guaranteed minimum crediting rate of 3.00%. 

Income Replacement

TIAA also offers its Salary Shield, a monthly income replacement benefit for beneficiaries. 

TIAA Salary Shield

This plan offers a monthly income benefit that ranges from $1,000 to $7,000. Beneficiaries also have the option to access a single lump-sum additional benefit to help with additional expenses, such as funeral expenses or mortgage payments.

This plan lasts for up to 30 years or until the insured turns 65, whichever comes first. It includes a minimum five-year guarantee for payment.

TIAA’s monthly income replacement plan can provide up to $7,000 in monthly benefits.

Available Riders

Few policies are perfect just as they come, so life insurance riders can be an enormous help in customizing coverage to your exact needs. You can purchase riders at an additional cost to provide additional types of protection for your life insurance policy.

TIAA has 11 riders for your life insurance policy.

Charitable Giving Benefit Rider 

The Charitable Giving Benefit Rider allows policyholders to donate 1% of the policy face value to an eligible charity, up to $100,000. This rider has no cost but must be chosen before or at policy issue.

Enhanced Policy Split Rider

The Enhanced Policy Split Rider allows a life insurance policy to be exchanged for a new one without requiring you to show evidence of insurability for eligible policyholders.

Estate Protection Rider

An additional death benefit, the Estate Protection Rider, includes an additional death benefit during the first four years of policy ownership, equal to 123% of the Total Face Amount. As the face amount of your policy fluctuates, so does the attached death benefit.  

Estate Transfer Protection Rider

The Estate Transfer Protection Rider is available for last-survivor policies, including an additional benefit for four years after the first insured’s death. It is meant to offset the cost of estate taxes from a policyholder’s death that may be included

Last Survivor Policy Split Option 

This rider offers additional benefits should the joint policyholders dissolve their partnership or become divorced. In this case, the existing policy is split into two new policies without proof of insurability. There is no cost for this rider.

Level Cost of Insurance Endorsement 

The Level Cost of Insurance Endorsement will lock in rates for 10 or 20 years, so rates do not increase based on age. There is no cost for this rider, but it must be renewed with your policy as appropriate.

Living Choices Benefit

This is TIAA’s answer to the traditional Accelerated Death Benefit rider. You can access your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness with this added benefit. TIAA includes this rider with all policies.

Overloan Protection Endorsement 

The Overloan Protection Endorsement is automatically added to your policy and keeps it in force when you have an outstanding loan that is more than your policy’s value.

Policy Split Rider

With this rider, you can exchange your policy for a new individual life insurance policy without showing proof of insurability. This applies to policyholders under the age of 90 and meeting or exceeding the H substandard health rating.

Waiver of Monthly Charges Rider 

The Waiver of Monthly Chargers Rider will waive policy premiums and other fees should the insured party experience a total disability. Single policyholders between the age of 18 and 60 are eligible for a life insurance policy. 

Customer Service

TIAA has a convenient online form to help you find a TIAA office or an advisor. There is also a secure online portal for uploads and a mobile app to keep you plugged in on the go.

TIAA Mailing Contacts
General Mail TIAA
P.O. Box 1259
Charlotte, NC 28201
Urgent/Overnight Mail  TIAA
8500 Andrew Carnegie
Charlotte, NC 28262 
Mutual Fund Account Forms  TIAA-CREF Funds
P.O. Box 219227
Kansas City, MO 64121 
Contact TIAA
  Contact Hours 
General phone 1-800-842-2252 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
Fax  1-800-914-8922  N/A 
Life Insurance
Existing Policies 1-877-694-0305  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET
Proceeds Plus (general service)  1-800-223-1200  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET
Departments
Plan Administrators 1-888-842-7782 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET
Retirement  1-800-842-2252  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
Individual Advisory Services  1-866-842-3519  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET 
Brokerage Services  1-800-927-3059  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET 
TIAA Bank  1-888-882-3837  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET

Complaint Index

To best understand a company’s customer satisfaction levels, we look to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Each year, the NAIC gathers the number of customer complaints and assigns a score based on an industry average 1.00 rating. 

TIAA receives phenomenal scores, with a perfect 0.00 rating in 2020 that shows no complaints. Scores were also impressive in 2019 and 2018, with scores of 0.12 and 0.09, respectively. It shows that TIAA customers are generally pleased with the service that they receive.

Third-Party Ratings

J.D. Power is another judge of customer satisfaction, publishing annual surveys rating some of the largest insurance companies in the industry. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, TIAA receives a below-average score of 815/10000, although the company is technically rank-ineligible because it does not meet all study criteria. TIAA is not rated in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Insurance Digital Experience Study.

TIAA also rates very high for financial strength, earning an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best for financial strength. 

Cancellation Policy

TIAA customers can cancel existing policies by making a cancellation request. Any cash value, minus applicable fees, will be sent to you per the terms of your policy. To cancel your policy, you can call customer support at 1-877-694-0305, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET.

Price

TIAA is no longer issuing new policies. 

However, previous policies were calculated based on several rate factors that are common with most life insurance companies. This includes factors including the type of policy you purchase, the amount of coverage you choose, and the term for your policy. Insurance carriers also consider factors like your age, health, and medical history. Gender is another factor that can impact pricing, with most insurers calculating based on sex at birth and not current gender identity.  

Competition

To understand how TIAA measures against the rest of the industry, we compare it to New York Life, the biggest life insurance company in the U.S. and one of our picks for 2021’s best life insurance companies.

New York Life is much larger than TIAA and not just in market share. It has more than double the plans, with far greater dividends. However, although TIAA rates slightly better in financial strength and customer satisfaction, it does not sell new policies, so New York Life is the better choice for a new life insurance policy. 

  TIAA New York Life 
Market Share 0.28% Largest in U.S., 6.75%
Number of Plans  10 
Dividends for 2020  $467.3 million  $2.3 billion 
Wellness Program Discounts/ Quit Smoking Incentives  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Service Method  Agents  Agents 
AM Best Rating  A+++ (Superior)  A++ (Superior) 
Price Rank  N/A  Better than most 
Complaints Trend 0.00 (Exceptional)  0.15 (Excellent)
Final Verdict

TIAA is a great company with excellent customer satisfaction and financial strength, but it is not issuing new policies. However, TIAA is still actively servicing its existing policies for its term, universal, variable universal, and monthly income replacement policies.

Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

There are many choices for life insurance, but to find the very best for you and your family, we use our proprietary Life Insurance Review Methodology to meticulously and systematically evaluate each life insurance provider. We judge providers on critical factors, such as available coverage, rider selection, pricing, underwriting, and availability. We also look to leading industry ratings providers like J.D. Power and AM Best to measure customer satisfaction and financial strength. Based on these factors and more, Investopedia presents 20201’s best life insurance companies, as well as a detailed analysis of today’s leading carriers.

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. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Intelligent Life VUL 2.0 Policy.” Accessed Sept. 26, 2021. 

  2. Karl Anderson Consulting. “Salary Shield is a new income benefit Term Life Insurance Policies.” Accessed September 26, 2021. 

  3. NAIC. “CIS Refined Results.” Accessed September 25, 2021. 

  4. J.D. Power. “J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study.” Accessed Sept. 25, 2021. 

  5. J.D. Power. “J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Insurance Digital Experience Study.” Accessed Sept. 25, 2021. 

  6. AM Best. “TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company.” Accessed Sept. 25, 2021.