Unum Life Insurance Review

A Fortunate 500 company offering group life insurance

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Unum

 Unum

Our Take

Unum is a major life insurance company, but you can’t purchase coverage directly from the insurer. Unum only sells group life insurance policies, so the only way to get coverage is through your employer. 

If you’re eligible for coverage, you can choose between term and whole life policies. You can have the premiums deducted directly from your paycheck and you can even get coverage for your spouse and children. However, its coverage amounts and riders are limited, so Unum life insurance policies may not give your family enough protection on their own.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Medical exams are not always required

  • You can get coverage for your spouse and children

  • Plans include access to financial and legal counseling services

Cons
  • Individuals cannot purchase coverage from Unum

  • Coverage limits are based on salary

  • Limited rider availability

Key Takeaways
  • The company originated in 1848 and its U.S. headquarters is in Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • The insurer offers group whole and term life policies
  • Customers can get coverage for themselves, their spouse, and their children on one application
  • Unum also sells group disability, accident, critical illness, hospital, dental, and vision insurance policies
  • Life insurance is available in all 50 states
Company Overview


A Fortune 500 company, Unum is a group insurance company that helps employers offer insurance benefits to their employees. In addition to life insurance, Unum also sells group disability, accident, critical illness, hospital, dental, and vision insurance policies. 

While its U.S. headquarters is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Unum is a global company that also serves abroad and has corporate offices in Ireland, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Through its different insurance products, Unum provides insurance to 39 million people worldwide.

  • Year Founded 1848
  • Kinds of Plans Group term and whole life
  • Number of Plans 2
  • Payment Plan Options Payroll deduction
  • Customer Service Human resources, phone
  • Phone 866-679-3054
  • Official Website www.unum.com

Unum 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

  • Medical exams may not be required: With certain coverage amounts, you don’t have to undergo a medical exam, and you may not have to answer any questions about your health. 
  • You can get coverage for your spouse and children: When you apply for coverage, you can get coverage for your spouse and children on the same application. 
  • Plans include access to financial and legal counseling services: Unum’s plans include Life Planning Financial & Legal Resources. Survivors and terminally ill covered employees can contact the counseling service for advice on handling the estate and policy. The free service is focused on preserving financial security, and representatives will never offer or sell products. 

Cons Explained

  • Individuals cannot purchase coverage from Unum: Unum does not sell insurance directly to consumers. Instead, it works with employers to offer coverage to employees. To qualify for Unum coverage, your employer has to partner with the company and offer plans as part of its benefits package. 
  • Coverage limits based on salary: With Unum, you cannot choose any coverage amount you want. Instead, your coverage limits are based on your salary. Depending on the benefits offered by your employer, coverage is typically capped at six times your salary, with a maximum of $750,000. 
  • Limited rider availability: Most life insurance companies allow you to enhance and customize your coverage by adding insurance riders. However, Unum has limited rider options.  
What You Need to Know

Unum has paid out $7.5 billion in insurance benefits.

Available Plans

Unum policies are only available through participating employers. Available coverage amounts are based on your salary. In most cases, you can qualify for coverage up to six times your salary, with a cap of $750,000. 

If you enroll within 60 days of your insurance eligibility date, you can get up to $100,000 of coverage for yourself. If you want coverage above that amount, you’ll have to undergo a medical exam and answer questions about yourself. 

When you apply for coverage, you can also get coverage for your spouse and children. The maximum for spouse coverage is 100% of your salary or $150,000, whichever is less. For your children, the maximum is $10,000 per child. 

Unum has two life insurance plans: 

Term Life

With term life insurance, you have coverage for a pre-set period. If you die during the policy term, your beneficiaries receive a death benefit. After the term expires, your beneficiaries receive nothing if you pass away. 

With Unum’s term insurance, your monthly premium is dependent on five-year age bands. As you age and move into the next five-year age band, your monthly premiums will increase. 

Whole Life

Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance lasts for your lifetime and can also accumulate cash value. 

If you pass away at any point after getting your coverage—and after the policy’s exclusion periods—your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit. 

With exclusion periods, some insurers have a waiting period before they’ll provide coverage in certain circumstances. For example, there may be a 24-month exclusion period where the insurer doesn’t provide a death benefit if the covered person died by suicide. After the exclusion period ends, which frequently covers dangerous activities or sports, the insurer will provide coverage. 

Available Riders

Most insurance companies allow you to add insurance endorsements or riders to your policy to get extra coverage. Unum doesn’t have optional riders like chronic illness benefits or return of premium riders, but it does include some insurance endorsements with your coverage: 

Accelerated Benefit

If you become terminally ill and are not expected to live longer than 12 months, you can access up to 50% of your life insurance benefits to pay for your expenses. When you die, your beneficiaries will receive the remaining benefit. 

Waiver of Premium

With the waiver of premium rider, your premium payments will be waived and you’ll maintain your coverage if you become disabled and are no longer able to work. 

Customer Service

You cannot get quotes for Unum policies online; you can only get rate and policy information through your employer’s human resources department. 

If you are a policyholder, you can reach customer service by calling 866-679-3054. Customer support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. EST. 

Unum allows customers to file claims online, and you can also update your beneficiaries and view your policy documents. The company also has a customer app that is available on the Apple Store and Google Play. 

Life Planning Financial & Legal Resources Assistance

One of Unum’s key benefits is its Life Planning Financial & Legal Resources. Survivors and terminally ill employees can contact this service for help with developing strategies to protect their finances, plan for the future, and maintain their lifestyle. 

Complaint Index


The National Association of Insurance Commissioners releases company complaint ratios every year, a number that reflects the number of complaints each company received relative to its share of the insurance market. A company with a ratio above 1.0 received more complaints than is typical, while a company with a ratio under 1.0 received fewer complaints. 

In 2019, Unum’s complaint ratio for its group life insurance segment was 0.34, lower than the national complaint index. 

Note

For the past three years, Unum has received fewer complaints than expected for its market share

Third-Party Ratings

AM Best is a global credit agency specializing in the insurance industry. Its Financial Strength Ratings are used to measure the financial stability of insurance companies. 

In 2020, AM Best affirmed Unum’s “A” (Excellent) rating, meaning AM Best considers Unum financially sound and able to meet its policy obligations. 

Because Unum doesn’t offer individual life insurance policies, it was not included in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. 

Cancellation Policy

Like most insurance companies, Unum offers a 10-day free look period. During this time, you can review and cancel your policy without penalty. 

Once the free look period ends, how cancellations are handled is dependent on your policy type. With term life insurance, you can cancel at any time, but your premiums will not be refunded. With whole life insurance, you can get the cash surrender value of your policy.

If you have a Unum life insurance policy through your employer and your employment ends, your coverage is portable, so you can take it with you after you leave. You can convert your plan to an individual whole life policy or you may purchase a one-year term life policy. 

To cancel the policy, you must provide Unum written notice at least 31 days before the cancellation date. 

Price

When it comes to Unum’s pricing, your costs are dependent on the type of insurance you choose, the coverage amount, and if your employer will pay for a portion of your coverage. Some employers cover a percentage or the entire monthly premium, while others require you to pay your premiums yourself. 

Like all life insurance companies, Unum requires you to select either “male” or “female” when completing an application for coverage. While being nonbinary doesn’t disqualify you from getting life insurance, you should know that companies haven’t updated their underwriting processes to reflect a current awareness of gender issues. 

Competition

Because Unum has limited plan options and is not available for individual purchase, we compared it to Prudential, our pick for the best overall life insurance company. 

Like Unum, Prudential offers both term and whole life insurance. However, it also has universal and survivorship policies, giving you more options and customization. With Prudential, you can get up to $10 million in coverage, so you choose a coverage amount that works for your family. 

Prudential has the further advantage over Unum with its wide range of available insurance riders, including chronic illness accelerated benefits, enhanced cash value, estate protection, and waiver of monthly deductions. 

You can get quotes for Prudential’s term life policies online.

  Unum Prudential
Market Share Not applicable Fifth-largest in the U.S., 4.6%
Number of Plans 2 11
Dividends for 2020 Not applicable $600 million
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives Not applicable Not applicable
Service Method Employer Financial professional, online
AM Best Rating A (Excellent) A+ (Superior)
Verdict

If your employer offers life insurance through Unum and is willing to cover all or some of your premiums, it can be a quick and easy way to get coverage for your family. It offers both term and whole life policies, and you can get coverage up to six times your salary. 

However, its coverage maximums may be lower than your family needs, and it doesn’t offer many customization options. Its plans are also only available from participating employers and cannot be purchased in the marketplace. 

If you’re not eligible for Unum coverage or want a higher coverage amount, you will need to work with another life 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 that 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

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  1. NAIC. "Complaint Index - Unum Life Insurance Company of America." Accessed January 24, 2021.

  2. Businesswire. "AM Best Revises Outlooks to Negative for Unum Group and Its Core U.S. Life/Health Subsidiaries." Accessed January 24, 2021.