West Coast Life Insurance Review

Term, whole, and universal life policies

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Protective

Protective

overall rating
4.0

Our Take

West Coast Life Insurance Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Protective Life Corporation, a major insurance company. It was originally headquartered in San Francisco, California, but now is based in Birmingham, Alabama. 

West Coast Life sells whole, universal, and level premium term insurance products. It also has annuity products for individuals who want to supplement their retirement income. 

Protective Life Corporation has over $979 billion in life insurance policies in force including West Coast Life's book of business.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Immediate Benefit Account

  • High coverage amounts available

  • Relatively low number of complaints

Cons
  • Cannot apply for a policy directly from West Coast Life

  • Online quotes not available for most policies

  • All policies require a medical exam

Key Takeaways
  • West Coast Life was founded in 1906.
  • It was acquired by Protective Life Corporation in 1997.
  • Originally based in San Francisco, California, its headquarters is now in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • It sells whole, universal, and term life insurance policies.
  • The company is not licensed to sell life insurance in New York or Puerto Rico.
Company Overview

Originally founded in 1906, West Coast Life was acquired by Protective Life Corporation in 1997 to expand their presence nationwide. West Coast Life sells its policies directly to consumers through Protective Life’s website, but it also works with financial professionals and insurance agents to connect with customers. West Coast Life is not licensed to sell life insurance in New York or Puerto Rico, but you may qualify for insurance through another of Protective Life’s brands.

  • Year Founded 1906
  • Kinds of Plans Term, whole, universal
  • Number of Plans 3
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, quarterly, annually
  • Customer Service Online, Agent
  • Phone 844-733-5433
  • Official Website www.westcoastlife.com

West Coast Life 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

  • Immediate Benefit Account: Rather than having to wait for a lump-sum check, West Coast Life offers an Immediate Benefit Account option. With the Immediate Benefit Account, your benefit is deposited into a draft account that functions like an interest-bearing checking account. You can withdraw money as needed, or write yourself a check for the full amount. 
  • High coverage amounts available: While some companies have coverage maximums of $500,000 or less, West Coast Life and Protective Life have high coverage limits. If you meet their underwriting criteria, you can qualify for up to $50 million in coverage. 
  • Relatively low number of complaints: Based on its market share, West Coast Life received fewer consumer complaints than expected for its size. 

Cons Explained

  • Cannot apply for a policy directly from West Coast Life: You cannot apply for a policy directly from West Coast Life. Instead, you have to apply for coverage through Protective Life. Depending on what insurance options you choose and your location, your policy may be issued by West Coast Life or another of Protective Life’s subsidiaries. 
  • Online quotes not available for most policies: Through the Protective Life website, you can get quotes for term life insurance. However, customers interested in whole or universal life policies will have to contact an agent for a quote. 
  • All policies require a medical exam: Many other life insurance companies offer simplified underwriting, allowing customers to get coverage without undergoing a medical exam. With West Coast Life, that isn’t an option; all policies require medical exams. 

Available Plans

West Coast Life has several different insurance plans to choose from, including term, whole, and universal life policies. You have to answer health questions and go to a medical exam to get coverage, but you can get quotes for term life insurance online. 

Term Life

The most affordable type of life insurance, term life policies provide you with temporary coverage. With West Coast Life, you can choose a term between 10 and 40 years. If you pass away during the covered term, your beneficiaries will receive a lump-sum death benefit. However, they don’t receive anything if you pass away after the coverage period. 

Universal Life

Universal life policies are a form of permanent life insurance, meaning they last for your lifetime. Universal life insurance plans combine a death benefit with an investment element, giving you the potential for more cash value. Policyholders can also adjust their premiums or death benefit if their finances change. 

Whole Life

Whole life insurance provides permanent coverage for your lifetime as long as you pay your premiums on time. Unlike term policies, whole life insurance plans can also accumulate cash value in addition to the policy’s death benefit. 

Available Riders

Like most insurance companies, West Coast Life allows you to add optional insurance riders to your policy to adjust or enhance your coverage. The following benefits and riders are available: 

Accidental Death Benefit

If the covered person dies as a result of a covered accident, the beneficiaries will receive an additional benefit. 

Children’s Term Insurance

When you purchase a policy, you can also get term life insurance for your child. You can get coverage for multiple children at once with this rider. 

Immediate Benefit Account

When someone dies and you’re the beneficiary of their insurance policy, figuring out what to do with the money can be overwhelming, and you might feel pressured to take action right away. 

The Immediate Benefit Account from West Coast Life is designed to relieve those stressors. Instead of issuing the death benefit to you in a lump-sum payment, West Coast life deposits the money into a draft account where it can earn interest. 

You can withdraw money from the account to pay for burial and living expenses as needed, or leave it untouched while you come up with a plan. You can also write yourself a check for the full amount if you’d like to move the money over to your primary bank account. 

Terminal Illness Benefit

With the terminal illness benefit, you can receive a portion of your death benefit while you are still living to pay for your medical care, living expenses, or other needs. 

Customer Service

If you have questions about policies or rates, you must contact Protective Life rather than West Coast Life. To reach customer service, call 844-733-5433. 

Once you have a policy, you can use the online portal to manage your account. You can make payments, update your policy, and change your beneficiaries online. 

Complaint Index

When picking an insurance company, pay attention to its reputation and customer service. An excellent way to compare companies is to look at the complaint ratios issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC collects all complaints submitted by consumers about insurance companies and releases complaint ratios, a number that reflects how many complaints a company had relative to its size. 

The industry standard is 1.0. If a company has a ratio above 1.0, they received more complaints than is typical. If a company’s ratio is below 1.0, they had fewer complaints than expected. 

In 2019, West Coast Life’s complaint ratio was 0.70, better than the national complaint index. 

Note

For the past three years, West Coast Life has consistently had complaint ratios below 1.0, indicating that it receives few complaints from customers.

Third-Party Ratings

Both West Coast Life and Protective Life Corporation have strong reputations in the insurance industry. 

AM Best, a credit rating agency that is primarily focused on the insurance industry, gave West Coast Life an A+ (Superior) rating, indicating that the company is financially stable and will likely be able to meet its policy and contractual obligations. 

In the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, Protective Life—the parent company of West Coast Life—was ranked 13th out of 24 insurance companies with a rating slightly below the industry average. The study evaluated companies’ policy options, pricing, and customer service. 

Cancellation Policy

With West Coast Life, you are entitled to a 10-day free look period. During the free look period, you can review your plan documents and cancel without penalty. 

Once the free look period comes to a close, West Coast Life’s cancellation policy is dependent on the type of plan you have. With term life, you can cancel at any time without penalty, but you won’t receive a refund of premiums paid. 

With whole or universal life policies, there may be fees that affect your surrender cash value. Review your contract carefully before signing to ensure you’re aware of the company’s fees and policies. 

To cancel your policy, contact your insurance agent or call 844-733-5433

Pricing

According to the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, West Coast Life’s pricing is about average. 

While you cannot get quotes online for whole or universal life policies, you can get quotes for term life coverage. 

Below are quotes for $500,000 term life policies for healthy individuals who are 30 years old.

Term Monthly Premium for a Woman Monthly Premium for a Man
10 Years $12.53 $14.02
20 Years $16.80 $19.86
30 Years $26.58 $30.12
40 Years $40.33 $54.90

Like other insurance companies, West Coast Life requires you to select either “male” or “female” when you apply for life insurance online or over the phone—a common practice for life insurance companies. Being nonbinary will not disqualify you from getting insurance, but you should know that most insurance companies haven’t updated their processes to reflect a current awareness of gender issues and aren’t as inclusive with their application processes. 

Competition: West Coast Life vs. Prudential

As a subsidiary of Protective Life Corporation, West Coast Life is a leading provider of life insurance. But how does it measure up to Prudential, our choice as the best overall life insurance company? 

Prudential has more plan options than West Coast Life, offering multiple term, universal, indexed universal, and variable universal products. Prudential has more rider options than West Coast Life, allowing for more customization of your policy. 

Customers can consult with financial professionals before purchasing life insurance, adding another layer of service.

   West Coast Life  Prudential
Market Share 0.3% Fifth-largest in the U.S., 4.6%
Number of Plans 3 11
Dividends for 2020 Not applicable Not announced
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives Not applicable Not applicable
Service Method Agent, online Financial professional, online
AM Best Rating A+ (Superior) A+ (Superior)
Price Rank About Average About Average
Complaints Trend 0.70 2.51
Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a substantial amount of coverage to provide for your family when you’re gone, West Coast Life may be for you. Offering up to $50 million in coverage, you can purchase term, whole, or universal life policies. 

However, you cannot purchase directly from West Coast Life. Instead, you have to go through Protective Life Corporation, and all policies require a medical exam. 

If you want to purchase policies online—and skip the medical exam—you’ll have to work with another insurance company.

How We Review Life Insurance Companies

Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative life insurance review methodology that analyzes each insurer on its 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. 

Article Sources

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  1. NAIC. "West Coast Life Insurance Co. - Licensing Report." Accessed February 28, 2021. 

  2. NAIC. "West Coast Life Insurance Co. - Complaint Index." Accessed February 28, 2021. 

  3. AM Best. "West Coast Life Insurance Company." Accessed February 28, 2021. 

  4. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed February 28, 2021.