William Penn Life Insurance Review

Impressive term life coverage, with high policy limits and term periods

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Legal & General

 Legal & General

Our Take

William Penn Life Insurance is a great choice for New York residents who are shopping for term life insurance. The company offers generous coverage limits and a variety of term lengths. Additionally, the company has an efficient claims-handling process, with payouts in just one business day.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Variety of term life policies offered

  • Online quotes for certain policies

  • Fast claim processing and payouts

  • Great third-party ratings

Cons
  • Only available in New York

  • No whole life insurance

  • Few riders available

Key Takeaways
  • William Penn Life Insurance sells coverage through Legal & General in New York.
  • The company only sells term life and universal life insurance coverage, and every policy requires a medical exam.
  • William Penn is known for its term life policies, which include high coverage limits and term lengths ranging from 15 to 40 years.
  • There is just a handful of riders available if you want to customize your policy.
Company Overview

William Penn Life Insurance operates as a subsidiary of Legal & General America and was acquired by the Legal & General Group in 1989. Together with Banner Life Insurance, William Penn sells life insurance under the Legal & General brand name. Today, Legal & General insures more than 1.5 million people around the country and has $782 billion of coverage in force.

To purchase a life insurance policy that is underwritten by William Penn, you’ll need to go through Legal & General. However, coverage from William Penn is only available in New York. You can get a quote for term life insurance online, but if you want permanent insurance, you'll have to contact an agent.

Geographical Restrictions

William Penn exclusively provides life insurance to residents of New York State. If you live outside New York and want to buy coverage from Legal & General, your policy will be underwritten by Banner Life, which is licensed in the other 49 states and Washington, D.C.

  • Year Founded 1963 (founded as Modern Life Insurance Company, and rebranded to William Penn in 1975)
  • Kinds of Plans Term, universal life
  • Number of Plans 2
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually
  • Customer Service Phone: (800) 346-4773; Email: customerservice@wpenn.com
  • Official Website www.lgamerica.com

William Penn 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

  • Variety of term lengths offered: William Penn’s term life insurance policies are available in term lengths of 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years, which is more options than most insurers offer.
  • Online quotes for certain policies: You can get an instant term life insurance quote from William Penn by visiting the Legal & General website.
  • Fast claim processing and payouts: William Penn will pay approved life insurance claims within one business day, and in 2018, 99.9% of claims were approved.
  • Great third-party ratings: William Penn has impressive third-party ratings, with few complaints and excellent financial strength.

Cons Explained

  • Only available in New York: William Penn exclusively sells life insurance coverage in New York through its parent company Legal & General.
  • No whole life insurance: William Penn doesn’t sell whole life insurance, which may be a downside for some insurance shoppers.
  • Few riders available: The company only has three riders available, which is far fewer than many other insurers offer.

Available Plans

William Penn Life Insurance offers two types of life insurance to New York residents through Legal & General. The company is owned by shareholders, and because of that, policyholders don’t have the opportunity to receive annual dividends. Here are the policies available:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance from William Penn is available in term lengths of 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, or 40 years. It has level premiums, a guaranteed death benefit between $100,000 and $10 million, and coverage is available up to age 95, as long as the policy remains active. You can apply for a term life insurance quote online through the Legal & General website. However, you will be required to take a medical exam before your policy can be approved.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance offers lifetime protection starting the day your policy takes effect. This policy has flexible premiums, an adjustable death benefit, and a cash value component. William Penn’s universal life insurance policy has guaranteed coverage until age 121. As your cash value grows, you have the option to change the frequency or amount of your premiums. You can also withdraw money from your cash value and use it like a personal loan.

Borrowing money from your life insurance cash value fund will decrease the death benefit, unless you repay the loan in full.

Available Riders

Life insurance riders are optional coverages that you can add to your policy for additional protection. William Penn only offers a handful of riders. Some riders are only available for term life insurance policies, while others can only be added to permanent coverage policies.

Accelerated Death Benefit Rider 

Every life insurance policy from William Penn includes a free accelerated death benefit rider, which allows you to pull money out of your death benefit to pay for end-of-life costs if you get diagnosed with a qualifying terminal illness and have less than one year to live.

Term Life Insurance Rider

A term life insurance rider can only be added to a term life insurance policy. It provides an additional death benefit on top of your existing coverage during certain periods of time. You can add a term rider to your policy for 10, 15, or 20 years.

Children's Life Insurance Rider

The children’s life insurance rider can only be added to a William Penn term life insurance policy. This rider will pay an additional death benefit if one of your children under the age of 25 passes away during the coverage period.

Customer Service

William Penn Life Insurance has standard customer service options. You can call the company toll free at (800) 346-4773 or you can call the direct line, which is (516) 794-3700. Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. EST. If email is more convenient, you can send your message to customerservice@wpenn.com.

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) gives every licensed insurance company a score based on the number of complaints it has relative to its market share. The database, called the Complaint Index, tracks customer complaints regarding issues around claim payouts, policy cancellations, premiums, and customer service.

William Penn Life Insurance has fewer than average complaints, with a score of 0.40. For comparison, the industry average score is 1.0. As of 2020, the company had two recorded complaints, and it maintained a better-than-average complaint score in 2019 and 2018, as well.

Large life insurance companies typically have the highest number of complaints. Because William Penn is a smaller underwriter that only serves one state, it’s not surprising that the company has few complaints.

Third-Party Ratings

When comparing life insurance providers, looking at third-party ratings can give you a good sense of a company’s financial stability and customer satisfaction. But because William Penn is a smaller company, it only has a few ratings available. 

William Penn’s parent company Legal & General has an A+ rating from AM Best, which indicates superior financial strength. It shows that the company is unlikely to file for bankruptcy, go out of business, or become unable to compensate beneficiaries after a claim. 

One of the most notable rating organizations is J.D. Power, which publishes an annual study that scores the largest life insurance providers based on overall customer satisfaction. Neither William Penn nor Legal & General were included in the 2020 report.

Cancellation Policy

Most life insurance companies will allow you to cancel your policy at any time. If you have term life coverage, you can formally cancel by contacting an agent, or you can simply stop paying the premium. Your coverage will end after the last payment. Because term life insurance doesn’t build cash value, you won’t receive any money back from the insurance company.

If you have a permanent life insurance policy, the cancellation process is different. Usually, there are surrender charges you must pay depending on how long your policy has been in force. Once the cancellation process is complete and your coverage ends, you’ll receive a check for your policy’s unused cash value, minus the surrender fees.

Price

The cost of life insurance is different for everyone. It depends on a variety of factors, including your age, your overall health, whether you smoke, the type of policy you buy, and the amount of coverage you want.

Overall, life insurance from William Penn is pretty affordable. According to the website, term life policies start at just $7 per month. Here are some of the sample quotes for term life insurance that William Penn advertises online. Just keep in mind that these rates don’t specify age, gender, or health condition.

Term length Monthly premium Annual premium
10 years $11.90 $139.99
20 years  $12.30  $144.72 
30 years  $17.49 $205.74 
40 years  $24.89  $292.88 

One of the other factors that impacts life insurance premiums is your gender. Men often pay slightly higher premiums because data shows they have a shorter average life expectancy than women. Being non-binary won’t affect your ability to get life insurance, but most insurance companies will rate you based on your birth gender. 

If you identify as non-binary or transgender, we recommend reaching out to William Penn to learn more about their underwriting practices, as each insurance company has a different policy. 

Competition

William Penn is a great life insurance company in many ways, but it does have some drawbacks. Mainly, the company only offers a few types of coverage, fairly average riders, and hardly any online tools or resources. Plus, it has a limited geographical footprint, with policies written only in New York. 

As a better alternative, we suggest looking into Prudential. The company offers great term life insurance, plus a variety of unique universal life insurance policies. Like William Penn, Prudential doesn’t offer whole life or final expense insurance, but it does offer a much wider selection of riders.

Another thing we like about Prudential is the online tools it offers. If you’re not sure which type of policy is best for you, Prudential has helpful comparison tables and quizzes, as well as a detailed "Life Insurance 101" blog with valuable articles about how life insurance works and how to buy coverage.

  William Penn Life Insurance Prudential Life Insurance
Market Share N/A Fourth-largest in the U.S., 5.80% of the market share
Number of Plans 11 
Dividends for 2020  Not applicable  Not applicable
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Service Method  Agents  Financial advisors and agents 
AM Best Rating  A+  A+ 
Price Rank  More affordable than most  About average 
Complaint Index 0.40 (below average)  0.98 (below average) 
Final Verdict

Based on our evaluation, William Penn is a solidly reliable life insurance company, particularly if you’re in the market for a term life policy in New York. William Penn offers term life insurance with coverage limits up to $10 million and terms up to 40 years. You can also get an instant quote online. The biggest downside to this company is that it doesn’t offer whole life insurance or policies without a medical exam.

Methodology

Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative 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. "William Penn Life Ins Co Of NY National Complaint Index Report." Accessed June 4, 2021.

  2. AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Legal & General Group Plc and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed June 4, 2021.