All About Life Insurance Companies

There are countless term insurance life insurance companies. As someone who’s been a life insurance professional for more than 20 years, I can honestly say that the best term life insurance companies, the top rated term life insurance companies, and the best rated term life insurance companies are very similar. It’s not to say they are all exactly alike but they are usually similar. To compare term life insurance companies is really a matter of what’s important to prospective insurance client.

Your priority

My experience has been that what most people are concerned with when it comes to term insurance is what it will cost them.

Clearly some term life insurance companies are more highly rated by companies such as A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor.

Some of the factors that determine a company’s rating are:

  • Financial strength
  • Financial stability
  • Ability to pay claims
  • Claims paying expediency

If any of these factors, among the others that are used, are important to you when you compare term life insurance companies, how important are these factors to you in comparison to price?

What if one company is considered one of the best term life insurance companies in the industry but the premium cost is double that for the same amount of coverage by one that is not considered one of the best rated term life insurance companies?

What’s your priority?

Ratings

Similar to being in school, term life insurance companies and all insurance companies are rated on an A-F basis.

Seems easy to understand, right?

Did you know that and “A” rated company can be rated anywhere from A++ to A-?

Did you know that different ratings companies, including those mentioned above use different criteria to determine ratings?

Did you know that an insurance company can be rated differently by the different ratings companies?

If an insurer receives a favorable rating from one rating company and a less favorable one from another rating company, which one do you think they’re going to make sure you’re aware of?

Underwriting

Insurance companies use the term underwriting to determine who pays how much for what. Different companies have different underwriting guidelines. Its name literally means that someone in the company places a signature on the policy saying a particular person meets the company’s underwriting guidelines.

There are three main methods used for underwriting life insurance policies:

  • Fully underwritten-most common-may involve medical exam (blood/urine specimen/attending physician statement).
  • Simplified issue-less common-no medical exam-decision regarding issue usually swift
  • Guaranteed issue-anyone who applies and meets certain conditions is guaranteed that a policy will be issued-(includes accidental death insurance and graded death benefit policies)

There are also different underwriting classifications. The most common:

  • Preferred-best rates
  • Standard-most common
  • Sub-standard, also known as rated or table

Some companies subdivide the classifications. For example:

  • Super preferred
  • Ultra preferred
  • Standard plus

Table can be in the form of a number (usually 1-6) or a letter (usually A-G) – the higher the number or letter, the higher the premium.

Convertibility

Some companies allow for conversion of a term policy to a permanent policy at a later date without proving insurability.

Other companies allow for conversion but require proof of insurability.

Some companies do not offer convertibility at all.

If convertibility is offered, it is often within certain time limits.

If you’re sure you want term and nothing else, then this is not something you need to consider.

Price

The main factors that affect price:

1. Health

2. Age

3. Life style

They are numbered as such because that is generally the order of priority companies use to classify prospective clients.

Poor health can and will exclude someone regardless of age and lifestyle and no amount of money will buy insurance. On the other hand excellent health can go a long way in reducing premiums.

A person’s age is the next factor. The age is compared to mortality rates. Different companies have different charts for mortality rates.

Another way to describe mortality rate is how many years someone of their age is away from death.

Statistically speaking, insurance companies know pretty accurately how many people of a certain age will die before their next birthday.

Life style is the third factor. The most common consideration is whether someone smokes but there are others as well, such as what someone does for a living. Certain professions are more hazardous than others.

A person’s hobbies have an effect as well. Sky diving, and speed racing are often frowned upon, and may not result in denial of coverage, but could result in higher premiums.

Regardless of all factors, female rates are nearly always lower than male rates.

Fully underwritten vs. simplified issue vs. guaranteed issue

All things being equal, fully underwritten is going to result in the best priced premium. However, often times all things are not equal.

Are you sure your health is as good as you think it is or is it possible a blood/urine sample, saliva swab, or doctor’s report could reveal something you’re not aware of, or if you’re not the most ethical person, perhaps something you simply don’t want to reveal?

A fully underwritten policy takes much more into consideration when determining rating class and price than a simplified issue policy.

Depending on your point of view, that can be an advantage or a disadvantage.

Assuming you’re being honest and there’s not already information reported about you to the medical information bureau (MIB), your chances of a policy being issued as applied for are as high as 9 out of 10 if you apply for a simplified issue policy.

On the other hand, there is about a 60% chance you will not qualify for a fully underwritten policy as applied for.

A guaranteed issue policy will definitely be issued. You will know if you qualify before actually signing the application. It’s either yes or no. However because it’s guaranteed, the price is usually much higher, unless it is a conditional policy such as an accidental death policy.

Conclusion

Unless you know the ropes and/or can take the time to weigh all the factors when comparing term life insurance companies, an experienced professional can steer you the best term life insurance companies for you to consider.

Having said that, if you want to be absolutely sure that you’ll get the insurance you want, it’s best to buy a guaranteed issue policy.

If you’re pretty sure you’re in good health but don’t want to go to the trouble of a medical exam or paramedical exam (blood/urine), or you don’t want to reveal certain matters that could affect your ability to obtain insurance, you should consider a simplified issue policy.

Once you qualify for a policy, assuming no fraud is involved, the only one who can cancel the policy once it’s been issued is you. The insurance company cannot cancel you as long as the premiums are paid.

Perhaps it makes sense to apply for a guaranteed or simplified issue policy first. Once issued then shop for the best price and/or the best rated term life insurance companies.

 

Tax Saving on Life Insurance

As a well-aware, net savvy professional, you must be conscious of the need of the life insurance coverage you require to secure your family’s financial life. Today, the provisions of the Income Tax Act offer you provisions under which you can buy life insurance coverage, generate returns and save on tax too.

A large number of people today research for insurance plans online and zero-in on a life insurance plan which is providing best returns, at present. Is that the right approach? Well, it is okay to research and come to know about the best possible life insurance plan.

But, here is the trap. Many people just put all of the insurance money into one single policy. Some insurance agents can urge you to do this. They can show you an online account of one of their clients who has generated returns to the tune of Rs 25-40 per cent in a year. Beware – these are mostly fake accounts which are used to dupe customers. Unfortunately, many insurance buyers fall into this trap.

People buy life insurance policies with a premium amount of as much as Rs 1 -1.5 lakh and then expect that this will bring great returns to them.

It is not advisable at all. You must spread your risks and get different types of policies. Since section 80C of the Income Tax Act provides for tax deductions of up to Rs 1.5 lakh, you can easily buy multiple policies. Here are some useful tips to diversify your insurance investments.

Get a mix of public and private sector insurance companies: Public sector insurance companies are known for their good claim settlement ratios. At the same time, they have a notorious image of producing very low rates of returns. Do not be surprised if an LIC policy gets less than 4-5 per cent returns in a year. Assuming that you are a young professional in the age between 25-40 years, you can buy a policy of not more than 25 per cent of your total insurance corpus.

Prefer leading private sector life insurance companies like HDFC Life, ICICI Prudential, Reliance Life, etc. These companies offer Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs), which can fulfil your need for financial growth.

Select your funds carefully: If you have decided to invest in ULIPs, good. But that is half job done. Under ULIPs, you have to select funds. An insurance company can suggest you default allocation of funds but you can always apply your mind to it.

Broadly, insurance companies have funds which invest in equity markets and debt instruments. Within these two categories, you have several options. Equity based funds generally have blue chip funds, mid cap funds, so on and so forth. Debt funds invest in bonds and government securities, which offer very low returns but do not carry any risks.

There is also a Balanced Fund under which you funds are equally invested in equity and debt markets. Thus, you have three different options to optimise your insurance portfolio returns.

If you have a traditional life insurance policy from a public sector undertaking, you must prefer minimum allocation to bond funds. You can allocate some 5 per cent in bonds and rest in equity based funds.

You can go for a mix of blue chip and mid cap funds. This strategy automatically balances your risks and generates superior returns in the long run.

Buy the policy online: Today, most life insurance companies offer online buying option. What is the advantage? There are several advantages. First, if you buy online insurance, the insurance company does not have to pay commission to sales agent. Thus, you will have an indirect saving since the life insurance company will be able to invest this amount on your behalf.

In the long run, you will realise that your friends who bought the same policy from an insurance agent is generating lesser returns than the one you bought online. Yes, do not be surprised. It is a market reality.

There are thousands of such cases where insurance companies have to shell out commissions in the range of 10-40 per cent. Naturally, this commission is paid out from the premium you pay. The returns are bound to be low in this case because the insurance company will invest less amount and allocate more funds in the name of expenditure.

Therefore, you must buy life insurance online. If you are facing any issues or have any queries with regards to the plan, you can consult their customer care centres through a telephonic call or online chat.

Even in the worst case situation, there is a free-look period of around 15 days you receive the policy. If you are not satisfied with any of the features, you can return the policy to the company.

 

The Options Of Life Insurance for You

Life insurance in the UK is becoming more and more popular with many people now realizing the importance and the benefits of a good life insurance policy. There are two main types of popular life insurance, both of which offer a range of invaluable benefits to UK consumers.

Level Term Life Insurance

Level term life insurance is the most popular type of life insurance policy with UK consumers, and this may be because it is also the cheapest form of insurance. With level term insurance, you and your family can enjoy peace of mind at an affordable price. If you die during the term of this insurance policy, your family will receive a lump sum payment, which can help to cover a number of costs as well as provide some degree of financial security at what will inevitably be a difficult time. The money could assist with costs such as:

  • Mortgage repayments
  • Funeral costs
  • Education costs for the children
  • Day-to-day living

One of the reasons that level term life insurance is a fair bit cheaper than other life insurance is because the insurer only has to make a payment if the insured party passes away, and even then the insured party has to die during the term of the policy for the next of kin (or the named beneficiary) to be eligible for a payout. One of the great things about levels term insurance is that you can benefit from cover for just a few pounds each week, and because the payments remain the same throughout the term of the policy, you’ll never have to worry about rising payments.

The reason why a level term insurance policy is so called is because the repayment remain level throughout the term of the policy, so you will never have to worry about the cost of your policy rising. The policy is also taken over a fixed term, which is where the ‘term’ part of the policy comes in. This means that you can enjoy easy budgeting and low cost repayments, and you’ll know exactly how long you will be making payment for. On the downside, once the policy expires you will not be able to reclaim any money and the policy will be cancelled, so you will then need to look at taking out alternative life insurance cover.

The average term of a level term life insurance policy – unless otherwise specified – is fifteen years. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the cost of the policy such as whether you go for the most basic package or whether you include a bolt-on such as critical illness cover, whether you are a smoker, your general health, and the term over which you take the policy out.

Whole Life Insurance

Unlike level term life insurance, whole life cover offers a guaranteed payout, which to many people makes it better value for money in the long run. Although the repayments on this type of cover are more expensive than level term insurance, the insurer will make pay out whenever the insured party passes away, so the higher monthly payments will guarantee a payout at some point.

There are a number of different types of whole life insurance policies, and consumers can select the one that best fits their needs and their budget. As with other insurance policies, you can tailor-make your whole life insurance cover to include additional cover such as critical illness insurance. The variations on whole life insurance cover include:

Non-profit UK whole life insurance policies: This is the simplest form of whole life cover, and enables you to enjoy the convenience of level payments through the term of the policy until you die. Upon death, your family received a payout and the policy becomes null and void. If you want to pay a little extra, you can take out a policy that is fixed over a specified term, which means that you will only be making payments for a certain amount of time, but your family will still receive a payout when you die.

With-profit UK whole life insurance: This is a cover and investment type scheme, where your monthly payments are split between your cover premiums and the investment side of your policy. You will enjoy a guaranteed assured sum, and you may find that your insurer adds discretionary bonuses.

Low cost UK whole life insurance: One of the cheapest forms of whole life cover, this type of policy features a decreasing term plan, and the policy is combined with a profits fund. As bonuses are added to the profit side of the policy, the policy term decreases. This provides a cost effective solution for those that want to enjoy the benefits of whole life insurance cover without having to make high monthly payments.

Unitised UK whole life insurance policy: When you purchase this type of whole life cover, you will also be investing in with-profit units. This means that when the insurer makes a payout, the sum awarded will be dependent upon the value of the units in comparison to the value of the death benefit (the payout will be based upon whichever is the highest in value). Each month units are cancelled in order to increase levels of death benefit cover, with reviews carried out from time to time to ensure adequate levels of death benefit cover.

Summary

Both level term insurance policies and whole life policies offer valuable peace of mind to policyholders. The cost of this type of life cover is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with being protected, and you can increase this peace of mind by adding extras such as critical illness to your policy for just a small extra fee.

As a nation, we like to insure just about everything we can…our cars, our homes, our belongings, our pets, and even our credit repayments. It therefore makes sense that we should insure the most important thing of all – our lives.

 

How To Keep Your Insurance

An all-too-common occurrence for life insurance policy holders is one in which someone purchased a life insurance policy several years ago, they have been paying premiums faithfully, and they unexpectedly receive a Lapse Notice. The Notice states, “… your premium is not enough to cover the policy expenses, please submit (a lot more) money to keep your valuable coverage.”

You’ll probably look to the insurer or agent for help. Here are some things you should consider to maintain your valuable coverage.

Often the policy owner thinks of life insurance the same way they think of auto insurance. They receive a premium notice, they pay the premium amount stated on the notice, and they believe they have met their requirement to secure the coverage. What they don’t realize is that with life insurance plans, such as universal life, indexed life, whole life and variable life, the premium is not the same as the cost.

Premium is what you pay to the insurance company. The policy fees are the cost of the coverage.

With these policies as the insured gets older the life insurance policy costs more. This is where the trouble usually happens. At some point in time, and often unbeknownst to the policy owner, the policy expenses exceed the premium being paid. This triggers a feature in the policy which allows the insurer to take money from the policy’s cash value, without having to notify the policy owner, to make-up any shortage of policy expenses. As this event occurs every month, the life insurance policy will be depleted of its cash value and move towards a lapse.

Before a life insurance policy lapse, the insurer is obligated to mail a lapse notice which allows the policy owner 31 days to pay enough premium to cover one month’s worth of expenses. The problem however, is that the expenses will typically have greatly exceeded the amount of premium the owner had been paying.

It’s common for the new premium to be three or four, or even more, times as much as they had been paying. This can put the cost of coverage out of their financial reach. The increase in premiums may not be justified, and a life insurance expert should evaluate the policy to determine if you’re being over-charged.

One thing you can do to make sure you aren’t caught off guard by increasing policy fees, and lose your valuable coverage, is to review your policy with an agent every year. In this meeting you should bring a recent Annual Statement for the policy and the agent should bring in-force illustrations. These are the tools that will best inform you of the policy’s expenses and where your premium amounts should be set for the year.

If you’ve received a lapse notice for your life insurance policy, here are a few things you can do:

1. Lower the death benefit to an affordable amount. The lower the death benefit the lower the premium will be.

2. Ask the insurer for the cost to keep the policy in-force to an age less than maturity. In other words, a universal life insurance policy, as one example, will stay in-force until the insured’s age 100. Fees are set based on this age assumption — 100. If you tell the insurer you only want the policy to stay in-force to age 86 (for example), the premium required will be less.

3. Ask the insurer if they offer a less expensive insurance product that you can exchange your policy for.

4. Get the assistance of a qualified agent to help you understand and make decisions about your policy.

5. Have a life insurance analyst review the policy, past payments and future payments to determine if you’re being over-charged for the coverage.