Banner Life Insurance Company Review 2017

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Banner Life Insurance and William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York are the companies that underwrite and issue life insurance policies under the Legal & General brand. Banner’s philosophy is simple and to the point: They believe life insurance is the most important purchase of your life, and they are committed to being here and to stay financially strong so they can be around when you need them most. Banner’s life insurance products are sold through independent agents and brokers.

Who is Legal & General America?

Banner’s parent company, Legal & General Group, formed Legal & General America as a holding corporation in 1981 and bought Government Employees Life Insurance Company (GELICO) and its NY affiliate. Legal & General Group was founded in 1836 in London and has operations in Europe, North America, and Asia.

In 1983 the GELICO name was changed to Banner. Legal & General Group also purchased William Penn in 1989. While Banner and William Penn remain the companies that underwrite and process the life insurance policies, they market under a single name, Legal & General America.

Legal & General America Financial Ratings

Legal & General Group is the 7th largest insurance company in the world with over 10 Million world wide policyholders and over 1 trillion in managed assets. If you are worried about Banner’s ability to pay claims, you have nothing to worry about.

What Products Do They Offer?

Banner offers annuities, term life insurance and universal life insurance. Let’s take a look at each product’s specification, rates, and it’s competitiveness in the marketplace.

OPTerm Product by Banner

Term life insurance is a policy that offers a coverage for a specific length. It ranges from 1-30 years with the 20-year mark as the most common term. A term policy is considered to be more economical when compared to a whole life insurance.

Banner offers OPTterm 10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, and 30 -year policies. OPTerm is just their brand name for a term policy, and the 10, 15, 20 etc. is the term contract length. The longer the term, the more expensive it is.

OPTterm policies are renewable and convertible life insurance which provide a level premium and a level death benefit for the chosen contract term. Having a level premium and benefit mean that they will never increase or decrease for the term of your policy, they will always remain the same.

What is a Convertible Life Insurance Policy?

A convertible policy allows the policyholder to convert his or her term policy to a permanent one without going through underwriting again, or showing any health documentation. Not all term life insurance policies have this option.

Banner offers the option to convert for the duration of the term contract period, or up to age 70 years, whichever comes first. The coverage expiration for Banner is age 95, which means that if you chose NOT to convert your term policy, you could renew your policy every year after the guaranteed term has passed, up to the age of 95. This is not typically recommended because this would be a very expensive option. Every year after your term ends, you will see an increase in your rates.

Life Step UL (Universal Life)

Universal life insurance is a permanent life insurance which offers a cash value benefit and doesn’t have an expiration date. UL gives you, the policyholder, the flexibility to choose a premium payment period, coverage amounts, and coverage duration.

Life Step by Banner can be used for face amounts as low as $50,000.

Policy Features

Banner offers 6 benefits and features that bring peace of mind:

  1. Waiver of Premium – This is a rider that provides a clause in the policy which stops the premium payment if you get a diagnosis of any long term illness or injury wherein you become disabled. Your coverage will continue and Banner will waive all premiums during that period.
  2. Policy Conversion – This allows you to convert your existing term life policy to a permanent universal life policy. You will not need to go through any exam or underwriting, even if your health has changed. This policy will be issued at the same underwriting class you received when you first bought your term policy.
  3. Flexible Payment Schedule – Policy premiums can be paid annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly.
  4. Term Rider – An additional rider that provides temporary coverage shorter than the base policy. For example, you have a base 30-year term policy that you can add 20-year coverage to in order to cover a mortgage payoff. It’s a great way to get the right coverage for the right amount of time, which prevents being over- or under-insured.
  5. Accelerated Death Benefit Rider – Terminal illness are unfortunate, but in reality do happen. The death benefits can be paid prior to the death of the insured if they are facing a terminal illness. The max amount is $500,000 or 75% of the policy face amount value.
  6. Children’s Rider – The rider provides coverage for children. The rider covers a child up to the age of 25, up to the policyholder’s 65th birthday, or up to the termination of the policy.

Appcelerate

Appcelerate is Banner’s automated underwriting process for qualified applicants who meet a certain threshold. It means that no medical exam or APS (attending physician statements) is required.

The good news is that the rates are the same as for the regular underwritten plans. Those who are not qualified for Appcelerate, will continue with the full underwritten plan. If you know a little about no-exam policies, you are aware that they do usually cost more, but not with Banner. If you qualify, you could get a policy in a few hours or days.

Legal and General APPcelerate Benefits:

  • Same great OPTerm rates.
  • No medical exam, labs or APS.
  • Face amounts $100,000 – $500,000.
  • Issue ages 20-50.
  • Underwriting Classes: Preferred Plus, Preferred and Standard.

OPTerm 25 Exchange Program

At the time of this article (Feb. 2017), Banner and William Penn offer the OPTerm 25 Exchange Program, to allow current clients who bought life insurance OPTerm 10, 15 or 20 within the past 4 years to move to another OPTerm 25 as a policy replacement, without any evidence of insurability or a medical exam.

Underwriting Strength

This is probably the part where Banner is standing out the most from the other insurance companies in the market. Banner is known for leniency with regards to high-risk clients, such as diabetics, those who are overweight, or those with high cholesterol, for example. Their philosophy when it comes to underwriting is “we underwrite the entire INDIVIDUAL, not just the impairment.” Let’s take a look at few conditions where Banner shines:

Preferred or Standard Rates May be Possible with the Following Conditions:

  • Anxiety/Depression/Mood Disorder – one episode, less than one year, no current medications.
  • Asthma – Mild or seasonal asthma.
  • Skin Cancers – Well documented APS report for basal cell carcinoma, and super cial squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Osteoporosis – No known complications.
  • Cholesterol – 120-300, with or without treatment, ratio should not exceed 4.5.
  • Build – A 5’ 11” male can weigh 201 lbs.
  • Blood Pressure – well-controlled with or without treatment. Average reading in the past 2 years not greater than 136/86.
  • Family History – Cancer is no longer a factor in preventing a preferred table rating. With most insurance carriers, if someone in your close family died before the age of 60 from cancer or a heart disease-related issue, you would be rated higher because you may have inherited the same genes, and therefore pose a higher risk to the insurance company.
  • Former cigarette smokers – 3 years out, while most carriers are 5 years.
  • Type II Diabetes – Controlled diabetics can qualify for a standard plus rating, while other carriers it would be standard or table B.

Impaired Risk Underwriting Conditions

Banner will underwrite the following conditions, while some carriers will deny issuing the policy:

  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Bladder cancer.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Cerebrovascular disease.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Diabetes mellitus (adult onset).
  • Elevated liver function tests.
  • Hepatitis C.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Prostate cancer.
  • Thyroid cancers.

Banner vs Other Carriers Sample Rates

Male 20-year Term $250,000

CompanyAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
 Lincoln $12.69 $17.50 $41.78 $190.53
 Protective $13.22 $17.91 $41.96 $112.86
 AIG $13.54 $19.38 $42.73 $114.74
 Banner $13.78 $18.87 $42.66 $114.16
 Mutual of Omaha $14.18 $20.08 $46.55 $134.05
 North American $14.30 $20.02 $43.56 $115.06
 Principle $14.66 $19.25 $43.09 $111.56
 Transamerica $14.41 $22.79 $51.17 $114.17
 Assurity $15.88 $28.93 $68.51 $176.61
 Prudential $20.93 $25.65 $48.15 $135

Female 20-year Term $250,000

CompanyAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
 Lincoln $11.16 $14.87 $31.72 $160.13
 Protective $11.95 $15.44 $31.67 $78.54
 AIG $12.02 $18.51 $35.59 $89.66
 Banner $12.03 $15.75 $32.21 $81.16
 Mutual of Omaha $12.64 $17.46 $36.05 $94.02
 North American $12.76 $16.94 $34.10 $81.84
 Principle $13.30 $17.06 $32.90 $77.92
 Transamerica $12.90 $18.92 $35.69 $92.45
 Assurity $13.05 $23.71 $53.51 $137.68
 Prudential $17.77 $23.18 $42.30 $94.73

Male 20-year Term $500,000

CompanyAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
 Lincoln $20.13 $28.87 $77.83 $214.33
 Protective $20.38 $28.92 $76.86 $207.96
 AIG $21.11 $31.05 $78.20 $213.57
 Banner $20.96 $32.37 $78.18 $213.27
 Mutual of Omaha $21.61 $33.42 $85.49 $249.55
 North American $22.44 $33.44 $79.20 $218.68
 Principle $22.75 $31.94 $79.63 $216.56
 Transamerica $22.36 $38.27 $92.45 $212.42
 Assurity $25.67 $51.76 $130.94 $347.13
 Prudential $34.20 $43.65 $88.65 $262.35

Female 20-year Term $500,000

CompanyAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
 Lincoln $17.06 $24.94 $56.39 $148.05
 Protective $17.93 $25.26 $55.78 $140.83
 AIG $18.08 $29.32 $63.06 $163.40
 Banner $17.94 $26.25 $56.87 $153.12
 Mutual of Omaha $18.99 $28.61 $64.05 $169.93
 North American $19.36 $28.16 $61.60 $154.88
 Principle $20.04 $27.56 $59.24 $149.27
 Transamerica $19.78 $30.96 $62.78 $170.71
 Assurity $20.01 $41.33 $100.92 $269.27
 Prudential $27.90 $38.70 $76.95 $181.80

Male 20-year Term $1,0000,000

CompanyAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
 Lincoln $49.00 $70.00 $147.70 $418.78
 Protective $34.99 $51.99 $143.84 $400.83
 AIG $36.68 $54.84 $146.53 $418.14
 Banner $36.67 $59.50 $146.30 $418.13
 Mutual of Omaha $37.80 $59.68 $163.80 $481.42
 North American $39.16 $60.28 $150.92 $427.24
 Principle $38.94 $56.00 $149.63 $422.63
 Transamerica $39.56 $69.66 $147.92 $415.38
 Assurity $45.24 $97.44 $255.78 $688.17
 Prudential $52.65 $77.85 $166.05 $485.55

Female 20-year Term $1,000,000

CompanyAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
 Lincoln $38.50 $53.38 $108.50 $283.80
 Protective $29.43 $43.94 $103.55 $269.92
 AIG $30.62 $52.25 $117.12 $309.15
 Banner $29.75 $47.25 $108.50 $286.12
 Mutual of Omaha $31.67 $51.80 $119.18 $324.80
 North American $32.12 $48.84 $113.08 $283.80
 Principle $32.16 $47.25 $108.94 $286.13
 Transamerica $30.96 $55.90 $116.10 $323.36
 Assurity $33.93 $76.56 $195.75 $532.44
 Prudential $38.25 $64.12 $139.05 $349.65

*All rates quoted on this page are for a super-preferred healthy individual who does not use tobacco. Monthly rates are updated as of Feb 2017 and are subject to underwriting approval.*

Banner Case Studies

Case Study 1: Female, Age 47 $2 million, OPTerm 20

  • Mother died of cancer at age 56.
  • Build – 5’6” 188 lbs.
  • Cholesterol 281, HDL ratio 5.45.
  • Resting EKG normal.
  • No tobacco use.

With most insurance companies, she would qualify for a standard plus rating since her mom died before the age of 60 from cancer. Since Banner is no longer using a family history of cancer as a factor in rating, this client was issued a preferred rating.

Case Study 2: Male, Age 35 $3 million, OPTerm 15

  • No tobacco use.
  • Build 5’8” 208 lbs.
  • Cholesterol 273 and cholesterol/HDL ratio 5.5.
  • Father diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 56, still living at age 67.

Underwriter used “Crediting Criteria” by adding 1 inch to the insured height, making him 5’9” 208 lbs, so now he is within the preferred rating and could get the lower rate.

Crediting Criteria is a way the insurance company is “playing nice.” If everything looks good with the potential insured and there is one thing that hurts the premium, the underwriter will improve the table rating IF the adverse finding was a result of build, cholesterol/HDL ratio, blood pressure or family history.

For example: A potential client meets all the criteria for preferred plus (the best rating), but his build of 5’9” and 195lbs put him at preferred. The underwriter will add 1 inch so now he can be preferred plus, therefore saving him money on his premium.

Summary

Banner is one of the best life insurance company in the nation with an outstanding financial strength, very competitive rates and also competitive with high risk individual who are diabetics, overweight, etc. We represent over 50 insurance companies and don’t believe there is one carrier that fits all individuals, which is why we are here to help you find the best one for YOU.

You can go ahead and run the quotes yourself in the quoter below, or give us a call at 866-326-3053 for a personalized quote.

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2017-10-24T17:27:20+00:00 February 18th, 2017|Company Reviews|2 Comments

About the Author:

Ron is a licensed life & health insurance broker. He has 2 amazing rescued pit bull puppies. He also enjoys real food, heavy squats, critical thinking, and reading.

2 Comments

  1. eric van haaften 05/05/2017 at 3:45 PM - Reply

    I did not know about Banner’s stance on many of the medical conditions you listed.. Thanks. We sell a few Banner policies here and there as well. We were researching a case for a client and found this blog post helpful. Great post, and good luck in 2017

    • Ron Attias 05/05/2017 at 6:57 PM - Reply

      Hi Eric,
      Thanks for the comment.
      I’m glad you found this useful, have also a great 2017.

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