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Bottom line: This longtime insurer has a wide range of policies and riders. But you can’t apply online, and customers have filed a high number of complaints.
Founded in 1879, Bankers Life offers a solid lineup of term and permanent policies, plus riders to help you customize coverage. It has a network of agents in more than 250 branches across the country, and you’ll need to speak to an agent to apply for a policy.
While the insurer caters to a range of needs with its coverage, it has a high customer complaint ratio with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Bankers Life insurance
Bankers Life earned 2.5 out of 5 stars for overall performance. NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account consumer experience, complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and financial strength ratings.
» MORE: Best life insurance companies
Bankers Life insurance pros and cons
Extensive whole life insurance lineup.
High volume of complaints.
Offers a long list of riders.
No online quotes.
Can’t apply for a policy online.
» MORE: Compare life insurance quotes
Bankers Life insurance policies
Bankers Life offers a mix of term and permanent life insurance.
Term life insurance. Open to people ages 20 to 75, ReliaTerm lasts 5, 10 or 20 years. You can buy a term life insurance policy worth $25,000 to $2 million. If you want to convert your coverage to a permanent policy, you can do that during the first five years or until you’re 70 years old, whichever comes later.
Whole life insurance. Bankers Life has five whole life insurance products:
BasicLife. This policy is open to people ages 17 to 85. Depending on your age, you can buy as little as $2,500 or $5,000 in coverage, or as much as $25,000.
BasicLife Graded. If you’re 50 to 85 years old, you can get a policy worth $2,500 to $25,000. This policy has a graded death benefit, which means your beneficiaries won’t receive the full payout if you die within the first two years of taking out the policy.
InnovativeLife SP 1 and InnovativeLife SP 2. Available up to age 85, these policies require you to pay off your coverage upfront. They’re designed to help you maximize your life insurance cash value.
Secure View. For people ages 17 to 75, the SecureView policy offers steady premiums and up to $25,000 in coverage. If you want to pay off your policy sooner, you can opt for a 10- or 20-year payment period.
Universal life insurance. Bankers Life offers two universal life insurance policies, both of which offer flexible premiums and death benefits. TurningPoint Fixed-Interest Universal Life builds cash value at a minimum interest rate of 3%, while Clearvantage Indexed Universal Life is tied to the performance of the S&P 500 and grows at a guaranteed minimum rate of 1%. The policies are available to applicants 0 to 85 years old, with coverage amounts ranging from $30,000 to $2 million.
Child whole life insurance. LifeStart offers $10,000 to $50,000 of coverage for a child 0 to 16 years old at the time of purchase. The premiums stay the same, and the policy builds cash value over time. Once the child reaches the “age of majority,” which is 18 in most states, you can transfer ownership of the policy to him or her.
Available riders and add-ons
Depending on your policy, you may be able to customize your coverage with these add-ons:
Accelerated death benefit rider. If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, an accelerated death benefit allows you to tap part of your policy’s death benefit while you’re still alive.
Accidental death benefit rider. Pays an additional sum to your life insurance beneficiaries if you die within 90 to 180 days of being in a covered accident.
Additional insured level term rider. Provides coverage for your spouse or business partner.
Children’s term insurance rider. Covers your children under your life insurance policy.
Disability income rider. Pays extra benefits if you become disabled.
Guaranteed insurability benefit. Lets you buy more coverage for your child’s whole life insurance policy, regardless of the child’s health.
Payor benefit. Waives premiums on your child’s policy if you become disabled or die.
Reinstatement without evidence of insurability. Reactivates your coverage if you let your policy lapse while suffering a cognitive impairment, such as memory loss. You won’t need to take another medical exam, but you must ask for reinstatement within 90 days of your policy lapsing.
Waiver of premium rider. Pauses your premiums for a specified period of time if you become disabled or unemployed.
Bankers Life customer complaints and satisfaction
Over three years, Bankers Life’s customers filed far more than the expected number of complaints to state regulators for a company of its size, according to NerdWallet’s analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
More about Bankers Life
In addition to life insurance, Bankers Life offers annuities and these other types of insurance:
Long-term care insurance. Helps pay for a nursing home, assisted living facility or at-home care if you’re chronically ill.
Critical illness insurance. Pays out a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness, such as cancer, or need to undergo a surgery like angioplasty.
Hospital indemnity insurance. Kicks in if you’re hospitalized due to a covered accidental injury or illness.
Medicare supplement insurance. Also known as Medigap, these plans supplement out-of-pocket costs Medicare won’t cover.
How we review life insurance companies
In our life insurance reviews, our editorial team considers both the customer and the insurer. These are some of the factors we take into account:
Policies offered. There are many types of life insurance on the market, and they fall into three key categories:
Term life insurance offers temporary coverage and a guaranteed payout if the policyholder dies during the term.
Permanent life insurance typically lasts a lifetime and builds cash value that can be borrowed against in the future.
No-exam life insurance issues coverage without the need for a medical exam.
Financial strength. We use A.M. Best ratings to confirm an insurer’s long-term financial stability and ability to pay claims. For life insurance, NerdWallet typically recommends considering insurers with ratings of A- or higher. Here’s the breakdown:
Exceptional: A+, A++
Strong: A-, A
Moderate: B, B+
Complaints. These ratings are based on complaints to state regulators relative to a company’s size, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The best life insurance companies have fewer than the expected number of complaints.
Buy online. This indicates whether an insurer allows you to apply for and buy a policy completely online.
Dive deeper: Ratings methodology for life insurance
Life insurance buying guide
Before you start comparing companies, choose the type of life insurance you want, such as term or whole life. Decide which life insurance riders, if any, you want the policy to include. Calculate how much life insurance you need and how long you want the coverage to last. Check that the insurers you’re considering offer the coverage you’re looking for.
When comparing rates, be sure the quotes are for the same amount of coverage over the same period of time. It’s also important to make sure the policy’s medical requirements match your needs. For example, if you want to skip the life insurance medical exam but don’t mind answering health questions, confirm that the application process for each policy you're comparing aligns with that.
Price may not be the biggest driver behind your decision to buy. Look at the number of consumer complaints each company receives, as high numbers can be a red flag about the quality of service.
For more guidance, see our life insurance buying guide.
Life insurance ratings methodology
NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on consumer experience, complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance, and weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims. Within the consumer experience category, we consider ease of communication and website transparency, which looks at the depth of policy details available online. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.
These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
Insurer complaints methodology
NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. NerdWallet conducts its data analysis and reaches conclusions independently and without the endorsement of the NAIC. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.