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Bottom line: Banner and William Penn offer a wide range of policies and riders, but the minimum term policy amounts may be higher than some consumers want.
Banner Life Insurance and its sister brand, William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York, are both owned by Legal & General America. William Penn offers life insurance only in New York, while Banner is available in the remaining 49 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia. Life insurance issued by both companies is sold under the Legal & General brand, which is known for its competitive prices.
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Banner life insurance
Banner Life earned 4.5 stars out of 5 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
Banner Life insurance pros and cons
Fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size.
Depending on the state, some life insurance riders may not be available.
Wide range of lengths for term life insurance, including terms up to 40 years.
Term and universal life policies include accelerated death benefits.
Banner life insurance policies
Term life: Both Banner and William Penn offer terms of 10, 15, 20, 25,30, 35 and 40 years for term life insurance. The annual price stays the same throughout the initial term. People as old as 75 can buy a policy, with shorter terms only available for older buyers. Term policies are convertible — you can turn them into a permanent policy — until your 70th birthday. Coverage amounts range from $100,000 to $10 million.
Term policies include accelerated death benefits, which allow you to access up to 75% of the policy’s death benefit (minus any policy loans) or $500,000, whichever is less, if you’re terminally ill. This may not be available in all states.
You can also add optional features, called life insurance riders, to your term policy for an extra charge. Depending on your state, Banner and William Penn offer:
Children’s term rider which covers all your children until they turn 25.
Waiver of premium rider, which allows you to skip all premium payments six months after being deemed totally disabled.
Stacking term rider, which gives you more coverage for a period of time. For example, you could buy a 25-year term policy with a 10-year term rider, giving you a higher total death benefit in the first 10 years of coverage while your mortgage is being paid off.
Universal life: Banner and William Penn’s universal life insurance policies give the choice of paying the same price every year or paying more upfront for a certain number of years. The “short-pay” option lets the policy owner complete payments early and still have lifetime coverage.
Coverage is issued up to age 85 and stays in effect until age 121. Death benefits have a minimum of $50,000, and on-time payments guarantee a death benefit payout. Depending on the state, an accelerated death benefit comes included in a universal life policy.
» MORE: Compare life insurance quotes
Banner customer complaints and satisfaction
Over three years, both Banner Life and William Penn have drawn fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for companies of their respective sizes, according to a NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
More about Banner life insurance
The Legal & General website offers the ability to get a Banner or William Penn term life insurance quote. You can purchase a universal life policy by contacting an agent, who can be found through the website’s agent locator.
The website also has an online portal to pay your bill, manage a policy and file a claim, and features educational content on how life insurance works.
Other Legal & General insurance products include:
Short-term lifestyle insurance.
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. NerdWallet does not recommend companies with a rating lower than a B. 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. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.