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Financial strength rating
Financial strength rating
For decades, Colonial Penn has focused on selling life insurance to older customers, including a guaranteed issue whole life policy for people 50 and older. The Philadelphia-based insurer is owned by CNO Financial Group, which is also the parent company of Bankers Life.
» MORE: Compare life insurance quotes
Colonial Penn life insurance
Colonial Penn earned 3 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.
Colonial Penn life insurance policies
Whole life insurance. Colonial Penn offers whole life insurance to those ages 40 to 75, with coverage amounts ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. (The ranges are slightly different in New York, where age limits are 50 to 73 for men and 50 to 75 for women, with coverage amounts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.) The application asks health questions, but the insurer doesn’t require a medical exam.
You can add an optional living insurance rider to your policy. This accelerated death benefit allows you to access 25% to 50% of your payout early if you’re diagnosed with certain cancers or debilitating chronic illness or you suffer a heart attack or stroke. However, the chronic illness option isn't available to applicants ages 65 to 75.
Guaranteed acceptance life insurance. This policy is open to people ages 50 to 85 (varies by state), and acceptance is guaranteed. Applicants don’t need to answer health questions or take a medical exam. The full death benefit isn’t paid out if the insured person dies during the first two years of taking out a policy.
How Colonial Penn’s pricing works
Colonial Penn sells its guaranteed acceptance coverage in units, and the amount of coverage this gets you varies by gender and age. Each unit costs $9.95 a month, and you can buy up to 15 units. The sum you end up with is the total death benefit that will be paid out to your beneficiaries when you die. In other words, the coverage amount is locked in and doesn't go up or down over time.
Colonial Penn's pricing structure is unique. It's important to calculate how much life insurance you need and aim to buy the number of units to match so you don't end up underinsured.
This table explains what one unit of coverage is worth for male and female applicants ages 50 to 85. This amount of coverage would cost $9.95 per month.
Men, 1 unit
Women, 1 unit
$1,669 in coverage.
$2,000 in coverage.
$1,420 in coverage.
$1,761 in coverage.
$1,167 in coverage.
$1,515 in coverage.
$896 in coverage.
$1,258 in coverage.
$689 in coverage.
$1,000 in coverage.
$549 in coverage.
$762 in coverage.
$426 in coverage.
$608 in coverage.
$418 in coverage.
$468 in coverage.
Source: Choice Mutual. Rates are valid as of June 26, 2023.
Here is the maximum amount of coverage you can buy at each age. This amount of coverage would cost slightly less than $150 a month.
Men, maximum coverage amount
Women, maximum coverage amount
Source: Choice Mutual. Details are valid as of June 26, 2023.
Colonial Penn customer complaints and satisfaction
Over three years, Colonial Penn has drawn far more than the expected number of complaints to state regulators for a company of its size, according to a NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Where Colonial Penn stands out
Colonial Penn doesn’t require a life insurance medical exam for its policies, including its traditional whole life insurance. But healthy people can generally get better prices from companies that consider more medical information when setting rates.
Where Colonial Penn falls short
Colonial Penn’s advertising may be misleading to those who aren’t familiar with its pricing structure. The insurer says throughout its website and in commercials that premiums can be locked in for as little as $9.95 a month, but this price earns you one of the insurer's "units," which is very little coverage.
The company's accelerated death benefit rider is also unusual. You need to choose coverage for heart attack or stroke, cancer or chronic illness, and you’ll be able to tap into your policy’s payout only if you develop the condition you chose or if you’re diagnosed as terminally ill (with a life expectancy of 12 months or less).
» MORE: Average life insurance rates
More about Colonial Penn
Whether you need help with your application or want to learn more about a policy, Colonial Penn’s live chat feature allows you to choose the type of specialist you’d like to speak with. Once you're a policyholder, you can make premium payments online, but you’ll need to download a form to file a life insurance claim or change beneficiaries.
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 2019-2021. To assess how insurers compare with 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.