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Bottom line: Ethos offers life insurance policies that can be purchased online — no medical exam needed. But if you want coverage that's typically offered as a rider, it may not be your best option.
Launched in 2016, Ethos offers term and whole life policies online. Ethos says completing the online application can take as little as 10 minutes and that most people who qualify for coverage don’t need to complete a medical exam. Coverage amounts range from $1,000 to $1.5 million. Ethos uses data such as your motor vehicle records, family medical history and current drug prescriptions to calculate eligibility and set rates.
» MORE: Compare life insurance quotes
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Ethos life insurance
Ethos earned 4 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
Ethos life insurance pros and cons
Many applicants aren’t required to take a medical exam.
No riders for term policies other than accelerated death benefits.
Simple application process.
Ethos life insurance policies
Ethos offers standard term life insurance to people ages 20 to 65 in all states except New York. Policies are issued through Banner Life Insurance, Ameritas Life Insurance or TruStage. Available terms are 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. The application process is 100% online. Life insurance agents are available to answer questions by phone, text or email.
Some policies include accelerated death benefits, which allow you to take part of the life insurance payout while you’re still alive if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Ethos may require you to take a life insurance medical exam if it needs more information about your health to calculate eligibility and rates.
The company also sells guaranteed issue whole life insurance to people between 66 and 85 years old. Applicants are approved instantly regardless of health history, and coverage amounts range from $1,000 to $30,000. It’s available in all states and Washington, D.C., with the exception of New York. Policies are offered through AAA Life or TruStage.
Ethos customer complaints
Over three years, Ethos has drawn fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size, according to a NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
More about Ethos life insurance
On the Ethos website, you can get a quote, estimate how much life insurance you need and learn more about the company’s policies. If you’re qualified, you may be able to start coverage immediately.
Ethos doesn’t currently sell any other types of insurance besides term and guaranteed issue whole life.
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.