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Bottom line: This insurer has a solid policy lineup, but doesn’t operate in New York or Montana.
Founded in 1907 by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, SBLI is a mutual life insurance company. Headquartered in Massachusetts, it sells policies online and via its network of brokers.
SBLI life insurance
SBLI life insurance earned 4 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.
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SBLI life insurance pros and cons
Offers a no-medical-exam policy.
Policies not available in all states.
Prospective customers can get an online quote.
Has a solid final expense option.
SBLI life insurance policies
SBLI’s policies are available in all states except New York and Montana.
Term life insurance. Depending on your age, you can buy a term life insurance policy lasting 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. It’s convertible to permanent life insurance before you reach age 70 or four years before the policy is set to expire, whichever comes first.
Whole life insurance. SBLI’s Flex Whole Life policy builds cash value at a fixed rate set by the insurer. When you’ve accumulated enough, you can start borrowing against your life insurance policy. Since SBLI is a mutual company, policyholders may earn dividends based on the company’s financial performance.
Accelerated underwriting option. With SBLI’s term and whole life insurance policies, applicants 60 and under can get $750,000 of coverage or less without taking a life insurance medical exam. While it isn’t quite instant life insurance, the company says nearly half of applicants get a decision within a week.
Final expense insurance. Open to those ages 50 to 80, SBLI Cherish Life is a burial insurance policy that’s designed to cover end-of-life costs. You can buy $2,000 to $35,000 worth of coverage, which is a relatively high amount for this type of policy. However, if you die in the first three years, your beneficiaries might only receive the full payout if the cause of death was due to an accident.
All policyholders get access to LegacyShield, a digital lockbox that can create wills and estate planning documents and help to consolidate financial accounts. When you die, SBLI will grant your family access to the service.
» MORE: Best life insurance companies
Available riders and add-ons
SBLI offers a range of common life insurance riders. The options vary by policy, and might include:
Accelerated death benefit rider. Automatically added to all policies, the accelerated death benefit rider allows you to access up to $250,000 of your policy’s payout if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Accidental death benefit rider. Pay out an additional sum to your life insurance beneficiaries if your cause of death is due to an accident.
Children’s level term rider. Covers a child or multiple children under your policy, and can eventually be converted to permanent life insurance.
Guaranteed purchase option rider. Lets you top up your coverage without going through the life insurance underwriting process again.
Single-pay paid-up additions rider. Allows you to buy extra whole life insurance coverage using dividends.
Term rider. Adds term life insurance lasting 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years to your whole life insurance policy.
Waiver of premium rider. Pauses your premiums if you become totally disabled and can’t work for a period of time.
SBLI customer complaints and satisfaction
Over three years, SBLI’s customers filed fewer 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 SBLI
As a policyholder, you can make premium payments, update your beneficiaries and request cash value life insurance loans by logging in to your customer portal. If you die while your policy is active, your loved ones can file a life insurance claim online.
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.