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Ethos Life Insurance Review 2021

Bottom line: Ethos offers life insurance policies that can be purchased online — no medical exam needed. But if you need coverage that's typically offered as a rider, it may not be your best option.
June 1, 2021
Insurance, Life Insurance
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Ethos Life Insurance

  • Rated 4 stars out of 5 for overall performance by NerdWallet.
  • Sells term and whole life insurance online.
  • Some policies include accelerated death benefits.

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 $50,000 to $2 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

Ethos life insurance

4.0 NerdWallet rating

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 complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and financial strength ratings.

Based on these ratings, Ethos is among NerdWallet’s best life insurance companies for 2021.

Ethos life insurance pros and cons

ProsCons
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 or Ameritas Life Insurance. 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 AAA Life and TruStage policies. Its AAA Life guaranteed issue whole life insurance is available to people 65 to 85 years old. Applicants are approved instantly regardless of health history, and coverage amounts range from $10,000 to $25,000. It’s available in all states and Washington, D.C., with the exception of New York. The company’s TruStage policies include simplified issue term and whole life, as well as guaranteed acceptance whole life.

Consumer complaints

Over three years, both Banner Life Insurance and Ameritas Life Insurance, the companies that issue term life policies bought through Ethos, have drawn fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for companies of their size, according to a NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Over the same three years, AAA Life Insurance, the company that issues whole life policies bought through Ethos, has drawn close to the expected number of complaints expected for a company of its size.

» MORE: The best life insurance companies

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.

Methodology: Life insurance ratings

NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims, and complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance. 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.

Methodology: Insurer complaints

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.

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