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Symetra Life Insurance Review 2021

Bottom line: Backed by a Japanese insurance giant, this company offers a mix of term and permanent policies. But you can’t get an online quote, and the website could be more transparent.
Nov. 10, 2021
Insurance, Life Insurance
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SYMETRA LIFE INSURANCE

  • Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars for overall performance in NerdWallet’s analysis.
  • Offers term and permanent life insurance, including a no medical exam policy.
  • Fewer than the expected number of complaints to state regulators for a company of its size.

Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Symetra specializes in retirement planning, employee benefits and insurance products. It’s owned by Sumitomo Life, one of the largest insurers in Japan.

With a network of representatives and brokers across the country, Symetra has a solid lineup of term and permanent life insurance. But you can’t get a quote online, and not all policies are available nationwide.

Symetra life insurance

3.5 NerdWallet rating

Symetra life insurance earned 3.5 out of 5 stars 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.

Symetra life insurance pros and cons

ProsCons
Sells a policy that doesn’t require a medical exam.No online quotes.
Useful “find a form” feature online.Lack of policy information on website.
Offers a charitable giving rider.Some policies aren't available in all states.

Symetra life insurance policies 

Symetra sells both term and permanent life insurance.

Term life insurance. Symetra Term Life is open to people 20 to 80 years old, with coverage starting at $250,000. Depending on your age, you can choose a policy lasting 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, and the premiums stay the same. There’s a conversion feature, which means you can switch to a permanent policy when you’re 70 or have had the policy for 10 years, whichever comes first.

If you need coverage quickly, look into Symetra SwiftTerm. It’s promoted as an instant life insurance policy, with many people getting a decision within 25 minutes of submitting the online application. Just know that if the insurer still has questions about your health, the company might send you a follow-up email or ask you to take a life insurance medical exam. In that case, you can expect to hear back in three to 30 days. Coverage ranges from $100,000 to $2 million.

Permanent life insurance. Symetra has several universal life insurance policies:

  • Symetra Accumulator IUL offers lifelong coverage, flexible premiums and the ability to build cash value, which is tied to the performance of a market index. This indexed universal life insurance policy is available to people ages 20 to 85, with coverage starting at $100,000.
  • Symetra Protector IUL also has a cash value account that’s linked to the market. Coverage starts at $100,000, and a “persistency bonus” kicks in after 10 years to add credits to your cash value.
  • Symetra CAUL is available up to age 85, and applicants 20 to 70 years old can earn premium discounts for leading a healthy lifestyle through the insurer’s GoodRewards program. With this policy, you’re guaranteed to earn a current interest rate of 2% or more over 12 months.

Symetra’s website doesn’t support online quotes. You’ll need to contact customer service via phone or email, then they’ll put you in touch with a local representative.

Available riders and add-ons

You can customize your coverage with common life insurance riders. The options vary by policy, and most come with an extra fee:

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. Allows you to access up to 75% of your policy’s payout if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live. The accelerated death benefit rider is included in Symetra’s policies.
  • Accidental death benefit rider. Pays your life insurance beneficiaries an additional sum of up to $250,000 if you die in an accident.
  • Additional term rider. Adds 20 years of term life coverage to your policy.
  • Charitable giving benefit rider. Donates a sum of money equal to 1% of your life insurance payout, up to $100,000, to a charity of your choice when you die.
  • Children’s term life insurance rider. Covers your children 15 days to 17 years old under your life insurance policy. You can choose to add $1,000 to $10,000 in coverage.
  • Chronic illness rider. Allows you to tap up to 50% of your policy’s payout if you have a chronic illness and can’t perform basic tasks, such as dressing yourself, for at least three months.
  • Overloan lapse protection rider. Lets you withdraw money from or borrow against your permanent life insurance policy without fear of it lapsing.
  • Waiver of premium rider. Pauses your premiums if you become totally disabled for at least six months.

Symetra customer complaints and satisfaction

Over three years, Symetra’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 Symetra

If you have a policy with Symetra, you can manage your coverage, download forms and change your life insurance beneficiaries through the online portal.

Individual life insurance aside, Symetra offers these financial products:

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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