Colonial Penn Life Insurance Review 2024

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Written by Andrew Marder
Lead Writer
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Edited by Katia Iervasi
Assistant Assigning Editor
Fact Checked

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Colonial Penn

3.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: With a high volume of complaints and relatively low coverage limits, you’ll likely find better options elsewhere.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Strong

Online purchase

Yes

NAIC complaints

Far more than expected

Policies offered

Permanent & no-exam
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

Colonial Penn

3.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: With a high volume of complaints and relatively low coverage limits, you’ll likely find better options elsewhere.

Financial strength rating

Strong

Online purchase

Yes

NAIC complaints

Far more than expected

Policies offered

Permanent & no-exam

In our life insurance reviews, our editorial team considers 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 AM 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.

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.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure the content on our site is accurate and fair so you can make financial decisions with confidence and choose the products that work best for you. Here is a list of our partners, and here’s how we make money.

Colonial Penn life insurance rating

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

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 50 to 75 (or 50 to 73 for men and 50 to 75 for women in New York). Coverage amounts range from $5,000 to $25,000. The application asks health questions, but the insurer doesn’t require a medical exam.

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance. This policy is typically open to people ages 50 to 85 (age eligibility varies by state), and acceptance is guaranteed. Applicants don’t need to answer health questions or take a medical exam. The full life insurance 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 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.

Age

Men, 1 unit

Women, 1 unit

50

$1,669 in coverage.

$2,000 in coverage.

55

$1,420 in coverage.

$1,761 in coverage.

60

$1,167 in coverage.

$1,515 in coverage.

65

$896 in coverage.

$1,258 in coverage.

70

$689 in coverage.

$1,000 in coverage.

75

$549 in coverage.

$762 in coverage.

80

$426 in coverage.

$608 in coverage.

85

$418 in coverage.

$468 in coverage.

Source: Choice Mutual. Rates are valid as of January 12, 2024.

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.

Age

Men, maximum coverage amount

Women, maximum coverage amount

50

$25,035

$30,000

55

$21,300

$26,415

60

$17,505

$22,725

65

$13,440

$18,870

70

$10,335

$15,000

75

$8,235

$11,430

80

$6,390

$9,120

85

$6,270

$7,020

Source: Choice Mutual. Details are valid as of January 12, 2024.

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 any of 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.

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.

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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 2020-2022. 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.

In This Review . . .