We will provide a review of Banner Life’s Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance product.
Quick Tip: To see how Banner Life’s GUL compares to other carriers, enter your information into the quote engine for an instant comparison quote. Select “lifetime” to see the guaranteed universal life plans offered by the top carriers.
Although Banner Life Insurance offers many different life insurance products, this article will focus on their GUL or “Term for Life” product as we commonly refer to it. We also refer to GUL as Term to 100 or “No-lapse life insurance”. Clicking on the following links will provide you with a review and the pros and cons of guaranteed universal life insurance.
Banner Life Insurance – An Overview
Although Banner Life isn’t an insurance company you see advertised, they have been a leading, consistently low-cost term company for many years. Unlike Met Life, Prudential or other large insurance companies, you won’t see Banner Life logos on TV or at sporting events.
However, if you have done any shopping on the web, Banner Life is a carrier that will often appear as one of the lowest priced companies offering term insurance, whether it is 10, 15, 20 or 30 year term insurance. They are also one of the few carriers offering a 25-year term policy. Almost every independent agent and agency that offers term life insurance will offer Banner Life.
Financial Strength and Ratings of Banner Life
As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Legal & General – the largest insurer in the U.K. – Banner Life is a financially stable and strong carrier. Below are their most recent financial ratings (as of July 2016).
2015 Financial Strength Ratings
A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best
AA- (Very Strong) from S&P
AA- (Very Strong) from Fitch
94 COMDEX score
Banner’s parent company, Legal & General Group, was founded in 1836 in London. It is still headquartered there, but has operations in several other countries, including the U.S.
Legal & General is the world’s 6th largest insurance company with regard to assets under management. They have over 10 million customers and have a reputation for excellent customer service.
By any measure, Banner Life is a very solid company and is one of our top carriers.
Banner Life Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance Review – Some important points to consider.
Banner’s guaranteed universal life plan is called LifeStep UL. This product is well known (at least it should be) to all agents who offer Banner Life term plans. For Banner Life term policyholders, the LifeStep UL is the only product available for conversion. Unlike other carriers, who have several permanent life insurance policies from which to choose, Banner Life only has the LifeStep UL available for conversion.
Universal Life policies have “moving parts”. These are components that can change and affect the performance of the policy. These parts are: interest rates, cost of insurance charges, administrative charges, and premium loads or policy fees.
The parts listed above are adjustable components of universal life policies and have guaranteed maximum charges. These are called primary guarantees. A policy might be illustrated based on current interest rates and charges, but it’s important to note that carriers can increase charges at their discretion.
What distinguishes a Guaranteed Universal Life policy from other types of Universal Life policies is the secondary guarantee. Regardless of the moving parts, a GUL is guaranteed to stay in force if the scheduled (level) premium is paid. That’s why it’s called term for life or term to 100.
Benefits of Banner Life’s Guaranteed Universal Life
- Short-pay Guarantee: This provision allows policyholders the ability to complete their premium payments (prepay) over a limited number of years. For example, someone might want to have all their premiums paid by the time they are 65 or 70. The same guaranteed death benefit stays in place.
- Face amounts as low as $50,000
- Easy to work with underwriters. We have had very good success with “borderline” cases. This is when an applicant receives a less favorable underwriting classification due to lab results, height/weight, or health conditions. Banner is willing to reconsider cases when evidence can be provided in favor of a better classification.
- Aggressive underwriting, especially for people with a family history of cancer.
- Guarantees range from age 100 to 121
- Accelerated Death Benefit
This could be considered a drawback to Banner Life’s GUL, as they don’t offer any riders – not even Waiver of Premium. If you compare this to other carriers such as North American, AIG, and Protective Life, you will see that this is not the norm for a Guaranteed Universal Life policy.
Scenario where Banner’s GUL works well:
Let’s take a young couple named Jon and Lily. They are both 34 and have two children. They are considering having a third child soon. The purchased a 20-year term policy for $500,000 when they were 29 and their first child was born.
Since that time, they realized they needed additional coverage. Jon and Lily are on a similar career and income track, so they decided to compare 20-year, 30-year and lifetime term insurance plans. They decided to add $500,000 in coverage, but split it between a 20-year term and a guaranteed universal life policy. They idea of keeping some life insurance permanently appealed to them.
Although Jon is a little more of a risk taker, Lily takes a much more conservative approach to life. She understands they might be fine without life insurance when their kids are independent, but they might not. The cost/benefit of keeping 25% of their life insurance as permanent made her feel much better.
Everyone’s situation is different
As you can see from the above example, life insurance isn’t strictly a matter of crunching numbers. Life insurance is about protecting the people the matter the most. Should the unthinkable happen, life insurance helps protect the financial future of the ones you love.
We can help you determine what strategy makes the most sense for you and your family. Please call us and we’ll be glad to answer your questions.