When you make a big purchase, scouring the market for the best deals is essential. You don’t simply shop for the lowest price, but the best value. Guaranteed Universal Life (GUL) insurance is no different. This article will help you understand how to best shop for GUL insurance and what criteria are important in making a decision. This is your roadmap and I am your expert guide.
In your research of GUL, you might have found the following features very attractive:
- Low premiums compared to whole life
- Guaranteed level premiums
- Guaranteed death benefit
- No “moving parts” and simple design; often called Term for Life or Term to 100.
- Attractive living benefits such as Accelerated Death Benefit for long term care and/or Critical Illness.
If you think this could be a viable solution to protect and support your loved ones when you die, then the next step is getting quotes and comparing your options. For more information on GUL, please click here.
The Key To Comparing Top Guaranteed Universal Life Policies
If you use our quote engine on this page, select “Lifetime” in the drop down menu to compare GUL rates. Depending on the face amount, you might only see 3 to 7 carriers listed. Why so few? Many life companies don’t allow their permanent products to be quoted in comparison quote engines.
For you to see all the carriers, we need to prepare customized quotes using three different quoting services AND prepare quotes directly on carriers’ illustration software. It can be a tedious process at times, but it’s well worth the effort.
We’ve had plenty of situations where one company — that didn’t appear on any comparison quote engine — was clearly the best possible choice and resulted in significant premium savings.
So, the key to comparing top GUL plans is to work with an independent agency (or agent) that is not limited to only a handful of carriers. We have discovered that even 10 carriers won’t suffice since there are unique situations where one carrier is especially strong.
Our list of GUL carriers is below, in alphabetical order.
- American General (AIG)
- American National
- Banner Life
- Cincinnati Life
- Columbus Life
- John Hancock
- Lincoln National
- Mass Mutual
- Met Life
- Mutual of Omaha
- Nationwide Life
- North American Life / Midland National (sister companies)
- Pacific Life
- Penn Mutual
- Protective Life
- Prudential Financial
- Sagicor Life
- Symetra Life
The carriers in green are carriers we don’t do much GUL business with – currently. This market is fluid, so next year the list will most likely change. This list was prepared in Spring 2018.
Top 5 GUL Carriers
Last year, I wrote an article on the Top 5 Guaranteed Universal Life Carriers. You can read that article HERE. In addition to the top 5, there were a few “honorable mentions”. I still feel like that article is accurate (with the exception of Banner Life), however, we have written GULs with several other carriers. Columbus Life should now be in the Top 5. We’ll update that soon. For various reasons the best GUL for one person is different than others. Some of the important criteria we consider are below.
Important Criteria to Consider
- Living Benefits (ADB) LTC riders: Several carriers offer long term care riders. You can choose a policy that offers this rider at no additional cost or as an optional rider. This benefit is known as an Accelerated Death Benefit (ADB) and can vary widely among GUL carriers.
- Critical Illness / Chronic Illness: This benefit is also considered a living benefit and the coverage varies. Usually, the critical illness benefit is paid out in one lump sum (per incident). This is another type of Accelerated Death Benefit.
- Return of Premium Option: This benefit is offered by many carriers and typically gives you the option of receiving a partial return of premium at the 20th policy year and a full return of premium at the 25th policy year.
- Guaranteed for Life vs. Age 100: Some carriers have one lifetime guarantee option. Other carriers allow you to dial-in a lower guaranteed age of 90 or 95 to lower the premium. It’s important to compare apples-to-apples.
- Age and Gender: Carriers often have their “sweet spots”. In other words, they might have very competitive rates for people over 55. Another carrier might be particularly strong with females under the age of 40.
- Ease of Underwriting / Health Conditions: This is where we find the biggest discrepancy in rates. Some carriers are known for their aggressive underwriting for particular health conditions. For example, one carrier will offer Standard rates to people with Sleep Apnea when most other carriers will “rate-up”. One carrier might have more lenient height/weight guidelines or have very competitive rates for smokers.
- Table Shave Programs: A few carriers will offer Table Shave programs on their permanent policies. This means that policy normally rated a Table A – D (25% to 100%) higher than Standard rates. For example, someone with Type II Diabetes and a heart condition, will likely be rated-up. However, a couple GUL carriers will “shave” off the rate-up and offer Standard rates. These programs are usually temporary, but can translate into huge savings.
- Face Amount: Only a handful of carriers offer lower face amounts. Most carriers only go down to $100,000, but a few will offer GUL as low as $25,000. Conversely, some carriers are most competitive with high face amounts.
- Limited Pay Options: One way to save money is by purchasing a paid-up policy. Many carriers allow single, 10 , 15 or 20 pay options. The annual premium is higher, but the cumulative premium paid over the course of 20, 30 or more years can be compelling. It’s worth comparing.
- Simplified Issue (no exam) vs. Fully Underwritten. A few carriers offer GULs on a simplified issue basis. Sagicor and American National are particularly strong with this regard. This often depends on age. Underwriters can order an exam or medical records at their discretion. For someone who despises exams (drawing blood),then this can be a very good alternative. Generally speaking, simplified issue policies are more expensive – but not always.
The criteria listed above is what can cause us to recommend one carrier over another.
Examples of Savings by Shopping
You might ask, why not just select the top 5 or 10. Well, we tend to recommend certain carriers over others. However, there are plenty of times when we shop the market and find huge savings with a company that isn’t one of our “core” carriers. This doesn’t just apply to GUL, but to level term and other permanent products.
What starts out as the best choice doesn’t always end up being the best choice. You might receive an adverse underwriting decision. If this occurs, then we do our best to get you the best possible rate.
However, there are times when we need to shop with other carriers based on your lab results and unique situation. It isn’t difficult to shop with all our carriers to see who makes the best offer.
As an example, you might receive a Standard Plus offer instead of Preferred. Rather than accepting the offer, we could shop it and possible save you a lot of money. If you work with an agency that only represents 10 to 12 carriers, then you might not be aware of potential savings.
The Popular “Mega Agencies”
Most of the mega-agencies only offer 10 to 12 carriers. We show an example where someone at a company like SelectQuote or Zander Insurance (the company recommended by Dave Ramsey), could save over $60,000. The savings is accrued over the course of 30 years. The savings is realized by using an independent agency that offers many more carriers. You can read that article here.
GUL Savings by Using a Table Shaving Program
We have worked with several clients who received a Table 3 or 4 rating based on their health status. Rather than paying an additions 75% to 100% more than the Standard premium, we were able to place them with a carrier that had a Table Shaving program.
In one case the premium went from $300 per month to $150 per month. Saving $1800 per year for the next 20, 30 years or longer is huge.
Why is Our List of GUL Carriers Only 20?
We work with over 60 carries, so why does our list of guaranteed universal life carriers only include 20 carriers? Well, many carriers do not offer this product. The list is growing, as carriers roll out GUL plans. However, some carriers focus on only certain products, such as term or whole life.
You won’t see Guardian or Ohio National on the list. Both are excellent carriers, but focus on whole life and term products. There are other carriers with sub-par financial ratings who simply don’t make our list.
We stayed tuned in to the life insurance market and continually stay up-to-date on new product offerings or changes to current offerings.
Comparing Top Guaranteed Universal Life Policies – Conclusion
You could spend hours comparing refrigerators at your local Lowe’s store. However, if you limit your selection to just Lowe’s, then you could be missing out on the best deals on the market. Likewise, many folks unwittingly limit their options – and potential savings – by receiving comparison quotes from an agency with limited carrier selection.
One of the most important aspects of comparing GUL carriers is to make sure you are receiving a full comparison of all the top carriers.
Also, make certain you are working with an agent that is experienced and knowledgeable regarding GUL. Ask some tough questions listed in the ” Important Criteria to Consider” section above. Ask what carriers they like the best and why. Make sure they ask you plenty of questions. It’s difficult to recommend a solution without asking questions about your situation and goals.
If you would like customized comparison quotes or just simply have questions to see if guaranteed universal life is right for you, please email or call us.