Like just about every other financial product you can buy, the life insurance industry has gone digital. It's now possible to apply for a policy and complete the entire process online, without ever speaking to a live individual.
As a former financial planner that sold life insurance the “old-fashioned way” I'm impressed and amazed how technology keeps pushing the envelope on efficiency. But as the industry makes its way online, there are variations in how the process works. For example, some companies are entirely online, while others are online with live assistance.
One of the major advantages to an online life insurance company is a simpler application process. You can complete the application online, without having to complete multi-page paper applications. This is huge!
They also offer the opportunity to easily compare prices or obtain coverage with certain medical conditions, commonly referred to as high risk life insurance.
Below is a list of what I believe to be the 10 best online life insurance companies. They're not in any specific order, because virtually each has its own specializations that make it stand out. And that's exactly why each is included on this list.
Bestow is an online insurance provider that operates similar to Haven Life. You complete your application entirely online, and your information is verified with third-party sources. No medical exam is required.
Like most of the other platforms on this list, Bestow offers term life insurance. You can get policies for up to $1 million, with terms of 2, 10, or 20 years.
They also offer a very interesting term of just two years. There are a lot of possible use cases for a two year term such as for folks transitioning between jobs and need the coverage only for a relatively short amount of time. Perhaps there are new parents, folks who have recently moved, or some other life change where they only need two years. The maximum death benefit is $500,000.
The major advantages with Bestow are low-cost and speed of application. Since no medical exam is required, your policy can be in force very quickly (upon checkout). And even if you aren't in perfect health, they may still provide a policy, though it may come with a higher monthly cost.
Ethos is one of the first insurance companies to offer online applications. They only offer term life insurance policies, and generally without medical exams. In this way, they operate similar to Haven Life and Bestow, by making heavy use of third-party information sources in underwriting your application.
One of the major advantages of Ethos is price, as they are one of the lower-cost providers. The speed of application approval is also a benefit, with the use of third-party verification services. The actual policies themselves are provided by Assurity.
The major disadvantages are policy choice. They don't offer whole life insurance or other types of cash value life insurance (I think term life is better than whole life, but to each their own). But if you're in excellent health, looking for quick approval and low prices, Ethos is an excellent choice.
Ladder offers term life insurance policies to applicants between the ages of 20 and 60. It has partnered with SoFi offering policies to their customers. Ladder is a pure online life insurance platform that has salaried agents that current or potential customers can talk to if they have questions about the process or their policy. Their agents aren't commissioned and you don't have to work with an agent to buy a policy. They're a valuable resource to help answer questions, not incentivized to sell you policies, which is great. Their policies are issued by Fidelity Security Life Insurance.
One of the big advantages with Ladder is that once your policy is in effect, you can decrease your coverage. For example, if you need less coverage because your mortgage has been paid off, you can decrease the death benefit. But you can also apply for more coverage, should your insurance needs go in the other direction.
Ladder is available in all states except New York and provides only term life insurance. Terms range from 10 to 30 years and may or may not require a medical examination.
We did a review of Ladder where we go deeper on them and its offerings.
Similar to SelectQuote, Policygenius is an online life insurance aggregator, giving users access to many different insurance providers. More precisely, they're an insurance broker, giving you an opportunity to find some of the lowest priced life insurance policies available. By completing a single online application, you can get quotes from several different companies.
One of the major advantages is larger policy amounts. Policygenius offers term life insurance, ranging from $500,000 to as high as $10 million. Terms can be as long as 30 years. Another is that Policygenius isn't limited just to life insurance. You can also purchase auto, home, renters, disability, and even pet insurance.
Exactly how much of the process will be completed online will depend on the insurance company you actually work with. Some may require a significant amount of phone contact, while others may require none at all.
Haven Life is the only life insurance agency where you can only apply online. Traditional paper applications aren't available so Haven Life might very well be the quickest source of life insurance available. Since their underwriting algorithms work using primarily third-party verification sources, policy approvals can sometimes be granted in a matter of minutes.
Haven Life provides term life insurance policies only, which are issued by their parent company MassMutual. Death benefits range between $100,000 and $3 million. Their policies are only good for applicants up to 64 years old, but they limit policies to $1 million if you're 60 or older.
The majority of Haven Life customers need to take a medical exam to finalize their coverage and rate. In some cases, eligible applicants may qualify for the InstantTerm process, which lets them skip the medical exam altogether. If a medical exam is needed, it can be taken at a time and place that’s convenient to the applicant, and once the results are in, a decision is usually communicated quickly. A medical exam can slow the process to two or three weeks depending on when you take the medical exam.
You should also be aware that while Haven Life provides low-cost medically underwritten term life insurance; by the product’s nature it takes into account a lot health information to determine your price and eligibility. This is a good thing for all applicants since it usually results in the best pricing. If you have a severe chronic health condition, like diabetes, medically underwritten coverage might not be the right fit for you.
SelectQuote is a life insurance comparison platform, which means they're not a direct provider. They're an independent agency that offers coverage from many different companies.
You can complete a single application and get quotes from multiple providers. But one of the biggest advantages is finding the right insurance company for any health conditions you might have.
Life insurance is not standard across the industry. Some companies take a more favorable view of applicants with diabetes, heart disease, a previous bout with cancer, or even cigarette smoking. SelectQuote can help point you toward the companies that are most likely to approve your policy, and at the lowest premium rate.
Since SelectQuote is an actual insurance agency, another advantage they offer are live agents available who can help you find the right policy. This is very different than the online only platforms, that may either offer limited product lines, or very limited customer service.
One factor to be aware of is SelectQuote only works with a dozen providers. While it's one of the most popular online life insurance companies in the industry, they may not necessarily have the lowest prices or even the best policies for everyone.
Esurance is a bit of a surprise because they're best known for car insurance, which they advertise heavily on the Internet and major media. But they also offer life insurance and offer more options than the competition.
A major advantage with Esurance is they offer whole life and universal life in addition to term policies. You can apply and complete the process online. But if there are any complications, particularly involving health conditions, a live agent will need to get involved. This can turn it into something of a hybrid between online and person-to-person.
Esurance is a subsidiary of Allstate Insurance Company, which is one of the largest and best-known companies in the industry. Esurance itself operates more as the online division of the company. Despite its strong online presence, the company maintains a network of 17 offices and 3,000 associates.
The availability of auto insurance also holds the prospect of lower premiums due to bundling.
Formerly ING Insurance, Voya Financial life insurance policies are actually sold through ReliaStar Life Insurance and Security Life of Denver, but they're all part of the same corporate umbrella.
One of the big advantages with Voya is their product selection. Unlike many online life insurance companies, that primarily sell term life insurance, Voya also offers universal life and variable universal life policies. They're more expensive than term policies, but for certain people in specific situations, they may be preferable. The company also offers a very wide range of policy riders to customize your policy.
The disadvantage is that Voya is a direct provider, so you'll be working only with the programs they offer. There's no capability to shop your application with different companies. However, Voya is one of the most highly rated companies in the insurance industry and offers a higher level of direct support. You can start the process online but get as much help as you need to complete it.
Globe Life Insurance
Globe Life Insurance is well known for offering low-cost term life insurance policies. They famously advertise “$1 Buys $50,000” or “$1 Buys $20,000 for Children”. A bit of an exaggeration actually, since $1 just gets the process going, acting as the first month's premium. The actual premium you'll pay will be more than $1, but you have to give them credit for an outstanding sales hook.
Globe Life is another online source that's an online provider. The policies you'll be purchasing are supplied directly by the company. Globe offers both term and whole life, including whole life for children. They also provide accidental death insurance, mortgage protection insurance, and even Medicare supplements.
The limitation with Globe is the size of their policies. They're generally limited to no more than $100,000 for a term life policy for adults, or $50,000 for a whole life policy. Children's policies are capped at $20,000. And like many of the providers on this list, they tend to favor healthy applicants.
Banner Life Insurance
Banner Life Insurance is owned by Legal and General America but is also the owner of William Penn Life Insurance Company, which handles policies in New York (Banner covers the other 49 states, and the District of Columbia).
The company offers whole life and universal life, in addition to term life insurance. Terms range from as short as 10 years to as long as 40 years. Whole life policies are guaranteed acceptance policies. They offer coverage for people between the ages of 50 and 80, with death benefits no higher than $15,000.
One of the major advantages is that they will accept policies for higher risk applicants, such as smokers and those with asthma. The company is known for its flexible underwriting, particularly if you only have a single medical condition. They also give favorable consideration if you have a history of taking care of your health. This can include participating in exercise regularly, getting an annual checkup, and completing routine preventative medical tests.
To get the best use of online life insurance companies, apply with the ones which closely match your personal situation. The industry has become highly specialized. For example, if you're in excellent health, and need coverage quickly at a very low price, apply with Haven, Ladder, Bestow or Ethos.
If you have a medical condition, you may be better served applying through online brokers, like SelectQuote or Policygenius. If you're looking for coverage for children, Globe Life is one of the leading providers in that category.
Use this list as a high-altitude information source and choose the online provider that will work best for you.
(and if you need to insure against diability, we have this list of the best disability insurance companies today)