Ladder Review 2024: Low-Cost Term Life Insurance Only

Ladder

8.5

Product Rating

8.5/10

Strengths

  • 100% online application
  • Fast life insurance decision
  • Easy to raise or lower coverage

Weaknesses

  • No policy riders
  • Only term life insurance policies

Ladder is an online insurance platform designed specifically to provide fast approvals for low-cost term life insurance policies.

Years ago, before companies like Ladder, getting life insurance was a long process and a big pain in the butt.

You had to fill out a long application followed by a call with a life insurance agent to decide which policy was right for you. Then you’d have to take a medical exam. (if you don’t want to, there are life insurance options that don’t require a medical exam)

Think you were done? Oh no. After that, the insurance company would begin the underwriting process and then (maybe) issue a policy. The underwriting process can take weeks. It’s a lot of paperwork, and that takes time.

Insurance companies have gotten wise to how not everyone is risky so larger companies have partnered with more nimble companies to offer fast life insurance policy approvals.

If you’re looking for simple term life insurance, the lowest possible premium cost, and have it as quickly as possible – Ladder is one of those companies. Read on to learn about the company, how it works, pros/cons, and my final verdict.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Ladder?
  2. Why are they called “Ladder?”
  3. What Policies Does Ladder Offer?
  4. The Application Process with Ladder
  5. Ladder Pros & Cons
    1. Pros:
    2. Cons:
  6. Alternatives to Ladder
    1. Everyday Life
    2. Fabric
  7. My Final Verdict

What is Ladder?

Based in California, and founded in 2015, Ladder is an online insurance platform designed specifically to provide fast approvals for low-cost term life insurance policies. In many cases, you can apply and be approved immediately, if you qualify. The entire process takes place online, avoiding a potentially uncomfortable face-to-face meeting with an insurance agent.

Ladder offers no-frills, low-cost life insurance. Because they offer only term life insurance policies – and no policy riders – we’ve seen they can provide some of the lowest cost life insurance available.

Ladder offers policies through multiple carrier’s partners.

Why are they called “Ladder?”

Besides fast approvals, with Ladder you start with a base level of life insurance coverage that’s within means. As you age, and as your financial needs grow, you can apply to increase your death benefit to better match those needs – you can “ladder up” your policy.

For example, a young family may not be able to afford a policy with a large death benefit today; but as their income grows, and as their family and needs grow, they can increase the policy death benefit. The reverse is also true. If you pay off your mortgage and your children are grown, you may prefer to reduce your death benefit and pay less.

If you apply to increase your coverage, that’s “laddering up.” If you decrease your coverage, that’s “laddering down.”

(now is a good time to figure out how much life insurance you need!)

Ladder lets you do both. You can reduce or apply to increase your coverage easily online. It won’t cost you any extra in fees to go up or down, but you will pay more or less because of the adjusted coverage. As is the case with life insurance, the per thousand premium cost will be higher based on your increased age if you apply to increase your death benefit.

If you wanted to decrease coverage elsewhere, you would have to get a whole new insurance policy or let your existing one lapse. It’s a less elegant way of doing it, but not impossible.

What Policies Does Ladder Offer?

Ladder offers term life insurance that covers deaths resulting from either accidents or natural causes.

In the case of suicide, there is a waiting period (one or two years, depending on the state) after a policy is signed before benefits are eligible to be paid. Should the applicant die within those two years by suicide, no death benefit will be paid but all premiums paid will be refunded to the beneficiaries. This is a typical provision in life insurance policies with most insurance companies.

Life insurance policies offered through Ladder are available in terms of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years. The specific term of the policy is determined by your age at the time of application. The length of the policy term cannot exceed 70 minus your current age.

For example, the maximum term length based on certain ages are as follows:

  • 40 years old, 30-year term
  • 45 years old, 25-year term
  • 50 years old, 20-year term
  • 55 years old, 15-year term
  • 60 years old, 10-year term

Coverage is available with death benefits ranging from a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $8 million.

Ladder also guarantees no medical exams for coverage up to $3M, just some health questions are included as part of the online application.

What about Policy Riders? Ladder does not offer policy riders. They believe that riders increase the cost of the policy premium, and complicate life insurance without providing a benefit sufficient enough to offset the higher cost. This reflects the company policy of remaining a low-cost life insurance services provider.

Wondering what the application process is like?

The Application Process with Ladder

To qualify for life insurance through Ladder you must be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident living in the US for at least two years. Coverage is available to applicants between the ages of 20 and 60 and can provide coverage through age 70.

The application process takes place entirely online through a series of screens that may ask the following questions:

  • What is your sex?
  • How tall are you?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Have you used any form of tobacco or nicotine in the last three years?
  • What is your birthday?
  • Has a biological parent or sibling been diagnosed with diabetes, cancer, or heart disease prior to the age of 60?
  • What is your household income?

Once you have completed the above questions, you’ll be taken to a screen that will ask you to select your desired coverage amount and term length. When that’s finished, you’ll be given an estimated monthly premium; however, you’ll then be taken to the second set of questions. There are at least 20, but below we present the types of questions, so you’ll get a general idea:

  • Do you plan to engage in any high risk activities within the next two years? Examples could  include skydiving or parachuting, scuba diving, motor vehicle racing or boat racing, and other potentially hazardous pastimes.
  • When was the last time you used marijuana?
  • Have you used cocaine, heroin, narcotics, hallucinogens, or other controlled substances (other than as prescribed by a medical professional) in the last 10 years?
  • Have you been counseled, treated or hospitalized for drug or alcohol use in the last 10 years?

As you move through the questions, you’ll be asked to supply personal information, such as your name, address, email, and phone number, among other information. Once you complete that information, you’ll either get instant approval, complete with a final monthly premium payment, a declination, or you may need to provide additional information. If you’re seeking more than $3M in coverage, a medical exam is required.

If you’re applying for more than $3M in coverage, a medical exam (referred to as a “health check”) is required, and an appointment will be scheduled with a lab technician at your home or office. It’s generally completed in less than 30 minutes. The exam will include a basic medical history review, height, and weight measurements, collection of urine and blood samples, as well as checking your blood pressure and pulse. You’ll even be able to access the results from your exam from the accounts page. If a health check is required, it will delay the final approval of your policy by several weeks, but this is only required if you’re interested in more than $3M in coverage.

Ladder Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • You can apply and be approved in minutes for coverage up to $3M, if you qualify.
  • The unique “laddering” feature enables you to decrease or apply to increase the amount of coverage you have with your policy as you move forward.
  • Premiums are on the lower end of the industry scale.
  • Ladder’s customer service team are all licensed professionals.

Cons:

  • Ladder does not offer policy riders that can be used to customize your policy.
  • Only term life insurance policies are offered. If you want a permanent or cash value policy, like whole life, you’ll have to work with another carrier.
  • Ladder provides life insurance only, and not any other types of insurance, such as auto or homeowner’s insurance.

Alternatives to Ladder

Everyday Life

While Ladder Insurance provides coverage directly to the consumer, Everyday Life is an insurance broker. This means that it works as an intermediary for customers who want to buy coverage.

When you fill out an application with Everyday Life, you’ll potentially receive quotes from multiple life insurance providers, such as SBLI and Legal & General. Everyday Life says that its application only takes a few minutes to complete. You can also avoid undergoing a medical exam.

The minimum monthly premium is $4. However, the average premium is $15 a month. Costs fluctuate based on your age, health rating, term length and total coverage.

What is different about Everyday Life is that it offers an automatic laddering strategy that determines just how much coverage you need at different times in your life. This is known as their Predictive Protection strategy, and they claim it can save customers 50% of their monthly premiums over the course of the entire term.

Here’s our full review of Everyday Life.

Learn more about Everyday Life

Fabric

Fabric is a term life insurance company designed to help families buy coverage. Term lengths come in five-year increments, starting at 10 years and lasting as long as 30 years, which is standard in the life insurance industry. 

Total coverage starts at $100,000 and tops out at $5 million. Fabric is a highly-rated insurance company with an A+ financial strength rating from A.M. Best.

Fabric lets you complete an application either through your browser or with their online app. Their Android app has a 4 out of 5 rating and their iPhone app has a 4.8 out of 5 rating.

Customers who aren’t happy with Fabric can cancel their policy and get their money back within the first 30 days. When you apply for life insurance with Fabric, you’re not required to complete a medical exam.

Learn more about Fabric

My Final Verdict

If you’re looking for an inexpensive term life insurance policy, with fast decisions, Ladder is well worth checking out. It’s one of our best life insurance companies. You can complete the application process in a matter of minutes and get coverage up to $3M without a medical exam. The premiums are among the lowest in the industry.

However, if you’re over 60, or looking for a different type of life insurance (like whole or universal life); you’ll need to look somewhere else. Ladder offers only term life insurance policies; and to keep premium prices to an absolute minimum, they don’t offer any type of riders to customize your policy.

They’re an excellent choice if you’re looking for basic life insurance coverage at a low price, and don’t need any of the additional provisions that are common with most other life insurance policies.

If you’d like more information, or you’d like to apply for an insurance policy, visit the Ladder website.


Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers – for further details see ladderlife.com.  All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy.  Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products. Coverage amounts vary by state.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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