Ladder Review – Updated 2021

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, which likely included upsells to more expensive products and higher-margin policies. 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 the fact that 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. 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. The entire process takes place online, avoiding an uncomfortable face-to-face meeting with a commissioned 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.

Insurance policies are issued by Ladder’s partners: Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America offers policies in all states except New York and, in New York, policies are issued by Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York.

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 do this 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’s offers term 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.

Ladder policies 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.

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, you may be asked to submit to an at-home health check.

If you’re applying for more than $3M in coverage and a medical exam (referred to as a “health check”) is required, 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.
  • 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 employees are salaried, and noncommissioned. You won’t get a sales pitch when you speak with them.

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.

My Final Verdict

If you’re looking for an inexpensive term life insurance policy, with fast approval, 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 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 # 0K22568; AR license # 3000140372) offers term life insurance policies: (i) in New York, on behalf of Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, New York, NY (policy form # MN-26); and (ii) in all other states and the District of Columbia on behalf of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Minneapolis, MN (policy form # ICC20P-AZ100 and # P-AZ100). Only Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York is authorized to issue life insurance in the state of New York.  Insurance policy prices, coverages, features, terms, benefits, exclusions, limitations and available discounts vary between these insurers and are subject to qualifications.  Each insurer is solely responsible for any claims and has financial responsibility for its own products.

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

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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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