8.4 / 10

Banner Life Insurance Review

Long term lengths and competitive premiums for people with complicated health issues make Banner a top contender among life insurance carriers.

Tim TorresNupur Gambhir

Updated November 16, 2020|7 min read

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Editorial disclosure

At Policygenius, we're committed to providing objective and transparent advice through strict editorial standards to help you get insurance right. Read more about our methodology.

Banner

OVERALL

8.4

THE GOOD

    Very competitive rates

    Covers many health conditions

    Term lengths up to 40 years

THE BAD

    Strict temporary coverage eligibility

    Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

THE BOTTOM LINE

Banner is a highly recommended carrier that has some of the longest term lengths and most competitive life insurance rates, even for people with a history of medical conditions, including cancer.

Banner Life is on Policygenius' list of the best life insurance companies, based on cost, financial confidence, third-party customer ratings, life insurance policy options, and ease of application.

For our reviews, we rate carriers based on our recommended term life product. For Banner, that’s the OPTerm policy.

Cost

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9.8

Confidence

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9.0

Third-Party Ratings

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8.3

Policy Details

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7.4

Ease of Application

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6.7

BANNER COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

N/A

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J.D. Power Rating

A trusted customer satisfaction and product quality research agency

A+

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BBB Rating

A nonprofit organization focusing on marketplace trust and product quality

A+

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A.M. Best

100-year-old U.S. credit rating agency focused on the insurance industry

The Details

The Good

Very competitive rates. Banner has some of the most competitive monthly premiums in the industry, especially for people with certain common (and a few complex) health histories. If pricing is one of your major concerns you should consider Banner for its lower rates.

Covers many health conditions. For most carriers, medical conditions such as high blood pressure or a heart attack in the last two years mean higher rates. Banner classifies the same conditions as good, or even excellent, and offers some of the most affordable rates for people with a more complicated medical history. Even if you have a family history of cancer you can still be considered for better premiums.

Term lengths up to 40 years. Most term life insurance providers offer up to 30 years of coverage, Banner Life takes it up a notch. Through this insurer, you can purchase 35- or 40-year term policies, protecting you and your family for even longer.

The Bad

Strict temporary coverage eligibility. Banner offers up to $1 million in temporary life insurance coverage but there are some caveats. Policies have to be for coverage of $1 million or less. And anyone who has had a history of heart disease, stroke, cancer, alcohol or drug dependence, or diabetes within the past five years or are above the age of 70 won’t be eligible for temporary coverage.

Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant. While Banner offers great reconsideration benefits for anyone who thinks their health might improve, the underwriting process and medical exam are paid for by the individual and not by the insurance carrier.

The Breakdown

Cost

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9.8

Cost is one of the big deciding factors when choosing a life insurance policy. You’ll likely go with the company with the most budget-friendly offerings.

Banner has some of the most competitive life insurance rates on the market, even for people who aren’t in the best of health.

The sample quote below is based on the monthly premiums for a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy for a healthy, non-smoking male, in California applying for Banner’s OPTerm term life policy.

AGEBANNER AVERAGEINDUSTRY AVERAGE
20s$24.40$28.02
30s$27.70$32.06
40s$54.60$60.97
50s$135.16$152.00
60s$473.52$504.29

Sample rates are for a healthy male in California applying for $500,000 in Preferred-rate class coverage. Rates current as of November 2020, according to Policygenius data.

Your medical history impacts how high or low your premiums will be. But each life insurance company weighs certain medical conditions differently. So it helps to understand how your own health history might be classified and help you choose a carrier that will give you lower rates.

Here are some common health conditions that can qualify for lower life insurance rates with Banner:

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Asthma

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Heart attack (in the last two years)

People with a family history of cancer can also be considered for better rates compared to other insurers.

→ Want to read more about life insurance with pre-existing conditions? We got you covered.

Confidence

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9.0

Working with a life insurance company you can trust is a pretty big deal. Not to get all serious or anything, but you’re purchasing a policy that manages your finances and provides a safety net for your family in the event of your death.

Yeah! So you’ve got to make sure your chosen insurer will last long into the future. To see how life insurance companies are doing financially, we turn to the top financial rating companies.

For some extra peace of mind, Banner, founded in 1949, has insured over a million people and has superior ratings from credit rating companies A.M Best and Standard and Poor’s.

  • Year founded: 1949

  • A.M. Best: A+

  • Moody’s: n/a

  • Standard & Poor’s: AA-

A.M. Best focuses on the insurance industry. They give Banner an “excellent” A+ rating, the second-best grade possible from the credit rating agency. Carriers with a B grade or lower are more vulnerable to risk.

Bond credit rating agency Moody’s did not rate Banner.

Standard & Poor’s rates Banner at AA-. According to the credit analysis firm, that means Banner's ability to meet financial obligations is considered very strong. Companies are rated on a scale from AAA to D. The higher the rating, the more likely a company is to pay its debts.

Third-Party Ratings

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8.3

High reviews from the top financial rating companies are great, but they don’t account for the customer experience. What are actual policyholders saying?

People insured by Banner have minimal complaints — according to what little data there is available from consumer index and third-party review sites. Still, based on what we got, Banner ranks above average in the level of satisfaction from its customers.

Here’s how people feel about Banner:

  • Better Business Bureau: A+

  • Consumers Advocate: n/a

  • Consumer Affairs: n/a

  • NAIC complaint index: 0.13

The non-profit organization Better Business Bureau rates companies based on advertising, resolved customer disputes, and other metrics. Customers can submit ratings to the BBB, but these scores are not taken into account. That said, BBB gives Banner an A+.

Third-party review site Consumers Advocate and customer review site Consumer Affairs don’t have ratings for Banner.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks complaints submitted to state insurance departments with their national complaint index. A score of 1 is the baseline average, and a score of 0 means there weren't enough complaints to receive a rating. Banner’s score of .13 is pretty good considering they insure over 1 million people. They’ve had some complaints, but they’re still above average in terms of industry standards.

Policy Details

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7.4

Banner Life has only a few life insurance options, including a term life policy with a wide range of term lengths, and a universal life policy.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance policies provide a death benefit for a set number of years. Unlike permanent life insurance, it has no cash value which makes it the most cost-effective option for most applicants.

OPTerm

Banner’s OPTerm is a straightforward term policy, but with one of the largest term length ranges compared to other life insurance carriers — your policy can stay in force anywhere from 10 to 40 years. This product involves full underwriting, which means there is no option to skip the medical exam.

Policy FeatureOPTerm
Eligible ages20 to 75
Term lengths10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30-, 35-, and 40-year terms
Coverage minimum$100,000
Coverage maximum$1 million

You pay a level premium, which means the cost of your premiums remains the same throughout the term. Rates are some of the most competitive for various health conditions when compared to other life insurance carriers on the market, too.

Plus, you can renew your policy or convert to a permanent policy without taking a medical exam.

Available riders

You can add riders for an additional cost to your policy to build more robust coverage beyond just a death benefit. Banner has the following available riders:

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can withdraw up to 75 percent of your life insurance policy with a maximum of $500,000. This rider is automatically included in the policy.

  • Child protection rider. Provides death benefit protection of $5,000 or $10,000 for all children up until their 25th birthday. This rider is unavailable in New York.

  • Disability waiver of premium rider. If you become totally disabled, you can maintain your life insurance policy without paying the premiums after a six month waiting period. The rider expires after the age of 65.

Temporary coverage

Banner offers up to $1 million in temporary life insurance coverage — but only on policies of $1 million or less. Additionally, applicants who have had certain medical conditions in the past five years or are above the age of 70 won’t be eligible for temporary coverage.

Medical conditions that would make an applicant ineligible for temporary coverage include history of heart disease, stroke, cancer, alcohol or drug dependence, or diabetes within the past five years.

Policy conversion

If the policy is issued before you turn 66, it’s convertible to a whole life insurance policy up until the end of the policy term or when you turn 70, whichever comes first. If the policy is issued after age 66, it is only convertible during the first five years the policy is in force.

Rate reconsideration

If you become healthier and want the chance to lower your rates after your policy goes into effect, Banner will give you that option through rate reconsideration. Smokers will have to wait a year. Reconsideration is priced using the original issue age of the insured. However, the insured is responsible for the medical exam.

Permanent life insurance

Banner Life’s only permanent life insurance product is a universal life insurance policy called Life Step UL. OPTerm customers can convert to it. There is no whole life option available.

Banner Life Step UL Details

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This product is designed for OPTerm customers to convert to, but shoppers can apply for a new Life Step UL policy too.

As usual for universal life policies, there’s a cash value component. Cash can be withdrawn to pay for your premiums, medical costs, or other expenses. Premiums are flexible, meaning they can change on an annual basis depending on your financial situation.

Eligible ages are 20 to 85. Policies start at $50,000 of coverage.

We recommend most people stick with a term life policy over a universal life policy. There are several reasons why, but mostly, universal policies are too expensive and confusing to deal with. You’ll get better results from a term life policy and a regular investment option like a savings account.

Available riders

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can withdraw a portion of your death benefit. This rider is automatically included in the policy.

Ease of Application

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6.7

Banner has a fairly simple and straightforward application process, but little in the way of digital tools to help shoppers decide things like how much coverage they need. There’s no way to apply online either.

Application process

To apply, customers need to answer questions over a phone interview and schedule a medical exam. During the interview, you’ll be asked to provide some information about yourself, including your prescription history, financial history, driver’s license information, social security number, contact information for doctors you’ve seen in the past 10 years, and information about any previous life insurance policies.

The phone interview and medical exam will then be reviewed by the underwriter to determine your policy.

Turnaround time

Banner usually makes a decision in about half the time it takes most life insurance carriers. Most carriers take four to six weeks to make a decision and deliver the policy.

Policy delivery

Banner Life policies are delivered electronically.

More Info

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State availability

Banner’s OPTerm policy is offered in every state. In New York, their policies are offered under the provider William Penn.

Change method

Banner customers can do the following online:

  • Update automatic payment details
  • Change contact details, including address, email, and phone number
  • Change beneficiary
  • Obtain change forms

If you want to cancel your policy you’ll have to mail in forms.

Payment methods

Policyholders can make monthly payments by automatic bank draft. You can also pay premiums semi-annually or quarterly by check. Customers can pay their first premium online via PayPal, credit card, or bank draft.

Digital tools

There’s no real calculator or online quote tool available. You’ll have to provide an email address and phone number then wait for an agent to call you back with a quote.

We recommend you use Policygenius for an individualized quote.

Claims documentation

If you pass away, your beneficiaries will need to submit the following information to receive the death benefit:

  • Death certificate
  • Original policy details (if the policy is not available, a lost policy form needs to be completed)
  • Claims statement packet

If the policy coverage is $10,000 or less, your beneficiaries may be eligible for Banner’s fast track claims process. The claims department will walk them through the necessary steps to expedite the process. You can also start the claim process online.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Banner Life offer online quotes?

No, at least not instantly. You need to provide your email address and phone number. After about a day an agent will call you about your quote. But you can get an instant and individualized quote right now with Policygenius.

Do I need to take a medical exam?

Yes. Applicants for OPTerm will have to undergo the full underwriting process, which entails answering questions about your medical history over a phone interview, and scheduling a medical exam. Banner Life does not provide a no-med exam option.

What are the main health conditions that Banner Life covers?

Coverage with Banner Life will benefit the following common health conditions: Anxiety and depression, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, heart attack (in the last two years), irritable bowel syndrome, OCD, psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis.

Policygenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation's top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.