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.
For our reviews, we rate carriers based on their premier term life product. For Banner, that’s the OPTerm policy.
Disclaimer: Banner Life is a current partner of Policygenius. We are an online marketplace that offers insurance policies from many of the nation's top insurers. However, all editorial choices, including this one, are made independently. Learn more about our methodology.
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 complicated medical histories. 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, so you can purchase 35- or 40-year term policies that protect you and your family for even longer.
Strict temporary coverage eligibility. Banner offers up to $1 million in temporary life insurance coverage but only for policies that have coverage of $1 million or more. And anyone with 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.
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.
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 people.
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.
|Eligible ages||20 to 75|
|Term lengths||10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30-, 35-, and 40-year terms|
|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.
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% 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. The child does not undergo a medical exam. 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.
Term rider. This provides extra temporary coverage for a certain number of years. The term period of the rider must be for a shorter length of time than the OPTerm base policy.
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.
If the policy is issued before you turn 66, it’s convertible to Banner’s universal 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.
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 policyholder 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Rates current as of November 2021, 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:
People with a family history of cancer can also be considered for better rates compared to other insurers.
→ Read more about life insurance and pre-existing conditions.
To see how life insurance companies are doing financially, we turn to the top financial rating companies.
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.
A.M. Best: A+
Standard & Poor’s: AA-
A.M. Best focuses on the insurance industry. They give Banner an A+ rating (effective November 18, 2021), 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.
What are actual policyholders saying?
They have minimal complaints — according to what little data there is available from consumer index and third-party review sites.
Here’s how people feel about Banner:
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 0.29 is pretty good considering they insure over 1 million people. They’ve had a few complaints, but they’re still above average in terms of industry standards.
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, and no online live chat. If you want to talk to somebody you need to call or email.
Keep in mind that if you apply for OPTerm through Policygenius, you would bypass Brighthouse customer service.
To apply, you 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.
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.
Banner Life policies are delivered electronically.
Banner’s OPTerm policy is offered in every state. In New York, their policies are offered under the provider William Penn.
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.
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.
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.
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.