3.6 / 5

SBLI Life Insurance Review

SBLI offers accelerated underwriting, which allows qualified applicants to skip the medical exam and receive a policy decision in as little as a week.

Tim TorresJennifer Pan

By

Tim Torres

Tim Torres

Reviews Expert

Tim Torres is a Reviews Editor at Policygenius. His work has appeared in Computer Shopper, Tom's Guide, and numerous other outlets over the years.

&

Jennifer Pan

Jennifer Pan

Insurance Expert

Jennifer Pan is an insurance editor at Policygenius. She covers life insurance, personal finance, and the economy. She previously worked in marketing and communications in the nonprofit sector and publishing.

Published October 28, 2020|7 min read

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SBLI

OVERALL

3.6

THE GOOD

    No-medical exams for Level Premium Term product

    Fast turnaround time

    Beneficiaries can file claims online

THE BAD

    Higher-than-average rates for applicants in their 50s

    Few third-party customer ratings

THE BOTTOM LINE

SBLI’s pricing is relatively competitive for people below age 50, and they offer accelerated underwriting for qualified healthy applicants. However, older applicants and people with more complex medical histories may find cheaper options elsewhere.

SBLI is on Policygenius' list of the best life insurance companies, based on cost, financial confidence, life insurance policy options, and ease of application.

For our reviews, we rate carriers based on our recommended term life product. In the case of SBLI, that’s the Level Premium Term policy.

Cost

Average monthly premium cost for a predetermined applicant profile and common health conditions.

7.4

Confidence

Consumer confidence based on scores from major financial rating institutions.

8.0

Third-Party Ratings

Satisfaction from consumer sentiment institutions and complaints to state insurance boards.

5.5

Policy Details

Availability of such options as term length and no-med-exam availability.

7.6

Ease of Application

Ease of use, convenience, online tools, and availability.

7.0

SBLI COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

N/A

J.D. Power surveys rate based on product offerings, price, statements, interaction, communication, and application. An overall satisfaction score of 4 denotes a company “better than most".

J.D. Power Rating

A trusted customer satisfaction and product quality research agency

A+

An A+ denotes a score between 97 and 100 (out of 100) based on 13 criteria, including unanswered complaints, type of business, and government action.

BBB Rating

A nonprofit organization focusing on marketplace trust and product quality

A

A.M. Best ratings range from A++ to D. An A+ rating denotes a "superior" company based on their ability to meet ongoing insurance obligations.

A.M. Best

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

The Details

The Good

No-medical exams for Level Premium Term product. SBLI offers accelerated underwriting for qualified applicants age 60 and under. That means, depending on your medical history and lifestyle, older shoppers can skip the medical exam — no blood or urine tests, blood pressure checks, or weight checks — and receive a policy decision sooner.

Fast turnaround time. Though turnaround times for applying for life insurance will vary from person to person, SBLI will generally return a decision about your application in as little as a week, which is faster than most other carriers.

Beneficiaries can file claims online. You’ll want your beneficiaries to access the death benefit without hassle. While some insurers require complicated paperwork to file a claim, SBLI allows you to begin the claim process online.

The Bad

Higher-than-average rates for applicants in their 50s. SBLI’s pricing is competitive for healthy people below the age of 50, but their rates are higher than average for applicants between ages 50 and 60.

Few third-party customer ratings. SBLI, despite being over a century old, has little in the way of customer satisfaction information out there. They aren’t ranked by many third-party review boards as some of their larger competitors, and they received more complaints than the industry average. However, they’ve earned an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.

The Breakdown

Cost

Average monthly premium cost for a predetermined applicant profile and common health conditions.

7.4

The cost of your life insurance premiums depends on several factors, including your age and health history. SBLI offers cheaper-than-average rates for most age groups, particularly for healthy people under the age of 50. However, their rates tend to be higher than the industry average for applicants in their 50s.

Take a look below for a comparison of SBLI’s term life policy with accelerated underwriting, Level Premium Term. Here are rates for a healthy, non-smoking male applying for a $500,000, 20-year term policy at different age brackets:

AGESBLI AVERAGEINDUSTRY AVERAGE
20s$25.34$28.02
30s$29.19$32.06
40s$60.76$60.97
50s$168.58$152.00
60s$310.28$504.29

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

Note that SBLI does not offer 20-year term policies for applicants over the age of 60. While some carriers offer 20-year term policies for people in their 60s, SBLI’s maximum term length for applicants over the age of 60 is 15 years. Their maximum term length for those over 65 is 10 years.

When it comes to common health conditions, SBLI offers accelerated underwriting for people with high blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep apnea, and asthma.

However, former nicotine users, people with a personal or family history of cancer, and people with diabetes may find more affordable policies elsewhere.

Pre-existing medical conditions won’t prevent you from obtaining life insurance, but you’ll want to shop around for the best rates for your specific medical history.

→ If you’re age 61 or over, here’s a selection of the best life insurance available for seniors

SBLI’s term life insurance is best for the following groups:

Confidence

Consumer confidence based on scores from major financial rating institutions.

8.0

A life insurance policy is something that you’re likely to have for decades, so you’ll want to be sure that your insurance carrier is in good financial standing and will be able to pay out any death benefit your beneficiaries are owed in the future.

SBLI (which stands for Savings Bank Life Insurance) has been in business for more than 100 years and currently provides coverage to over 500,000 customers. Though they’re not rated by Moody’s, they’ve earned good ratings from A.M. Best and Standard & Poors, which indicates that they’re reliable and financially stable.

  • Year founded: 1907

  • A.M. Best: A

  • Moody’s: N/A

  • Standard & Poor’s: A-

A.M. Best focuses primarily on the insurance industry. They give SBLI a solid A rating, one of the best grades possible from the credit rating firm. That means SBLI has a superior ability to fulfill customer obligations. Carriers with a B grade or lower are more vulnerable to risk.

Bond credit rating agency Moody’s did not score SBLI.

Credit analysis firm Standard & Poor’s gives SBLI an A-, which means their 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

Satisfaction from consumer sentiment institutions and complaints to state insurance boards.

5.5

Despite its age, SBLI isn’t currently evaluated by J.D. Power, Consumers Advocate, or Consumer Affairs. That means it’s not as easy to get a full picture of their customer satisfaction record as it is for larger carriers.

At the same time, they’ve earned the highest rating possible from the Better Business Bureau, which assesses a company’s trustworthiness and record of resolving customer concerns.

They also have a solid reputation on customer review portal, Trustpilot, where they’ve earned a 4.2 out of 5, based on over 900 reviews.

  • Better Business Bureau: A+

  • Consumers Advocate: N/A

  • Consumer Affairs: N/A

  • NAIC complaint index: 7.52

There is a score available from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), an organization of insurance regulators that tracks the amount of complaints sent to state insurance departments. Its complaint index reveals how many customers have filed grievances, with a score of 0 meaning there weren’t enough to track, and a score of 1 representing the baseline average. According to the NAIC, SBLI received way more complaints than the industry average with a score of 7.52.

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Policy Details

Availability of such options as term length and no-med-exam availability.

7.6

SBLI’s recommended term life product, SBLI Level Premium Term, comes with accelerated underwriting and no medical exam required for shoppers age 60 and under applying for $750,000 of coverage or less.

There’s also whole life, final expense, and one-year non-renewable term policies available, as well as a term life product with flexible coverage that can decrease over time.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance lasts a set number of years (usually between ten to 30) before expiring. Because it’s affordable and flexible, it’s the best choice for most life insurance shoppers.

SBLI Level Premium Term

SBLI’s Level Premium Term policy requires no medical exam for applicants who are age 60 or under, so long as they are applying for $750,000 of coverage or less. And since SBLI’s underwriting process is speedier-than-average, potential policyholders can expect a decision in one week or less and skip the need for a lab test or physician’s visit.

Applicants age 61 and over are still eligible for this product but they will have to undergo standard underwriting, which means they will likely have to take a medical exam.

Keep in mind this is not a guaranteed issue policy, so applicants still need to answer questions about their medical and prescription histories. It’s still possible to be denied. We recommend SBLI’s Level Premium Term product to people with lighter health conditions, such as marijuana use, high blood pressure, recent weight loss. People who have had a heart attack in the last two years will also benefit.

This policy also includes an accelerated death benefit rider — which allows you to access part of your death benefit in the event you become terminally ill — at no extra cost. You’ll also have the option to further customize your policy with a few other riders.

Policy FeatureLevel Premium Term
Eligible ages18 to 74
Term lengths10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, or 30-year terms
Coverage minimum$100,000
Coverage maximum$5 million

After your term’s end you can renew coverage until age 85, although your monthly premium will increase each year. You can also convert your term policy into a permanent life policy.

Available riders

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. Provides a portion of the death benefit to the insured if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness with 12 months left to live. There’s no extra charge for this rider but there is a fee at the time of exercise.

  • Accidental death benefit rider. Pays up to two times the death benefit, up to a maximum of $250,000, if the insured dies before age 70 and within 180 days of an accidental injury. Eligible ages are 18 to 65.

  • Children’s term benefit rider. Allows eligible children (who are at least 15 days to 23 years old) to be added to a policy at issue. Convertible to a permanent policy for up to five times the rider’s face amount when the child turns 25 or when the insured turns 65.

  • Waiver of premium benefit. Waives premiums if the insured becomes totally disabled for at least six months. Eligible ages are 18 to 55 years old. The rider terminates at age 65.

Temporary coverage

Temporary coverage from SBLI is unavailable at this time.

Policy conversion

SBLI Premium Level Term customers can convert to a permanent life policy at any point before the end of the term period or before they turn 70 years of age.

Rate reconsideration

SBLI Premium Level Term customers can reconsider their monthly rates on a case by case basis. People who smoke must wait at least one year before they can reconsider their rates. Reconsideration is priced using the original issue age of the insured. SBLI covers lab charges.

SmartTerm 360

A product meant for policyholders who anticipate their coverage needs changing over time.

SmartTerm 360 Details

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This policy bundles together multiple term life policies in order to lock in lower rates on lower coverage amounts. This is known as laddering life insurance policies, and it’s a way some applicants can save money over time.

For example, say you need a lot of coverage now to cover your income and the financial needs of your family. Those needs might change over the decades along with your coverage needs. Maybe the kids move out or the mortgage is paid off. Instead of renewing your policy and paying higher premiums, you can use SmartTerm 360 to select less coverage later in time for more affordable rates at the age and health condition you are now.

This policy requires a bit of planning, and not everyone will save money with a ladder strategy since premiums depend on age, gender, health, and other individual factors. But if you want to lock in lower premiums without commiting to the same amount of coverage in 20 or 30 years, it might be worth looking into. Coverage will decrease and you'll still pay premiums based on the age and health of when you applied.

Available riders

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. Provides a portion of the death benefit to the insured if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness with 12 months left to live. There’s no extra charge for this rider but there is a fee at the time of exercise.

One Year Non-renewable Term

If you need really, really short-term life insurance, SBLI offers a one year non-renewable term policy.

One Year Non-renewable Details

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You get coverage for one year with a single premium. This is aimed for customers who may not be able to afford longer coverage periods or are waiting for estate matters to resolve.

Available riders

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. Provides a portion of the death benefit to the insured if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness with 12 months left to live. There’s no extra charge for this rider but there is a fee at the time of exercise.

Policy conversion
Owners of this policy can convert to a permanent life insurance policy without the need for a medical exam

Permanent life insurance

SBLI offers fairly standard permanent solutions, including a whole life policy that term life policyholders can convert to, and a final expense option for seniors with an instant decision.

SBLI Whole Life Details

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This is a standard whole life policy with level premiums and a cash value component that lets you borrow from the death benefit to pay for other financial obligations such as medical bills.

Like the Level Premium Term policy, eligible applicants under the age of 60 applying for $750,000 of coverage or less do not need to undergo a medical exam. Decisions are made within a week or less due to SBLI’s accelerated underwriting process.

Since whole life policies are, as a whole, much more expensive than term life policies, we still recommend the Level Premium Term product over this.

Available riders

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. Provides a portion of the death benefit to the insured if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness with 12 months left to live. There’s no extra charge for this rider but there is a fee at the time of exercise.

  • Accidental death benefit rider. Pays up to two times the death benefit, up to a maximum of $250,000, if the insured dies before age 70 and within 180 days of an accidental injury. Eligible ages are 18 to 65.

  • Children’s term benefit rider. Allows eligible children (who are at least 15 days to 23 years old) to be added to a policy at issue. Convertible to a permanent policy for up to five times the rider’s face amount when the child turns 25 or when the insured turns 65.

  • Guaranteed insurability rider. Allows the insured to buy more coverage as they age or hit certain milestones (such as marriage or having a baby) with no medical exams or health questions. However, rates will increase.

  • Single-pay paid-up additions rider. Lets the policyholder make a single additional cash deposit at the time of policy issue to enhance the death benefit and cash value.

  • Guaranteed level premium term rider. Provides additional term life insurance coverage for 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years with level premiums. Can renew until age 85.

  • Cash-out term rider. Provides an additional 30-year term life policy. The insured can possibly surrender the coverage to receive a partial or full refund of rider premiums. This rider is not available for all whole life policies.

  • Waiver of premium benefit. Waives premiums if the insured becomes totally disabled for at least six months. Eligible ages are 18 to 55 years old. The rider terminates at age 65.

Cherish Life Final Expense Details

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This is an instant decision policy for seniors meant to cover the costs for credit card debt, funeral charges, medical bills, and other final expenses. Coverage amounts are between $2,000 to $35,000.

The instant decision goes into effect if you apply online. There’s no medical exam and very little waiting. The policy goes into effect once you’re approved and you pay your first premium.

Policyholders also get a lifetime subscription to SBLI’s LegacyShield online tool that organizes important files and documents like trusts and wills.

Available riders.

  • Child level term life insurance rider. Provides coverage for policyholder’s children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, aged at least 30 days old to less than 17 years old. Children can be added after the rider is issued.

  • Value-added benefit rider. Along with LegacyShield, policyholders can use this rider to access apps, services, online subscriptions, and other programs to help manage health, wellness, financial, or life insurance needs.

Ease of Application

Ease of use, convenience, online tools, and availability.

7.0

Depending on which product you choose, your application experience with SBLI can differ.

Application process

For SBLI’s Level Premium Term product, qualified applicants under the age of 60 may qualify for accelerated underwriting, which allows you to skip lengthy medical steps in the underwriting process. To qualify for accelerated underwriting, you must be a non-smoker in good health with a low-risk lifestyle.

The application length for SBLI is shorter than average. All applicants need to do is answer questions over the phone about their insurance, medical, and prescription histories with a licensed Policygenius expert. Some shoppers may have to answer follow-up questions or requests for banking information.

Turnaround time

Nearly half of all applicants will receive a decision within a week.

Policy delivery

Policies are delivered electronically to SBLI customers.

More information

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State availability

SBLI’s term life policies are available in every state except New York.

Change method

SBLI customers can view policy details, change their contact details (including address, phone, and email), change beneficiary, and obtain change forms online.

Payment methods

You can set up automatic payments online or by filling out a form and returning it via email, fax, or mail. Checks can be used annually, semi-annually, or quarterly, but not for monthly payments.

You can also make one-time payments online or over the phone with a banking or checking account.

Digital tools

There’s an online quote tool on SBLI’s website. You can also use Policygenius for online quotes.

Claims documentation

You can file claims online. You just need the following:

  • Policy number
  • Name of insured
  • Date of birth
  • Date of death

Frequently Asked Questions

Does SBLI offer online quotes?

Yes, for the Level Premium Term policy you can find individualized rates here on Policygenius. You’ll also find sample quotes at SBLI’s website.

Do I need to take a medical exam?

If you’re applying for the Level Premium Term or SBLI Whole Life policies, under the age of 60, in good health, and a non-smoker you are eligible to skip the medical exam. You can also avoid a medical exam if you’re a senior applying for SBLI’s final expense policy.

What are the main health conditions that SBLI covers?

People aged 60 and under, who are in good health, but live with conditions such as high blood pressure, recent weight loss, or marijuana use can benefit from SBLI’s policies. People who have had a heart attack in the last two years are also covered under SBLI’s Level Premium Term policy.

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.

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