7.4 / 10

SBLI Life Insurance Review

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

Jennifer Pan

Jennifer Pan

Published December 12, 2019

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Methodology
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SBLI

OVERALL

7.4

THE GOOD

    Faster-than-average turnaround time

    Accelerated underwriting available for qualified applicants

    Beneficiaries can file claims online

THE BAD

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

    Higher-than-average rates for applicants with certain medical conditions

    Mixed customer ratings

THE BOTTOM LINE

SBLI’s pricing is competitive across a number of age groups, and they offer accelerated underwriting for qualified healthy applicants. However, older applicants and individuals with more complex medical histories may find cheaper options elsewhere.

Cost

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6.8

Confidence

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8.3

Customer Ratings

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6.5

Policy Options

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8.1

Customer Experience

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7.3

SBLI COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

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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 Rating

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

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The Bottom Line

SBLI is unique in offering accelerated underwriting to applicants under 60 across every risk class. Their turnaround time for policy decisions tends to be faster than average, and they’ve earned the highest rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, when it comes to a number of common medical conditions, including former tobacco use, diabetes, and a personal or family history of cancer, SBLI’s underwriting is less competitive than other insurers. And as a smaller carrier, they haven’t yet been evaluated by some of the leading organizations that measure customer satisfaction.

The Details


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The Good

Faster-than-average turnaround time. Though the turnaround time for applying for life insurance will vary from person to person, SBLI will generally return a decision about your life insurance application faster than other carriers.

Accelerated underwriting available for qualified applicants. SBLI offers accelerated underwriting for qualified applicants under the age of 60, up to $500,000 in coverage. Accelerated underwriting applicants can skip the medical exam and receive a policy decision in as little as a week.

Wondering if you qualify for accelerated underwriting? An agent or an independent broker like Policygenius can help you find out based on your medical history and lifestyle.

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

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The Bad

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

Higher-than-average rates for applicants with certain medical conditions. Each insurance carrier treats health conditions differently in their underwriting process. SBLI’s underwriting tends to be less competitive when it comes to former nicotine users, people with diabetes, and people with a personal or family history of cancer.

Mixed customer ratings. As a smaller company, SBLI isn’t ranked by as many customer satisfaction boards as some of their larger competitors, and they received slightly more complaints than the industry average in 2018. However, they’ve also earned the highest possible rating (A+) from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The Breakdown

Cost

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6.8

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

Take a look at the table below for a comparison of SBLI’s rates for a healthy, non-smoking man applying for a $500,000, 20-year term policy at different age brackets:

AgeSBLI averageIndustry average
20s$25.32$28.02
30s$29.19$32.06
40s$60.76$60.97
50s$168.58$152.00
60s$310.28*$504.29

*Rate at age 60; SBLI does not offer 20-year term policies for applicants over the age of 60.

Note that every insurer also has different term length limits for older applicants. 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 favorable underwriting for high cholesterol, and rates on par with the rest of the industry for conditions like high cholesterol and a past heart attack. However, former nicotine users, people with a personal or family history of cancer, and those with diabetes may find more affordable policies elsewhere.

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

HEALTH CONDITIONPRICING
Survivor/Family HistoryFair
Recent Weight LossGood
Heart AttackGood
DiabetesFair
Sleep ApneaFair
Former Tobacco UseFair
High Blood PressureGood
High CholesterolExcellent
  • Excellent - Above average; company provides excellent coverage for clients with this condition.
  • Good - Spot on; company doesn’t look at this condition unfavorably in underwriting.
  • Fair - Could use some work; clients with this condition may be issued a lower health rating, and subsequently higher rates than other insurers.

Confidence

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8.3

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 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 Standard & Poors and A.M. Best, which indicates that they’re reliable and financially stable.

  • Number of policyholders: 500,000
  • Year founded: 1907
  • Standard & Poor’s: A-
  • Moody's: n/a
  • A.M. Best: A

Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and A.M. Best are financial ratings companies. These firms look at the financial strength of companies as a measure of how well they can handle future financial strength and meet the obligations of policyholders.

The highest ratings from each firm are:

  • Standard & Poor’s: AAA
  • Moody’s: Aaa
  • A.M. Best: A++

Customer Ratings

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6.5

As a life insurance carrier on the smaller side, SBLI isn’t currently evaluated by J.D. Power, Consumer Affairs, or Consumers Advocate. That means it’s not as easy to get a full picture of their customer satisfaction record as it is for larger carriers. And according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), SBLI received slightly more complaints than the industry average in 2018.

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

  • J.D. Power: n/a
  • BBB: A+
  • Consumer Affairs: n/a
  • Consumers Advocate: n/a
  • NAIC complaint index: 1.56

J.D. Power scores are based on customer ratings for overall satisfaction, clarity and usefulness of annual statements and billing, price, policy offerings, and interaction experience. At this time, SBLI has not been evaluated by J.D. Power.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ranks companies across a large swath of criteria. While consumers can submit ratings to the BBB, these scores are not taken into account in their rating, although tangential metrics that take into account customer experience are.

Consumer Affairs is a platform that lets consumers directly rate companies, while Consumers Advocate rates companies based on stability, reputation, and policy coverage. SBLI isn’t currently evaluated by either.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks the number of 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 count.

SBLI’s NAIC complaint index score in 2018 was 1.56, or slightly above the industry average. In 2018 they received a total of 11 complaints out of a customer base of over 500,000.

Policy Options

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8.1

Term life insurance lasts a set number of years (usually between 10 to 30) before expiring. Because it’s affordable and flexible, it’s the right choice for most life insurance shoppers.

SBLI’s Level Premium Term policies include an accelerated death benefit rider — which allows you to access part of your death benefit in the event that you become terminally ill — at no extra cost. You’ll also have the option of customizing your policy further with a variety of other riders.

Level Premium Term

Key details
Annual payment discountNone
Available payment methodsCheck, auto bank draft
Temporary coverageUp to $1,000,000

Policy conversion

The policy is convertible until the earlier of the end of the term or to age 70.

Available riders

Riders are additions to your overall life insurance policy that turn a basic life insurance policy into something that covers more circumstances.

  • Child Protection Rider - Allows eligible children to be added to a policy at issue with coverage up to $10,000.

  • Disability Waiver of Premium Rider - If you become totally disabled as a result of a qualifying event, you will not have to pay premiums for a fixed period of time.

  • Accelerated Death Benefit Rider - Allows you to receive a portion of the death benefit if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness. SBLI includes this rider with term life policies at no additional cost.

  • Accidental Death Benefit Rider - Provides payment up to two times the death benefit (maximum $250,000) if you die before age 70 and within 180 days of an accident.

Customer Experience

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7.3

Application process

State availability

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

Application length

The application length for SBLI is shorter than average.

*Based on standard application. Additional forms may be required.

Turnaround time

Though the length of the application process will differ from person to person, SBLI’s turnaround time from application to active policy is generally shorter than average.

Certain applicants under the age of 60 may also qualify for accelerated underwriting, which allows you to skip lengthy medical steps in the underwriting process, such as obtaining an attending physician statement (APS). Generally, to qualify for accelerated underwriting, you must be a non-smoker in good health with a low-risk lifestyle.

Each insurer that offers accelerated underwriting will determine your eligibility through a medical interview over the phone, but Policygenius can help you figure out beforehand whether you qualify.

Change method

  • Online: Update address, update payment information
  • Phone: n/a
  • Mail: Policy delivery, update beneficiary, cancel policy

Payment methods

SBLI accepts payment by check and auto bank draft.

Policy delivery

Final policy delivery is sent by mail.

Claims documentation

SBLI allows the beneficiary of a policy to file a claim online. They also require the following information in order to start the process:

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

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.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.