7.1 / 10

Transamerica life insurance review

Transamerica makes up for old school policy management with affordable life insurance options and a short application process.

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Published November 27, 2019

Methodology
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Transamerica

OVERALL

7.1

THE GOOD

    Competitive rates for a basic term life insurance policy

    No medical exam required for people under a certain age or policies under a specific coverage amount

    Smokers and cancer patients may be eligible for preferred rates

THE BAD

    Application process can be slower than the industry average

    Limited changes can be made online; most changes to the policy need to be mailed

THE BOTTOM LINE

Transamerica has been providing life insurance since 1904. It’s a trusted life insurance partner that offers reasonable rates for people with health conditions.

Cost

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7.2

Confidence

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8.5

Customer Ratings

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6.1

Policy Options

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9.0

Customer Experience

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5.2

TRANSAMERICA COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

2 of 5

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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

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The Bottom Line

The extended wait times and inability to make changes online mean Transamerica isn’t the most user-friendly life insurance carrier on the market. For some, a term policy with lower rates and a simpler application process than other carriers on the market can compensate for the minor inconveniences.

The Details


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The Good

Competitive rates for a basic term life insurance policy. Across the board, the Trendsetter Super policy has lower life insurance rates than the industry average. While rates do increase with age, they remain lower than other term life insurance policies.

No medical exam required for people under a certain age or policies under a specific coverage amount. If you’re under 70 and buying a life insurance policy that is less than $100,000 in coverage, the underwriter will ask you medical questions during your phone interview, but you won’t actually require a medical exam for the Trendsetter Super policy. The Trendsetter LB doesn’t require a medical exam for coverage under $250,000, though the age cut-off varies.

Smokers and cancer patients may be eligible for preferred rates. While smokers and applicants with health issues still won’t receive optimal rates, there is a preferred classification that can make life insurance a little bit cheaper than it would be with other carriers.

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The Bad

Application decision is made slower than the industry average. You’ll have to wait a bit longer than usual to find out what life insurance premiums you’ll have to pay — or whether you can get life insurance at all. Transamerica has a relatively short application process but an exceptionally long decision wait time.

Limited changes can be made online; most changes to the policy need to be mailed. To make any adjustments to your life insurance policy, you’ll need to print and mail the proper forms to Transamerica. Transamerica’s minimal online functionality adds additional wait times and can create a poor customer experience.

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The Breakdown

Cost

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5.5

The cost of a life insurance policy with Transamerica is going to vary based on what type of coverage you’re looking for and if you want to add any riders to your policy. The quotes below are monthly premiums for a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy for a healthy, non-smoking male, in California.

AGETRANSAMERICA AVERAGEINDUSTRY AVERAGE
20s$25.11$28.02
30s$28.60$32.06
40s$56.79$60.97
50s$145.29$152.00
60s$497.42$504.29

Transamerica also offers an additional policy that provides accelerated benefits, known as living benefits, in cases of chronic, critical, and terminal illness. This policy is significantly more expensive than a standard term life policy.

Here’s how Transamerica classifies common health conditions:

HEALTH CONDITIONPRICING
Survivor/Family HistoryExcellent
Recent Weight LossGood
Heart AttackGood
DiabetesFair
Sleep ApneaFair
Former Tobacco UseFair
High Blood PressureGood
High CholesterolFair
  • 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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8.5

You’re likely purchasing a life insurance policy to provide some protection and security to your family in the event of your death. The average policy is meant to last a good chunk of your life — usually 20 to 30 years, and you want to make sure you’re working with a provider you can rely on to be there. Here’s how Transamerica ranks:

  • Number of policyholders: 13,000,000
  • Year founded: 1904
  • Standard & Poor’s: AA-
  • Moody's: A1
  • A.M. Best: A/Excellent

At over a century old, Transamerica’s superior ratings from financial rating companies S&P, Moody’s, and A.M. Best mean you can expect a provider that you can count on for life.

Highest ratings from each firm are:

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

Customer Ratings

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6.1

How do Transamerica’s customers feel? The Transamerica consumer experience is above average, but there’s room for improvement. Here’s how customers rate Transamerica:

  • J.D. Power: 2/5
  • BBB: A+
  • Consumer Affairs: 3/5
  • Consumers Advocate: 4.3/5
  • NAIC complaint index: 1.3

What do these ratings mean, exactly?

J.D. Power rates insurance companies based on their product offerings, price, clarity of statements, interaction, communication, and application process. The overall satisfaction score is “based on how individual life insurance clients rate their overall experience with the provider" and determines the final score that we show here.

The Better Business Bureau ranking is based on tangential metrics that account for the customer experience.

Consumer Affairs is a platform for consumers to rate products and services, with ratings based on stability, reputation, and policy coverage.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners tracks complaints submitted to state insurance departments with their national complain index. A score of 1 is the baseline average, and a score of 0 means there weren't enough complaints to receive a rating. Transamerica’s score of 1.3 means that they receive about the average amount of customer complaints — their customer experience isn’t exceptional, but it isn’t terrible either.

Policy Options

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9.0

Term life insurance

Term life insurance plans expire after a pre-determined number of years and have fixed premium rates for the duration of the term. The (comparatively) low cost and simplicity make term life insurance a better option than permanent life insurance for most individuals.

Transamerica offers two comprehensive term life offerings that range from 10-30 years in coverage.

Key details
Annual payment discount3%
Payment methods availableCheck for premiums above $100, auto bank draft, credit card for first premium payment only
Temporary coverageYes, up to $100,000 without any stipulations. Applicants of certain age or classification can receive more.

Transamerica Trendsetter Super

Transamerica Trendsetter Super is the simpler of its term life insurance options but offers a higher coverage amount — up to $10 million.

Transamerica Trendsetter LB

Transamerica’s costlier term life insurance option, Trendsetter LB offers up to $2,000,000 in death benefit protection but can be complemented with living benefits riders to create more comprehensive coverage.

Policy conversion

Both term policies are convertible to a whole life policy until the end of the term or until the policy holder’s 70th birthday, whichever is sooner. Individuals who have a Preferred Plus classification have until the end of the term or their 75th birthday.

Temporary life insurance coverage

Transamerica offers conditional temporary coverage. With a standard or better rating, applicants between ages 16-65 can receive up to $1,000,000 for applications if they have a standard or better rating, while someone between ages 66-75 can receive up to $400,000 in coverage. Someone who doesn’t have a minimum standard rating or is 76 or older can receive up to $100,000 in temporary coverage.

Available riders

Adding riders to your policy provides more coverage, especially for unexpected circumstances.

  • Child protection rider — Provides death benefit protection for children in increments of $1,000, up to a maximum of $99,000 or the policy’s face value, whichever is less. The child rider can be added in lieu of purchasing an additional policy for children ages 15 days old through 18 years old.
  • Accelerated death benefit rider — Also referred to as a terminal illness benefit, you can access up to $250,000 or 75% of the policy’s face value (whichever is less) if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live.
  • Accident indemnity rider — This rider pays an additional death benefit if the insured dies from an accidental bodily injury. Transamerica will double the amount paid out if the accident is caused by a “common carrier” such as a bus or a train. The rider can also provide financial support of the insured loses sight or limbs due to an accident.
  • Return of premium rider — Returns 100% of eligible premiums when the policy’s term expires but is only applicable for 20 and 30-year terms.
  • Waiver of premium rider — In the event that you become totally disabled, your premiums are waived. A 6 month waiting period applies.
  • Monthly disability income rider — In the event that you become disabled for 90 days or more, you can still receive up to $2,000 of your monthly income for up to two years. This rider can only be added on to the Trendsetter LB policy.

The Trendsetter LB policy allows for Living Benefit coverage, allowing the policyholder to access certain benefits if diagnosed with certain chronic, critical, or terminal medical conditions, at no extra cost.

Whole life insurance

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. It lasts your entire life, but its premium payments are five to 15 times costlier than term life insurance. Whole life insurance is usually only for people with specific circumstances or needs.

Final expense life insurance

Transamerica’s whole life insurance policy is called final expense life insurance. It offers up to $50,000 in coverage and can pay for your funeral or any other expenses pertaining to your death. The premium costs remain the same throughout your entire life, and unlike Transamerica’s term life insurance plans, there is no waiting period before your coverage begins.

Key details
Annual payment discount2%
Payment methods availableCheck and auto bank draft
Temporary coverageNo

Available riders

  • Child protection rider — Provides up to $5,000 in coverage for children or grandchildren 15 days to 17 years old.
  • Accelerated death benefit rider — If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can withdraw a portion of the death benefit.
  • Accidental death benefit rider — An additional death benefit can be paid out to your beneficiaries if your death is the result of a qualifying accidental injury.

Note: The information above represents potential policy options and may not be available for every applicant. Speak to a licensed expert for a personalized look at your coverage options.

Customer Experience

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5.2

Application process

State availability

Transamerica’s trendsetter super term policy is offered in every state, while the trendsetter LB policy is not offered in New York.

Individuals who purchase Transamerica’s whole life insurance policy will have $5,000 minimums in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Application length

The application process for Transamerica can be shorter and simpler than many other life insurance applications. Applying for a life insurance policy with Transamerica requires:

  • Phone interview
  • Paramedical exam

Policies under $100,000 usually don’t require a paramedical exam at all. If you’re applying for a policy under $100,000, you will be asked all medical questions during your phone interview.

Turn around time

The turn around time to receive a decision on a life insurance application takes longer than typical with most life insurance companies on the market.

Change method Do you need to make any changes to your policy? For most changes to your policy, you’ll have to mail in a paper authorization.

  • Online: Update address
  • Phone: Update address for final expense life insurance policy only
  • Mail: Update beneficiaries, change payment information, and cancel your policy.

Payment methods

All premium payments for a Transamerica term life insurance policy are paid by bank draft.

Policy delivery

Transamerica delivers all policy details by mail.

Claims documentation

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

  • Death certificate
  • Claims statement packet

To receive the claims statement packet, your beneficiaries will need to call Transamerica and speak with a claims representative. They will then receive a claims statement packet that they will need to fill out and return to Transamerica (at no cost to them).

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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.