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What is the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

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The BBB rates life insurance companies based on customer satisfaction and trustworthiness, which informs Policygenius’ best company recommendations.

Amanda Shih author photoRebecca Shoenthal author photo

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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is an editor and a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

 & Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

Updated November 12, 2021 | 3 min read

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At Policygenius, our life insurance company reviews include financial health and consumer satisfaction ratings by a number of third-party organizations. They sometimes includethe Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB is a nonprofit organization founded in 1912 focused on helping consumers find businesses they can trust. It provides information about a company’s customer reputation to help you make informed buying decisions and helps to resolve official complaints against companies. The BBB gives life insurance ratings to companies from A+ to F based on the value of the insurer’s customer service.

When researching life insurance companies, it’s important to look for a company that’s financially stable (through reviews by A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s) to know how reliably it will pay your death benefit. A strong customer service rating is also important to ensure your loved ones receive consistent and expedient customer care in the event of your passing.

Key Takeaways

  • The Better Business Bureau assigns companies a score of 0-100, which translates to a grade of A+ (best) to F (worst)

  • Scores and grades are based on public and privately sourced information, including consumer complaints and government actions against a business

  • BBB ratings can help you choose a reliable life insurance provider to handle your policy and claims with care and expertise

Why Better Business Bureau ratings matter for life insurance shoppers

When you’re comparing life insurance policies, it can be hard to decide which provider is the best one for you. You’ll want to choose a company with affordable premiums and reliable financials, but remember that your beneficiaries will be working with your life insurance provider while grieving your passing. Choosing a company with a strong record of handling claims and complaints quickly and fairly can provide your loved ones with peace of mind.

BBB ratings don’t just measure customer service interactions, but how much you can trust a business to serve you overall. The ratings reflect data including complaints a company has received, how quickly and successfully they resolve those complaints, the company’s transparency, and any government actions against the company. This information is good to know for any business, but it’s especially useful if you’re considering a smaller or newer life insurance company that has fewer customer reviews to rely upon.

While a strong BBB rating is always a plus, it can be difficult to find a reliable rating that reflects the type of service you’ll get from your particular insurer due to the differences between national and local branches. Most major insurance companies (including several Policygenius partners such as AIG or Liberty Mutual) have multiple BBB ratings depending on location. By working with an independent broker such as Policygenius, you can get dependable customer service no matter where you live.

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How the Better Business Bureau determines its ratings

The Better Business Bureau assigns every business a number of points from 0-100 based on their reliability and trustworthiness, which translates into a letter grade from F (0-59.99) to A+ (97-100). The higher the points and better the grade, the more dependable the BBB considers a company.

The BBB compiles information provided by businesses, from consumer complaints, and from other public data sources to evaluate companies using seven main criteria:

  1. BBB complaint history — including number of complaints, whether complaints are resolved, how quickly complaints are resolved, and whether there are patterns in customer complaints

  2. Type of business — businesses that may violate the law or frequently cause issues to consumers and the marketplace will lose points

  3. Time in business — businesses that have been operating longer receive a higher score

  4. Transparent business practices — businesses that don’t offer clear information about their products and services or basic information like business addresses will score lower

  5. Failure to honor commitments to the BBB — businesses that fail to follow through on settlements in disputes settled by the BBB will lose points

  6. Licensing and government actions — including certifications and licensing requirements for businesses and any government actions against the business that reflect poorly on its ethics and reliability

  7. Advertising issues — including accuracy of claims made in consumer advertising

While some businesses are accredited by the BBB and others are not, accredited businesses are simply those that have gone through the organization’s accreditation process, which requires businesses to meet and maintain a set of BBB standards. However, a business is not necessarily untrustworthy just because it’s not accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB strongly recommends doing additional research into any company before giving them your business. The organization’s ratings are one indicator of a company’s dependability, but a BBB rating is not a guarantee.

Better Business Bureau rating points

The table below reflects each category the BBB considers and the minimum and maximum number of points a business can earn in each category.

CategoryPoints
Complaint volume (weighted by age)0 to 15
Unanswered complaints0 to 40
Unresolved complaints0 to 30
Complaint resolution delayed0 to 5
Failure to address complaint pattern-31 to 0
Type of business-41 to 0
Time in business0-10
Transparent business practices-5 to 0
Failure to honor mediation/arbitration-41 to 0
Competency licensing-41 to 0
Government action (per action)-34 to 0
Advertising review (per incident)-41 to 0
BBB trademark infringement-41 to 0

Better Business Bureau letter rating scale

The table below shows how point totals translate into the BBB grade for a company. Businesses without a rating (marked NR by the BBB) have not provided enough information for the organization to assign a score.

PointsLetter Rating
97-100A+
94-96.99A
90-93.99A-
87-89.99B+
84-86.99B
80-83.99B-
77-79.99C+
74-76.99C
70-73.99C-
67-69.99D+
64-66.99D
60-63.99D-
0-59.99F

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Better Business Bureau FAQ:

What is a BBB rating for life insurance companies?

The Better Business Bureau rates life insurance companies based on their dependability and trustworthiness using public data and company-provided information such as consumer complaints and licensing records.

How does the Better Business Bureau rate companies?

The BBB assigns companies a score of 0-100 based on several factors, such as number of consumer complaints and accuracy in advertising, then translates that score into a letter grade from A+ (best) to F (worst).

Why does a life insurance company’s BBB rating matter?

Life insurance ensures financial protection for your loved ones after you die. A reliable and trustworthy company can handle a death claim with efficiency and sensitivity while your beneficiaries are grieving.