With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best life insurance company specific to your needs and goals. And that is why we have put together this Ameritas Life Insurance review, so you can get a better idea whether or not this is the right company for you.
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About Ameritas Life Insurance
Ameritas Life Insurance Corporation (“Ameritas”) was originally founded in 1887 under the name “Old Line Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska.” Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, Ameritas grew gradually during the first century of its existence and mostly remained a regional player.
Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.
5900 O Street, P.O. Box 81889
Lincoln, NE 68501-1889
Beginning in 1999, though, Ameritas was involved in a series of mergers and acquisitions that significantly expanded the company’s geographic reach, customer base, and, ultimately, its holdings.
Ameritas is organized as a mutual insurance company. In general, mutual insurers are often viewed as providing better customer service than stockholder-owned companies.
Perhaps more importantly, mutual companies are owned by policyholders, and, as a result, participating life insurance policies are often eligible for annual dividend payments from the company. Dividends are essentially a small slice of annual profits.
While dividends are not guaranteed, most mutual insurers try to pay dividends every year because dividend eligibility is a very helpful selling point when marketing whole life coverage.
Ameritas sells life insurance in all fifty states, though New York policies are issued by an affiliate, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. of New York. Both insurers are formally held by Nebraska-based Ameritas Mutual Holding Company.
Ameritas policies and the other financial services offered by the company are marketed through a network of agents and financial advisers distributed throughout the country.
Ameritas Financial Ratings
A.M. Best: A
Comdex Ranking: 83
The 83 ranking from Comdex and “A” from A.M. Best score both put Ameritas well-above-average, though not in the upper echelon of life insurers in terms of financial strength.
While there are some safer bets in the industry, Ameritas policyholders realistically face only a very small risk that the company will be financially unable to meet its policy commitments.
In terms of financial heft, Ameritas isn’t a small insurer, but it’s also not one of the industry’s biggest.
As of 2019, Ameritas held just under $30 billion in corporate assets. When the company began its expansion in the 1980s, assets totaled less than $1 billion, so growth has been strong and consistent over the interval.
About 75% of Ameritas’ assets are currently held in relatively low-risk fixed-maturity securities. The company earns just under $2.5 billion in annual revenue, serving over 4 million customers, and has almost $100 billion in life insurance in force.
Ameritas Consumer Ratings:
No company is perfect, but customer service is among the strengths of Ameritas. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 1983, and currently boasts an A+ rating, BBB’s highest score.
Ameritas has also won awards within the industry for its customer service relating to claims handling. The call center in particular has received high marks.
Ameritas does not allow customers to purchase coverage directly through its website. Interested parties must work through company agents. For potential applicants, Ameritas’ website does provide a fairly simple means of obtaining quotes for term life insurance. Though a quote is only an estimate (not a firm offer), the estimate calculator is a useful tool for comparing rates between companies.
Ameritas is not currently marketing any no exam term life insurance policies, which means most new applicants will need at least a limited medical exam.
What Products Does Ameritas Offer?
Ameritas offers a full suite of life insurance options for consumers. Term life, whole life, and three forms of universal life (ordinary UL, variable UL, and indexed UL).
And, like many other life insurance providers, Ameritas offers annuities, which are sometimes called “reverse life insurance.”
Along with life insurance and annuities, Ameritas also provides disability, dental, and vision coverage and financial planning services to both individuals and businesses.
Ameritas’ financial services include administration of retirement and college savings plans and marketing of mutual funds and similar investments.
Life Insurance from Ameritas:
Ameritas Term Life:
Ameritas Value Plus term life policies are available in a wide range of term lengths. Policies are issued providing coverage for as little as one year or as long as 30 years.
Level term life insurance premiums are fixed throughout a policy’s initial term, and most policies are eligible for annual renewal until the insured reaches age 100.
Of course, if a policy is renewed upon the conclusion of its initial term, the premiums will increase—often dramatically.
Riders available with Ameritas term policies include an accidental death rider that provides additional coverage if the insured’s death results from a qualifying accident;
A terminal illness rider allowing early payout of benefits if the insured is diagnosed with less than a year to live;
A disability rider that waives premiums in the event of extended disability;
And a children’s term rider that provides supplemental term life insurance (convertible to permanent coverage) covering the insured’s minor children.
Most term policies are also available with conversion options, which allow the policyholder to convert term coverage into a whole life or universal life policy within five years.
For an extra cost, Ameritas offers a conversion extension that pushes back the conversion deadline to either the end of the policy’s initial term or age 70, whichever happens first.
Ameritas Whole Life:
Ameritas offers three different options for applicants looking for traditional whole life insurance coverage: Access, Growth, and Value Plus Whole Life.
All three policies provide guaranteed-for-life coverage, fixed premium levels, and cash value that grows tax-deferred at guaranteed rates. Cash value can be tapped via policy loans, partial withdrawals, or policy surrenders.
Ameritas participating whole life policies are eligible for annual dividend payments. Dividends are not guaranteed, but Ameritas has a strong track record for consistent payments. Dividends can be taken in cash or invested back into the policy to increase cash value and death benefits.
Access Whole Life features Ameritas’ Care4Life accelerated benefit rider. The rider allows early payment of policy benefits in the event of the insured’s terminal, chronic, or critical illness.
Access Whole Life is available with an optional Flexible Paid-Up rider, which gives policyholders the right to purchase fully paid-up additional coverage, with no further underwriting, at specified intervals.
Growth Whole Life and Value Whole Life both offer a host of optional riders, available for an additional premium.
Along with the Flexible Paid-Up rider, Applicants can add Guaranteed Insurability (allowing coverage increases at specified dates, with no underwriting),
Accidental Death (providing supplemental coverage if death results from a qualifying accident),
Children’s Insurance (providing term coverage up to $25,000 for the insured’s minor children), and/or Level Term (providing a supplemental term policy increasing coverage for a period of years).
Ameritas Universal Life:
Ameritas offers three different types of universal life insurance policy: standard universal life (“Value UL”), indexed UL (“Growth Index UL”, “Value Plus Index UL”), and variable UL (“Performance II VUL,” “Adviser II VUL”).
All of Ameritas’ UL policies feature the flexible premium structure and potential for improved cash-value growth associated with universal life.
Ameritas’ UL policies include the Care4Life accelerated-benefits rider and have an option allowing annuitization of cash value as a means of funding retirement.
Optional add-ons include Accidental Death, Children’s Term, Guaranteed Insurability, and Disability riders with features comparable to the riders available with whole life policies.
Ameritas’ standard universal life policy, Value UL, grows cash value at interest rates based on market conditions and performance of company investments, subject to a minimum annual rate.
Both indexed policies—Growth Plus and Value Plus IUL—link cash value growth to the performance of up to four equity indexes (S&P 500, Russel 2000, MSCI EAFE, and BNP Paribas Momentum Multi-Asset 5 Index).
Policyholders can apportion funds between the indexes or assign some or all cash value to a fixed-rate account currently set at 2%.
The IUL policies come with “index floor” and “lookback guarantee” benefits which guarantee that index-linked cash value won’t decrease based on market performance and that growth will average a minimum of 3% during the policy’s first ten years.
Both of Ameritas’ variable UL policies link policy growth to the performance of specific investment options selected by the policyholder from among a menu made available by Ameritas.
Performance II VUL offers a wider variety of investment options and places a greater emphasis on cash-value growth compared to Adviser II VUL.
Ameritas also offers a survivorship UL policy that, along with flexible premiums and cash-value growth, covers two individual insureds and pays out upon the death of the second.
Survivorship policies are often used as a cost-efficient means of transferring wealth to succeeding generations.