Aside from its well-known brand and financial strength, John Hancock Life Insurance Company should always be considered one of the top life insurance companies in the country, according to IBUSA. Although John Hancock may not always offer the best initial pricing, the company stands out from its competitors with its unique approach to certain clients who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, or use tobacco products.
For these clients, John Hancock’s underwriting leniency can provide an opportunity to reduce the cost of their insurance once approved, provided they either quit smoking later or demonstrate an improvement in their pre-existing medical condition (specifically with type 2 diabetes).
For this reason, it is worth taking a closer look at John Hancock’s proud history and the products they offer to their clients. However, it is important to shop around and compare policies from multiple providers to ensure you are getting the best coverage and rates possible, as every individual’s insurance needs and financial situation are unique.
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About John Hancock
American patriot John Hancock was an immensely wealthy merchant, and perhaps a smuggler, in colonial Boston. He presided over the Continental Congress and served as governor of Massachusetts during and after the Revolutionary War. Today, he is best remembered for the eye-catching signature with which he adorned the Declaration of Independence.
Like its founding-father namesake, the venerable John Hancock Life Insurance Company hails from Boston. Founded in 1862, the company is one of the most established insurers in the U.S. market, currently holding a market share of around 3.5%, placing it in sixth place.
Over 150 years since its founding, John Hancock still has its corporate headquarters in Beantown and is a leading sponsor of both the Boston Marathon and the Boston Red Sox.
Since 2004, though, John Hancock has been a subsidiary of Manulife Financial…a Canadian company, which purchased John Hancock for over $10 billion.
John Hancock Vitality
The John Hancock company was a pioneer in offering premium discounts to existing insureds as a reward for healthy living. Through its John Hancock Vitality Plus program, insureds can save up to 15% on premiums by achieving various fitness, nutritional, and healthcare goals.
Participation in Vitality Plus requires a small additional premium payment. A free version, Vitality Go, is also available but does not provide as many perks. Both programs offer discounts on health-related products and access to a healthy living app.
For prospective insureds who smoke but want to quit, John Hancock offers an incentive. Eligible insureds can receive non-smoker rates initially, which can become permanent if they successfully quit smoking for at least 12 months.
John Hancock also offers a program for diabetics that provides life insurance coverage and support for managing the condition.
Express Track Program
Express Track is John Hancock’s accelerated underwriting life insurance program. Qualifying applicants ages 18-60 can obtain up to $3 million in coverage without having to take a paramedical exam, give blood or submit a urine sample.
With life insurance underwriting approvals in as soon as 3 days, this is a streamlined approach to the old school traditional underwriting which takes around 3-4 weeks on average.
John Hancock Group Financial Ratings
A.M. Best: A+
S&P Global: AA-
Comdex Ranking: 93
As the American face of Manulife, John Hancock is backed by a company with significant financial weight. In 2019, Manulife reported earnings of around $6 billion and managed more than $1 trillion in assets. Coupled with its top-shelf financial ratings, this makes John Hancock a life insurance company worthy of policyholder confidence.
However, John Hancock’s customer service has some potential question marks. The company is not accredited by the BBB and receives low marks from consumer reviewers on the BBB’s site.
In J.D. Power’s 2019 survey of the life insurance industry, John Hancock was rated in the bottom half of evaluated companies. However, John Hancock does score a little better in U.S. News’ ratings.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), John Hancock receives slightly more consumer complaints than comparable insurers.
Products Offered by John Hancock:
- Term Life Insurance
- Universal Life Insurance
- Final Expense Insurance
- Retirement Planning
- 529 College Savings Plans
Life Insurance Policies Offered by John Hancock
Protection Term Life Insurance:
Available for new applicants from ages 18 through 80, Protection Term is John Hancock’s standard level-term policy. John Hancock offers term lengths of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years, though longer terms aren’t available for older applicants.
Protection Term policies are annually renewable until the insured reaches 94, with premiums increasing significantly at the conclusion of a policy’s initial term.
Standard coverage amounts start as low as $100,000 and go as high as $3 million. If the coverage sought is within that window, prospective insureds can apply online.
Additional coverage amounts are available as high as $65 million for qualifying insureds, but applications for higher amounts must be processed through an agent.
After a policy has been in place at least three years, policyholders can elect to reduce the coverage amount, subject to minimum contractually required coverage.
Protection Term policies include a conversion option allowing policyholders to convert to permanent coverage through age 70 or the end of the policy’s initial term, whichever occurs first.
Policyholders can also convert a Protection Term policy into a survivorship policy covering two insureds. That conversion must be elected within four years after issuance or the insured’s 70th birthday (whichever comes first).
John Hancock does not offer a “no-exam” term life policy. However, some term applicants—particularly those who are young and in good health—can qualify for a waiver of the medical exam through the Express Track program.
Whole Life Insurance: John Hancock is not currently offering any standard whole life options.
Final Expense with Guaranteed Acceptance (whole life):
New insureds between ages 55 and 80 can obtain up to $20,000 (or as little as $2,000) in whole life coverage from John Hancock without any health-related underwriting.
As whole life, John Hancock’s final expense insurance policies feature level premiums, lifetime coverage, and interest-accruing cash value.
As a guaranteed acceptance policy, John Hancock’s final expense offering also has a standard two-year waiting period. If an insured dies in the first two years after a policy is issued, the death benefit is equal to the total premiums paid to-date, plus ten percent. However, death resulting from a qualifying “accident” is not subject to the waiting period.
Online application is available for John Hancock’s guaranteed-acceptance final-expense policy—making it the company’s only permanent policy that does not require application through an agent.
John Hancock offers three basic universal life options: standard Universal Life (UL), Indexed Universal Life (IUL), and Variable Universal Life (VUL).
In each case, policies allow for flexibility in coverage amounts and premium payments, subject to minimum COI (“cost of insurance”) requirements.
Coverage levels for John Hancock’s universal life policies generally run from $50,000 to $3 million. However, as with the term coverage, qualifying applicants can obtain significantly higher coverage, subject to individual approval.
Like most other permanent life insurance, John Hancock’s UL policies accrue cash value that can be accessed through policy loans or surrenders and which can also be applied toward premium obligations.
Each premium payment is divided between COI and cash value, so a policyholder can choose to pay more to increase the rate at which policy value builds.
Cash value associated with universal life coverage grows tax-deferred. The standard by which growth is measured is the principal difference between John Hancock’s different universal life policies.
John Hancock’s standard Universal Life policy focuses on providing affordable and predictable lifetime coverage, with cash value growing at a set interest rate. The exact rate can vary from time to time based on market conditions and subject to a guaranteed minimum return.
Accumulation IUL and Protector IUL
Indexed Universal Life is geared more toward cash-value accrual, but without risk of loss. Policy growth is linked to the S&P 500 index, so growth depends on stock market performance.
However, a growth cap and participation rate limit earnings in exchange for protection against losses in down markets. All that means that return rates won’t match total market returns in good markets, but a policy won’t lose value in bad markets.
IUL policyholders can also allocate some cash value to a fixed account that earns guaranteed growth (currently at least 2%) regardless of the stock market.
John Hancock offers two spins on its IUL policy. Accumulation IUL emphasizes cash value growth, and Protector IUL emphasizes a relatively low-cost death benefit guaranteed for the insured’s lifetime.
Each policy offers several indexed account options that allow policyholders to customize cash-value allocation to personal circumstances.
Variable Universal Life:
Rather than using equity indexes, John Hancock’s Accumulation Variable UL policy measures cash value growth according to performance of various investment options made available by John Hancock and selected by the policyholder.
Investment options vary by asset classes and sectors and risk tolerance, allowing policyholders more complete control over how cash value is invested.
The most significant difference between IUL and VUL is that VUL offers more upside potential, but VUL policies are also exposed to downside risk.
If selected investments do not perform well, cash value can decrease, which can lead to an increase in the amount of premium needed to keep coverage in place.
Available Life Insurance Riders
Accelerated Benefit Rider: If the insured is diagnosed with less than 12 months to live, the policyholder can accelerate up to fifty percent of the policy’s proceeds, subject to an overall cap of $1 million.
Critical Illness: When this rider is purchased, the policyholder can accelerate a portion of the policy’s death benefit if the insured is diagnosed with one of the “critical illnesses” defined in the rider.
Spousal Rider: If purchased, this rider provides level-term coverage to the insured’s spouse.
Waiver of Premium (Disability): If the insured becomes totally disabled before reaching age 65, and the disability lasts for at least 6 months, no premiums are owed while the insured remains disabled. A similar Unemployment Protection Rider provides for waiver of one year’s premiums in the event of qualifying unemployment.
Accidental Death: This rider provides a supplemental death benefit. If the insured’s death results from a qualifying accident, policy proceeds paid to beneficiaries are increased in the amount of the rider.
Return of Premium: For eligible term policies, this rider provides for a return of all premiums paid to-date if a policy reaches the conclusion of its initial term without any pay-outs.
Long-Term Care: If the insured requires long-term care, part of the death benefit can be accelerated to cover long-term care costs. The long-term care benefit is paid monthly and measured as a percentage of the policy’s face value. Accelerated amounts reduce the policy’s eventual death benefit.
Children’s Rider: This rider provides coverage for the insured’s minor children until they reach age 25.
John Hancock is a well-established life insurance company that offers a range of policies and benefits to suit different needs. Its financial strength and stability, coupled with its innovative approach to incentivizing healthy living, make it a compelling option for those looking for life insurance coverage. However, every individual has different needs and priorities when it comes to life insurance, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s important to shop around and compare options to ensure that you find the right life insurance company for you. While John Hancock may be a strong contender, you can never be 100 percent sure until you’ve explored all of your options and found the policy that best meets your unique needs and budget.