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John Hancock Life Insurance Review

john hancock life insurance company

Aside from simple name recognition and financial strength, we here at IBUSA believe that John Hancock Life Insurance company should always be considered one of the top life insurance companies in the country.

Even though…

They may not always have the best price initially. You see, what sets John Hancock apart from a lot of their competitors is their unique approach to certain clients who may suffer from a particular pre-existing medical condition (such as type 2 diabetes) or choose to use tobacco products.

For these clients…

John Hancock’s underwriting leniency can and often will provide clients an opportunity to reduce the cost of their insurance once approved, provided that they either quit smoking later or demonstrate their pre-existing medical condition has improved (specifically with type 2 diabetes).

For this reason…

We wanted to take a moment and take a closer look at John Hancock’s proud history and briefly discuss some of the products they offer to their clients.

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About John Hancock

American patriot John Hancock was an immensely wealthy merchant (and perhaps smuggler) in colonial Boston.  He also 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 best-established insurers in the U.S. market, with a current market share of around 3½ percent—good for sixth place.

More than 150 years after its founding, the John Hancock company 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 as much as 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 included at no charge but does not provide quite as many perks.  Both programs also offer discounts on health-related products and access to a healthy-living app.


For prospective insureds who smoke but want to stop, John Hancock offers an incentive to quit.  Eligible insureds can receive non-smoker rates initially, which can be made permanent if the insured is able to successfully kick the habit for at least 12 months.


John Hancock also offers a program for diabetics that provides life insurance coverage and support in 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+
Fitch: AA-
Moody’s: A1
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 around $6 billion in earnings and more than $1 trillion in assets under management.  Coupled with the top-shelf financial ratings, that makes John Hancock a life insurance company worthy of policyholder confidence.

Though financial stability isn’t an issue, John Hancock does have some potential question marks with its customer service.  The company is not accredited by the BBB and gets low marks from consumer reviewers on BBB’s site.

J.D. Power’s 2019 survey of the life insurance industry rated John Hancock in the bottom half of the evaluated companies.  However, John Hancock does score a little better in U.S. News’ ratings.

And, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), John Hancock receives slightly above the average consumer complaints than comparable insurers.

Products Offered by John Hancock:

  • Term Life Insurance
  • Universal Life Insurance
  • Final Expense Insurance
  • Annuities
  • 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.

Universal Life: 

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.

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