Although you typically will not find Symetra ranking as one of the best life insurance companies in the U.S., it certainly does have some strong points and might be the best choice under certain circumstances. In the following Symetra Life Insurance Review we will look closer at the company and help our readers determine if it is the right fit for them.
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About Symetra Life Insurance
Symetra Life Insurance Company (“Symetra”) is a Bellevue, Washington-based subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corp. Symetra was originally formed in 1957 as a life insurance arm of Safeco Insurance (now a member of the Liberty Mutual Group).
Japanese Based In 2004, Safeco sold off Symetra to a group of investors including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Symetra was subsequently acquired by Japanese insurance powerhouse (and current Symetra parent company) Sumitomo Life in 2016, as Sumitomo (located in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan) sought to establish itself in the North American market. Source.
Within the consumer market, Symetra focuses on life insurance and annuities, though Symetra also has a strong presence as an employee-benefits provider.
Along with group life and disability plans, Symetra offers a variety of supplemental health products through employers, including accident, critical illness, and hospital indemnity coverage. And self-funded plan sponsors can purchase stop-loss coverage protecting against large or catastrophic claims.
Symetra is a leading sponsor of the Symetra Tour, a series of women’s golf events that acts as a feeder for the LPGA. Symetra also maintains a long-term sponsor relationship with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
Symetra markets life insurance and other financial products through independent agents and financial advisers throughout the U.S.
Available in All States
Symetra Life Insurance Company issues policies in every state but New York, where policies are issued by First Symetra National Life Insurance Company of New York.
In addition to its headquarters in the Seattle area, Symetra maintains local offices in multiple other cities around the country.
Symetra Financial Ratings
A.M. Best: A
Comdex Ranking: 82
Symetra’s 82 score from Comdex puts the company within the top quarter of U.S. life insurance companies. The “A” from A.M. Best is the third highest score in A.M. Best’s ratings system.
There are plenty of carriers with higher financial ratings, but Symetra scores well enough that risk of nonpayment isn’t much of a concern for prospective purchasers. Advisers often suggest life insurance shoppers select a company with an A.M. Best score of at least “A—” or “A.”
In terms of assets, Symetra is a pretty impressive company, reporting nearly $60 billion in total assets, predominately in conservative holdings like investment-grade bonds. Parent company Sumitomo brings to the table another quarter-trillion dollars in assets, so there is ample financial weight behind Symetra.
Symetra Consumer Ratings:
Symetra is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau but currently has an A+ rating on BBB’s website. The rating indicates that Symetra consistently responds to and attempts to resolve complaints lodged with BBB. Symetra only has a one-star average among the consumer reviews on the BBB site, but the sample size only includes five reviews.
Symetra was not included within J.D. Power’s 2019 or 2020 surveys of customer satisfaction in the life insurance industry.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Symetra garners fewer than average consumer complaint compared to comparable insurers.
What Products Does Symetra Offer?
For individual consumers, Symetra sells term life, universal life, and indexed universal life (“IUL”) policies—but no whole life insurance.
Symetra offers accelerated underwriting for its permanent products, which is no exam life insurance. The benefit is, those who qualify do not need to take an exam, provide fluids or labs, and they may not need to provide medical records.
Individuals can also purchase a variety of annuities from Symetra, including fixed deferred annuities, indexed annuities, fixed indexed annuities, and single-premium and deferred income annuities.
As part of its employee-benefits business, Symetra offers disability coverage and a variety of supplemental health products. Bank-owned and corporate-owned life insurance policies are available for institutional use relating to loans and business planning
Life Insurance from Symetra
Term Life from Symetra
Symetra’s level term life insurance policies come with initial terms of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Term policies have level premiums throughout the initial term. And, when a policy’s term ends, coverage can be renewed annually (for a higher premium) until the insured reaches age 95.
Coverage amounts start at $100,000, though higher minimums apply for the preferred and super-preferred coverage categories.
Term policies from Symetra include a conversion option, which lets the policyholder swap the term coverage for one of Symetra’s permanent policies. The conversion option must be elected before the end of the policy’s initial term or the insured’s 75th birthday (whichever is earlier).
One of Symetra’s niche market is offering term life to high net worth foreign nationals with an ongoing connection to the United States.
Basic requirements include:
- A temporary U.S. visa or valid passport,
- A global net worth of at least $2 million (U.S.),
- A U.S. nexus/connection,
- Ages 18-75 (age 70 for “C” rated countries)
Symetra term policies are available with the following riders:
- Terminal Illness: allows accelerated access to up to 75% of the policy’s death benefit if the insured is diagnosed with less than 12 months to live;
- Insured Children’s Benefit: extends up to $10,000 in term coverage to the insured’s dependent minor children;
- Waiver of Premium: waives the policyholder’s obligation to pay premiums if the insured becomes totally disabled for at least six months;
- Accidental Death: provides a supplemental death benefit of up to $250,000 if the insured’s death results from a qualifying “accident;”
- Additional Term: extends term life coverage to an insured’s family member or business partner.
Universal Life from Symetra
Universal life insurance policies provide a death benefit and accumulate cash value, which grows tax-deferred. UL policies allow flexibility in the timing and amounts of premium payments (subject to minimum requirements), and policyholders can adjust the death-benefit amount to changing circumstances.
Symetra’s standard UL policy (“Symetra CAUL”) is open to new insureds up to age 85, in coverage amounts starting at $100,000. Premiums are timed to be payable through age 120, and premium discounts for healthy living are available for insureds up to 70 years old.
Cash value accrued within a policy grows at interest rates depending on current market conditions but subject to a guaranteed minimum (typically about 2%).
Riders for Terminal Illness and Chronic Illness (allowing acceleration if the insured is unable to perform two of six “activities of daily living”) are included standard, and, for an additional premium, policyholders can add Accidental Death, Additional Term, or a Chronic Illness Plus rider (enhancing the value of the standard rider).
Symetra also offers a survivorship UL policy which covers two insureds and pays out upon the death of the second. Survivorship policies are useful in estate planning as a means of tax-efficient wealth transfer.
Indexed Universal Life from Symetra
Symetra’s Accumulator IUL policy is highlighted on its website and is one of the company’s featured products. Like standard UL policies, Accumulator provides a death benefit and accrues cash value, while allowing for premium and benefit flexibility.
The difference is that with indexed universal life insurance, cash-value growth is measured based on the performance of one or more equity indexes (such as the S&P 500) selected by the policyholder.
IUL growth is subject to a crediting cap (maximum growth rate) and/or participation rates (the percentage of index growth actually credited to the policy), but, in bad markets, policies are guaranteed not to lose value, minus and costs or fees.
A similarly structured IUL policy, Symetra Protector IUL, also allows for indexed growth but places greater emphasis on the policy’s guaranteed long-term death benefit. By contrast, Accumulator IUL is structured for greater cash-value accumulation.