Shopping for Term Life Insurance

We recently decided to re-work our life insurance policies, so I’ve spent a bit of time shopping around online over the past couple of days. One of the first things that I found out is that the number of online insurance markets has grown dramatically over the past few years. Back in the day (about five years ago), the only real players were Quicken’s Insure Market and Now the field includes sites such as,,,,,,,, and many more.

One of the annoying things about some of these sites (including, and Quicken, which is powered by InsWeb) is that they require you to submit your information and wait for an agent to get back to you with a quote. The problem here is that I’m impatient, and I want to work these sorts of things out on weekends, after hours, etc. as opposed to waiting for someone to call me back at their convenience. Fortunately, the balance of the sites that I visited provide instant quotes from a wide variety of insurance companies. One caveat here is that most sites request basic health information, and the quotes that you receive are only as good as the information that you provide. Don’t worry… If you don’t happen to know your blood pressure or cholesterol level you can still get a quote. However, the deal that you ultimately get may not be anywhere as good as what you’re initially offered. This all depends on the outcome of the underwriting process, which almost always involves a medical exam.

Anyway, after have spent a few hours poking around, a few things really stood out to me. First off, the various web sites that I visited returned remarkably similar results. There’s a bit of variaiton in the insurance companies that each site lists, but wherever there’s overlap (and there’s a lot), the prices are pretty much always spot on from one site to another. The other thing that I noticed is that there’s a tremendous amount of variation in policy prices across insurance providers. For example, a $500k 20-year term policy for 34 year old male (me) in perfect health goes from a bit under $300 to well over $600 per year, depending on the provider. And pricing doesn’t necessarily reflect the underlying quality of the company, as the cheapest plans often come from companies with top-notch A.M. Best and S&P ratings.

A final note… Some of the best deals that I’ve found have been from Lincoln Financial Group. I’ve never heard of them, but they’re well-rated in terms of solvency as well as their ability to pay claims. I Googled around a bit and haven’t found anything scandalous, but we really don’t want to cast our lot with a company that we don’t know much about. Do any of you have any experience with, or knowledge of, Lincoln Financial???

Read Part I of Buying Term Life Insurance
Read Part II of Buying Term Life Insurance
Read Part III of Buying Term Life Insurance
Read Part IV of Buying Term Life Insurance

5 Responses to “Shopping for Term Life Insurance”

  1. Anonymous

    I’m interested to see that the underwriting process takes about the same time in the U.S. as it does here in the U.K. – far too long in my opinion too!

    The whole process for the consumer is generally still all offline (apart from the quotes), but we’re gradually seeing more and more automation in the life insurance industry, so hopefully underwriting delays will start to decline.

  2. Anonymous

    I’m in the same process of adding a $1M 15-year term life insurance too. I share your observation — really don’t like these wait-for-our-call sites. I picked up a policy from AIG via I do have concerns that some no-namers may die out before the term ends.

    The underwriting process seems to be very long too — I was told to expect 6-8 weeks.

  3. Rob: Thanks for you comments. While the company may have a higher likelihood of landing a client once they get their information, I would argue that they lose a tremendous number of potential clients by doing it this way. The minute I see that a company uses the callback method I got to another site. I do this for two reasons. First of all, as you say, I don’t want to expose myself to future ‘marketing efforts’ by giving them my contact information. Second, it’s inefficient (for me). I’m busy, and when I sit down to look at something like this, I want to get the information immediately. Speaking to someone on the phone isn’t necessarily a problem but, if I’m going to do so, I will initiate the call myself. To be fair, SelectQuote posts their phone number, so I could call them. But I don’t want to negotiate the premiums when I first start shopping (if at all), and I don’t need for someone to explain term life insurance to me. I also want to be able to do this anytime I darn well please, which might be at 2AM on a Sunday morning (when SelectQuote’s phone lines are closed).

  4. Anonymous

    I can understand your frustration at not being able to get an instant quote – I work for 2 life insurance brokers here in the UK, and we have one site that provides instant quotes, and one that does the call back method you mention above.

    Of these two methods, I think the instant quote is better for the client, because they get a premium there and then, and can then go away and compare it with other brokers. They also don’t have to wait around for a call or worry about getting lots of sales calls after submitting their phone number (one of my main concerns when giving websites my personal details).

    The call back method is better for the company, because we can negotiate the premiums, explain the product to the client and also upsell other products – more often than not we get the business this way.

    Just thought I’d put a slight business perspective on this subject!


  5. Anonymous

    For life insurance, I searched (like you did) the various online sites, then called a local agent. I told him that if he could beat the best rate I found online, he could have the business.

    He beat it. 😉

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