If you’re looking for a simple life insurance policy that you can obtain quickly and for the lowest possible premium cost, you need to check out Ladder Life. They offer a streamlined, all-online application process that can get your application approved in a matter of minutes. And many applicants will not be required to take a medical exam.
But the most unique feature of Ladder Life is the ability to either increase or decrease your coverage, as needed. If you need more life insurance coverage, once you have a policy in place, you can increase the death benefit. But if your need for coverage declines, you can reduce the death benefit. That puts you in charge of both the face amount of the policy and the premium you’ll pay.
Ladder Life Insurance
Ladder Life is an online life insurance provider, offering coverage through established life insurance companies. Those include Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, and Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.
The entire application process takes place online. If needed, you’ll have assistance from licensed insurance professionals. Those professionals work on salary, not commissions. They won’t try to sell you more insurance than you need, or other products designed primarily to enhance their own incomes.
Ladder Life Products
Ladder Life offers a single life insurance type – term. But the company offers policies with a twist. Once you have a policy in force, you can increase or decrease the amount of the death benefit, as well as the premium.
Ladder Life offers only term life insurance policies. This is partially true because term is the least expensive life insurance type. But another factor is that whole life policies are more complicated than term. Ladder’s whole mission is to provide the lowest-cost policies in the shortest amount of time possible. Term life insurance best fits that product type.
When applying with Ladder Life, you should be aware the company does not offer policy riders. These are optional additional coverage provisions that provide more benefits but at a higher premium. That higher premium is the reason why Ladder Life doesn’t offer them.
But one major provision Ladder Life has that’s nearly unique in life insurance is the ability to increase or decrease your policy coverage amount. That’s why the term “ladder” is in the company name.
If you have a need to increase your policy amount several years after taking a policy, you can “ladder up” the death benefit amount. Conversely, if your need for life insurance coverage declines, you can lower the death benefit – or “ladder down” the policy amount. You can do either simply by visiting the Ladder Life account page.
Naturally, if you ladder up the policy amount the premium will increase. And if you ladder down the death benefit, the premium will decrease. That puts you in control of both the face value of a policy and the premium you will pay.
Ladder Life uses a single, simple calculation to determine the maximum term length of a policy. Your current age, plus the term length cannot exceed 70. For example, if you’re 40, the longest term length is 30 years, since 40+30 = 70. If you’re 50, the longest term is 20 years, since 50+20 = 70.
They offer terms ranging from 10 years to as long as 30 years, in five-year increments. Thus 30 years is the maximum term you can qualify for, regardless of your current age. The policy will be underwritten based on your nearest birthday. For example, if you will be 45 in four months, your age will be considered 45 years, not 44.
Like all life insurance policies, Ladder Life policy premiums will depend on a combination of factors. Those include your age at the time of application, health condition, occupation, hobbies and pastimes, and even geographic location.
We requested information for a non-smoking 40-year-old male in excellent health, with no family history of major illnesses, and we received the following quotes for $1 million in coverage:
- 10 years – $37.50 per month
- 15 years – $47.70 per month
- 20 years – $61.80 per month
- 25 years – $96.90 per month
- 30 years – $114.30 per month
We then requested a policy for a non-smoking 40-year-old female in excellent health, with no family history of major illnesses, and we received the following quotes for $1 million in coverage:
- 10 years – $35.40 per month
- 15 years – $46.80 per month
- 20 years – $52.50 per month
- 25 years – $77.10 per month
- 30 years – $88.50 per month
The monthly premiums for men are slightly higher than they are for women, which is common throughout the life insurance industry. This owes to the fact that women statistically live longer than men by several years.
The premium rate increases with the term of the policy due to the fact that the longer the term, the greater the likelihood the company will ultimately pay the death benefit.
Ladder Life makes policies available with benefits ranging from a minimum of $100,000 to as much as $3 million. They will go as high as $8 million, but applicants applying for benefits greater than $3 million will need to complete a full application and submit to a medical exam.
Ladder Life policies have a single death benefit payout, which is paid in a lump sum to the beneficiaries. upon the death of the insured. Unlike some life insurance companies, there is no ability to distribute benefits in installments, or through any other payout method.
When making an application with Ladder life, you must be aware that the company does not offer common life insurance riders. That will eliminate the ability to add important provisions, like an accelerated death benefit (living benefits), double indemnity (increased death benefit for death caused by an accident), or a conversion provision that enables you to convert the term policy to a permanent, whole life policy before the term expires.
Once again, Ladder Life offers coverage for those between the ages of 20 and 60. Each application is for a single individual, so there is no capability to apply jointly with your spouse, or to add your children. Each person will need to complete a separate application.
Policies are available only to US citizens and lawful permanent resident aliens who have lived in the US for at least two years. Ladder Life provides policies in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
The application process takes place entirely online, which is a major part of how Ladder Life keeps premiums low.
You can obtain coverage in as little as a few minutes. In many cases, you will not be required to complete a medical exam. Ladder uses available medical databases in evaluating each application. If your medical history warrants, no exam will be necessary.
But if your health profile or application indicates the need for a medical exam, approval may be delayed several weeks for the exam.
Ladder Life – Company Standing
When completing the application, Ladder Life will request basic information, like your name and email address. In making the underwriting decision, they’ll also request the following information:
- Your height and weight
- The last time you used tobacco or nicotine products
- Your date of birth
- Has a biological parent or sibling been diagnosed by a physician with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Huntington’s Disease, or Lynch Syndrome prior to the age of 60?
- Your annual household income
- How many children you have
- What is your remaining mortgage balance?
Your answers to these questions will determine your eligibility for life insurance coverage, as well as the premium you’ll pay for the policy.
It does appear that the age limit of 60 imposed by the company represents an attempt to target primarily young, healthy applicants. If you are over 60, you’ll need to make an application elsewhere.
Also, be aware that the company will require a medical exam if you request a policy with a death benefit greater than $3 million.
Since Ladder Life is not the direct issuer of the policies they offer, the company is not rated for financial strength by A.M. Best, the most well-recognized insurance company rating agency in the industry.
But the ratings for the issuing companies are as follows:
- Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, A+ (Superior)
- Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, A (Excellent)
- Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, A+ (Superior)
Since each of the three companies are “A” rated by A.M. Best, each is highly likely to have the financial strength to pay the policy death benefit, if necessary.
Awards or Certifications
Money.com has rated Ladder Life as “Best for Flexible Coverage”, as of July 2022.
In addition to financial strength ratings by A.M. Best, we’ve also considered the credit rating of each of the three providers behind Ladder Life. The credit rating is an indication of the ability of the company to meet its financial obligations and to continue operations as a going concern.
The news here is as good as it is with the financial strength ratings. The table below shows the credit ratings of each of the three companies from two major corporate credit evaluation agencies:
|Insurance Company / Rating Service||Moody’s||Standard & Poor’s|
|Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York||A1 (5th of 21 ratings)||AA (3rd of 21 ratings)|
|Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company||N/A||N/A|
|Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America||AA||Aa3|
Ladder Life Service Ratings
We were unable to locate a rating for Ladder Life with the Better Business Bureau. However, the BBB has an “A+” (highest) rating for Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, and the company has been accredited by the agency since 1972.
Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company similarly, has a BBB rating of A+, and has been agency accredited since 1990. There is however no BBB rating for Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, perhaps because the company, along with Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, are affiliated organizations.
How We Evaluated Ladder Life Insurance
We’ve evaluated Ladder Life based on the policy terms offered, as well as the dollar amount of the death benefits and the cost of the premiums. We’ve also taken into account applicant eligibility, as well as the apparent underwriting criteria the company uses.
We’ve also considered third-party information about the company, including its financial strength and reputation.
Finally, we considered factors that make Ladder Life unique as to what niche they fill in the insurance industry.
Summary of Our Ladder Life Insurance Review
In reviewing Ladder Life, we’ve concluded that it does not make our list of the best life insurance companies. The insurance products offered are limited only to term life insurance, for those between the ages of 20 and 60, and primarily in good health.
But our biggest single concern is the absence of policy riders. Ladder Life does not offer any, which puts a serious limit on the flexibility of their policies.
Of particular concern is the absence of riders providing for guaranteed insurability (ability to renew coverage without a medical exam), an accidental death rider, accelerated death benefit rider, and especially the absence of a convertibility rider.
Another rider we would like to see, especially given the orientation toward term policies, is a return of premium rider. That’s a provision that enables you to receive a return of premiums paid if the policy term expires with no benefits paid. The premium is higher with this rider, but it’s a good option to have with term policies.
This isn’t to say Ladder Life is without merit. The company stands out with its laddering strategy that enables you to increase coverage when necessary, and reduce it when the need declines.
That will make it easier for you to purchase an affordable policy with a low death benefit early in life when funds are limited, to increase it as your family or financial needs expand, then to reduce it as those needs disappear.