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 QuoteSmith.com. Now the field includes sites such as Insure.com, InsWeb.com, IntelliQuote.com, LifeQuote.com, MatrixDirect.com, NetQuote.com, ReliaQuote.com, SelectQuote.com, and many more.
One of the annoying things about some of these sites (including SelectQuote.com, InsWeb.com 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???