With this fintech insurer, expect no fees, no hassles and coverage within 10 minutes.
Ethos sells term life insurance that’s designed for people in their prime — with dependents, assets and income to protect. Backed by major insurer, Assurity Life Insurance Company, Ethos uses algorithms and analytics to assess its customers and provide policies within minutes. It also allows policyholders to customize their coverage with riders.
However, customer service is limited to email and the claims process can feel a bit impersonal.
|Issue age||18 - 75 years old|
|Terms available||10, 15, 20 or 30 years|
|Medical exam required||Medical exam may be required for policies over $1 million|
|Notice||Open to residents in all states but New York|
Since Ethos is so new to the insurance scene, there hasn’t been too much consumer chatter about it. However, the startup has received a lot of positive press attention for its speedy underwriting, streamlined application and reasonable rates.
Its partner, Assurity Life Insurance Company, has been in the business for over 125 years. It’s been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 1992 and boasts an A+ rating for its operations and customer satisfaction. Assurity also has an A- (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best, which confirms that it has the cash reserves to pay out claims.
Ethos entered the life insurance market in June 2018 with the backing of big-name and celebrity investors like Sequoia, Stanford, Roc Nation, Silicon Valley Bank, Kevin Durant, Robert Downey Jr and Will Smith.
The fintech company operates online and sells a single product: term life insurance. Along with its streamlined application and speedy underwriting, Ethos is known for offering up to $1 million in coverage without a medical exam.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Ethos is led by Peter Colis and Lingke Wang. The duo has extensive experience in the industry and previously cofounded Ovid Life, a life insurance marketplace, together. With Ethos, their goal is to bring life insurance into the digital era, and make it more accessible and affordable for the average American.
Ethos has partnered with Assurity Life Insurance Company to underwrite policies. A stalwart in the industry, Assurity handles the claims process.
Pros and cons of Ethos Term Life Policies
- High coverage amounts. You can purchase between $25,000 and $10 million of coverage.
- Fast underwriting. The application takes 10 minutes to complete, after which you’ll receive an approval, rejection or request for a medical exam.
- No fees. Since Ethos doesn’t use commissioned agents, policyholders don’t pay fees.
- Riders available. Unlike a lot of other online insurers, Ethos offers a handful of policy add-ons, such as a Critical Illness Rider and Child Protection Rider.
- Speedy claims. The company says claims are processed and paid out within weeks.
- No upselling or cross selling. The team is salaried and won’t pressure you to purchase coverage that you don’t need.
- No medical exam option available. Most policyholders can qualify for up to $1 million coverage without a medical exam.
- Financially strong. It’s policies are issued by Assurity Life Insurance Company, which holds an A- (Excellent) rating with A.M. Best. This points to its creditworthiness and ability to pay out claims.
- Limited customer support. The main point of contact is via email. Ethos doesn’t provide a phone number or address.
- Impersonal claims process. The only way to file a claim is via email – which may be off-putting for some people during that emotional time.
- Not available in New York. Ethos is open to residents in all states except New York.
- Lack of educational information. The site has an FAQs section with basic questions and answers, but doesn’t include tutorials, tips or videos.
How does Ethos compare?
What life insurance coverage does Ethos offer?
Ethos exclusively sells term life insurance to those aged between 18 and 75. The simplest and cheapest coverage, term life offers protection for a fixed period of time – in this case, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. The premium stays the same for the life of the policy, and if you pass away during the term, your beneficiaries will receive a cash payment, known as the death benefit.
The maximum length of coverage you can purchase depends on your age. These are the guidelines:
- Age 18 to 55 (nonsmoker), 18 to 50 (smoker): Up to 30 years.
- Age 56 to 65 (nonsmoker), 51 to 65 (smoker): Up to 20 years.
- Age 66 to 70: Up to 15 years.
- Age 71 to 75: Up to 10 years.
With Ethos, you can buy a term life policy with a face value between $25,000 and $10 million – but keep in mind that you may need to take a medical exam for policies over $1 million. At the end of the term, you can renew your policy or let it lapse.
The company doesn’t charge fees and you can cancel your coverage at any time.
What’s not covered in my policy?
Unlike most online insurers, Ethos allows policyholders to customize their coverage with riders.
To boost your protection, you can pay to add these four riders to your policy:
- Critical illness rider. This pays out a one-time lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a covered critical illness, like invasive cancer or carcinoma.
- Return of premium. This applies to the 20- and 30-year policies. If you survive the term, Ethos will return some or all of the premiums in the form of a check.
- Disability income. Opt into this, and you’ll receive a monthly cash benefit if you become totally disabled due to a covered sickness or accident.
How can I get the best rate?
Your premium is a product of your age, health, lifestyle, occupation and hobbies, as well as the length and face amount of your policy. To compensate for the risk that comes with providing coverage, Ethos — like all insurers — reserves its best rates for its least risky applicants.
Its underwriting considers:
- Tobacco use. To hit the highest class, you’ll have to prove you haven’t smoked tobacco in the past five years.
- Age. The younger and healthier you are, the less you’ll pay.
- Driving record. If your recent record is free from major traffic violations and DUI, you’ll most likely receive a better rate.
- Health. The insurer assesses your cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI and family medical history, and usually increases the premium when there’s a history of cardiovascular disease, strokes or diabetes.
- Occupation. People with dangerous jobs, like loggers and firemen, tend to pay more for coverage.
- Hazardous lifestyle. If you’re a thrill-seeker who counts skydiving, bungee jumping and risky travel among your favorite activities, you’ll probably have a higher premium.
- Alcohol and drugs. For the preferred rate, you must not have a history of alcohol or drug addiction.
How do I file a life insurance claim with Ethos?
To file a claim, follow these steps:
1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to notify Ethos that the policyholder has passed away.
2. In the email, include the policyholder’s full name, date of birth and policy number, if you know it.
3. A member of Ethos’ team will guide you through the claims process. You’ll need to complete claims forms and provide supporting documents, such as a death certificate.
4. Assurity — the insurer that underwriters Ethos’ policies — will assess the claim. When it’s approved, it will let you know via email and send payment to your beneficiaries.
What other services does Ethos offer?
At this stage, Ethos only offers term life insurance.
Looking for whole life insurance?
In an effort to make life insurance more affordable and accessible, Ethos sells fee-free term life policies. Thanks to its intricate algorithms, the fintech company can offer instant quotes and coverage in a matter of minutes. Unlike many of its competitors, it allows customers to add riders to their policy.
While the startup has simplified the process of buying life insurance, it doesn’t suit everyone. If you have complex needs or prefer to speak to someone on the phone, you may want to look elsewhere.
Explore your options by comparing providers and policies.