This fintech insurer is changing the game with on-the-spot underwriting and adjustable coverage.
Life insurance offers peace of mind and protection for your family when you’re gone. With so many providers and policies to sift through, it can be overwhelming to choose one that’s right for you.
Ladder takes care of some of the decision-making. The fintech insurer offers just one product — term life insurance — and uses algorithms to deliver quotes and coverage within minutes. It also gives customers the ability to adjust their coverage online, which is a refreshing change from filling out mounds of paperwork and waiting weeks.
However, it’s only open to those between 20 to 60 years old, and you can’t add riders to your policy.
|Issue age||20 to 60 years old|
|Terms available||10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years|
|Medical exam required||No-medical-exam option available|
|Notice||Open to residents in all states but New York|
Ladder isn’t accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but this isn’t unusual for such a young startup. However, its partner, Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, has an A+ rating with the BB for its operations and customer satisfaction.
Along with Hannover Life Reassurance Company, it also boasts an A+ (Superior) rating with A.M. Best. This confirms its financial strength and capability to pay out claims. The insurer shines on customer forums. Ladder has a five-star rating on TrustPilot, with customers praising the easy signup, affordable rates and responsive service. Reviewers claim they’re pleased with the streamlined process, and the ability to adjust coverage as needed.
However, one reviewer mentioned bait and switch tactics, and another claimed his final rate was double what he was quoted, but at the time of writing, the negative reviews were few and far between.
Though it only launched last year, the startup has received a lot of positive press attention for its fresh approach to life insurance.
Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Ladder launched in 2017 with a single product: term life insurance. With CEO Jamie Hale at the helm, the fintech company aims to make life insurance more attractive and easily accessible to you.
It uses intricate algorithms to underwrite policies in a matter of minutes, and if you qualify, go ahead and buy coverage online. By cutting out commissioned agents, forgoing fees and offering policies online, Ladder sets itself apart from its competitors.
It’s also known for providing policies that range from $100,000 to a whopping $8,000,000. This is significantly more coverage than you can purchase without a medical exam. By comparison, Haven Life only offers a maximum of $1 million coverage without an exam. Ladder also allows customers to adjust their coverage over time – without taking out a new policy.
Ladder has partnered with two big names in the insurance industry. Its policies are underwritten by Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, and reinsured by Hannover Life Reassurance Company for good measure. It also works with SoFi to create quotes.
Pros and cons of Ladder life insurance
- Sky-high coverage amounts. Ladder offers term life insurance policies ranging from $100,000 to $8,000,000 with or without a medical exam.
- Adjustable coverage. Increase or decrease your coverage online as your financial needs change — like when you have children or after they grow up and enter the workforce.
- Quick underwriting decisions. Ladder’s application takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. At that point, the applicant receives an approval, rejection, or a request for a medical exam.
- No fees. Since Ladder doesn’t use commissioned agents, policyholders don’t have to pay annual fees.
- Sophisticated online system. It’s easy to manage, tweak and renew your policy online.
- Financially strong. Ladder is backed by Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company and Hannover Life Reassurance Company, both of which have A+ ratings from A.M Best. This means the insurer has the cash reserves to pay out claims.
- No riders or supplementary coverages. Policyholders can’t customize their coverage with riders or additional layers of protection.
- Open to people between 20 to 60 years old. Older policyholders need to look at other insurers.
- Limited customer service times. While you can email Ladder 24/7, agents are only available via phone and live chat during business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
- Not available in all states. At the moment, you can’t purchase coverage if you’re a resident of New York.
- Conducts most of its business online. This may not be ideal for those who prefer to pick up the phone for every query.
- Lack of educational information. The site has a help center with basic questions and answers, but doesn’t offer tutorials, tips or informative videos.
How does Ladder compare?
What life insurance coverage does Ladder offer?
Ladder offers term life insurance for those between 20 to 60 years old. The simplest and most cost-effective policy, term life offers coverage for a set period of time — in this case, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. The premium stays the same for the duration of the policy, unless you decide to adjust the amount of coverage.
If you choose to increase (ladder up) or decrease (ladder down) your coverage, you don’t need to apply for a new policy. Just log in to your account to make the change, and Ladder will give you a new rate to reflect that.
You can purchase a term life policy with a face value between $100,000 and $8,000,000. At the end of the term, you can renew your policy annually for up to five years, or let it lapse.
If you pass away, your beneficiaries will receive a guaranteed death benefit.
Ladder doesn’t charge policy fees, and you can cancel your coverage at any time.
What’s not covered in my policy?
Like most online insurers, Ladder only offers term life insurance — but it’s different in that it doesn’t allow policyholders to customize their coverage with riders. This is because it relies on algorithms to create quick quotes, and riders would complicate that process.
Look elsewhere if you want to add these layers of protection to your policy:
- Accelerated death benefit.
- Accidental death benefit.
- Children term insurance.
- Waiver of premium.
- Overloan protection.
- Disability coverage.
- Additional insured.
How can I get the best rate?
Your rate reflects your age, health, lifestyle, occupation and hobbies, as well as the length and amount of coverage. Like most insurers, Ladder reserves its best rates for its least risky applicants.
Its underwriting considers:
- Tobacco use. To reach the highest rate class, you have to prove you haven’t smoked tobacco in the past five years.
- Age. Young, healthy applicants tend to pay lower premiums.
- Driving record. If your recent record is free from major traffic violations and DUI, you’ll be privy to a better premium.
- Health. The insurer looks at your cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI and family medical history, and typically increases rates when there’s a history of cardiovascular disease, strokes or diabetes.
- Occupation. Those with dangerous jobs are subject to higher rates.
- Hazardous lifestyle. Ladder looks less favorably on daredevils, like people who skydive or bungee jump.
- Alcohol and drugs. To score the preferred rate, you must have never been treated for alcohol or drug use.
How do I file a life insurance claim with Ladder?
To file a claim, follow these steps:
- Email email@example.com to notify Ladder that the policyholder has passed away.
- In the email, provide the policyholder’s full name, date of birth and policy number, if you have it handy.
- An agent will send through claim forms. Complete these, and provide any additional supporting documents, such as a death certificate.
- Once the claim is approved, the insurer lets you know via email, and send payment to the beneficiaries.
What other services does Ladder offer?
At this time, Ladder only sells term life insurance.
With its streamlined site, on-the-spot underwriting, and fee-free policies, Ladder is one of the most innovative insurers. It stands out for offering coverage up to $8,000,000, and giving customers the ability to adjust coverage without applying for a new policy — making it easier to factor life insurance into your ongoing financial plan.
But it’s not for everyone. If you’re not comfortable managing your policy online, it may not be the right fit. And if you want to add riders or convert to a permanent policy later on, that’s not possible.
Life insurance is an investment in your family’s future. Before you commit, compare providers and policies.