We review life insurance companies like Great-West Life, so you don’t have too. We’ll cover all the need-to-know details so you can have peace of mind that the life insurance company you select is the best company for your family.
Shall we begin?
Great-West Life History
Great-West Life Assurance Company was founded in Winnipeg, Canada by Jeffry Hall Brock. Great-West Life has been serving its policyholders for over 125 years. Not many life insurance companies can make that claim!
In 1893 Great-West paid its first death claim for $1,000 to a widow whose husband died in a bicycle accident. That claim allegedly saved her from financial destitution and gave Great-West policyholders reassurance that the company will make good on its promises.
By 1897, Great-West Life expanded into every province across Canada and then began to set its sight on its neighbor to the south, the United States. In 1906, the first U.S. office opened in North Dakota, US.
Great-West Life as an early innovator in the life insurance industry as one of the first life insurance companies to enter group insurance in Canada as well as the first Canadian company to enter the accident and health insurance business.
In 1969, the Power Corporation became the Great-West Life’s majority shareholder. In 1979, Great-West Life opened an American headquarters in Denver, CO.
The 90s and early 2000s was an exciting time for Great-West Life. The London Life Insurance Company and Canada Life (Canada’s first life insurance company) join the Great-West Life family.
Today, Great-West Life still is protecting the lives of its policyholders in North America. In 2016, Great-West Life helped more than 44,000 families by paying out more than $2.4 billion in life insurance death claims.
Great-West Life Ratings and Financial Strength
A promise is only as good as the entity backing it up. You need a life insurance company that you can rely on to be there and pay the check when the time comes. Great-West Life thus far has had a stellar reputation and a rock-solid balance sheet.
Great-West Life has been protecting families from financial devastation for over 125 years. While the past is no predictor of the future, it can be comforting to know that you are doing business with an experienced company instead of a start-up.
Great-West also has investment-grade ratings from third-party rating agencies like the A.M. Best Company and Standard and Poors. A.M. Best affirmed Great-West Life’s Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior), which is one of A.M. Best’s highest marks.
If you are looking for a second opinion, Standard and Poors and Fitch both issued an investment-grade rating for Great-West Life as well. Fitch and S&P’s rating for Great-West Life is AA.
Great-West Life Financial Ratings:
|A.M. Best||DBRS Limited||Fitch||Moody's||Standard and Poor's|
Great-West Life is not an accredited business by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as of the writing of this article. However, Great-West Life does hold a BBB rating of A+, which reflect the BBB’s opinion about how the organization interacts with its customers.
Great-West Life Insurance Solutions
Great-West Life offers many types of life insurance products to protect the lives of its policyholders, including term life insurance, whole life insurance, and universal life insurance.
Great-West Life also offers other life and health products, such as disability insurance, critical illness insurance, and health and dental insurance. While our Great-West Life insurance review will focus heavily on their life products, we will cover their other products as well.
Great-West Term Life Insurance
Great-West Life offers term life insurance as an affordable life insurance solution to protect families with a temporary death benefit. Term life insurance provides inexpensive death benefit protection for a defined period of time that you select.
Your rate will be locked in and will never increase over the duration of that term period. If you die, your beneficiaries will receive an income-tax-free death benefit paid in cash. Term life insurance is ideal for temporary needs like mortgage protection or children’s education cost.
Great-West Life offers term periods of 10 or 20 years. You can exchange your term life insurance with a permanent life insurance policy when you are ready through a term conversion. Term life insurance has no cash value so you cannot borrow against it like whole life.
Great-West term policy’s application process consists of a medical exam, which is like a mini-physical. You may need to provide the underwriter your medical records as well. The entire process can take 4-6 weeks on average.
There are accelerated underwriting programs that are increasing in popularity that allow you to purchase term life insurance with no medical exam. The best no-exam life insurance companies can underwrite you instantly in some cases, but usually within 48 hours.
Great-West Life Whole Life Insurance
Great-West Life offers participating whole life insurance. Participating life insurance means that you participate in the profits of the insurance company and are eligible to receive a non-guaranteed dividend at the end of the year. Non-participating policies receive no dividends.
This dividend can be taken as cash, used to reduce your insurance premiums, or reinvested into the policy as a paid-up addition. Paid-up additions increase your life insurance death benefit and cash value.
Your insurance death benefit is in effect for the rest of your life, and your monthly payment can never be increased for the rest of your life. Your cash value grows within the policy tax-deferred, and the death benefit is paid income-tax-free upon your death.
You can borrow money from your life insurance policy through tax-advantaged loans that are secured by the death benefit. You don’t need to qualify financially for these loans or even pay them back. If they are unpaid at death, they will be deducted from your death benefits.
Whole life can be useful to cover things like final expenses and burial coverage when you pass away. Whole life does have uses in real estate businesses as well. We have even seen it used in estate planning.
Great-West Life Universal Life
Great-West Life also offers universal life insurance, which is another type of permanent life insurance. Think of universal life insurance like whole life insurance’s flexible little brother.
Where whole life forces you to pay a certain premium to guarantee your lifetime death benefits, universal life allows you to adjust your premium payments, within certain limits, so you can adapt with your changing needs.
The money goes into a policy fund that’s used to pay the cost of the insurance policy. A portion will go to your policy expenses, and the remaining amount is invested on a tax-deferred basis. You choose from a variety of investment options depending on your risk tolerance.
Types of Universal Life Insurance:
The money in your universal life insurance cash fund can be borrowed against or withdrawn. If you borrow or withdraw from the cash account, it reduces the policy’s cash value and death benefits.
We use a lot of universal life insurance in estate planning cases or senior life insurance when a client wants lifetime death benefits and is OK taking on more investment risk to secure the permanent death benefit of the universal life insurance policy.
Great-West Life Disability Insurance
Great-West Life offers disability insurance in addition to its life insurance to protect its policyholders from the financial devastation of disability. When you cannot work due to illness or injury, disability insurance kicks in to keep your income coming in.
Once you are defined as disabled, you will receive a monthly disability payment once your initial waiting period is over. You can use this income to cover household expenses while you recover and avoid dipping into long-term savings like your retirement to survive.
Great-West Life Critical Illness Insurance
Great-West Life also offers critical illness insurance. Critical illness insurance awareness is still relatively low in the industry, but its importance is growing. Critical illnesses, like heart attack, are not the death sentences that they were a few decades ago.
Critical illness kicks in if you experience a condition regardless of if you die. Since critical illnesses can cause many of the financial hardships that death does, critical illness is an important part of your financial plan.
The money that you get through your critical illness policy can be used to cover the cost of medications, treatments, and services not covered by your major medical plan. It can also be used to cover your household expenses if a loved one quits work to care for you.
Great-West Life Heath and Dental Insurance
If you do not get health or dental insurance through your employer, then you are exposing yourself to a great financial risk. Individual health insurance covers you and your family if you become sick or injured and need medical attention.
Disability insurance will keep your income flowing. Health insurance will pay for the cost of your care. If you do not have access to group health insurance, then an individual policy is your next best option.
Other Great-West Life Insurance Solutions and Financial Services
Great-West Life also offers wealth management, group benefits, and business owner insurance to its policyholders. Individual insurance is only one piece to a complex financial puzzle for many people.
Insurance will protect the things that you care about the month from the “what ifs” in life. However, you need to focus on growing your wealth as well through investments and banking services.
Great-West Life offers full financial services to its policyholders so you can take control of all aspects of your financial well-being from retirement planning to buying your home.
Final Thoughts: Is Great-West Life the Life Insurance Company for Me?
Great-West Life is a fantastic insurance company with a historic legacy. It has a bullet-proof financial strength and offers a wide variety of life and health insurances as well as financial services to its clients.
If you are looking for a one-stop shop that can handle all your financial needs, then Great-West Life may be a good option to consider. However, if you just are looking for a quality life insurance policy, you may want to compare Great-West Life with other companies.
One thing that we struck us as odd is that Great-West Life did not offer more than a 10-year or 20-year term life policy (most companies will offer 15-year and 30-year options). Also, if you have a pre-existing health condition, Great-West Life may charge you more.
Therefore, we recommend working with a knowledgable independent agent who is an experienced field underwriter and can broker over 20 life insurance companies. They should be able to match you with the best company for your needs.
Thank you for reading our Great-West Life insurance review. Please contact us if you have any further questions or request a quote from our site to compare the rates of dozens of top-rated life insurance companies.
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Resources: Great-West Life Insurance
Joe is a lifelong learner with a passion for sharing what he has learned with others. Joe has publicly spoken on life insurance in the past to both colleagues at industry conferences and to consumers in educational settings and as a contributor to industry blogs. Additionally, Joe is studying for certifications such as the CFP, CLU, and RICP to further his professional knowledge.