There are few life insurance companies that we review that have the reputation that TIAA-CREF life insurance has among the public. TIAA has earned that reputation after decades of putting the customer first.
That said, life insurance is about more than just a trusted brand name. The life insurance itself needs to be affordable and the right fit for your personal situation. Our TIAA life insurance review will cover some of the more commonly asked questions about TIAA such as:
Shall we begin?
TIAA was founded in 1918 by Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching of all people. Henry Pritchett created the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) as a pension system for professors.
Pritchett was able to fully fund the pension with grants from the foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York along with ongoing donations from other institutions and people. In 1921, policyholders voted to give policyholders representation on the TIAA board.
TIAA whether the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression due to its conservative investing strategies After World War 2, there was a growth surge in the education sector combined with increased longevity and inflationary pressures.
TIAA realized that they needed to invest in equities to diversify their retirement funds. TIAA created the College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), which was a variable annuity, in response in 1952. Thus TIAA-CREF was born.
In 2016, TIAA-CREF went through a marketing rebrand to simply TIAA along with a new image and new logo. Some customers found the old brand name of TIAA-CREF to be too complicated. TIAA was much simpler and friendlier to their policyholders.
Today, TIAA is headquartered in Manhattan, NY, but has offices all over the United States. In 2018 TIAA ranked 84th on the Fortune 500 largest corporations in America list. TIAA is structured as a non-profit corporation owning for-profit subsidiaries.
TIAA Life Ratings and Financial Strength
TIAA holds top ratings from the major third-party financial rating organizations and is considered currently in excellent financial health. This is good news. You want to feel confident that the life insurance company will pay the claim when the time comes.
The A.M. Best Company rates TIAA life insurance with an A++ (Superior) rating, which is the highest that they award. Currently, TIAA is one of three insurance groups that hold the highest ratings with three of the four insurance groups in the United States.
|A.M. Best||Fitch||Standard & Poor's||Moody's||Comdex|
A.M. Best – A++ (Superior)
Fitch – AAA (Exceptionally Strong)
Standard and Poor’s – AA+ (Very Strong)
Moody’s Investors Service – Aa1 (Very Strong)
Comdex ranking 99 (out of 100)
TIAA is not an accredited business of the Better Business Bureau BBB as of the creation of this article. However, TIAA has been in business for over 101 years. TIAA’s current BBB rating is A- due to the failure to respond to one complaint.
TIAA Life Insurance Solutions
TIAA offers various life insurance options for their policyholders that cover a wide array for temporary and permanent needs with term life insurance, universal life insurance, and variable universal life insurance.
TIAA Term Life Insurance
TIAA term life insurance is popular if you want to affordably cover temporary life insurance needs like protecting your mortgage or replacing your income. Term life insurance usually has no cash surrender value and is a cost-effective life insurance solution.
TIAA offers level term and annual renewable term life insurance. When you purchase a level term life insurance, your premiums are locked in for the term length that you select. With annual renewable term, premiums are usually lower when your young but increase over time each year.
TIAA Level Term Life Durations:
At the end of your level term period, you have options. You can continue to pay your policy, but the life insurance company can raise your premiums at that point. You can repurchase a new term life insurance policy. Also, you can convert your TIAA term life insurance.
So what are TIAA’s term conversion options? You can convert your TIAA term life insurance policy by exchanging it with a permanent TIAA life insurance policy without completing any medical screenings.
TIAA offers term death benefit amounts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million or greater. However, TIAA offers premium discounts for people who purchase $250,000 or more.
TIAA Term Life Insurance Optional Riders:
Pays 1% of your death benefit up to a maximum of $100,000 over and above your policy’s face amount to an eligible charity of your choice.
All premiums are waived while the insured person is totally disabled as defined in the policy.
Your death benefit automatically increases to offset the effects of inflation. (only available with the annually renewable term).
TIAA traditional term life insurance underwriting is thorough but fair. Currently, TIAA requires full underwriting with a medical exam to qualify for a term policy (excluding Salary Shield). Although, by taking the exam, TIAA is able to offer you discounted preferred rates.
However, companies, like Sagicor Life, are leading the way in accelerated underwriting that does not require a medical exam. Sagicor has found a way to offer an expedited customer experience at affordable rates.
TIAA Salary Shield
TIAA has developed a new type of term life insurance that pays you a guaranteed monthly income instead of a lump-sum death benefit. This new type of life insurance can help your loved ones manage their monthly expenses with predictable cash flow.
Salary Shield can be purchased online by answering a few questions about your health with no medical examed needed! You can leave a monthly income between $1,000 to $7,000 for up to 30 years. Your Salary Shield protection will last 20-years or until age 65, whichever comes first.
If you want to leave a lump-sum payment in addition to the monthly income stream you can. This is an excellent solution for people who wish to leave their loved ones cash for big purchases, like higher education, as well as a pension for living expenses.
TIAA Universal Life Insurance
TIAA offers universal life insurance as their permanent life insurance options. Universal life insurance comes in many forms.
Current assumption universal life insurance has flexible premiums and earns a minimum of 3% interest inside TIAA’s fixed account; although, this rate can be higher. The cash value inside the policy grows tax-deferred and can be removed with tax-advantaged loans.
TIAA’s universal life insurance policy also pays out a death benefit that is free of income taxes. These policies can be useful in educational planning for a child or grandchild or for legacy needs.
TIAA also offers universal life insurance with long-term care benefits. This product combines lifetime death benefit protection with long-term care benefits to help protect you and your loved ones from the high cost of long-term care and chronic illness.
TIAA also offer survivorship universal life insurance. Survivorship universal life insurance usually covers the lives of two insureds. These second-to-die policies pay out the death benefit on the death of the second insured.
We use survivorship universal life insurance in estate planning cases where the clients need to leave an estate to the next generation. In fact, survivorship life insurance policies are often affordable and efficient wealth transfer vehicles.
TIAA Variable Life Insurance
TIAA variable life insurance can offer you lifelong death benefit protection with many of the advantages of current assumption universal life insurance. The main difference is you can choose to invest your cash value more aggressively in separate accounts.
These separate accounts usually are professionally managed and invest your cash value in investments like stocks and bonds. Over time, these portfolios have the potential for growth, but your principal is at risk of loss.
You can access the cash value in a variable universal life insurance policy through tax-advantaged loans and withdrawals. Also, your beneficiary will receive the death benefit free of federal income tax.
TIAA survivorship variable universal life insurance is a variable life insurance policy that covers two lives. The death benefit pays out after the death of the second insured. However, you can invest your cash value in subaccounts that are professionally managed in stocks and bonds.
Survivorship variable universal life makes sense when you need to leave an estate through the death benefit, but want the potential growth of your cash value. You can tap into your cash value through withdrawals or tax-advantaged loans.
However, variable life insurance can be complex. If the market underperforms, the policy can be underfunded and potentially lapse. Therefore, you should monitor the policy frequently to be sure that it is benign adequately funded.
How to apply for TIAA Life Insurance?
TIAA does a great job making applying for term life insurance simple and easy. TIAA has a convenient online application process where you can select the amount of term coverage you need, get a quote, and TIAA will email the application to apply. That is pretty simple.
The entire process takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It will require information about your identity and health. You can then schedule your life insurance physical exam. After that is complete, you should get an answer within 4-6 weeks.
Universal life insurance and variable life insurance are a little more complicated. As a result, you will need to call TIAA to speak with an agent at 877-276-9429 in order to get a quote and apply for permanent policies.
TIAA Annuity Solutions
TIAA also offers personal annuities to its members. Life insurance protects your loved ones financially if you die young, but annuities protect you financially if you live a long life. TIAA offers two annuities, the TIAA variable annuity, and the TIAA fixed annuity.
TIAA Fixed Annuity
The TIAA fixed annuity allows you to grow your money tax-deferred without exposing your principal to investment loss. The TIAA fixed annuity gives your predictable and reliable growth without the volatility of the stock market.
TIAA Fixed Annuity Features:
TIAA Variable Annuity
The TIAA variable annuity was created to give its members a low-cost tax-deferral option beyond your 401k/403b and IRAs to invest in. Unlike the fixed annuity, variable annuities allow you to invest in stocks and bonds, which can expose your principal to investment loss.
For that reason, you should carefully consider if a variable annuity fits your risk tolerance. The stock market can be volatile. If you can not stomach the ups and downs of the market, the variable annuity might not be for you.
TIAA Variable Annuity Features:
Final Thoughts: Does TIAA life insurance cut the mustard?
TIAA life insurance is a quality option if you are looking for life insurance. TIAA is a historic company with a great brand behind it. TIAA’s balance sheet is rock solid, and its life insurance is affordable.
If you are looking for term life insurance and are OK with taking a medical exam, TIAA may be right for you. If you are looking for no-exam term life insurance, you may want to consider other options.
Thank you for reading our TIAA life insurance review. If you have any questions, please give us a call or request a quote.
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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.