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By Maggie Overholt, Senior Content Strategist & Insurance Writer

Colonial Life Insurance Review

The first thing you should know about Colonial Life is that it only sells insurance products through employers. If you’re here because your company offers a Colonial Life benefit package and you’re wondering what that entails, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking to buy a policy on your own, start with our review of the best life insurance companies instead.

Colonial Life is a reputable provider overall. It holds an “A” financial strength score from insurance rating company A.M. Best — meaning it has the funds to pay out on claims when necessary — and offers a wide range of voluntary benefits that employers can choose to offer for their employees.

Colonial also provides a one-on-one counseling service for its customers, which we’d recommend taking advantage of. Every person has unique insurance needs, and every employer has a slightly different benefits, so it’s worth speaking with a professional when choosing your plan to make sure you’re covered for everything you need.

The Claim

“We're here to help ensure everything you’ve built isn’t put at risk due to an unexpected illness or accident,” says Colonial Life. “With our voluntary benefits, you can rest assured that you’ll have the financial protection and personal service you need during life’s most challenging moments.”

Is it true?

Colonial Life certainly has a wide enough coverage selection to lend credibility to this claim. With benefit options from life insurance to critical illness, cancer, and disability insurance, the company makes it possible to protect yourself against many of life’s most expensive curveballs.

But that coverage comes with a caveat. Since Colonial Life is offered through the workplace, your policy options will be limited to what your employer includes in their benefits package. It’s important to sit down with both your employer and an insurance professional to make sure you understand which coverage options are available and make sense for you.

It’s also worth noting that despite a strong financial score and wide insurance selection, Colonial Life had well above the median number of complaints filed against it in 2018, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. These types of complaints usually stem from issues with the claims process — from slow handling to insufficient payouts or outright claim denial. Keep in mind that many of these problems can be avoided by being totally honest on your insurance application; doing so gives Colonial no reason to question eligibility if you ever need to file a claim.

Product Overview

Best for

Group life insurance and voluntary benefit packages

Not for

Individual life insurance

Features

In business since 1937
Financial strength ratings A.M. Best: A
S&P Global: A
Moody’s: A2
Owned by Unum Group
BBB rating: A-
Life insurance types offered Term life insurance
Whole life insurance
Universal life insurance
Other benefits offered Disability insurance
Accident insurance
Critical illness insurance
Cancer insurance
Hospital indemnity insurance
Dental and vision insurance
Standout coverage options Comprehensive benefit package, including life insurance
Flexible coverage limits fit employees’ changing insurance needs
Customer resources One-on-one benefits counseling for employees
Life insurance needs calculator
Insurance assistance in disaster areas
WorkLife blog shares tips about insurance and healthy living for employees

Variety of life insurance options

Colonial Life offers term, whole, and universal life insurance, which are the three primary types. A choice between all three means that most customers can find the right life insurance plan for their needs, whether that’s an affordable term life policy or a more robust whole life policy that promises to pay out.

Take note that your own options might vary depending on what your employer offers. Colonial Life mentions that age and health can affect which policies you qualify for, too. If your employer offers Colonial Life insurance, talk to one of the company’s benefit counselors, who can help you sort through your options and pick the right policy.

Wide range of voluntary workplace benefits

Employers that choose to offer Colonial Life insurance can select from a long list of “voluntary benefits.” These optional coverages are generally free for employers to provide but will cost extra for the employees who opt in. Voluntary or “supplemental” benefits often pay for costs that aren’t covered by traditional insurance. Examples include:

  • Disability insurance helps cover living costs if you’re injured or disabled for an extended time and unable to work
  • Accident insurance helps cover living costs if you’re injured due to a covered accident and unable to work
  • Critical illness insurance helps cover treatments, deductibles, co-pays, rehab, and other expenses associated with a critical diagnosis
  • Cancer insurance helps cover deductibles, co-pays, treatments, home health services, child care, and other expenses associated with a cancer diagnosis
  • Hospital indemnity insurance helps with costs not covered by traditional health insurance, which can include hospital stays, doctor appointments, ER visits, and more
  • Dental and vision insurance can cover a wide range of dental treatments, checkups, eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses

Ask your employer about the Colonial Life benefits available where you work. Offerings vary by location and by employer.

Flexible coverage levels

Colonial Life says that in most cases, customers are able to increase their coverage levels at a later date after purchasing insurance. This can be important for people whose needs shift partway through their policy. For instance: If you have a child or take on a mortgage, you’ll suddenly have much larger financial obligations that would need to be covered by a life insurance death benefit. Upping levels on your group plan might be an easier way to get that extra coverage than buying it individually.

However, Colonial Life notes that “depending on their plan and the amount of coverage desired, [customers] may need to answer health questions” in order to increase their policy limits. This means that if your health has changed since you first purchased life insurance, you may see a sizeable increase in your premium cost.

Group life insurance also tends to cap the amount of coverage that can be purchased, and it can sometimes be more expensive than a separate, individual policy. So if your coverage needs change drastically, it’s worth checking prices for an individual term life policy to supplement your group plan instead of simply increasing the limits.

Resources in disaster areas

Natural disasters not only necessitate insurance claims, but also make it incredibly difficult to file them. Trying to parse through coverage information in the wake of a disaster can feel overwhelming.

That’s why we appreciate Colonial Life’s “Special Notices” — a section of the site that identifies areas affected by catastrophes and provides quick links for special assistance and coverage information for customers handling claims.

For instance: If someone is injured in a catastrophe and needs to file for disability or medical benefits, but they’ve also been displaced from their home, the site gives instructions about how to file online and receive claims payments electronically instead of by mail.

The information provided is basic (email address, phone number, timeframes for filing), but it’s a very thoughtful touch that we could see being a helpful starting point at a difficult time.

Possible drawbacks

Employer-sponsored plans vary

A workplace insurance plan is only as good as what the employer offers. Your access to any of the voluntary benefits listed above — from accident and disability to cancer insurance and critical illness insurance — will be limited to the options your employer chooses to provide.

On the bright side, Colonial Life does its best to help employees make the most of what’s available to them. The company provides benefit counselors to walk you through your options and choose the coverage that’s appropriate for your lifestyle and needs. Ask your employer for more information when it comes time to build your benefits package.

The Competition

Colonial Life
MetLife
State Farm
Northwestern Mutual
Our review
Our review
Our review
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A
A+
A++
A++
J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Life Insurance Study score
N/A
4/5
5/5
4/5
2018 NAIC consumer compaint ratio*
3.06
0.54
0.12
0.04
Life insurance types offered
Term life
Whole life
Universal life
Term life
Universal life
Variable universal life
Term
Whole
Universal
No-exam term
Term
Whole
Universal

*NAIC complaint ratios count for official complaints filed against a company with state insurance commissioners. Scores are measured against the national median complaint ratio of 1. A score lower than 1 means the company has had fewer complaints filed, a score higher than one means it’s had more.

Colonial Life vs. MetLife

MetLife is another top employer-sponsored life insurance company. You won’t be in a position to choose between the two — since you can only select what’s offered at work — but comparing them shows how Colonial stacks up against similar providers.

In that comparison, Colonial Life edges ahead for product diversity. Both companies offer term and universal life insurance, but Colonial alone has an option for whole life insurance (which typically offers a bigger guaranteed death benefit). It also offers critical illness, cancer, and hospital indemnity coverage, all of which can be a big financial help after a serious diagnosis, and none of which are covered by MetLife.

When it comes to ratings, though, MetLife steals the lead. It has a slightly stronger financial outlook (“A+” to Colonial’s “A”) and earns far fewer customer complaints on average. That means despite a shorter coverage roster, it likely has stronger service and claims handling.

Colonial Life vs. State Farm

Since Colonial Life is only available through employers, it’s no good for people looking for life insurance on their own. If you find yourself in that boat, we recommend checking out State Farm.

State Farm has a robust list of insurance options, including whole life, universal life, and no less than three kinds of term life insurance — which is one of the main reasons why it’s our top pick for the best term life coverage.

We’re also consistently impressed by State Farm’s customer service ratings. The company has taken first place in J.D. Power’s life insurance satisfaction survey five years running, showing that customers are generally pleased with its policy options, rates, billing, and claims.

Colonial Life vs. Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual is another solid choice for people buying life insurance on their own — in particular, for anyone who needs a permanent life insurance policy. With its high customer satisfaction score (four out of five from J.D. Power) and superior financial rating (“A++”), this is a company worth having around for the long haul.

Northwestern Mutual also has a robust selection of policy riders for life insurance customers. These add-ons function a lot like Colonial Life’s “voluntary benefits,” letting you pay an extra fee to include insurance for critical illness, disability, accidental death, and other important coverage areas that aren't included in the standard policy.

Colonial Life Insurance FAQ

How does Colonial Life insurance work?

Colonial Life insurance is sold in the workplace, meaning you can’t opt to buy it on your own as an individual policy. It’s only available through employers that partner with Colonial Life to provide all or part of their employees’ benefit packages. The insurance options available to you from Colonial Life will vary based on the plan your employer chooses to provide.

Can I keep my Colonial Life insurance if I quit my job?

Some workplace plans cancel life insurance coverage for employees who leave their job. With Colonial Life, policyholders may keep their insurance even if they quit, though they’ll have to make up the difference for premium payments their employer covered previously. Colonial says that it will send a “continuation of coverage” letter outlining next steps for customers who find themselves in this situation.

Does Colonial Life offer health insurance?

Colonial Life does not provide traditional health insurance, though some of its “supplemental benefits” are meant to bolster customers’ health coverage. For instance, hospital indemnity insurance can help people pay for hospital bills, surgeries, appointments, and other expenses that go beyond what their health plan covers.

Does Colonial Life offer dental insurance?

Colonial Life offers a combination dental and vision plan that employers may choose to offer as a part of their benefits package. Colonial Life dental insurance can help cover cleanings, fillings, sealants, tooth removal, crowns, and dentures. You can learn more about Colonial Life dental and vision coverage here.

The Bottom Line

Colonial Life offers a wide range of life insurance plans and optional coverages. However, it’s only available in the workplace, so your access to Colonial Life benefits will depend on whether your employer offers it and which options they provide.

If you’re looking for an individual insurance policy (meaning you’re buying on your own, not through your employer), check out these resources to kickstart your search:

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