UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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About Colonial Penn
Colonial Penn was founded in 1968 in Philadelphia by the co-founder of the AARP, Leonard Davies. The company’s aim was to offer life insurance products to the senior market, particularly people over 65. Colonial Penn provides mainly guaranteed issues life insurance, which means that no medical exam is generally required and all applicants will be accepted regardless of age or health.
Colonial Penn’s history includes several acquisitions; the company was purchased by FNL Group in 1985 and sold to Leucadia in 1991. The current parent company, Conseco, acquired the company in 1997. This resulted in a name change to Conseco Direct Life, but that did not stick and the Colonial Penn name was reinstated in every state except New York. Conseco is now known as CNO Financial, a company that owns several insurers including Bankers Life.
Colonial Penn has gained notoriety through a series of paid celebrity endorsements. The most recent of those is Alex Trebek, but previous faces of the company include Ed McMahon and football player Joe Theismann.
Medicare Supplement insurance is offered in conjunction with Banker’s Life, another CNO Company. The policies are branded by Bankers but underwritten by Colonial Penn.
Colonial Penn Medicare Supplement
Since Bankers is the brand name for Medicare Supplement from Colonial Penn, the information on the policies appears on their website. There is no mention of Medicare Supplement directly on the Colonial Penn site, which markets only life insurance.
The list of available standard letter-coded plans is comprehensive – nearly all of the available options are listed, although some are only available in specific states.
Like all Medicare Supplement companies, the requisite Plan A is available. This plan covers all coinsurance amounts for medical, hospital, and hospice, as well as the first three pints of blood each year.
Beyond that, the list goes on to include Plans B, C (in some states), F as well as the high-deductible version of F, G, K, L, M, and N.
Plan F is the most comprehensive plan available anywhere, and it pays all of the out of pocket costs not covered by Medicare. The high deductible version is offered to make this plan more affordable; rather than paying all of those out of pocket costs, the insured can choose to have one single deductible amount for which they can plan ahead.
The rest of the plans cover a range of costs that vary. The selection here is among the best we have seen anywhere – some companies offer only a handful of the eleven total standardized plans that are available. Most people should be able to find a plan to suit their needs.
Colonial Penn/Bankers does not offer online quoting; there is a form that can be filled out to have an agent contact you to provide rates. This is likely to result in ongoing solicitation efforts by that agent and the company in general.
As a company that has historically worked through direct mail and phone applications, we are not surprised that they do not have online quoting. That said, in the modern era online quoting is becoming a standard expectation, and we prefer to see a company of this size offering it for at least some of their products.
Medicare supplement policies tend to handle claims directly with providers, and this plan is not an exception. There may be situations in which you need to make a claim, however, and claims forms are offered to assist with this.
Although it is Colonial Penn doing the underwriting, the claims forms are found on the Bankers Life page in keeping with the branding. There is an option to upload completed forms electronically on the website, but Medicare Supplement forms are not included in this option. These forms should be sent in via regular mail.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Colonial Penn currently has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) based on the page for their headquarters in Philadelphia. That is up from the B rating they held the last time we reviewed this company. There is a total of 85 complaints on file in the past three years, with 24 of them closed in the past 12 months. It appears that, although the total number of complaints has also gone up (from 68) since our last review, the company is doing a better job of responding.
Since Bankers Life is also involved in these policies, we also checked their BBB file. They have an A+ rating with a larger number of complaints – 107 in the past three years, 31 of which were closed in the past 12 months. Because Bankers is the brand name on the policies, it seems likely that some, if not all, of any complaints directly related to Medicare Supplement, wound up on their page and not Colonial Penn’s.
Both of these are pretty big companies, so the complaint volume based on their size is not high.
We had difficulty finding any direct consumer reviews of Colonial Penn’s Medicare policies, or reviews of the company in general. We did find 73 reviews of Bankers Life on Consumer Affairs, with an overall one-star rating. A look through the complaints did not show anything directly related to Medicare. Most complaints were in regards to life insurance policies.
Because of the various company names involved, it is difficult to form a clear picture of how Colonial Penn stacks up in terms of reputation. What we did find, however, does not raise red flags in terms of their reputation.
The Bottom Line
Colonial Penn has a lot of name recognition due to their advertising, but the Bankers Life branding is likely to lead to some confusion for insurance shoppers. They have a good selection of the standardized Medicare plans, but without rates, it is hard to compare them with competing companies. Those who do not mind being contacted and the likelihood of ongoing solicitation might want to reach out to them for rates, but if you prefer to shop anonymously, there are other companies that will provide rate information without any contact information.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.