Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Dec 11, 2020

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Great West Life

Financial Strength

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A Canadian-born insurance company with a long history and an international footprint, Great West Life is one of the biggest life insurance companies in the world. Offering a range of life insurance and financial products to U.S. customers, Great West has a good reputation with a strong financial standing.

What is Great West Life?

Great West Life was founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and maintains its headquarters there to this day. The company started out offering life insurance mainly to farmers and other locals. The company spread across the country and weathered the financial struggles of the early 20th Century. They spread into the US market starting with Fargo, North Dakota in 1906.

Great West Life was purchased by Power Corporation in 1969, and in 1984 Power Financial was created as a holding company for Great West and other subsidiaries. Today Great West LifeCo Inc. is the holding company, as part of Power Corporation, for Great West Life Assurance Company and several other companies, including Great West Life & Annuity. Great West LifeCo operates internationally with offices in the U.S. and in Canada and was the 12th largest life insurance company in the world as of 2017.

In the U.S., Great West Life & Annuity Company, also known as Great West Financial, writes a variety of life insurance policies as well as investment products. Life and investment products continue to be sold in Canada through Great West Life Assurance Company.

Products are sold through independent agents and financial specialists across their operating territory. Currently, there is no online quoting and no online product sales.

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What Types of Insurance Products Are Offered?

Great West Life’s flagship product is still life insurance, but they also offer a range of other products to provide protection for the unexpected. In the U.S. products are offered through Great West Financial – also known as Great West Life & Annuity – a subsidiary of Great West LifeCo. The products differ somewhat in the U.S. and Canada, but the same basic options are available.

Life Insurance

Great West Financial offers several life insurance options to American customers. Included is the option for an easy to obtain term life insurance policy that will appeal to those looking to cover final expenses regardless of their health status.

  • Summit Term Life, a basic term life insurance policy with a range of term lengths and benefit options
  • Essential Term Life is a basic term life policy in 10 or 20-year terms available for a reasonable cost.
  • Whole life insurance is available with cash accumulation tax-deferred as well as possible dividends
  • Family Legacy Single Premium Universal life insurance is Great West’s universal product, offering lifetime coverage and legacy planning

Financial Planning Products

Great West Life offers a few basic retirement savings products. While the Canadian company offers more retirement products than are currently available in the U.S., the company does offer two major choices.

Annuities are available to provide retirement income with several options for the investment of funds as well as how income is paid out over time. Great West sells variable annuities in a variety of forms to allow choices in how funds will be invested.

The Great West Financial SecureFoundation Smart Future plan combines investment and retirement income to plan for both immediate and future needs.

Great West also writes a lot of business in the Group Benefits market, with products being offered through employers as voluntary benefits to their employees. In Canada, further products are available including supplemental health, disability, and critical care coverage.

Are the Company’s Life Rates Competitive?

The insurer doesn’t offer online quoting, so we are unable to offer a rate comparison. Quotes are only available through agents and financial professionals, and the site will direct customers to someone in their area.

This is not a company that presents itself as being a budget option, therefore we wouldn’t expect them to compete with the cheaper insurance companies. The company relies on a strong reputation to earn and keep customers rather than on low-cost insurance or simple term insurance.

Its basic simple term life is offered as an affordable option, but as with most products sold without a medical exam, rates are unlikely to compete with a full term policy.

Products are also frequently offered as employee benefits, and this is an area where companies like Great West are more competitive.

Are There Any Consumer Complaints Against the Company?

In the United States, the company has been accredited since 2008 and holds an A+ rating with the BBB. There are currently zero complaints listed in the last three years.

Great West Life Assurance Company in Canada has been accredited since 1978 and it also holds an A+ rating with the BBB. There is only one complaint against the company in the last three years.

On both counts, this complaint volume is low, even for a life insurance company, and especially for a life insurance company of this size.

Overall, reviews are positive, with a few complaints here and there, most of which are common to all life insurance companies. There is little of major concern and no red flags in the reviews – the company appears to have a solid reputation.

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What’s the Company’s Financial Strength Rating?

Rating Company Grade Financial Outlook
AM Best A+ Stable
Fitch AA Stable

What’s the Bottom Line?

Great West Life is a large company with a long history and a solid reputation. They offer a good range of life insurance products as well as some basic investment options to plan for retirement.

It is unlikely to be one of the least expensive insurance companies around, so those who want the best premium will probably find it elsewhere. That said, company reputation and confidence in having claims paid are also a big part of the picture, so it may well be worth a look even for budget shoppers.

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