UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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About Greek Catholic Union
In 1892, 14 lodges connected with the Greek Catholic Church came together to create the Greek Catholic Union (GCU). Founded in Wilkes-Barre, PA, the GCU is a fraternal society whose original goal was to provide financial security to members whose circumstances prevented them from obtaining life insurance.
For much of the GCU’s history, members had to be Catholic, but in 1979 the Union opened up membership; today no religious affiliation is required to become a member. Membership requirements are an annuity with a balance of at least $300 or an in-force life insurance policy. Some policies qualify the member for only a limited number of benefits.
Members receive discounts, financial assistance, and other perks. There are more than a thousand member lodges across the country, and products are sold through agents. In order to purchase additional products, the required product purchase for initial membership must be completed.
GCU offers life insurance, annuities, and Medicare Supplement policies. We have provided a full review focused on GCU’s Medicare options here, so this review will focus on their other products.
Whole life is offered in several different forms. A Single Premium Whole Life policy is available with an issue age between 0 and 85 and a maximum premium amount of $150,000.
20-Year Premium Life offers the option to pay off the policy in 20 years, after which a paid-up certificate is issued. The policy continues to accumulate a cash balance even after it is paid up. This product is available starting at $5,000.
GCU also has a traditional Ordinary Whole Life product, as well as a Simplified Issue policy. The latter has fewer medical requirements but also has limits on the face value of the policy. Simplified issue is offered with an issue age of 50 through 80 years old and a face value between $5,000 and $25,000. This plan is not offered in all states.
Finally, GCU offers a funeral pre-planning whole life policy called GCU Irrevocable Burial Trust. This product does not require that the insured select a specific funeral home, and is not considered an asset for Medicare purposes. It allows pre-payment and planning for funeral and other final expenses.
GCU also has several term life insurance options. Level term policies are offered with 10, 20, and 30-year terms. The 10-year can be issued at age 18 and up with a minimum face value of $25,000. This plan can be renewed every ten years at an increased premium and has several payment options.
The 20 and 30-year term can each be issued at age 20; 20-year policies can be issued up to age 80, while 30-year policies can be issued up to age 70. The minimum death benefit amount is based on issue age. Under age 50 the benefit starts at $100,000, ages 51 to 65 at $50,000, and 65 and over at $25,000.
An annual renewable term policy is offered with an issue age of 18 and up, and with death benefits starting at $50,000. This policy also has many payment options and can be renewed at an increasing premium every year.
Finally, GCU offers a Term to Age 30 policy that is designed to provide younger members with affordable coverage up to age 30. It is available with a face value of $50,000 for $50 a year or $25,000 for $25 a year.
GCU offers annuities in two categories: Fixed Deferred and Annuities for Income.
Fixed Deferred Annuities are offered in several forms:
- The One Plus Four, a five-year annuity with the option to surrender within 30 days of the first year anniversary
- Triple Advantage Plus, a 36-month annuity with limited surrenders allowed at the second and third anniversary
- Five Year Advantage, which allows limited surcharge-free surrenders at each anniversary year
- Flex 8, an eight-year contract with limited surrenders permitted annually
Annuities for Income options are:
- Fixed Period Certain income, with a range between 1 and 20 years
- Lifetime Income, which is guaranteed for the lifetime of the annuitant and can be issued individually or jointly
Aside from the flat rates for the Term to Age 30 life insurance policy, there are no rates or online quoting available for GCU. This is fairly standard for a fraternal benefit society, where most people want to discuss membership along with products and rates with a representative before signing up.
GCU life insurance claims can be filed by calling a toll-free number or by filling out an online form to start the process. Beyond the contact information, the claims section of the website offers no further information regarding the process and/or what to expect.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Greek Catholic Union has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), with no complaints on file in the past three years.
We were unable to find much in the way of consumer reviews, positive or negative, of GCU. This is not unusual for a fraternal society, as the membership nature of the organization leads people to treat it somewhat differently from the average insurance company.
The Bottom Line
Without rates, it is difficult to rank GCU in terms of value. Certainly, the benefits of membership add a certain aspect to the deal when choosing life insurance here, and that may appeal to some consumers. Overall, however, for product selection and most likely price, be sure to do your homework and compare your options to see if GCU would be right for you. GCU is likely to be the choice for people who select it based on its status as a fraternal benefit society and less for the cost of the policy.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.