UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020
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About Ladder Life
Life insurance startup Ladder Life opened for business in January of 2017, first in California and then beyond into all states with the exception of New York, where they plan to offer coverage in the near future. They offer policies that are underwritten by an older company – Fidelity Security Life – founded in 1969.
Ladder uses an entirely digital approach to sales of life insurance policies and offers quick decisions and instant coverage. Unlike other simplified issue policies, however, the site states that all of their products are, in fact, fully underwritten. The company uses an algorithm to determine acceptance and rates but does require medical exams and lab work for some applicants.
The company partners with a membership-based financial planning company, SoFi, to provide insurance to its members but is also available to the general public. Quotes and coverage can be obtained online; there are no agents or sales reps.
Ladder’s company headquarters is located in Palo Alto, California, but they do not provide customer-facing services in person.
Ladder Life Insurance Products
Ladder writes only term life insurance for people between the ages of 20 and 60, with some limitations. The term length plus your current age cannot be more than 70 years. Thus, and 60-year-old applicant can only apply for a 10-year term. The available term lengths are 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years.
They have a wide range of death benefit amounts, starting at $100,000 and going up to $8,000,000. The insured has the option to adjust their death benefit amount over time as their needs change; Ladder states there is no fee for making these changes. The term length can also be adjusted over time. For increases in death benefits or extended term length, the additional coverage will come with a newly added premium amount. They allow cancellation at any time without any penalties or fees.
While Ladder uses an online application and states that coverage may be issued within minutes, that is not the case for every applicant. In some cases, the company will require a lab appointment to gather more health information. A mobile technician will be sent to the applicant’s home to complete this process. This differs from insurance companies that promise simplified or guaranteed issue policies with no medical exam; all of Ladder’s policies are fully underwritten and it is possible to be turned down for coverage. The initial questions asked during the online application will be used to determine whether a lab appointment is needed.
Ladder’s products are meant to be simple and straightforward, so they do not offer any riders.
There are two ways to get rates from Ladder’s website.
Their estimate tool is the quickest and simplest method, and provides a number based on just a few simple details – age, gender, height, weight, and zip code. In order to get a more accurate rate, a full complement of health and history questions must be answered along with providing personal contact information.
We ran a quick quote using the estimate tool. Our sample was for a 30-year-old male, 6’ tall and 180 lbs., living in Southern California.
For a 10-year term policy with a death benefit of $100,000, the sample rate came back at $9.36 a month.
We upped the coverage to $1,000,000 with the 10-year term and came back with a rate of $26.10. month.
Finally, we looked at both death benefit amounts with a 30-year term instead. The $100,000 policy came back at $15.35, and the $1 million at $60.80 a month.
The estimate tool is very easy to use and shows the price for each term length as you toggle through the death benefit amounts. The rates we saw are very reasonable when compared to other companies, particularly at the higher end death benefit amount.
Ladder does not have an easy to access claims information page. We found the information in the FAQ-style Help Center on the website.
In keeping with the entirely digital system, Ladder accepts claims only through email – surprisingly there is not an online claim form offered nor is there a phone number to call for assistance with claims. After the initial email, the customer will be told what forms and documentation are needed; presumably, the forms are emailed to the beneficiary as we did not see them available for download on the website.
It is important to note that Ladder is not really an insurance carrier; all of the policies are underwritten through Fidelity Security. That means this secondary company will also be the one processed claims and determining benefits. After the documentation is submitted to Ladder, they will pass it on to the carrier for processing.
The company does offer “Just in Case” cards that can be sent out to the beneficiaries of the life insurance policy. These contain basic policy information that should make it easier for them to file a claim.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Ladder is such a new company that it is not surprising to see very little in the way of reviews and ratings. The company does not have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) page at the time of this review.
Fidelity Security, which underwrites the policies, does have a BBB page. They have an A+ rating with only one complaint on file in the past three years. They have also been accredited since 1990.
We were unable to find any customer reviews of the company in any of the usual places. It will likely take a few more years in business before we start to see a reputation forming for this company.
The Bottom Line
Ladder is likely to appeal to those who prefer a modern approach to insurance, have simple needs, and do not want to deal with agents and solicitation. They have good rates and high death benefit options, with the possibility of an instant policy issue.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.