UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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With the exclusive rights to the use of Peanuts characters as their “spokestoons”, MetLife has firmly established itself as a highly recognizable brand in the insurance game. Providing all of the basics of personal insurance, MetLife also offers a range of financial products. They’re a popular choice for companies offering life insurance and other products to employees, and write a lot of group life products. Today, MetLife ranks among the largest life insurance companies worldwide.
MetLife has a very long history, going all the way back to Civil War-era America. The National Union Life and Limb Insurance Company was founded in New York City in 1863. The original product was insurance against injury and disability for Union soldiers in the war. In 1968, the company changed its name to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and focused on life insurance.
As financial times became tough, MetLife started offering what were known as “workingman’s policies”, providing small benefit amounts in return for small weekly premiums. By 1909 the strategy raised MetLife to a position as America’s largest life insurance company.
The 1990s and 2000s saw many acquisitions and mergers with other companies and an expansion into more financial services. In 2000, MetLife made the move from a mutual company to a for-profit company, a process that led to a lawsuit from policyholders (who received some stock in return for the loss of mutual status) over information that was misrepresented or left out. The lawsuit ended with a $50 million settlement in 2009.
MetLife added the banking business to its roster for a few years, but sold MetLife Bank in 2012 under pressure from the government – MetLife had failed a test to prove financial stability in the event of a recession. The company also sold its mortgage-servicing branch that same year, turning the focus back towards insurance products.
Today, MetLife writes a large range of products including personal property & casualty coverage, dental and disability (usually through employers), annuities and other retirement and savings products, and of course life insurance.
In 1987, MetLife started using an already recognizable American icon, Snoopy, in their advertising. They continued to use the Peanuts gang as their mascots, and in 2002 signed a deal giving them exclusive rights to use Peanuts characters.
MetLife’s headquarters remain in New York. Their products are sold directly as well as through local advisors, and through employers offering benefits. Some products can be purchased online, but most require a representative to finalize the application and submit it to underwriting.
MetLife’s main product is, of course, life. In addition to their flagship product, they round out personal insurance offerings with the rest of the big three – auto and home – with a range of specialty products as well. They’ve also got a variety of health and care plans and provide financial services.
MetLife is no longer offering individual life polices through in person agents, however they are still providing support and claims services to existing policies. They have transferred some policies over to Brighthouse Financial and some will remain as part of MetLife.
These policies are offered only through the workplace in three ways:
- Basic Term Life – An employer-paid coverage for a set amount of time providing beneficiaries with financial protection.
- Supplemental Term Life – An employer-paid coverage that allows you to purchase additional coverage as needed.
- Dependant Term Life – Provides coverage for spouse, partner, or eligible children.
MetLife also offers their MetLife Rapid Term Life Insurance for individuals. Rapid Term provides coverage up to $500,000, no medical exams, and terms of 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years.
The company’s website does not offer much information regarding their whole life policies.
MetLife offers whole life insurance as a workplace benefit through Texas Life Insurance Company. With whole life you can take your coverage with you when you change jobs.
MetLife writes two types of Universal Life:
- Universal Life, the basic type of this policy that offers flexible premiums, a cash accumulation account, and a guaranteed death benefit.
- Group Variable Universal Life, which offers the benefits of regular UL with added investment options.
- Survivorship Life, which covers two people on one policy and pays on the death of the second person.
Please Note – anyone looking to purchase life insurance should understand the cost and benefit differences between term and whole life insurance. Please see our write up regarding these products for more information.
MetLife also writes personal auto insurance, but provides little information on their website regarding the specifics of the program.
From what they do show, MetLife offers all of the standard coverage as well as some options, some of which are listed on the website and include things like new car replacement and major parts replacement. They also offer discounts, including an auto-home discount for insuring both with MetLife.
MetLife also has a program for Group Auto, which allows a group discount available through an employer. While the policy has to be started while working for the employer, coverage can be continued even if you change jobs. The group affiliation discount can be calculated as part of an online quote to see immediate savings.
MetLife offers specialty insurance policies for other types of vehicle. Coverage is available for boats, RVs, and motorcycles.
The company also offers their GrandProtect plan, and basic Combo plan, which can save you money when bundling your auto and home, or auto, home, personal property, specialty vehicles, rental properties, and more together.
MetLife offers several types of home insurance to cover different home types. These policies cover structures, personal property, and liability as required by the type of dwelling, along with other features and benefits.
Available options are:
- Homeowner’s Insurance, designed for single-family dwellings that are owner occupied. These policies provide replacement for the home itself as well as personal property coverage and personal liability
- Condominium Owner’s Insurance, which provides specific structure coverage for only that portion of the building that falls under the owner’s responsibility
- Renter’s Insurance, which covers personal property and liability for renters
- Mobile Home Insurance, designed for the specific needs of mobile home owners
- Landlord Insurance, which covers the specific risks of owning a rental home
MetLife no longer offers individual disability policies through agents, as of March 6, 2017.
The company offers Short Term Disability and Long Term Disability policies through employers. Short Term Disability can include weekly payments, and rehab incentives. Long Term Disability can include direct monthly payments and essential living expenses.
MetLife is big in the employee benefits market, offering a selection of group benefits that businesses can offer to their employees.
- Dental Insurance – Available with two options: Preferred Network (PPO) and Managed plans, depending on the state.
- Disability Insurance – These plans are available as Short-Term and Long-Term Disability, offering income replacement and other features for employees should they become disabled.
- Accident & Health – In this category MetLife offers a variety of plans. Available to choose from are Accident, Cancer Care, Critical Illness, and Hospital
- Vision Insurance – This plan provides coverage for eye exams as well as eyeglasses or contacts.
- Other Specialty Products – MetLife also offers Legal Services and MetLife Defender, which protects against Internet threats.
Financial Planning Products
MetLife also offer a variety of basic financial planning products. These are mainly aimed at retirement savings, but also include college and general savings.
- Annuities – MetLife offers a wide variety of annuity options, including fixed, indexed, variable, and income annuities.
- Mutual Funds & Investments – MetLife’s saving options include Mutual Funds, 529 College Savings, IRAs, and Brokerage Accounts
Prices and Premiums
Although MetLife is no longer offering individual life insurance through in person agents, and since MetLife’s flagship product is life insurance, we will leave our previous quote from our last review below. Without having a quote available from Brightside Financial, these numbers might be comparable.
For a 30-year-old male living in California, a non-smoker, a 30-year term policy with $250,000 in coverage can be had for $30.99 pre month, assuming good health. That’s an excellent rate that comes in below average, but is dependent on the insured being in excellent health. As with all life insurance quotes, lifestyle and health factors can have a major impact on rates, so we suggest getting a more specific quote unless you’re going for a Simplified Life plan.
Speaking of which, we ran the same sample at the $100,000 level, the maximum for a simplified term policy, and came back with a rate of $21.99 per month. That’s very reasonable for a no health exam policy, but if you’re healthy you can get more than twice the coverage for less than twice the price, so it’s probably better to take the medical exam and get a better value for your insurance dollar.
The quoting system was incredibly fast, requiring only a few basic questions and a single screen to get a number. That makes it easy to do price comparisons,
MetLife doesn’t offer online quoting for any of their permanent life insurance plans.
As for auto, MetLife is definitely living up to their promise of big savings. A test quote using our standard sample came in with very impressive rates, 30% below the average rate.
And that’s not even as good as it gets with MetLife, which offers group discounts for many employers – if yours qualifies, you could see even lower rates. Add in an auto/home discount for insuring your home as well, and MetLife’s rates can be a seriously good deal.
MetLife’s online quoting system for auto, however, requires a lot of information.. It’s worth it for the end result, but could definitely be streamlined and cleaned up a bit for a better user experience. Users have to scroll through several screens to find the correct make of their vehicle, and are required to provide information about current or previous insurance. Additionally, enough contact information is required that it could possibly be a breeding ground for junk mail and spam.
Overall, MetLife offers really competitive rates all around, although the rates in the case of auto are a little hard to access.
MetLife offers three main options for the filing of auto claims:
- 1-800-854-6011 to be filed by phone
- Online using the form on the company’s website
- MetLife’s mobile app – available for both iPhone and Android
The app offers not only the option to submit a claim, but also to upload photos directly and record the details of the accident, allowing you to get all of the information up quickly while it’s all still fresh in your mind.
There is a separate online location where glass claims can be filed, and also a different place for towing & labor claims. Glass claims go through popular glass service Safelite, while towing claims are filed by logging into your MetLife customer account.
MetLife offers their CARE program, which stands for Concierge Auto Repair Experience, intended to make the process of dealing with a claim easier. The program offers “Drop & Go” rental car service, provided by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which provides a rental car delivered to you wherever you need it, such as at the repair shop when you drop off your car.
The CARE program also includes MetLife’s network of guaranteed repair shops. Work that is done in these shops will be guaranteed for as long as you own the car. Policyholders also have the option to choose their own repair shop, but won’t be offered the guarantee, nor any other perks of the CARE program.
The website does not offer any details in terms of the claims process, but it is likely a standard procedure, with an adjuster being assigned to the newly filed claim and then investigating, checking benefits, and offering a settlement.
There are also no direct instructions for tracking a claim, and the site doesn’t state whether that’s part of the app or the customer account portal.
MetLife did not rank as well on the 2016 J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction survey, earning a 3 out of 5 ranking that equates to average service. The only category where they were given a 4 out of 5 star rating was in the Rental Care Experience. The rest, including Appraisal, Settlement, and Service Interaction were a 3.
Certainly this survey isn’t the final word on claims service, but it’s always a matter of concern when a major company like MetLife doesn’t perform well in the area of claims, and of course claims are where any insurance company shows its true mettle. Below-average claims satisfaction from a company with low rates begs the question of whether paying less than what is worth it when the time comes to use your insurance policy.
Consumer Feedback and Reviews
MetLife has a B- rating with the BBB and 462 complaints in the past three years, 159 of which were closed in the past 12 months. Their next largest competitor by market share in the auto industry is Mercury, with only 122 complaints in that time period – but that’s only half the story. Mercury isn’t nearly the size of MetLife when you take into account all of their other lines of business, and the BBB doesn’t differentiate, so these complaints include all of their customers in all lines. Overall, this number is not that high for a company this big.
The BBB has dropped MetLife down to a B- as a result of the company failing to respond to six complaints filed against them.
MetLife ranks as average in the 2017 J.D. Power Auto Insurance Shopping Survey, a 3 out of 5 rating. Pricing was given a 4 out of 5 star rating.
MetLife reviews are generally split between auto and life, although some sites lump them together and in other cases reviews are placed in the wrong category.
In both categories a large number of the complaints found on the internet focus on claims being denied. This is a difficult area to judge in terms of how much concern this should raise, as it’s hard to judge the validity of claim with a one-sided Internet complaint explaining it. There are also a lot of complaints in regards to customer service – repeated comments that they are difficult to reach and “rude” at times.
There are also a few positive review here, which is always encouraging to see, since few people bother to write reviews when they are pleased with service – far more are quick to write a review to complain. That gives more weight to the positive reviews.
Overall, the reviews seem to match up to the J.D. Power studies. MetLife isn’t exactly leading the pack in terms of service, but they aren’t the worst either. Because MetLife is such a huge company, and the number of complaints isn’t particularly high, it isn’t a huge red flag. It’s enough, however, to suggest that MetLife has some work to do in these departments.
MetLife is a huge company that has been around for a very long time and is likely to be around for many more years to come. They have stability and history behind them, which is always a good thing for an insurance company.
MetLife has a strong lineup of policies. MetLife also has a good lineup of personal lines products that include auto and home. Add to that their financial products, and most people can take care of insurance and retirement planning right here.
MetLife offers really good prices, placing them ahead of the pack for value, but falters a little in terms of customer satisfaction. Low rates are only half the battle; MetLife needs to pick things up a bit, particularly in the claims department. At the end of the day though, the complaints aren’t serious enough to suggest skipping MetLife, particularly if it’s being offered through your employer. The company’s policies are popular for a reason, and even more affordable when purchased with group rates.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.