UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020
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Primerica was founded as A.L. Williams and Associates in 1977 with the aim of selling term life insurance to people of middle-income (considered to be between $30,000 and $100,000 a year) and advising them to invest the difference in money they saved by not purchasing permanent life products.
The company went through several mergers and acquisitions and began operating under the name Primerica Financial Services in 1991. In 2001 they went public as Primerica, Inc. The company website boasts that they are the largest independent financial services organization in the country. Primerica has more than 5 million life policies in force.
While Primerica lists several products on the website, such as auto insurance and home insurance, these are underwritten by other companies with which Primerica partners. Primerica itself writes only term life insurance. They provide investment services through another arm of the company, PFS Investments.
The company’s headquarters is in Duluth, GA, and they sell products through more than 126,000 salespeople and an additional 24,000 plus financial advisors across America. These salespeople are not agents in the sense that is normally expected from an insurance company as Primerica works differently from other insurance companies and uses a multi-level sales approach. We discuss this further in the ratings and reviews section of this review.
As mentioned above, the only product Primerica actually underwrites is term life insurance. Auto and home policies are underwritten by Answer Financial, and long-term care products through either Genworth Financial or Main Street LTCI. There are also identity theft and legal services offered through a partnership with LegalShield.
Primerica does assist clients with investments, including mutual funds, but again this is through the financial services arm of the company.
Primerica’s only life insurance product is term life, in keeping with their view that it makes more sense for middle-income families to purchase term life during the years they need it most and put the rest into investments to grow and provide for retirement.
The website does not say what the issue age is for their policies nor is there information on death benefit amounts. The plans do include a terminal illness benefit and the option of an increasing benefit rider. Policies are renewable and can be customized to meet each person’s needs.
Rates are not offered on the website and the company does not offer online quoting. An agent locater is offered to assist visitors with finding the nearest agent to get more detailed information on the products as well as to obtain a rate quote.
Primerica’s focus is on affordable life insurance options for middle class families, so we would expect their rates to live up to that promise. Term life, in general, is more affordable than permanent insurance, but rates vary greatly based on age, health, and other factors. Primerica being a multi-level-marketing setup will also have an impact on rates, since all of the salespeople at all levels will take their commission.
Primerica’s website does not offer any claims information. Through the contact page, we were able to locate a claims phone number under the general life insurance information tab. For a company with so many life policies in force, we would expect claims contact information to be far easier to locate and at least a little more detailed.
There is a login area for policyholders on the website that may contain more claims information, and as with all life insurance policies claims information should be provided with the policy itself. Still, since life insurance claims are not made by the policyholder but by those left behind, needing to log in or have access to the original documents is not always feasible and makes the process harder for the beneficiary. It would be beneficial like to see a dedicated claims page on this company’s site.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Primerica has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where they have been accredited since 1980. There are 131 complaints on file in the past three years, which is a low number for a company with more than 5 million policies in force. The 27 customer reviews on the BBB page are favorable, with an almost 4 out of 5-star rating.
There are 459 reviews on Consumer Affairs going back many years. Of those, there are 46 star ratings in the past year resulting in an approximate three-star rating overall. Reviews are mixed between customers and employees or agents, and it becomes clear upon reading the reviews that Primerica operates similarly to a multi-level-marketing setup, which may also be referred to as a “pyramid scheme”.
What this means is that the agents and advisors selling products are looking to bring more people into the fold to sell products beneath them in the chain and that there are also several levels of people above them making money off of every sale. The more people they can get selling below them, the more they make, so they are encouraged to really push that aspect. This really is not made clear on the company website and explains why Primerica offers so little product information and not online quoting – they want you talking to a salesperson.
Of course, like any MLM setup, you do not have to become a salesperson in order to buy the products, but it is an important aspect of this company to be aware of when considering insurance through them. Multi-level marketing has a bad reputation as being a scam, but there is nothing illegal about it. It can become something a nuisance, however, when salespeople for the company push to sign up new representatives in order to increase their commissions.
The Bottom Line
Primerica may have some good rates and good products, and certainly, there are enough favorable reviews and happy customers to lead us to believe that is the case. That said, any company operating in an MLM format comes with its own set of concerns, and we recommend that anyone considering working with Primerica get all the details on what is expected or them prior to signing up for anything.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.