UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Thanks to Prudential’s large real estate arm, their logo is pretty well known to most people, who have likely seen it in front of houses for sale. The company’s symbol, the Rock of Gibraltar, is intended to symbolize strength and stability, and that is definitely the impression this financial giant gives.
As of 2013, Prudential ranked as the second largest life insurance company in the U.S. behind only MetLife based on assets. They also rank in the 2017 top ten biggest life insurance companies in the world.
Prudential’s insurance products are limited to life, and the rest of their focus is on financial products and services. They provide annuities as well as a long list of investments and funds for individuals as well as for businesses.
Prudential is the kind of company you think of when you think about serious financial planning; with a no-nonsense image that lacks any of the lighter side that a company like MetLife, whose mascot is Snoopy, manages to have. That’s the difference between a cartoon mascot as your symbol, and a rock.
Prudential comes with some strong credentials, and we’ll see how their products and services live up to the promise.
With the welcoming name of The Prudential Friendly Society, Prudential was founded in 1875 to offer affordable life insurance to the working class of New Jersey. Their single product was burial service to help families pay for final expenses at a cost of three cents a week. Those policies were really popular with people who couldn’t afford any other way to plan for the future, and they sold fast.
Within a few years they had expanded their operations to New York City and into Philadelphia, and after ten years in business had reached the 1-million policy mark.
Prudential stopped sales of their three-cent a week policies in 1892, but brought them back in 1907. Two years later they expanded into Canada, becoming an international company, and in another two years they hit 10-million policies in force. Their fast growth put them very quickly at the forefront of the industry.
In 1923, Prudential wrote its first group pension plan and moved into retirement and financial services. In 1948, the company started opening offices in various cities starting with Los Angeles.
In 1961, Prudential firmly established itself as an American cornerstone when the company purchased the Empire State Building. They owned it for 30 years, selling it in 1991.
Moving into the 1970s and 1980s, Prudential became a front-runner of the individual financial services market by being the first major insurance company to offer individual annuities and then writing the first variable appreciable life policy.
Prudential went public in December of 2001 and stood out as one of the companies that did not need any bailouts in the financial crisis that struck other similar companies hard in 2007, giving them an even more solid reputation for financial stability.
Prudential also got into real estate in the 1980’s and has since become a very successful name in all areas of real estate, including agencies for buying and selling of homes across the country.
Today, Prudential’s headquarters remains in Newark, N.J., although they have offices around the world. They sell insurance and financial products in a wide range of markets and are on the Fortune 500 and Fortune Global 500 lists, making them one of the biggest and strongest companies in the world.
Prudential offers products directly to individuals but are also big in the group benefits market, so their products are often offered through an employer as a voluntary benefit. These benefits include life and disability insurance a well as financial products like 401k’s and other retirement options.
Policies are sold through agents and financial professionals across the country and around the world.
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Prudential’s products can be separated into two main categories: life insurance and investment/financial products. Annuities, one of their major products, can fit into both of these categories.
Prudential’s original product is still one of their biggest, and they offer three main types, with various options for each. They also have a long list of riders that can be added to most policies for added protection, allowing customers to create a custom life insurance policy to meet their particular needs.
Term Life Insurance
Prudential writes five different term life insurance policies. They each have specific benefits and coverage options to suit different needs. Term policies from Prudential are convertible and offer guaranteed premiums during the initial term.
- My Term – A fast and simple way to obtain coverage without a medical or any blood work. Coverage amounts are in increments of $25,000 and range from $50,000 up to $250,000.
- Term Essential – Prudential’s basic term life option, this policy comes in 15-30 year terms and is convertible either after the end of the term or at age 65, whichever is first. This policy is considered an affordable option for those seeking basic coverage during the time when it is most needed, with the option to convert it in the future.
- Term Elite – A step up from the Essential policy, the Term Elite is designed to be a step towards permanent insurance. It can be converted at any time after it has been in force for at least 5 years.
- PruTerm WorkLife 65 – This policy is designed to provide coverage up until retirement age at 65, at which point it can be converted. Premiums are guaranteed up to 65 years old.
- PruTerm Return of Premium – This unusual term policy guarantees the return of your premiums if you outlive the full term of the policy. It is available in 15, 20, and 30-year terms and can be converted.
- PruTerm One – A single year renewable policy designed to last up to five years, this policy is designed to provide temporary coverage or provide a step towards permanent coverage. It can be converted every year through the 5th year.
Universal Life Insurance
There are also five different Universal Life products from Prudential, each slightly different. These policies all over flexible premiums, lifetime coverage, and a guaranteed death benefit.
- PruLife Universal Protector – This is a basic Universal life insurance plan that offers a guaranteed death benefit. Although most universal life insurance plans include a cash accumulation account, this one does not appear to.
- PruLife Universal Plus – This plan has the same guaranteed death benefit along with cash value accumulation.
- PruLife Index Advantage – Designed for those looking for a universal product that has more growth potential, this policy has all of the basics of universal life with an S&P Index 500-tied accumulation account. It also includes an accelerated death benefit rider.
- PruLife SUL Protector – This policy is a survivorship universal life policy. It covers two people and pays out on the death of the second person.
- PruLife Founders Plus – This plan offers all of the benefits of a universal policy along with the potential for cash disbursements after retirement. It also includes an accelerated benefit rider.
Variable Universal Life
Prudential offers two main forms of Variable Universal life insurance, each with their own customization options.
- VUL Protector – This is a basic variable policy with all of the benefits of universal life and a higher opportunity for investment growth. This policy has a fixed or variable death benefit option.
- PruLife Custom Premier II – This product includes everything in a typical variable policy, along with a Return of Premium option.
- PruLife SVUL Protector – This product offers a no-lapse guarantee and gives the opportunity to take on investment risks for the possibility of higher returns.
Life Insurance Riders
Prudential has a lot of riders to choose from to add value to a life insurance policy and provide for specific needs. Not all riders can be attached to every type of life insurance policy. Options are:
- Accidental Death Benefit
- Benefit Access, an accelerated benefit rider
- Children Level Term
- Children’s Protection Rider
- Enhanced Cash Value
- Enhanced Disability
- Estate Protection
- Guaranteed Protection Rider
- Living Needs Benefit
- My Needs Waiver of Surrender Fee Rider
- Overloan Protection
- Waiver of Premium
Retirement and Financial Products
The other side of Prudential’s products is a selection of retirement and financial choices that can help you to save for a variety of needs.
Prudential offers two types of annuities to provide ongoing income. Annuities straddle the line between an investment and an insurance policy, providing a death benefit as well as living income.
- Variable Annuities – These annuities offer a range of options for income in retirement. These can be customized to provide the benefits you need when you need them.
- Immediate Annuities – Prudential offers immediate annuities to start paying out shortly after the first payment, for those who need income right away.
Prudential’s financial side can help you with investments in a variety of forms to save money for retirement or other future needs. The options are varied and include:
- Mutual Funds
- Brokerage Accounts
Prudential also offers financial and insurance products for businesses, particularly in investments and group benefits areas. Coverage options include:
- Group Life and Disability benefits
- Institutional Retirement Services
- Institutional Investments
- Guaranteed Investments
- Financial Institution Products
Prudential does a good amount of business in the Group Benefits market, offering products like life and disability as well as retirement products like 401k and other accounts as optional benefits through employers. These products allow employers to offer additional choices to their employees on a voluntary basis.
Prices and Premiums
Prudential offers online quoting for their term life insurance products. The system asks for a little more information than some other simple quoting options, including several medical questions and a height and weight for the insured.
For a 30-year term policy at $250,000, for a 30-year-old make who is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 lbs. with no medical issues; the premium quoted is $22.28. This is Prudential’s default rate quote, and quotes are available with a wide variety of coverage options.
This quote came back at a Preferred Best tier, obviously pricing for healthy people who are non-smokers, and probably their best rates. This is a very reasonable rate for a term life policy at this benefit level, especially with 30-year term coverage.
The same sample comes back at $19.58 for 10 years, which makes the slight increase in premium for three times the coverage period well worth it.
An increase to a $1,000,000 term policy, our standard sample, brings the premium up to $52.65. Prudential’s pricing per $100,000 in coverage drops as the death benefit increases, however their rates come in about 10% above average for this particular policy.
These rate quotes do not include any of the available riders that Prudential offers. If you need a policy that includes any of these riders, it’s a good idea to obtain your own specific quotes. Riders add cost to a policy and increase the overall premium amount, so it’s a good idea to get a quote that includes them for accuracy.
Life insurance premiums can vary greatly, due to the various factors of health and lifestyle, as well as age that can all have an impact on rates. Prudential appears to offer reasonable rates for individuals who meet the standards for Preferred rates, but it’s difficult to say what any particular individual will if they don’t fit the same profile.
Claims for Prudential life insurance policies can be filed in one of two ways.
There is a toll-free line to report claims at 1-800-778-2255. This line is open during business hours, which are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
Claims can also be reported directly to your Prudential representative.
There an option to file the claim online, which is good to see. It is not too often we see an online claims option due to the sensitive nature of life insurance claims. The website states what documents you’ll need to start the claim as well as what to expect in regards to the claims process.
If the customer would prefer to speak with a representative or continue the process of the claim over the phone, the number listed to call is 1-855-277-8061.
Once a claim has been filed, if necessary, Prudential will see out a packet of required forms to be filled out, along with instructions for completing the claim process. This packet is sent to the beneficiary in most cases to be filled out, and includes a return envelope to make it easy to send everything back. A copy of the death certificate will usually be required among the documents. The website states that any additional packets that are sent out will already include any of the information already filled out, this is a nice gesture as it would mean less paperwork overall.
Life insurance claims require a different process than auto or home claims. Once the claim is filed and the packet of documents returned, the company will check the policy to determine benefits and verify the details of the claim. The time it takes to release funds after a life insurance claim can vary, depending on the circumstances of the insureds passing. Some claims may require more investigation than others.
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Consumer Feedback and Reviews
In J.D. Power’s 2016 Life Insurance Study of insurance companies, Prudential earned only a three out of five rating for overall satisfaction, which ranks them as average according the company’s system. They scored three out of five in all of the survey areas including price, policy offerings, and interaction. Interestingly, they scored the same overall as their biggest competitor, MetLife, which is the largest life insurance company in America. Top honors went to State Farm, a company better know for their auto insurance products than life insurance.
Complaints against the company on ConsumerAffairs.com aren’t numerous, but seem to follow the same line. Most of them involve refusal to pay claims, problems with getting benefits, and slow or unresponsive customer service.
Of the 99 ratings here, 70 are one-star. For a company the size of Prudential, that’s a pretty low number of complaints; however, it’s important to note that life insurance companies don’t generally see the same number of complaints as do auto and home insurance companies, probably due to the fact that claims are not as frequent, nor is interaction with the company.
There are a few other reviews scattered around the Internet, but not a large enough number to be of major concern.
In terms of what the reviews actually say, certainly it’s somewhat concerning to see a lot of people stating they have had trouble obtaining their benefits. The complaints exist for both life insurance policies and for annuities and investments as well. Without knowing all the details of the claims, though, it’s very hard to judge whether or not the complaints are legitimate or the result of policyholders who have misunderstood how their benefits work, which his an fairly common occurrence in insurance complaints.
A little more concerning is the complaints that cite poor customer service, whether slow or not at all helpful, as these are things that are a little harder to misconstrue. Still, there just aren’t enough complaints considering the enormous size of the company and the millions of policies they have in force to have a huge impact on their reputation.
Prudential is a powerhouse in the life insurance and financial services industries, which makes them a strong choice in terms of financial stability. They have a long history and are a true American institution.
The company has a great lineup of products, with a lot of options for personalization, and their rates, while not the lowest, are pretty reasonable for what you get. There are more options for life insurance than many other companies offer, which makes them a flexible choice for anyone with very specific needs. They also have a pretty solid lineup of financial products. This makes them a one-stop shop for most financial planning needs, allowing customer to handle life insurance and retirement planning in one location.
Those shopping for very comprehensive or specific life insurance will probably want to consider Prudential. They are also likely to come as a choice through your employer, as part of your voluntary benefits, and for most people are probably a solid enough choice.
Still, with a little shopping around and comparing, you have a good chance of finding a better price, as well as finding a company with a stronger reputation in the area of customer service, and if you can do so, then you might be better off. There’s no major reason to strike Prudential off of your comparison list, but nothing in particular that will push them to the top of that list either.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.