UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020
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Symetra was originally created in 1957 as a financial services subsidiary of Safeco under the name Safeco Life & Investments. The company was sold to an investor group in 2004, at which point it took on the name Symetra Financial Corp. The company was acquired by Japanese insurance company Sumitomo Life in 2016.
Symetra writes policies for individuals as well as employee benefits. Their focus is on life insurance and retirements planning products, including annuities, but on the employer side, they also offer disability insurance as well as several supplemental health insurance products.
Symetra’s headquarters is located in Bellevue, Washington, and they also have 20 offices in other states. Their products are sold through independent agents across the country. Life and retirement products are underwritten by Symetra Life Insurance Company, part of the Symetra group of financial services companies.
Symetra offers both group and individual products, and the options for each differs somewhat,
For individuals, Symetra offers life insurance and annuities.
Life insurance is available in both permanent and term life insurance options. The permanent polices are universal life insurance – there is no whole life insurance option. Policy information on the site is quite general, without much detail.
Symetra Accumulator IUL is an indexed universal life insurance plan, which means that the cash accumulation account included with the policy is tied to a specific index.
Symetra UL-G is a traditional universal life policy that includes a no-lapse guarantee. This plan includes a terminal illness benefit and has the option to add a Return of Premium Rider.
The site does not name or describe the term life policies that are available, giving only vague, general information.
There are three types of annuities available from Symetra.
Fixed deferred annuities are designed to earn interest at a fixed rate and pay out a monthly income amount at a later date.
Fixed indexed annuities, like indexed universal life, has the rate of return on the investment tied to an index. This means a less predictable rate of return, but a greater opportunity for growth.
Income annuities provide immediate income at a guaranteed rate but have less growth potential.
Symetra has a list of products that can be combined to create an employee benefits package, offering the option of both employer-paid and voluntary employee-paid benefits.
Select Benefits is Symetra’s suite of supplemental health benefits that are available to employers as employee benefits. The suite includes:
- Gap Assist, a combination policy that pays for out of pocket costs associated with three different medical situations: critical illness, accident, and inpatient hospital charges
- Schedule Benefit or Per-Incident Accident insurance, both of which offer a different approach to paying out of pocket costs associated with an accident, including ambulance charges, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts
- Fixed-Payment Insurance plans that can be customized for part-time, hourly, or temporary employees, offering assistance with out of pocket medical costs
- Customized Fixed-Payment Gap Plans, which are designed to work with high deductible medical plans
- Self-funded Minimum Essential Benefits (MEC) plans that can be combined with Select Benefits to meet ACA requirements
Group life insurance and accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D) programs are available as a standard group product and as a supplemental product. The supplemental option allows employees to purchase additional coverage beyond the standard policy to increase their benefits.
Both long-term and short-term disability insurance are available to provide income protection for employees. These policies can be purchased on a contributory or non-contributory basis, the employer pays all or part.
Symetra does not offer online quoting, and instead, it refers visitors to the site to connect with a financial advisor in order to obtain rate information. This is in keeping with the very general information on the website – Symetra wants potential customers to talk with an agent that can help them choose appropriate products – and also close the sale.
The Symetra website does not offer any specific claims information. There is a general customer service line and an email address available. The phone line is open only during business hours – there is no 24/7 claims line, but that is normal for a life insurance company.
Even in the forms section of the website we could not locate any claim forms available. That is pretty unusual, as is the lack of any mention of where or how to file a claim.
There is a login area for existing customers, behind which there may be some claims instructions. However, not useful for the beneficiary of a life insurance policy who may not have login credentials available.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Symetra has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), although they are not accredited. They have six complaints on file in the past three years, which is quite low. There are seven reviews left by customers, all of which are negative and describe slow and difficult claims handling.
There is only one review on Yelp, which is a complaint describing a billing issue.
Overall the complaint volume for this company is very low, and we found no red flags in any of the complaints.
The Bottom Line
There is not enough information on Symetra’s products or rates for us to form a solid opinion of the company’s products, but they do have a good reputation. If you are looking to work with an agent and have relatively basic financial planning needs, Symetra looks like a good option to consider.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.