UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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The Standard is actually the marketing arm of the StanCorp Financial Group, which operates a variety of companies including insurance, equities, and real estate businesses.
The Standard primarily offers disability and life insurance along with related products, such as annuities. These are sold to individuals or to companies in group plans, but not all products are available to all customers.
Altogether, The Standard’s policies cover about 8.5 million people, primarily through employers – 30,000 companies insure their workers with The Standard. The company sells policies in all 50 states, working directly with employers in most cases to craft the appropriate level of coverage for the business’s needs.
The majority of The Standard’s products are offered as group plans to businesses, but there are two things you can purchase as an individual:
- Disability Insurance
Individual disability insurance is offered to people who are self-employed or who need to supplement their employer’s plans. The purpose of disability insurance is to help provide supplemental income if you become disabled and can no longer work.
There are a couple different types of disability insurance products available:
- Income Protection – Provides alternative income to people unable to work due to disability.
The Standard’s plans come in Platinum Advantage, Protector Essential and Protector Platinum packages. As the names would suggest, you get additional perks with higher-grade policies, at an added premium. Some of the riders and coverages available include survivor benefits for your loved ones, an indexed cost of living rider to keep payments in step with inflation, and a rehabilitation benefit to help with rehab costs after an accident or illness.
- Business Protection – Offered to small business owners. This is a special type of income protection plan that covers certain business overhead expenses in the event of the owner’s disability. This allows a business owner to continue operating the business while disabled or to ease the sale of the business.
- Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI)– GSI’s help maintain your lifestyle as well as pay your bills if you are injured at work, sick, or unable to work. Having GSI in conjunction with disability protection can raise your coverage level to an optimal amount.
Since most of The Standard’s policies are marketed toward employers, the company offers a variety of group plans.
Among these are group life insurance, long and short-term disability and accidental death insurance. Additionally, The Standard sells group dental and vision policies that can help augment other types of plans as most employer-based health insurance does not cover those two items.
Employers have the option of offering any number of these coverages to their workers. In some cases, they may opt to provide a “cafeteria” type plan, allowing employees to sign up for coverages that they find useful. For example, a group life plan can have disability and accidental death coverages added to it for an additional cost; passing this choice on to the employee helps the worker pick an option that makes the most sense.
It’s not clear from The Standard’s website how a potential customer should go about obtaining a policy. There is neither a quote request form nor an agent locator on the site, and the “Contact Us” page lists just one number: 800-628-8600.Presumably, all inquiries should be directed to that number. Under the same tab, however, there is an option to send a message. You simply submit a request or question regarding one of their products and a customer service rep will contact you directly.
When it comes to employer policies, the person in charge of benefits (usually in the HR Department) would be the one to contact the company.
There is a link on The Standard’s webpage on the right-hand side that says “File a Claim.” Click that for claim information; it will provide you with separate links for various scenarios. Since The Standard offers so many types of policies, the claims process differs for each one.
In general, claims for group plans will be made by the employer after the worker (or, in the case of life insurance, the worker’s family) reports the loss to the company. If your employer carries insurance with The Standard, you’ll want to confirm with HR whether you should contact the insurance company directly with any questions or claims or if all of these should be handled through the employer.
The Standard has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1958 and is in good standing, with an “A+” rating. There are only 26 complaints list on the site in the last three years, eight of which were closed in the past 12 months. Of the 26 complaints, 23 concern product and service.
Other review sites come up with a less flattering image.
The company has a 1-star rating on ConsumerAffairs.com based on 53 ratings. 48 of the ratings were given one star. Many of the reviews state poor customer service and claims handling from the company citing many delays in receiving claimants documents.
Overall, short-term disability seems to be the coverage that causes the most complaints. Consumer complaints about the annuities, vision insurance and other products are rare. This may be because short-term disability is the most common product, or because employees may not fully understand their policies. From the information available, there’s no clear indication either way.
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The Standard is not one of the top companies you think of when looking at employee benefits insurance, but they seem like a fairly decent company in that niche. The user-unfriendly design of the site coupled with the complaints online are worrying, but since most complaints were centered on a specific product, this company may still be a fine choice for other types of insurance. It’s worth calling them for more information and to get a feel for their rates, especially as a business owner.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.