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Transamerica Insurance Review & Complaints: Life Insurance

Transamerica Insurance has grown to be a large corporation offering financial and insurance vehicles via several subsidiary companies. They mainly offer life insurance and financial planning products through their group of companies.

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Sep 14, 2020

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Born in San Francisco from the merging of a life insurance company and one of America’s biggest banks, Transamerica has grown to become an enormous corporation, offering financial and insurance services via several subsidiary companies.

Transamerica is represented by the pyramid, both as their logo and at their famed offices in San Francisco, where the building that the logo is based on stands. They are among the biggest life insurance companies in the nation and rank among the biggest in the world as part of Aegon.

Offering mainly life insurance and financial planning products and services through their group of companies, Transamerica has built a strong financial foundation as well as a reputation as a solid company. They’re also well known for PGA golf sponsorships and a wide variety of charitable contributions through the Aegon Transamerica Foundation.

Transamerica’s large selection of life insurance products in particular is aimed at a market that is just as varied, from those in search of a budget term life policy, to more complex life insurance and investment needs.

Transamerica is one of those companies that has had fingers in a lot of pies, although their life insurance business remains a foundation. They’re not the best-known life insurance company, although their logo is pretty recognizable.

Transamerica Overview

Transamerica has something of a complex history going back to 1904, when Amadeo Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco. In 1928, Giannini’s bank merged with the Bank of America. Transamerica itself was founded by Giannini as a holding company, which acquired Occidental Life Insurance in 1930. This launched Transamerica into the life insurance industry for which it would become better known than banking.

In 1956 the company split its banking and life insurance companies, and the insurance arm continued under the Transamerica name. Bank of America went on to success, and is probably the better-known company of the two.

The years that followed saw the Transamerica holding company diversify greatly, acquiring an owning interest in such varied companies as United Artists and Budget Rent-a-Car, taking them far beyond their beginnings in insurance and finance.

By the 1980s the company once again brought the focus around to insurance and investments, and in 1999 they were purchased by the Dutch conglomerate Aegon and became a part of their family of companies, launching onto the international stage. The multi-billion dollar deal made Transamerica part of a wide-ranging family of companies and products.

Transamerica offers its products through the following companies, among other subsidiaries:

  • Transamerica Affinity Markets
  • Transamerica Agency Network
  • Transamerica Capitol
  • Transamerica Employee Benefits
  • Transamerica Financial Advisors
  • Transamerica Insurance and Investment Group
  • Transamerica Retirement Solutions
  • World Financial Group
  • Transamerica Life Insurance Company

Among their varied investments and sponsorships, Transamerica has invested in Broadway musicals, sponsored marathons, and is the sponsor of four PGA golfers, including Zach Johnson and Kyle Stanley.

The Transamerica pyramid was constructed in 1972 in San Francisco, and still stands as a notable presence on the skyline. The company has since moved its headquarters to Baltimore, Maryland, but maintains offices in the building, which also houses other companies.

Today, Transamerica’s products include a variety of life insurance offerings, mutual funds, retirement planning, and other options such as dental insurance and Medicare supplements. Products are sold through agents and financial professionals across the nation, with some products also available directly over the phone or online, mainly term life insurance.

Life insurance remains the product for which they are chiefly known.

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Products

Transamerica offers both term and permanent life, as well as specific policies for accidental death and final expenses planning. Beyond life, they also write several supplemental health plans and offer a range of retirement planning and other financial services. Most of these can only be purchased through a Transamerica agent or financial planning representative, and only a few can be quoted online.

Term Life

Term life is sold in values ranging from $25,000 up to $2,000,000. Transamerica offers a variety of term life options from 10 years up to 30 years, with 5-year increments in between.

Trendsetter Super is a traditional term life insurance policy designed to give policyholders the most for their dollar. These policies featured a level premium throughout the term length and a guaranteed death benefit. They also have a built-in Accelerated Death Benefit that pays out early after a qualifying diagnosis.

This policy can be converted to a permanent policy at the end of the term, and is available in all states except for AL, GA, MD, NY, OR, and WV. In some cases, depending on age and health, they may be issued without a medical exam.

Trendsetter LB is a term life insurance policy that also includes living benefits. It combines the features of a standard life insurance policy with the opportunity to receive supplemental income as needed for unexpected financial needs. These policies also offer the option for an Accelerated Death Benefit along with level premiums and a guaranteed death benefit.

Whole Life

Transamerica writes whole life policies offering basic permanent life insurance protection with the added benefit of a cash accumulation account. Their whole life products are available both for individuals and as group benefits.

Transamerica whole life policies for individuals are available with death benefits ranging from $2,000 to $50,000, and for group benefits up to $25,000. These low death benefit amounts make Transamerica’s whole life likely to be an affordable choice for those who need some coverage for final expenses such as funeral costs, but do not require a large amount of protection. For anyone seeking a higher death benefit amount, this might not be the right policy choice.

Whole life is only available through an agent.

Universal Life

Transamerica’s other permanent life insurance offering is universal life, which offers lifelong protection with a guaranteed death benefit. Universal life also offers cash accumulation with a variety of investment choices that help to grow the cash value of the policy. This cash value can be added to the death benefit upon payout or is available to borrow against or surrender as needed based on the terms of the policy.

Transamerica has several different options for universal life, but offers little detail in their descriptions. The options are:

  • Index universal life insurance, which ties cash growth to an index account
  • Variable universal life insurance, which provides multiple options for investment of cash accumulation
  • Group universal life insurance that provides coverage for a group

Oddly, the Transamerica site doesn’t list any basic universal life insurance policies, which are often the most popular choice for those seeking lifelong coverage with higher death benefits.

Accidental Death

A life insurance policy that pays out specifically in the case of accidental death, Transamerica offers two versions of this policy type

  • Plan A offers $250,000 in accidental death coverage, with double the benefit for common carrier accidents
  • Plan B offers $125,000 in accidental death coverage, with double the benefit for common carrier accidents

Final Expenses Life

This policy is a simple product designed mainly to pay for funeral expenses. Transamerica offers several payment options and the possibility of immediate issue with no medical exam. Premiums and death benefits remain level.

Other Insurance Products

Transamerica offers a few other insurance products aimed at protection against health costs, both from the unexpected and for routine needs. Some of these are available as group plans as well as individual.

Long Term Care – Transamerica writes long term care insurance products to pay for costs not otherwise covered by health insurance. This can include coverage for in-home care ranging from skilled nursing to assistance with everyday activities.

Long-term care varies from state to state, so it’s best to check the product offerings in your state to see what’s available to you.

Medicare Supplement Plans – A few different options are available to provide for health costs that aren’t covered by Medicare.

Medicare Supplement insurance can help pay for co-pays, deductibles, and other costs. These plans vary from state to state, much like long-term care.

Prices and Premiums

Transamerica offers a $1,000,000 life insurance policy for a 20-year term for $39.56, based on our sample insured, a 30-year-old male from California with a clean bill of health. That brings their rate quote in well under the average rate by about 20%, making them a really good value in term life insurance.

A basic $100,000 10-year term policy can be had for $8.00/ month according to their online quoting system which is even less than the $15.00 a month the website promises as the low end of their costs. That’s an incredibly low number, and is again based on the same sample insured.

This makes Transamerica one of the more affordable places to get a basic, traditional term life insurance policy.

Transamerica does not offer any online quoting for either whole or universal life insurance products. Interestingly, they list quotes available for a couple of term policy options that don’t appear elsewhere in the product description, including a Simple Term plan, which is generally a guaranteed issue term life insurance product.

Under the “Contact Us” page on their website, there is a phone number for new customers to get an insurance quote – 1-855-288-4181.

Of course, price is only half the picture – you want a reputable company as well, and we’ll take a look at that later in the review.

Claims

Transamerica’s site doesn’t appear to offer any information in terms of how a claim can be filed. After much digging through the site, the best that we were able to find is a life insurance customer service line.

The site lists one general customer service line at 1-800-Pyramid (797-2643) which can probably get customers connected to the right place, Monday – Friday from 9am – 6pm Easter Time.

The Contact Us page also provides an email inquiry form that customers can use with questions about how to file a claim.

There is no indication of an online claims form. Although this isn’t entirely unusual for a life insurance company, but it is growing in popularity and many major life insurers do provide this option.

We also were unable to locate any information on how claims are handled or what the policyholder can expect from the process. Life insurance claims are a sensitive matter by their nature, but we do expect to see some basics offered on the website regarding how the company handles them. It’s possible this information is available through the customer portal, however that does not help a beneficiary who may not know the login information.

Overall, the lack of claims information is quite inconvenient, but not entirely out of line for a company that focuses on life insurance. This is one area, however, where Transamerica could definitely improve their website – the last thing anyone needs when dealing with a death claim is any sort of hassle finding the right contact information.

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Consumer Feedback and Ratings

What is Transamerica insurance rating? Transamerica Life Insurance is not accredited on the BBB, and has a C rating from the Better Business Bureau. This is quite a poor rating as most insurance companies have an A+ rating. The site states the reasoning for the poor rating is due to the Transamerica’s failure to respond to four complaints and three unresolved complaints. While there are many different profiles on BBB for the company, the company’s headquarters is in Cedar Rapids so we have used that location.

The BBB records a total of 392 complaints, with 124 of those closed in the past 12 months. This is higher than what we have seen for other life insurance companies. 232 of the complaints centered on products and services, but there are few actual reviews on the site. 392 is not high in general for a very large company, but we tend to see lower complaint volume for life insurance companies overall. For comparison purposes, Northwestern Mutual, which is of a similar size, has only 32 complaints in the same time period.

J.D. Power’s 2016 Life Insurance Satisfaction Household Survey gave Transamerica a low rating of only 2 out of 5 overall. That’s the lowest rating J.D. Power gives on its survey. The company was given a 2 out of 5 star rating across the board of categories that include price, policy offerings, and interaction.

Again, to compare the company to Northwestern Mutual, that company ranked a full 4 out of 5 on the survey.

Looking around at common complaint sites for insurance companies, there isn’t really a lot to report.

ConsumerAffairs.com has 67 total reviews of the company. Of these, 50 are rated as one star. The reviews center on claims problems as well as some billing and other issues. There’s nothing that really stands out as unusual or of very serious concern in any of the reviews.

Some of this can be explained by the fact that those who responded to the J.D. Power survey were approached and asked for their opinion, and may not have thought to go out and write a review on their own. This is not an unusual occurrence with life insurance companies, which in general don’t see as may reviews as do auto and home insurance companies.

Overall, the J.D. Power ranking and the somewhat high number of complaints with the BBB definitely raise some concerns, however without a clear picture of what is causing the complaints due to a lack of detailed reviews, it’s difficult to tell where Transamerica is failing to keep customers satisfied.

Bottom Line

Is Transamerica a good insurance company? Transamerica is a large company with a long history, and they have a pretty strong product lineup, especially when it comes to life insurance. They are definitely pricing their term policies below average, which will appeal to those who are seeking budget coverage from a very solid company.

That said, there are a few concerns to address. First, a company owned by an international conglomerate may not appeal as much to those who prefer to business with local organizations – but that’s not an issue for everyone. Second, what is more of a concern is the poor ranking in customer satisfaction from a very well respected service, and a complaint volume with the BBB that is a little high for our liking.

For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.

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Review Information

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Transamerica Insurance
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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

18 Comments

  1. I think you should update your review of Transamerica Life Insurance.

    Numerous other sites online – with quite a few more reviewers than this one – show Transamerica gets a lot of complaints and very poor ratings.

    There are quite a few heartless stories that are horrifying. In my opinion, avoid this company.

    Reply
  2. Transamerica Premier Life Insurance I applied for 25,000 in life insurance.

    They issued the policy for 10,000, I told them I didn’t want the 10000.

    I already had one for that amount, was told I had 30 days to cancel.

    After 5 days I called and canceled the policy, the man said ok, we will refund the premium.

    In June they took another payment out of my checking account.

    I called them again and was told they would refund the $392.00.

    Never happened, after several months and 12 phone calls, was told I never canceled the policy.

    They just lied to me and stole my money.

    Told me today they were not refunding me the money.

    I filed a complaint today with Rip/Off.com, I’m just getting started.

    Reply
  3. Do not trust Transamerica Insurance.

    They take their customers every time they turn around

    Reply
    • I wish there was a way to transfer the money I put into transamerican long term care into another policy that just doesn’t keep going up or you lose what you have paid for.

      Reply
  4. [Redacted] Transamerica Premier Life Insurance they like to get you to sign to trick you in billing for more money. Leave them before it’s too late.

    Reply
  5. I have been paying for long term care for 24 years originally was Bankers United now owned by Transamerica . They are going to raise their rates 4 times in the next 4 years. There is no agent near me to help me figure out what to do. I tried to contact them for some one to sit down with to go over my options and they want to do it over the phone. There should be a way to get all of your money you paid into the policy without going on with the company when they sell out. When we bought the policy we understood that nothing would change. In 4 years I will be paying $147 per month more. I am completely upstate with what is happening . That’s why we took the policy out when we where younger not waiting till we are in our 70s or 80s. Lost .

    Reply
    • I wish I could get all my Money back and take out a different policy. I thought I was on a 20 year pay policy but somehow they changed it on me now I have to keep paying there increases or lose everything.

      Reply
  6. in regards to medicare, all insurance companies must offer exactly the same covered expenses according to whatever plan you choose. the plans offered go from Plan A to Plan N and perhaps a few more depending on your residence state.

    there are no claims forms to fill out with medicare or TA medicare supplemental plans. by law, all medicare supplemental plan companies also have the 31 day grace period to pay your premium.

    please realize that two different plans are offered in regards to medicare. there are supplemental plans (A-N) or advantage plans which may limit your choice of MD’s and testing facilities so choose wisely.

    i did an enormous amount of research a few years back when my eligibility was approaching.

    research, research, research.

    Reply
  7. Do you offer medical insurance?

    Reply
  8. After having to talking to an Agency today. He put me on Medicare g plan. Its strange when you talk to an License Agency and they don’t ask if you want to have your partner in with this plan. And it was sign by a different Agency that I talk to, as it wasn’t no [Redacted] this was [Redacted] I talk to get me sign up. Anyway I sure hope they are telling the truth about 100% coverage on Medicare when I turn 65 in June. I will ask around the community and find out if anybody knows this Transamerica Insurances for Medicare. I still have my doubts as I sure can cancelled this if I can’t find more information on people who have applied for this Medicare g plan.

    Reply
    • the G plan cover expenses for excess charges which most plans other than plans F and G do not cover. of course premiums vary from company to company and here is where comparisons takes play.

      i will be going into a plan G medicare supplement with TA effective next month. no more copays to MD’s and facilities.

      Reply
  9. Thanks for the article – I’m trying to choose a Medigap plan and Transamerica’s Plan F seems to be one of the least expensive, particularly since the company prices its policies based on “Issue Age.” But I have searched and searched for consumers’ ratings of Transamerica’s performance in connection with Medigap policies and have found nothing. Indeed, there seems to be very little about any company’s ratings. Very annoying!

    Reply
    • I, too, am searching for Medigap policies and have found Transamerica’s Plan F to be the plan that seems most reasonable for me. The plan is a Group Plan versus an Individual Plan, like Blue Cross, which I think accounts for some of the price difference. BC issues individual plans, which are always higher. I wish this article had more information on Medicare supplement plans, but it does seem to indicate that TA is a pretty solid company. Payment of claims issues seems related to Life Insurance plans, and there’s a whole slew of reasons why those can be slow to pay. Steven… what did you ultimately decide?

      Reply
      • I am also looking at their Medigap plans. Have any of you subscribed to one of their plans?

        Reply
        • I,too,am looking at their Medigap plans.I haven’t seen any report or comments about any of their plans.

          Reply
        • Yes, I enrolled with them as of August 1st, and with SilverScripts for my “Plan D” selection. Fortunately/Unfortunately, shortly after enrolling, I encountered a medical emergency, which required extensive medical testing and treatment. My Transamerica Plan F coverage could not have come at a better time. I have had no problems with medical providers accepting that as my supplemental coverage to Medicare, which pleases me greatly. It has taken a great deal of stress off my mind and has brought me great peace.

          Reply
          • I’m wondering if you are still happy with Transamerica medigap insurance. I’m looking at plan G but can’t find anyone in my state (MD) who has used them. I’m wondering how good they are with paying dr claims

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