UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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WoodmenLife was founded as a fraternal society in Omaha, Nebraska on June 6, 1890. Within a decade, they had grown to serve members across the country. By the 1960’s the company had more than $1 billion of life insurance in force – that number would reach more than $35 billion by 2010.
In 2002, the company created a subsidiary, Woodmen Financial Services, which added products such as annuities, college savings, and other financial planning options to the company’s offerings. Over the years they also merged with several other fraternal societies, and are still operating under the name Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society. The company is better known simply as WoodmenLife.
Woodmen has local chapters across the country, and its products are sold by representatives. As a fraternal society, Woodmen is a membership organization, but the only requirement to become a member is to purchase a product. Membership includes a variety of benefits such as discounts at many retailers, scholarships, and benefits for natural disasters, newborns, and orphans. The company also gives back profits to members in the form of refunds.
While Woodmen offers a range of insurance products on their website, only their life insurance policies are underwritten directly. Other insurance products are offered through a partnership with Alliance, a separate company. The website offers only basic overviews of the products.
The Whole Life programs are available with four different options for paying your premiums. The Paid at 100 plan has the cheapest premiums, but payments continue up until the age of 100. There is also a Paid at 65 option, which has a higher premium but is paid up in time for retirement age. Also offered are a 10 or 20 pay, and a single premium option. A number of riders can be added to these policies, including an accidental death benefit.
Term policies are available ranging from 10 up to 30 years, with a variety of riders as well. These policies are renewable up to age 95 and convertible as well. Woodmen also appears to offer a youth term policy as well as a family term product that covers multiple family members on one policy.
There are two Universal Life policies available from Woodmen. Accumulation Universal Life is a product designed to focus on building cash value while still offering a steady death benefit. The other product, No Lapse Guaranteed Universal Life, is a policy that is designed to ensure coverage stays in force as long as basic policy terms are met.
WoodmenLife offers several types of annuities to provide steady retirement income on a tax-deferred basis. Deferred fixed annuities provide the opportunity to plan for the future, while immediate annuities start paying out more quickly. Woodmen also offers variable annuities, which have a higher risk but can also provide a higher return.
Woodmen writes voluntary group benefits packages to small businesses across the country. Life insurance and annuities are among the products employers can offer to their employees and a pre-tax rate.
Woodmen’s financial services side offers a range of retirement plans, including IRAs and non-qualified annuities. They also offer other financial planning services, such as college savings and mutual funds.
Woodmen does not offer an online quoting option nor do they provide rate information. Visitors to the site are directed to request a quote from a local representative, who will also provide more information on plan options. This is likely to lead to solicitation efforts, which may put some consumers off.
As a fraternal society, applicants must take into consideration not just the premium for a Woodmen product, but also the other benefits. Return of revenue and access to other membership perks may increase the perceived value of a Woodmen policy versus a for-profit insurance company whose rates are lower.
Woodmen does not have a dedicated claims line, and the FAQ section directs customers to contact the regular customer service line for assistance. Claims forms will be provided on request and are not readily available for download.
While this isn’t unusual for this type of company, it may frustrate beneficiaries looking for assistance in what is already a difficult time. There is a member access area, but again this would not be helpful to a beneficiary who is not the policy owner and likely does not have username and password information.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
WoodmenLife has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), with only four complaints on file in the past three years, two of which were closed in the past 12 months.
Reviews on Facebook are mixed, some glowing and some very negative. A few of the reviews are from employees or agents who sell the products, but the majority appear to be customers. Most of the comments aren’t particularly detailed, but one outlines what appears to be a bait and switch experience with rates.
A review posted on Complaints Board is followed up with multiple comments that again seem to show a mixed opinion of the company. Much of the issue appears to be related to the consumer’s lack of understanding regarding how some policies work.
Overall, there are not a lot of complaints about this company given its size. The complaints that are available are common to most insurance companies, and there are no red flags.
The Bottom Line
WoodmenLife may be a good choice for those who prefer to work with an agent and like the idea of a membership with perks. Without further information on the company’s products and rates, however, it’s difficult to form a clear opinion. Certainly, they have longevity and a solid foundation, but some insurance shoppers may prefer to find a low rate at a well-known company.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.