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Banner Life Insurance For Smokers – Review

Written by Cody Marchant

Unless you’ve been trolling life insurance websites, you’ve probably never heard of Banner Life. Their ads don’t bombard you on weekends when you watch sports like Prudential, AIG, or MetLife.

Don’t their obscurity fool you. Banner Life is a great insurance with excellent products and always ranks near the top in competitive pricing. Here’s our review, and we’ll also let you know how they view smokers.

Banner Life’s History

Banner is owned by London based Legal & General Insurance. Legal & General was founded in 1836 by 6 lawyers as they discussed the need for life insurance over coffee in a London cafe. Days later they formed a life insurance association which would grow into an international life company over the next 180 years.

In 1949, Banner was originally chartered as the Government Employees Life Insurance Company (GEILCO). Then in 1981, Legal & General acquired them changing the name to Banner Life. Their motto “everyday matters” perfectly sums up their approach to work. As a corporation, they have been at the forefront of charitable activity.

Banner operates in 49 States, but using the William Penn brand name in New York. In 2013, they reported holding of over $437 Billion in in-force life insurance.

Financial Ratings and Customer Satisfaction 

Company Financial Rating
A.M. Best A+
Fitch AA-
Moody’s N/A

According to the insurance rating organization, AM Best, Banner scores an A+ for financial stability. They also rank high in every customer service ranking available.

Company Customer Satisfaction Rating
Comdex 94
J.D. Power & Associates N/A

The most telling customer service score is the complaint ratio. Banner scores a .015 with the national median being 1.0. That score is a fabulous indicator of their performance.

Claims and Payouts

Before we detail their product offerings, let’s address potential claims concerns. People often wonder, “Does Banner life pay claims?” The answer is a definitive “YES”. They have a perfect history of paying claims, and have never failed to pay a valid claim.

Banner Life Products & Features

Banner carries only two basic life insurance products: term life and universal life (permanent life insurance). They also carry a no exam life insurance policy as well.

Banner Life is known for their affordable life insurance policies for people in both excellent health and people who are in need of no exam life insurance.

Banner Life’s Term Life Insurance for Smokers

Term life is temporary life insurance, or life insurance with an expiration. You are able to pick the coverage timeframe or policy term when you purchase the product. Like many term products on the market, Banner gives you the option of converting the policy to permanent life.

OP Term Life

OPTerm life is the flagship term life insurance product for Banner. It has many characteristics common to most term products, but they do add their own Banner twist.

  • 10, 15, 20, 25 &  30 year term options
  • Coverage available for 20-95 years old
  • Premiums will not increase during term
  • Convertible to a universal life policy

Many insurance companies will offer riders as optional add-ons to their policies. These are separate coverages designed to further enhance and tailor the policy to the customer. Banner Life is no exception. Here are the available riders for their term life insurance products.

Accelerated Death Benefit

All OPTerm policies come with this feature. Accelerated Death Benefit allows you to receive a portion of your death benefit if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Medical costs are high for treatment of terminal illness, and this provides a source of money to defer many of those costs.

The maximum payable amount is the lesser of $500,000 or 75% of the coverage amount. The benefit is treated as a lien with interest. Upon the death of the insured, coverage payouts are reduced by the amounts received under the accelerated death benefit.

Waiver of Premium

The waiver of premium rider is designed to keep life insurance inforce if a disability strikes reducing a customer’s ability to pay the premium. Coverage triggers if the insurance company is given proof of total disability as well and the disability has existed continuously for 6 months. The rider waives premiums up to age 65.

Children’s Rider

The children’s rider is an optional coverage and provides life coverage for every eligible child in the household up to age 25. The rider charge is level (doesn’t increase) throughout the policy term.


Mediguide is a unique Banner service. It is not only offered as part of their Term product but is included with any product they sell. Mediguide provides a second opinion service if you are diagnosed with a life threatening illness. They will help you identify the top 3 med centers in the United States and guide you to the most appropriate solutions and treatments for your condition.

Banner Life’s No Exam Policies for Smokers

Appcelerate – Banner Life’s No Exam Life Product

Underneath their term life products, Banner has a “no exam” life insurance product.

Most insurance products require a medical exam and a medical questionnaire. Exams are looking for any health abnormalities, such as unusual enzyme activity in the kidneys and livers. They are verifying health and weight and calculating cholesterol. Testing will also determine any presence of illegal drugs as well as tobacco usage.

Exam findings determine the rating that the life insurance company uses to develop your pricing (Banner is very flexible with this).

Medical exams are usually the bump in the road that will slow down policy approval.

Most “no exam” policies are designed for high risk individuals who have trouble finding adequate life insurance. Banner’s policy is different.

Banner created their “no exam” policy to speed up the approval process for healthy individuals. Rather than scheduling an exam and waiting weeks for approval, if you qualify under their Appcelerate program you can have coverage in force in days instead of weeks.

If Banner is a fit for you, make sure to ask your agent if you qualify for their Appcelerate program. It will save you time, and avoid any medical exams.

Banner Life’s Permanent Life Insurance Policies for Smokers

Life Step UL

We’ve reviewed Banner’s Term products, let’s take a look at their permanent life products. Permanent Life will cover you for your entire life span. Unlike term that expires, permanent life has no expiration date. Permanent life is not just life insurance either. It is an investment vehicle with a cash value component.

Permanent policies take a wide variety of forms. They are known by Whole Life, Universal Life, and Variable Life. The Banner permanent product is a Universal Life product.

Banner’s Universal Life insurance policy is incredibly flexible. You can design your own premium plan to lower over time. It’s the cash value portion of the policy that allows you to do this. As the policy grows in value, it gives the policyholder several options. You are able to borrow against the cash value to fund any expense. Or you can allow the cash value to pay the policy premium.

Banner takes the cash value portion and allows you to design the product to fit your needs from day one. You can overfund the policy for several years so that in 10 to 15 years the cash value will pay your premium for you. At that point, you will have coverage for life with no more premiums out of your pocket.

What Makes Banner Life Different?

Competitive Underwriting – Credits 

Banner is usually one of the most competitive companies when you review multiple quote comparisons.

The biggest reason Banner remains consistently competitive is aggressive underwriting. Banner has a bucket of underwriting credits ready to assist you into it’s best rate class.

Banner uses the following rate classes:

  • Preferred Plus Non-Tobacco
  • Preferred Non-Tobacco
  • Standard Plus Non-Tobacco
  • Standard Non-Tobacco
  • Preferred Tobacco
  • Standard Tobacco

With Underwriting credits, Banner moves people up to the best possible rating class. For example, if you qualify for Preferred Non-Tobacco but your weight is within a couple pounds of qualifying for Preferred Plus, UW will bump your height an inch to push into the better category.

They have credits for family medical history, good blood pressure, and cholesterol.

You can even qualify for preferred plus if you have a history of asthma, a history of depression and anxiety (without medication), skin cancers, mitral valve prolapse, and osteoporosis.

If you struggled with alcohol and drugs, but have been sober for 10+ years, they will rate you Preferred.

Epilepsy is a niche as well, as long as it has been over 5 years since you’ve had a seizure.

Finally, they are great for seniors. You can be highly rated even if you have to take maintenance medicines. They also still offer a 20 year term after age 55.

What are Some Disadvantages of Banner Life Insurance Company?

Banner sounds perfect for smokers, diabetics, and people looking for affordable no exam life insurance rates, but there are niches where they don’t do well, such as:

  • Being Overweight
  • Customers with High Net Worth
  • Former DUIs
  • Family History of Heart Disease
  • Active Military
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Frequent Travelers

Is Banner Life a Good Life Insurance Company for Smokers? 

They can be.

As a smoker, you won’t get the best rate like most insurance carriers, but they will try to find the best rate class for your situation.

They are flexible with cigar smokers. If you’ve only smoke 12 per year, you can even qualify for their Term Appcelerate product.

For smokers, the real area that Banner Life outperforms the competition is their no exam life insurance policy.

Because of their fast and aggressive underwriting, with Banner Life, smokers can get no exam life insurance at very affordable rates despite their smoking habits.

Banner Life Insurance Rates for Smokers 

To get a sense of how they perform, let’s look at some of their smoking rates:

Age Policy Type $100,000 Male (monthly) $100,000 Female (monthly) $500,000 Male (monthly) $500,000 Female (monthly)
25 10 Year Term 17 15 50 38
25 20 Year Term 19 15 66 54
25 30 Year Term 26 19 97 67
30 10 Year Term 17 15 52 40
30 20 Year Term 20 17 72 58
30 30 Year Term 29 22 115 85
35 10 Year Term 20 18 56 46
35 20 Year Term 26 22 88 73
35 30 Year Term 35 28 145 104
40 10 Year Term 26 23 81 65
40 20 Year Term 37 33 133 105
40 30 Year Term 52 41 216 156
45 10 Year Term 34 30 132 99
45 20 Year Term 53 44 209 163
45 30 Year Term 84 62 347 249

When it comes to life insurance rates, Banner Life is one of the better insurance companies for tobacco users.

While they may not be the best life insurance company for smokers in every situation, Banner Life is certainly an elite player in the life insurance industry.

Finding the Best Life Insurance Company for Smokers 

Yes, there’s a lot of options here to think about. Even though Banner is a great company, it may not be your best option. There are multiple companies with a wide variety of options and underwriting categories.

When identifying the best life insurance company as a smoker, it is essential that you take the time and find the resources necessary to ensure that you are getting the best rates possible, as well as finding the best coverage for you and your loved ones.

Speaking with an independent agent is the best way to ensure that you have taken into account all of the life insurance options available to you in order to make the most informed decision when it comes to purchasing life insurance for smokers.

Our independent life insurance agents represent some of the best life insurance companies for smokers. Give us a call today to begin working with a professional to find the best policies, rates, and companies for your situation. Or get started using our online life insurance quote tool for quick and easy life insurance rates for smokers.

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