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SBLI life insurance review 2024

Updated May 30, 2024
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At a glance

Bankrate's take

Individuals seeking a diverse range of life insurance policies, available in nearly every state, may find SBLI to be a suitable option. SBLI provides an array of riders to tailor a policy to specific life insurance requirements and financial goals. However, keep in mind that it lacks local agents and a mobile application.

Individuals might appreciate SBLI if they are exploring life insurance options with diverse rider offerings and tools for end-of-life planning, like SBLI’s LegacyShield.


What’s New with SBLI?

On August 23, 2023, SBLI introduced AcceleRate, an innovative accelerated underwriting process. This new program provides faster service for distribution partners and consumers, heightened reliability and ease of use, coupled with competitive rates for both term and whole life insurance policies.

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SBLI life insurance

In the vast landscape of life insurance, Savings Bank Life Insurance Company (SBLI) stands out with offerings that are notably comprehensive compared to other companies. Bankrate’s SBLI Insurance review finds that the insurer has consistently adapted to the evolving needs of the market. Founded in 1907 by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, SBLI now showcases a versatile array of products such as term life, whole life and final expense insurance.

To ensure tailored protection, SBLI provides an array of riders allowing policyholders to finetune their coverage. A highlight of SBLI’s offerings is its accelerated underwriting, available for individuals aged 18 to 50, offering up to $1,000,000 in coverage — with either a phone interview or medical exam — and an application decision within minutes.

Diving deeper, SBLI offers a few different types of life insurance policies:

  • Term: Shoppers who want coverage for a specific amount of time may consider SBLI term life insurance. Term coverage may be a good choice for families with young children or those who want coverage while debt is being paid off. SBLI offers five term lengths: 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years. A one-year, non-renewable term policy is also available for those with very short-term needs. SBLI notes that policies with a death benefit of $1,000,000 or lower do not require a medical exam for healthy applicants aged 18–50 and qualify for instant coverage.
  • Permanent: Permanent life insurance, unlike term coverage, is designed to stay in place for your entire life as long as premiums are paid. Permanent insurance may be a better option for shoppers over the age of 50 who want coverage for the rest of their lives. SBLI offers whole life insurance:
    • Whole: SBLI provides a whole life insurance policy that ensures lifelong protection and the opportunity to build a cash value over time. This policy stands out with its guaranteed death benefit, unchanging premiums and the ability to borrow against its growing cash value, especially beneficial for those who've maximized their retirement savings. While the premiums might be steeper than term life, pairing it with term insurance offers protection tailored to different life phases. The coverage also boasts features like a tax-free death benefit and various payment schedules.

If you’re unsure which of these policies might be best for you, it may be wise to contact SBLI directly. If you’re in the process of figuring out how much life insurance you need, you may want to talk to a licensed life insurance agent, financial advisor or use an online life insurance calculator to offer guidance for your unique situation.

Pros and cons of SBLI life insurance

  • Wide range of coverage options offered

  • Innovative digital platform

  • Numerous riders available

  • No universal life insurance options

  • No local agents

  • No mobile app

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SBLI life insurance riders

The best life insurance companies offer endorsements, also called riders, to help you personalize your coverage to your unique needs. While riders can be helpful, keep in mind that the extra coverage will likely increase the cost of your life insurance. Those looking for the cheapest life insurance may not appreciate the added premium, but riders can add valuable coverage to your policy.

SBLI lists 10 riders, but the options available to you will depend on what policy type you choose and your eligibility. Some of SBLI’s riders include:

  • Accelerated death benefit: This option is included on all SBLI life insurance products at no added cost and allows you to access up to $250,000 of your death benefit if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness (defined as likely to cause death within 12 months). This option may help you pay for unexpected medical bills as a result of your diagnosis, but it will lower the death benefit amount that your beneficiary receives.
  • Cash-out term: Available only on SBLI whole life insurance, this option tacks on a 30-year term policy to your coverage. If you choose, you can surrender the term rider portion of your policy for a partial or full refund of your rider premium, depending on the timing of the surrender.
  • Single-pay paid-up additions: Those with SBLI whole life might opt for this endorsement, which allows you to bolster your cash value or death benefit with a single lump sum payment.
  • Waiver of premium: This option is available on whole and term life products from SBLI and allows you to forgo your premium payment if you become totally disabled and can’t work.

Compare SBLI with other insurers

To know if an SBLI life insurance policy is the right choice for you, it’s wise to compare life insurance quotes and coverage from multiple providers. Consider these options below:

SBLI vs. State Farm

State Farm won the Bankrate Award for Best Term Life Insurance company in 2022, 2023 and 2024 based on its exceptional customer satisfaction score and top AM Best score. The company also won the 2024 Bankrate Award for Best Universal Life Insurance, so if you’re trying to decide which type of life insurance product is right for you, you may want to consider State Farm as well as SBLI.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

SBLI vs. MassMutual

MassMutual won the Bankrate Award for Best Whole Life Insurance in 2022, 2023 and 2024 thanks to its network of local agents, “Superior” AM Best score and high coverage capacity. MassMutual may be beneficial for those looking for life insurance over the age of 50, as it offers resources for those planning for elder care and retirement.

Learn more: MassMutual Life Insurance review

SBLI vs. Nationwide

SBLI does not offer universal life (UL) insurance, so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you want a UL policy. If you’re interested in UL, Nationwide may be a good option to consider. Nationwide offers two types of indexed universal life insurance: the Accumulator II 2020 and the Protector II 2020, although its offerings in New York are slightly different.

Learn more: Nationwide Insurance review

Is SBLI a good insurance company?

SBLI distinguishes itself as a life insurance provider focused on the interests of its policyholders, thanks to its unique ownership structure prioritizing long-term customer benefits over short-term shareholder profits. Those seeking policies with diverse rider options may find SBLI appealing, especially with the added advantage of the LegacyShield tool for end-of-life planning. 

However, it's worth noting that SBLI does not offer universal life insurance, lacks local agent representation and doesn't feature a dedicated mobile app. These aspects may make it less appealing for those desiring an extensive digital interface or certain insurance products.

SBLI insurance customer satisfaction

When gauging the reliability and performance of an insurance carrier, third-party ratings can be instrumental. These ratings, issued by independent agencies, offer insights into a company's financial stability and customer satisfaction. For SBLI, AM Best awarded it an A- (Excellent) signifying a history of strong financial health. On the other hand, J.D. Power, which assesses customer satisfaction based on diverse parameters, has not scored SBLI in its 2023 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study or its 2022 U.S. Group Life Insurance Study.

Study or Rating Agency SBLI Industry average
2023 J.D. Power Individual Life Insurance Study Not rated 790/1,000
2022 J.D. Power Group Life Insurance Study Not rated 797/1,000
AM Best rating A- (Excellent) N/A

SBLI life complaints

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) plays a crucial role in assessing and documenting customer complaints against insurance companies. Its complaint index provides a standardized measure to gauge the number of complaints a company receives relative to its size. The industry baseline for this index is set at 1.00. An index below this baseline indicates that the company has received fewer complaints than typical for its size, while a score above the baseline suggests the opposite. It's also noteworthy that NAIC differentiates complaint indexes based on product type, allowing for a more precise comparison across the insurance landscape.

In the context of SBLI, its complaint index for individual life insurance in 2022 stood at 0.19, as reported by NAIC. This score, being below the standard baseline of 1.00, points to the company receiving fewer than average complaints, indicating a generally favorable customer experience with its life insurance products.

Other SBLI life tools and benefits

SBLI offers a unique digital platform called LegacyShield, which allows policyholders to consolidate financial accounts onto one dashboard, store documents, share final wishes and compile family photos all in one place. If you’re looking for an organization system for these items, LegacyShield may be worth your consideration. LegacyShield might be helpful for policyholders who want to manage end-of-life concerns such as final wishes, important documents, family photos and videos. Here are a few more standout features, perks and tools they offer:

  • Coverage calculator: This tool assists potential policyholders in estimating the amount of life insurance coverage they might need, based on their individual financial situation and future goals.
  • Affordability calculator: If you’re trying to find life insurance that fits your budget, SBLI has an affordability calculator that allows you to find term policies based on price. All you need to enter is your age, gender, monthly budget and whether or not you use nicotine products.
  • Quick quote tool: Ideal for those wanting a swift estimate, this tool provides an instant life insurance quote based on a few key parameters.
  • Online claim tool: Simplifying the claims process, this digital tool facilitates a seamless and prompt claim submission experience for policyholders.
  • No-exam policies: The company offers some term life policies without medical exams.
  • Customer hub: Think of the hub as your central place to interact with SBLI. You can make payments, download forms, submit claims, refer friends or family, submit a TrustPilot review, get customer support and find the company’s social media accounts.

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Written by
Ashlyn Brooks

Ashlyn Brooks is a finance writer with more than half a decade of experience, known for her knowledge in areas such as taxes, insurance, investing, retirement, finance news, and banking products.

Edited by Editor II, Insurance