UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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|Key Info||Company Specifics|
|Current Executives||CEO/President - J.J. Miller
CFO - James Acton
|Number of Employees||4500+ Registered Agents
35 Home Office
|Total Sales / Total Assets||$311,260,000/ $4,484,166,000|
|HQ Address||400 East 4th Street
Cincinnati, OH 5202-3302
|Premiums Written - Individual Life||$341,700,000|
|Best For||Retirement planning, investment opportunities, universal life|
Life insurance isn’t usually on your mind when you first start out in your career. There’s less reason for it when you’re a single, young adult, but as you get older, you typically take on more responsibility.
Perhaps you get married or buy a home. Maybe you have children. And suddenly the importance of protecting the people who depend on you financially in the event of your unexpected death becomes clear.
Shopping for life insurance can be overwhelming when you first begin. Each company offers multiple policies with unique features to set itself apart from the crowd.
This comprehensive review will give you a complete overview of Columbus Life and preview their policies to help you make the important decision of which life insurance is best for you.
Get started now. Click above for a FREE life insurance quote.
Columbus Life’s Ratings
Third-party ratings offer a snapshot of Columbus Life’s financial strength, predicted stability, and the quality of its customer service. Columbus Life is a member of the Western and Southern Financial Group, and some agencies do not report data for each subsidiary.
Only ratings specifically assigned to Columbus Life are included in this report.
A.M. Best has been providing credit ratings for insurance companies since 1899 and has a unique standard for measuring the financial strength of insurance companies over time.
Columbus Life’s A+ Superior rating was reaffirmed in December 2019, the 10th consecutive year they earned that rating.
A.M. Best has also awarded Columbus Life a Superior rating in its Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating every year since June 2007, testifying to a stable outlook for the foreseeable future.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) assigns ratings from A + to F, with A + being the highest based on its analysis of information it receives directly from customers who contact them and the business itself.
Columbus Life has been BBB-accredited since 2009, meaning they meet the agency’s standards, including a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB gives Columbus Life an A+ rating, indicating minimal customer service issues.
Moody’s was the first credit rating agency in the United States. They provide credit scores for corporations based on cross-analysis of factors like previous performance.
Columbus Life scores an Aa3, the fourth-highest possible rating with Moody’s, indicating it’s a company of high quality and low credit risk.
Standard & Poor’s (S&P)
Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is a leading stock index provider (S&P 500) and one of three original credit agencies in the United States. The S&P scale for companies ranges from AAA at the highest end to D at the lowest.
S&P awarded Columbus Life’s rating of A- in both credit and financial strength in 2018, and that rating has been affirmed since.
Fitch’s credit ratings are the agency’s opinion regarding the relative ability of a company to meet its financial commitments. These include interest payments and insurance claims.
Columbus scores an AA on this scale, indicative of a very strong capacity to meet policyholder and contract obligations on a timely basis. Columbus Life has held this rating since June 2009.
Columbus Life Insurance Company began as Columbus Mutual in 1906 in Columbus, Ohio. At the time Channing Webster Brandon began the company, the Ohio government required him to have a $100,000 reserve fund, which left him with only $49.60 for promotion and operations.
Columbus Mutual finally sold its first coverage two years later, in the form of a $5,000 life insurance policy.
The company grew exponentially over the next 75 years. Columbus Mutual was acquired by the Western & Southern Financial Group of Cincinnati in 1982.
The company headquarters moved to Cincinnati, where it remains today, and the name changed to Columbus Life Insurance Company in 1989.
Columbus Life’s Market Share
Here is how Columbus Life’s market share compares to the Top 10 market share companies for individual life insurance:
|Northwestern Mutual Life||6.42%|
|AARP (New York Life)||5.68%|
|Minnesota Life / Securian Financial||2.70%|
While Columbus Life falls outside the top 125 companies in terms of national market share, it remains a financially strong company. Even with a widening field of competition over the same period, Columbus Life’s direct premiums written increased by $103.6 million between 2013 and 2018.
Of course, when talking about corporations, net income is the bottom line. At its most basic, net income amounts to revenue minus expenses. If the expenses incurred by a company exceed the revenue, the company is said to have suffered a net loss.
At year-end 2018, Columbus Life reported a net income of $9.4 million.
Columbus Life’s Position for the Future
Because Columbus Life is backed by an industry leader (Western and Southern Financial Group), they are well-positioned for the future, as indicated by their Superior rating from A.M. Best in Long-Term Issuer Credit.
Columbus Life’s Online Presence
Neither Columbus Life nor its parent company, Western and Southern, operates a Twitter account. The company does maintain a Facebook page, though, where it typically responds to messages within a day.
The company also has a YouTube channel, but Columbus Life’s online presence is most developed on its webpage. There you can find general financial information in addition to specific information about policies with Columbus Life.
Columbus Life’s Commercials
Columbus Life doesn’t advertise on television separately from their parent company, Western and Southern. However, their YouTube channel has more specific commercials, like the one below.
As a subsidiary of Western & Southern Financial Group, Columbus Life benefits from the larger company’s resources in areas such as marketing.
Columbus Life in the Community
Western and Southern Financial Group is the title sponsor of six major community events every year. The largest of these is the Western and Southern Open, played each August by the world’s top-ranked professional tennis players as they attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.
Western and Southern Financial associates, along with the corporate foundation, donated $1.34 million to the United Way in 2019.
Columbus Life’s Employees
Columbus Life has over 4,500 independent financial service professionals marketing their insurance products and services in 49 states (excluding New York) and Washington, D.C. These advisors are supported by about 35 people at the home office in Cincinnati.
Employees at Columbus Life rate the company as slightly below average to work for, with its highest ratings in compensation and its lowest in both workplace culture and management. Some employees report high rates of turnover, particularly in management.
Shopping for Life Insurance
The first step is to learn the basics of life insurance: what it is and what it can do. Many people are insured through their employer, but that’s usually for a minimal amount and typically ends when employment ends. For that reason, most people find they need a separate policy to make sure their loved ones are cared for in the event of their death.
A life insurance agent or financial planner will help you determine exactly how much coverage you’ll need to meet your specific needs. Some of the costs people use life insurance to cover after their loved one dies include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Mortgage balances
- Personal loans
- Credit card debt
There are some situations where private student loans may still be due despite the borrower’s death, and life insurance can be used to pay those, as well.
Who should buy life insurance?
The short answer is that almost everyone should consider it. Parents especially appreciate the peace of mind life insurance gives them that if the unthinkable happens, their children will be taken care of financially.
Even if you don’t have children, life insurance can be a worthwhile investment as the death benefits cover funeral expenses and any outstanding debts you leave behind.
If you’re living a single life with no spouse or kids, a life insurance policy could help anyone who cosigned a loan with you — for example, parents who have cosigned a private student loan.
For those who are married, funeral expenses and medical bills can strain a couple’s budget. But a life insurance policy can pay those, too. And of course, when you have children, the expenses in life increase.
And people often want to leave those they love with more money than they need to cover the basic expenses. Columbus Life emphasizes the importance of this kind of legacy planning and works from the idea that life insurance can play a major role in your family’s financial health.
A recent study by Life Happens and LIMRA found that:
- Nine of 10 people surveyed believe a family’s primary earner needs life insurance.
- More than a third of households would feel the financial impact within the first month following a primary wage earner’s death.
How much life insurance do you need?
In addition to the immediate expenses after a loved one dies, more long-term expenses to consider include:
- Income replacement
- Children’s college tuition
- Spouse’s retirement
- Emergency savings fund
A life insurance calculator can help you get a general idea of how much life insurance you need.
For example, imagine a husband and father of two is the sole wage earner for his family, with an annual salary of $100,000.
The family has a remaining mortgage balance of $175,000, $12,000 left on a car loan, and $3,000 in credit card debt. They are also $50,000 short of their $70,000 college savings goal for their children.
His wife plans to return to work once their children graduate from high school, so she would need roughly eight years’ worth of income replacement in the meantime. After factoring in an average funeral cost of around $7,500, the husband’s insurance needs are as follows:
- Immediate need – $175,000 mortgage + $12,000 car loan + $3,000 credit card + $7,500 funeral costs = $265,000
- Future need – $800,000 income replacement + $50,000 college fund = $850,000
- Total need – $1,115,000
Therefore, he should buy a life insurance policy valued at $1.5 million. It may seem prohibitively expensive to buy a policy of that value. But it’s often attainable, even on a limited budget.
In fact, recent data from the 2018 Life Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA shows that 44 percent of millennials overestimate the cost of life insurance by five times the actual amount.
When deciding what type of life insurance to buy, you should consider your life stage, how long you’ll need coverage, and whether you want the opportunity to build the cash value of your life insurance policy.
Types of Coverage Offered
Columbus Life offers one type of term insurance and three universal policy options.
Most people think of term coverage when they think of life insurance. These policies cover the death of the insured for a set amount of time and are especially affordable when you are young.
For instance, consider a 26-year-old recently married man who just purchased his first apartment based on his income. He doesn’t want to leave that $250,000 mortgage to his wife, who’s still finishing college, to pay in the event of his death.
Using a term life insurance calculator to determine his needs, he decides to purchase a 15-year, $1.5 million policy out that coincides with his 15-year mortgage and names his wife as his beneficiary.
She would receive the death benefits from the policy without having to wait for the estate to be settled, so it could be used to pay for funeral expenses, as well as to pay the mortgage while completing her degree.
While this would be a tragic situation, life insurance would spare his wife the added pressure of selling their apartment quickly.
Term life insurance can be very inexpensive if you are young and in good health.
Medically underwritten term life insurance requires a medical exam, but a medical exam will help people in generally good health save on premiums.
However, researching term life insurance may be worthwhile if you want to avoid a medical exam.
Simplified issue term life insurance is a better choice for people who don’t want to take a medical exam, but premiums will be higher.
Because the life insurance company does not pay the beneficiary anything unless the insured dies within the time frame covered by the policy, the company’s risk is lower. Thus, it costs less to buy a term life insurance policy.
Columbus Life offers Nautical® term life insurance, which provides full life insurance coverage for a set amount of time, with policies available for terms of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years.
If you qualify, the policy automatically includes their Life Plus Accelerated Death Benefit Rider®. This rider enables you to receive advances on your death benefit in the event of chronic illness, terminal illness, or other specified medical conditions.
The video below explains more about the protection offered by this rider.
The availability of their optional riders varies from state to state. These include Children’s Term, Other Insured, Return of Premium, and a Waiver of Premium Rider.
At Columbus Life, term insurance can also be converted to a more permanent life insurance plan at a later time up to age 70 or when the term ends.
Universal life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance that lasts the lifetime of the policyholder. Permanent life insurance also comes with financial benefits during the policyholder’s lifetime and can form a foundation for long-term financial security.
Permanent life insurance offers a fixed premium for a specific coverage amount. It can give you lifetime coverage — provided that premiums are paid — and build the value of your policy through investments.
Two important features of universal policies are the ability to change the amount of coverage and built-in premium payment flexibility. Columbus Life offers three universal policies.
Voyager® Universal Life is the company’s foundation permanent life insurance plan. Your cash value in this policy accumulates at a current interest rate with tax-deferred earnings.
While the current interest rate isn’t guaranteed, the policy does provide a guaranteed minimum return of 3 percent. The policy payment amount is flexible to some degree, and after your first policy year, you can borrow from your policy’s cash value.
Withdrawing from the cash value decreases the death benefit and can affect the no-lapse guarantee. The lifetime no-lapse guarantee option offers the assurance of a death benefit as long as minimum premiums are paid.
Columbus Life’s ExplorerPlus® universal policy does more than simply provide financial protection for your family. As your needs change over the course of your life, you can supplement your retirement income using the accumulated policy value.
Columbus Life also allows you to add coverage for other family members. The flexibility in premium payments can be used to reduce your retirement income needs if you choose to pre-fund your life insurance.
Columbus Life’s Indexed Explorer Plus® offers growth potential through the opportunity to earn indexed interest credits linked, in part, to the performance of the S&P 500® (excluding dividends), in addition to the benefits of the Life Explorer Plus® plan.
The video below describes this policy in more detail.
All three universal life products offered by Columbus Life allow for withdrawals from the cash value.
You should talk about the implications of this with your advisor before doing so, though, to make sure you understand the potential tax and investment impacts the withdrawals will have in your particular situation.
Factors That Affect Your Rate
The 2018 Life Happens study found that half of all consumers reported being more likely to buy life insurance if they could buy it without a medical exam. While consumer demand may push the industry in that direction, underwriting maintains a key role in determining how much you will pay for a life insurance policy.
Underwriting is the way an insurance company assesses your chances of early death. The higher the risk they perceive you to be, the higher your premium.
It’s important to be honest with the underwriter because any dishonesty can invalidate the policy and is considered fraud.
Let’s look more closely at the most common factors underwriters consider.
Demographics refer to traits we can be categorized by for statistical purposes, such as age, gender, and marital status.
- Age – Increasing age is still the best predictor of death, so the older you are when you purchase a life insurance policy, the higher your rate will be. This is also something to consider when shopping for term life insurance, as your rates will be higher each time you renew or repurchase it.
- Gender – Women live an average of six years longer than men in high-income countries like the United States. That’s why, controlling for all other variables, women’s premiums will be lower than men’s.
Current Health & Family Medical History
Statistically, you’ll live longer the better health you’re in. The longer your life expectancy, the lower your life insurance premiums.
When you buy life insurance, one of the first things you’ll be asked to do is complete a health and family medical history form. Insurance companies want to know if your genetics indicate you’re likely to suffer any health issues such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes that run in families.
Many policies require a thorough medical exam, including blood work. Underwriters may also request consent to access your medical records.
It’s important to be honest about your health because life insurance underwriters will compare your answers to the information available to them in prescription and Medical Information Bureau (MIB) records.
What Is the MIB? The Medical Information Bureau tracks health information relevant to life insurers. If you want to know what’s included in your record, you can request a copy of it from the agency.
Insurance companies consider all the factors that could negatively impact your life expectancy. Some jobs like police work, piloting, and mining seem obviously high-risk.
But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that people working in construction, roofing, and logging are also prone to relatively high numbers of work-related fatalities:
Underwriters may also look at where in the country you live and work.
You might think of a paragliding or rock climbing hobby as high-risk, and the insurance companies would agree with you. Smoking and tobacco use remain among the most common high-risk behaviors, but insurers also consider less obvious risks.
For example, they often check your driving record and credit history. They may ask about your travel habits, too.
Veteran or Active Military Status
Being in any branch of the military complicates the process of getting life insurance. Sometimes, policies will contain exclusion clauses that apply to service members.
For example, war zone exclusions are common. Active duty military personnel have life insurance through the military with the option to continue that policy after discharge. There are also some life insurance companies specifically designed for veterans.
Veterans may also suffer service-related health problems that will impact their eligibility or rates. This is something to discuss with your agent or advisor.
Getting the Best Rate with Columbus Life
The 2018 study by Life Happens and LIMRA found that despite half of all consumers wanting a primary financial advisor, only 37 percent have one while 14 percent are looking for one.
Life insurance is an investment and Columbus Life emphasizes the importance of speaking with a Columbus Life independent agent.
An unaffiliated financial advisor can also help you determine what types of insurance would best suit your needs before you decide whether Columbus Life is right for you or not.
The advisor or agent will ask about your risk factors to estimate how much an insurer will raise your price above base premiums. Base premiums are largely established using three factors: mortality, projected interest, and the company’s expenses.
- Using statistical mortality tables, insurers estimate how many people in every demographic are likely to die each year. If a group shows an increase in their likelihood of death, the company will increase rates for people in that demographic.
- Interest rates influence premiums because insurers maximize profits through investments — the lower the return, the higher your premiums.
- Insurance companies also consider operating expenses when establishing a base rate. The more it spends maintaining its business, the more it charges its policyholders.
Rates also vary from state to state, although the NAIC is working to draft laws that would create more consistency nationwide.
But there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the best rates available.
The earlier in life you buy life insurance, the better because age is the number-one factor affecting policy rates.
For example, a 20-year, $500,000 policy for a 30-year-old female non-smoker averages around $206 per year. The same policy for an otherwise-identical 40-year-old cost $307. That 10-year age difference results in a 49 percent increase.
Manage risk factors within your control. In particular, stopping smoking, vaping, and any form of tobacco use is imperative. Many companies require you to be tobacco-free for a year or more before you can declare yourself a non-smoker. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy overall lifestyle will help, too.
As with any financial obligation, not paying your premiums on time will negatively impact your future rate, particularly so if your policy is canceled for non-payment.
Columbus Life’s Programs
Columbus Life’s YouTube channel offers 11 videos that focus on the company’s products and general financial education, particularly about Social Security.
The Columbus Life website gives more in-depth general financial information, with sections ranging from planning for college and choosing the right financial professional to the basics of deciding on a beneficiary and a glossary of insurance terms.
Canceling Your Policy
There are many reasons you may need to cancel your life insurance policy. Your financial situation may have changed, leaving you unable to afford the premiums or in need of the money you’ll receive upon closing it. Or you may be ready to switch companies and purchase a different policy.
It’s important to talk with a financial or tax advisor ahead of time about the potential consequences of canceling the policy, though.
How to Cancel
To cancel a policy with Columbus Life, your options are to contact the advisor or agent that helped you buy the policy or call the company at 1-800-677-9595, Monday–Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. EST.
How to Make a Claim
Columbus Life specifically asks that you are ready with the following information when initiating a claim:
- The full name, date of birth, and state of residence of the insured
- The life insurance policy number, if known
- The name of the person reporting the claim and their relationship to the deceased/insured
If possible, it’s also helpful if you know or have:
- Social Security numbers for both the insured and the beneficiary, and date of death
- A final death certificate for the insured
- An idea of how you want to receive the disbursement amount
Columbus Life offers three ways to make a claim.
- Call Client Services at 1-800-677-9595, and a representative will walk you through the process. This line is open Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. EST.
- Contact your financial services professional.
- Use the website’s claim form, and a service representative will contact you shortly to obtain the needed information after you complete the basic information form.
Once the claim is initiated, the company will mail all necessary claim forms to you within seven business days. The death benefit may be paid out in as little as a couple of weeks but can take up to 60 days.
How to Get a Quote Online
Columbus Life doesn’t offer an online quote tool. Instead, they encourage life insurance buyers to reach out to a financial professional who’s certified to sell their insurance, as well as others.
They stress the relationship between the customer and the financial advisor when purchasing a life insurance policy.
They give advisors who become Columbus Life certified agents extensive training in determining the specific needs of individual clients and exploring specific policy options based on that.
The website offers customers the option of finding a professional local to them by entering either their city and state or ZIP code.
Alternatively, customers can request that a Columbus Life Independent Agent contact them.
Design of Website/App
Policyholders at Columbus Life can view their policy information and request beneficiary changes by selecting the My Policies tab from the Columbus Life homepage. You can also change personal account and contact information, request a duplicate policy, and browse the FAQ section.
The webpage is easily viewable on smaller screens such as phones and tablets.
In 2012, Columbus Life introduced iGO®, an intuitive computer application that helps to check the completeness of every application and expedites the policy application process. However, this is for their agents, rather than policyholders.
The next year, Columbus Life introduced two mobile applications.
The Tax App provides tax tables and calculators and is accessible to the general public, while the enhanced CLIC (Columbus Life Insurance Company) mobile app gives financial professionals updates on their pending business and product quoting options.
Pros & Cons
No one insurance company is a match for every customer. Weighing the costs and benefits and comparing companies is a smart approach.
- The company has been in business for over 100 years and is backed by powerhouse Western and Southern Financial Group.
- Top ratings testify to Columbus Life’s financial strength and stable outlook.
- It’s an excellent source of investment or retirement products.
- Only one term policy is offered.
- The focus on agents (whom they also refer to as “producers”) sometimes overshadows customer service from the company itself.
The Bottom Line
Columbus Life’s financial strength and integrity are competitive, and there’s a lot to like about this company, particularly if your focus is preparing for retirement or finding investment opportunities. The company offers two potentially high cash value growth policies.
Columbus Life only offers one term policy, but if you’re shopping for permanent coverage from a long-standing company, Columbus Life might be the company for you.
You can rely on their financial strength, the value of their products, and the chance to build a productive relationship with a financial professional.
Want to know more? Start building your future now and compare life insurance quotes with our FREE tool below.
Columbus Life’s FAQs
#1 – Can I purchase supplemental coverage through Columbus Life?
Yes, Columbus Life offers a variety of riders, including an Accelerated Death Benefit, Overload Protection, and a 10-Year Base No-Lapse Guarantee, which are available with their universal life policies. The Accelerated Death Benefit rider is also available with term policies.
#2 – Does Columbus Life offer an online quote tool?
At this time, Columbus Life doesn’t offer an online quote. Because they emphasize the relationship between policyholders and advisors, you must go through a financial professional to get a quote from Columbus Life.
#3 – Will the cash value of my Columbus Life policy continue to accumulate if I withdraw or borrow funds from it?
Yes, but the cash value amount that earns interest will be reduced by the amount of the withdrawal or loan.
#4 – Will recreational or medical marijuana use disqualify me for Columbus Life policies?
Each situation is evaluated on an individual basis, but typically Columbus Life offers marijuana users its standard smoker rates because of the associated health risks.
And the underwriter may want additional information about the underlying health conditions being treated with medicinal marijuana.
#5 – Do Columbus Life death benefits go through probate before disbursement?
As long as the named beneficiaries are available to receive the life insurance benefit payout, there’s no need for policies to go through probate, even if probate is required for other property in the insured person’s estate.
#6 – Are life insurance benefits taxable?
Life insurance benefits are non-taxable when they are paid directly to a beneficiary, such as a spouse or a child. However, if you name your estate as the beneficiary, the benefits become a part of the estate and are then subject to estate taxes at rates that can reach 40 percent.
#7 – Are life insurance premiums tax-deductible?
No, life insurance premium payments are not tax-deductible for individuals.
#8 – Can Columbus Life cancel my policy without my approval?
There are only two conditions under which a life insurance company can cancel your policy without your approval: if you stop paying your premiums, or you were dishonest when applying for the policy.