Symetra Life Insurance Company Review
B.A. Risk Management
Life Insurance Agent
Symetra is an insurance company based in Bellevue, Washington. They offer a diverse product range which includes life insurance, annuities, and employee benefits, which are distributed all over the country through a network of banks, broker-dealers, advisors, consultants, and agents.
Today we review Symetra's product offering, company history, ratings, and strengths as a life insurance company.
Symetra is a financially sound life insurance company. If the products they offer meet your financial needs and are priced within your budget, they are a great choice for life insurance.
History and Background
AM Best Rating
Symetra Financial was established in 1957 as a subsidiary of Safeco. Within just 10 years, Symetra had issued $1 billion of life insurance. By 1995, the company had over $10 billion in assets. By 1999, the company had issued life insurance policies worth $30 billion.
In 2004, Symetra was acquired by a group of investors, which included Berkshire Hathaway and White Mountains Insurance Group. In 2010, the company went public and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2016, Symetra was acquired by Sumitomo Life, a life insurance company based in Osaka, Japan, for $3.8 billion.
Symetra Financial Ratings
Symetra has an ‘A’ rating from the major agencies. Given here is a list of the company’s current ratings as well as a link so you can verify the ratings yourself.
- A.M. Best: A (Excellent)
- Standard & Poor’s: A (Strong)
- Moody’s: A1 (Good)
- Fitch: A (Strong)
- Source of Ratings
Symetra has assets worth $53.4 billion. The company follows a rigorous investing and risk management strategy in order to maintain a healthy asset-liability ratio. Its parent company, Sumitomo Life, is one of the largest insurance companies in Japan and has assets worth over $300 billion. Symetra is a solid choice, and it is one of the best life insurance companies on the market.
Life Insurance Products Offered by Symetra
Term Life Insurance
Symetra offers a pure term life policy that provides you with coverage for a predetermined amount of time, usually between 10 and 30 years.
The insurance company determines the premium based on your insurability and the risk class you are assigned. Once set, the premium does not change until the end of the policy’s term.
Similarly, the death benefit does not change until the end of the term period. If you die while the policy is in effect, your beneficiary gets the entire death benefit amount.
If you are to die, your family can use the payout to replace your income for a period of time, pay off the debts, take care of the children’s education, and to maintain their lifestyle.
Permanent Life Insurance
Symetra offers two permanent life insurance policies – Symetra Accumulator IUL and Symetra UL-G.
Symetra Accumulator IUL
It is an indexed universal life policy that provides you with a guaranteed death benefit and living benefits. The key features include:Flexibility
It is a very flexible policy – both in terms of the death benefit as well as the premium. As your financial needs change from time to time, you can increase or decrease the death benefit amount accordingly. You can create your own premium payment schedule and decide the amount you want to pay as well.Cash Value
The built-in cash value component mimics the performance of an index. The company offers you six different indexes and a fixed account to choose from. You can choose to invest your money in the fixed account, indexes, or a combination of both.Growth Potential
When the indexes perform well, your policy’s cash value grows rapidly. However, there is a cap on the amount of money your account can earn.
The best part about an indexed policy is that you do not lose money even if the index goes down.
Since your money is not actually invested in the market, there is no risk of negative returns at all. In other words, the policy allows you to take advantage of a bull market and protects you from the effects of a bear market at the same time.
In the 12th year of the coverage period, the company pays a ‘persistency bonus’, which is added to your policy’s cash value.Access to Cash Value
There are two ways in which you can access your policy’s cash value – partial withdrawals (which are penalty-free) and policy loans (which need to be repaid with interest).
Partial withdrawals and loans are allowed only from the second year of the policy. They are not taxable, as long as the amount is not greater than the total amount of premiums you have paid into the policy.
You can also use the accumulated cash value to pay your premiums. It could, however, reduce your death benefit to a certain extent.
It is a no-lapse universal life policy that is designed for the purpose of wealth transfer.
The key features include:No Lapse Guarantee
The policy comes with a no-lapse guarantee. At the time of issuing the policy, the company gives you an illustration containing a wide range of information – what the company guarantees to pay, what kind of benefits you and your beneficiaries are likely to receive, the premium you have to pay, and withdrawals and loans you are allowed to take.
As long as you maintain the guidelines given in the illustration – especially with respect to the amount of premium you have to pay and the scheduled withdrawals and loans you are allowed to take – your policy will not lapse.
This is irrespective of the changes in interest rates, market conditions, the performance of the company, and other factors.Cash Value
The cash value grows at a fixed-rate (which is determined by the company) throughout the life of the policy. It is, however, not wise to make withdrawals or take out loans in an indiscriminate manner, since it could reduce your death benefit or eliminate the no-lapse guarantee altogether.
The policy, as mentioned above, is meant for the purpose of wealth transfer. So, ideally, you should let the cash value accumulate so that your beneficiaries can receive a large sum of money.Accelerated Death Benefit
An accelerated death benefit allows you to access a portion of the death benefit if you develop a terminal illness while your policy is still in force. You can use the money for your treatment and other expenses. When you pass away, your beneficiaries will receive the remainder of the death benefit.Return of Premium Rider
Symetra offers a return of premium rider with its UL-G policy. The rider is optional and comes at an additional cost. It allows you to receive the entire amount of premiums you pay into the policy at the end of the 20th year or the 25th year of your coverage period.
Once you receive the amount, the insurance company terminates your coverage.
Canceling the Policy
You can cancel your universal life policy (Accumulator or the UL-G) at any time for any reason. The company, however, will deduct a premature surrender charge, which can be substantial.
Any outstanding loans, interest payments, and penalties will also be deducted from the net cash surrender value and you will receive any remaining balance.
If you are planning for your post-retirement life, Symetra offers a variety of annuities for you. From fixed-rate annuities to fixed indexed annuities, index-linked annuities, and income annuities, you have a number of options to choose from.
There are two factors based on which you can choose an annuity product ideally suited for you.Financial Needs
Are you dependent on the income from your annuity for your day-to-day expenses? If so, you can choose the income annuity, which provides you with a guaranteed income. There is no waiting period involved, as the payments start immediately.
If, on the other hand, you have other sources of income and can afford to wait for some time, you can choose the fixed-rate annuity or the index-linked annuity.Appetite for Risk
If you are entirely averse to the risks associated with the market, you should choose the fixed-rate annuity, which grows at a guaranteed rate irrespective of market conditions. However, if you like products with high growth potential, the index-linked annuity might be the right choice for you.
Symetra Life Insurance Company Strengths and Weaknesses
Pros of SymetraFinancial Strength
The company is financially strong and has assets worth tens of billions. Its parent company is among the largest insurers in Japan. It has managed to receive an ‘A’ rating from all the top credit agencies.Products for Different Needs
Symetra offers three different life insurance policies for three different purposes. You can choose the right policy for you depending on your current financial situation and your future needs.
There is a pure term policy, which is ideal for people who need coverage for a particular period of time. The costs are very low, the cost doesn't rise throughout the term, and your beneficiaries are assured of a substantial death benefit payout in the event of your passing.
There is an accumulator universal life policy, which is ideal for those who would like cash value they can access for their financial needs. The index-linked cash value account grows faster than fixed accounts, which you can withdraw on a regular basis or take out a loan in case of an emergency.
There is a no-lapse universal life policy, which is guaranteed to stay in force as long as you make the required payments and stay within the set limits of withdrawals and policy loans.
Apart from this, Symetra also offers a number of annuity products for retirement planning purposes.
Cons of SymetraLack of Whole Life and Variable Universal Life Policies
This is the only notable downside with Symetra. The company’s product range does not include a whole life policy or a variable universal life policy.
Traditional whole life policies are popular with a surprisingly large number of people, thanks to the sense of security they offer. The protection lasts for a lifetime, the premiums do not go up for any reason, and the cash value acts as an emergency fund, which can be accessed from time to time.
Similarly, variable universal life policies are also immensely popular due to their high growth potential. If you are shopping for either one of these policies, you need to look at the other options available.
You can find a list of the top-rated insurance providers on NoExam.com (most of these companies offer whole life as well as variable universal life policies.)
Final Thoughts on Symetra
Symetra is a financially strong, reliable insurance provider. The company offers three excellent products – a pure term policy, a universal life policy that focuses on cash value growth, and a universal life policy that has a no-lapse guarantee. If any of these policies meet your financial needs, you should definitely go for it.