Symetra Life Insurance Company Review
Symetra is an insurance company based in Bellevue, Washington. The company offers a diverse product range which includes life insurance policies, annuities, and employee benefits, which are distributed all over the country through a network of banks, broker-dealers, advisors, consultants, and agents.
In this review, we take a look at Symetra’s history and background, financial strength, product range, and its strengths and weaknesses as an insurance provider.
History and Background
Symetra Financial was established in 1957 as a subsidiary of Safeco. Within just 10 years, the company managed to issue life insurance policies worth $1 billion. 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 has an ‘A’ rating from all the major credit rating agencies in the world. Given here is a list of the company’s current ratings.
- A.M. Best: A (Excellent)
- Standard & Poor’s: A (Strong)
- Moody’s: A1 (Good)
- Fitch: A (Strong)
Symetra has assets worth $49.3 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 $300 billion. Symetra is a solid choice, and 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 which provides you with the coverage you need for a specific number of years. The policy’s term length could be 10, 15, 20, or 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 also 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.
One of the advantages of a pure term life policy, like the one offered by Symetra, is that it is very cheap compared to a whole life or a universal life policy. If you are young, do not have any pre-existing conditions, and in good health, you can get a substantial amount of coverage at very low rates.
In the event of your death, 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 which provides you with a guaranteed death benefit as well as 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. There is a cap on the amount of money your account can earn. Even with the cap, indexed policies tend to grow at a much faster rate than regular policies, so you are likely to get higher returns on your investment in the long run.
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 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 by a certain extent.
It is a no-lapse universal life policy which 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 the 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 rate, market conditions, performance of the company, and other factors.Cash Value
The policy accumulates cash value at a fixed rate (which is determined by the company) throughout the coverage period. It is, however, not sagacious 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 for the entirety of the coverage period so that your beneficiaries can receive a large sum of money.Accelerated Death Benefit
In case you develop a terminal illness while your policy is still in force, you become eligible to access a portion of the death benefit. You can use the money for your treatment and other expenses. After your death, the remaining amount will be paid out to your beneficiaries.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.
Cancelling the Policy
You can cancel your universal life policy (Accumulator or the UL-G) any time you want 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 the remaining amount will be paid out to you.
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 payment 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. If you, on the other hand, like products with high growth potential, the index linked annuity might be the right choice for you.
Now, let us take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Symetra as an insurance provider.
Symetra Life Insurance Company Strengths and Weaknesses
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 the most respected credit rating agencies in the world.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 are in need of life insurance coverage for a particular period of time. The costs are very low, the premium remains the same until the policy expires, and your beneficiaries are assured of a substantial death benefit payout in the event of your demise.
There is an accumulator universal life policy, which is ideal for people who are in need of a policy whose 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 limits set by the company in terms of withdrawals and policy loans.
Apart from this, Symetra also offers a number of annuity products for retirement planning purposes.
WeaknessesLack 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 access from time to time.
Similarly, variable universal life policies are also immensely popular due to their high growth potential. If you are looking to buy 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 which focuses on cash value growth, and a universal life policy which has a no-lapse guarantee. If any of these policies meet your financial needs, you should definitely go for it.
On the other hand, if you need a whole life policy or a variable universal life policy, you can get in touch with us at noexam.com so that we can help you find a reliable insurance provider.
A life insurance policy is not something you can afford to choose randomly. You need to make sure it is affordable and designed to meet your long term financial needs.
You should also make sure that the company which issues the policy is financially stable and reliable. In other words, it is certainly not an easy task.
We at NoExam.com can make the process a whole lot easier for you by getting customized quotes from multiple companies and by offering our expert opinion, based on which you can choose the right insurance policy for you.