Ladder is an online insurance company offering term life insurance to busy people who don’t mind choosing a policy without the help of an agent. Most customers apply completely online and, in many cases, don’t need to take a medical exam to get covered.
What makes Ladder innovative is how flexible its coverage is. You can add, change, or cancel your coverage online any time. If you’re losing sleep over your current Ladder coverage, you could log in, change your coverage, and be back to bed in minutes.
Ladder isn’t for everyone, though. If you’re not sure this company is a good fit for you, read on. We’ve got the information to help you decide.
Ladder: Term life for internet-savvy DIYers
Have you heard of the ladder strategy for life insurance? Not to be confused with Ladder life insurance, laddering is the process of stacking several well-timed policies to achieve peak coverage when you need a high benefit and lower coverage when you don’t.
While Ladder insurance and “laddering” are different, the company’s unique flexibility makes laddering term life insurance quick and easy.
Let’s say you need $1 million of coverage. A healthy 30-year-old man could buy a $1 million whole life policy for over $680 per month. Or, he could buy the following policies for $370 and still get maximum coverage when he needs it most.
- A $500,000 whole life policy for $347 per month to ensure his spouse has enough to live on no matter when he dies
- A $250,000, 20-year term life policy for $13 per month to ensure his daughter’s college fund is covered
- A $250,000, 10-year term life policy for $10 per month to ensure the mortgage will get paid off
Folks can save tons of money this way, but laddering often requires a lot of foresight and planning. This strategy can be hard if you don’t know when you’ll get married, buy a house, or have kids. Even with the help of an agent, adding and subtracting policies as needed can be a clunky, time-consuming process.
Ladder makes using the ladder strategy for life insurance easy, flexible, and convenient by allowing you to change your coverage online without an agent at any time.
You won’t have to juggle different policies, change policies to get a higher death benefit, or even pick up the phone.
If anyone depends on your income or household contributions to maintain their standard of living or pay your burial expenses, consider investing in life insurance.
Things to consider about Ladder
Ladder provides a level of flexibility customers love, but this provider might be better suited for customers who are self-sufficient.
If you’re still trying to decide if Ladder is the right life insurance company for you, there are a few pros and cons you should consider. We’ll go into these pros and cons in more depth as we move through this article, but here they are briefly now:
- Fast, easy options for laddering your coverage
- More control over your policy, premiums, and death benefit
- Convenient online account you can access any time
- Do-it-yourself life insurance with minimal assistance
- Higher rates than agent-sold policies
- Only term life policies available
Ladder life insurance products
You could get up to $8 million of coverage with an exam and $1 million without one. Those high death benefit options may not outweigh other limitations in Ladder’s offerings, however.
Ladder offers only term life policies, but this is probably for the best for those seeking a simple insurance solution. Permanent life is much more complicated because it has a cash value and covers you for your entire life. The good news is term life is a great choice for most folks, and it’s usually cheaper than permanent life anyway.
We don’t recommend getting any life insurance without talking to an experienced agent, but that’s especially sound advice when it comes to permanent life. If you want permanent life, read up on the types of insurance policies available, such as whole and universal life policies.
|Terms (Years)||Coverage Range||Age Range||Exam Required?|
|10, 15, 20, 25, 30||$100K–$8M||20–60||Depends|
* Information as of 11/9/18.
Life insurance with Ladder
Usually, this part of a TermLife2Go review would break down all the various types of products an insurer offers. Since Ladder offers only term life, we think folks will find having detailed information about how it works more helpful.
Ladder’s application process is fast and easy, but it does have some drawbacks.
Apply (mostly) online
The feature most customers love about Ladder is that they can apply online in about 20 minutes and get an instant decision. Of course, this only applies if you don’t have to take a medical exam (more on that in a moment).
Expect in-depth questions about your health, income, life choices, and driving record. You’ll also need your social security number. These are all standard application questions, but if you’re used to getting a quick, ballpark quote with less information, the process could feel invasive.
Skip the exam for $1M coverage
Many people can get Ladder coverage in just minutes, but not everyone. Depending on your application and whether you want more than $1 million in coverage, you may need to complete a medical exam too.
If you can’t get a no medical exam policy with Ladder, the company will send a technician to your home or office. This person will take blood and urine samples and measure other factors to better gauge your health. In this case, your application process may take a week or more.
Change coverage easily
Ladder makes it easy to add or subtract coverage as needed throughout the life of your policy. When you have a big life change, it may be a good time to reevaluate your coverage to ensure it still meets your needs.
Log into your Ladder account to view your current policy. If you want to add coverage, you can do so at a new rate.
Let’s say you bought a 30-year, $500,000 policy at 25 to protect your new spouse and ensure they could pay off the mortgage if you died. Five years later, you’re adding to your family and want to double your coverage to $1 million.
With Ladder, you can simply apply for more coverage online. You’ll keep your initial $500,000 death benefit at your current premium rate. Ladder will price your premiums for the additional $500,000 of coverage based on your age now (30).
Then, 10 years later, you pay off your mortgage. You can save on premiums by cutting your coverage back now that you don’t need as much. And you can make those changes right from your online account.
Finish out your term
In the above example, let’s say you come to the end of your 30-year term. Your kids are all out of the house, and you’ve saved enough to ensure your spouse could live comfortably if you died. Now all you need to cover is burial expenses.
You can lower your coverage and renew it annually until you turn 60, since Ladder won’t insure folks after that. We recommend using those extra years and premium savings to build up a burial expense fund if possible.
Unfortunately, many people need coverage into their 60s. Unless Ladder changes this rule before you reach your golden years and the thought of losing your coverage at 60 keeps you up at night, the insurer may not be the right fit for you. Or, you may want to consider investing in multiple policies, including one with a carrier that will cover you beyond age 60.
You could also consider investing in another company’s term life. Or choose whole life (which isn’t available through Ladder) instead. You can learn more about both in our Term Life Vs. Whole Life article, and our licensed sales agents can answer all your questions and get your application started.
Ladder history and financial strength
Ladder is a subsidiary of Ladder Financial, which launched in 2015. In life insurance terms, Ladder is in its infancy as a company. Ladder’s life insurance division launched in 2017 and sold policies only in California until the end of that year. Now, it provides life insurance throughout most of the nation.
Ladder is backed and underwritten by Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, which has been around since 1969.
Generally, life insurance isn’t something you want to trust to a startup. Instead, you want to make sure the company will be around decades from now, should your beneficiaries ever need to collect. But because Fidelity stands behind Ladder, policies through this company are much safer than with startups that aren’t backed by such large companies.
Fidelity’s ratings are in the chart below. They’re not as high as some of the companies that consistently top TermLife2Go’s best-of lists, but you could do worse.
A.M. Best, the insurance industry’s gold standard, gives Fidelity a stable A- for achieving excellent ability to meet financial obligations. Fitch’s stable AA rating is its second highest and conveys minimal risk.
Standard and Poor’s, on the other hand, sees more risk with Fidelity and gives the insurer its fourth-highest rating of BBB+. This mark suggests adverse market conditions could negatively impact the company.
|A.M. Best 1||A-|
*All ratings current as of 11/9/18. Ratings reflect the evaluations of rating agencies but are not intended as a recommendation to purchase from any company. Rating agencies may update, suspend, or withdraw their ratings at any time.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) shows a high complaint-to-annual premium ratio of 7.39 in 2017. Need some perspective on that? The average ratio for companies nationwide is 1.00.
We dug deeper to learn what kinds of complaints Fidelity received, and consumers had only two complaints regarding life insurance. Fidelity received 10 complaints for its accident and health insurance, and these were largely due to delayed or denied claims.
Life insurance claims have a very different process than accident and health claims. Given that Fidelity’s life insurance complaints were filed by people insured with them (not their beneficiaries), there may be little risk in Ladder Life’s policies.
How Ladder’s premiums stack up
Ladder’s rates are about what we expect for lower death benefit ($100,000–$1 million) term life sold online. At higher values, however, Ladder comes in cheaper than competitors such as Haven Life and Fabric.5
Ladder’s prices aren’t as low as insurance you might buy from an agent. Many Ladder policies are only partially underwritten and don’t require a medical exam, so prices are comparable to no exam life insurance policies.
Ladder sample rates
50-Year Old Male
25-Year Old Female
*All rates from Ladderlife.com. Monthly rates current as of 11/9/2018. Information is based on a 50-year old male who smokes, but is in good health and a 25-year old female who doesn’t smoke and is in excellent health.
Ladder claims and customer service
Ladder has received strong positive reviews for its service from consumers on Trustpilot, an online ratings website. Out of 223 reviews, 82% were excellent and another 9% were great. Ladder’s overall rating was five out of five stars.6
Those who reviewed Ladder mostly referenced the application process and hadn’t needed to file a claim yet. To file a claim, customers must email Ladder at email@example.com.
Ladder submits claims to the underwriting company (Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company), which has received very few life insurance complaints filed against it, according to the NAIC.7
Negative Ladder Life reviews tended to cite the same issues, described below.
Having to disclose too much information upfront
Ladder attempts to complete as much of the application process as possible online. If you’re simply looking for a ballpark quote, however, the process may feel lengthy and a bit invasive.
Ladder does have a more simplified quoting tool, but it’s well hidden. We found it by using the “Help” bubble that pops up a few seconds after opening the hamburger menu on the homepage.
The difference between quoted rates and fully underwritten rates
As with any application process, rates quoted before the policy is underwritten are just estimates. These estimates typically give applicants the benefit of the doubt by assuming they are completely healthy unless otherwise stated in the application.
Underwriting involves gathering all available information, which may include a medical exam, driving record, and other elements not factored into an initial quote. As a result, actual rates are often higher than original quotes.
Difficulty getting a Ladder representative on the phone
Ladder’s online application and self-service accounts are a huge attraction for many tech-savvy customers, but some folks have questions. Unfortunately, Ladder’s website has minimal resources for learning more about life insurance or account troubleshooting.
According to a few Trustpilot reviews, difficulty getting a real person on the phone at Ladder detracted from an otherwise convenient process.
FAQs about Ladder life insurance
Still have questions about Ladder? These FAQs may help.
How much life insurance should I apply for?
Insurance needs vary from one person to the next depending on an array of factors. We suggest speaking to a licensed agent to determine how much coverage you need.
How many life insurance policies has Ladder sold?
As of August 2017, Ladder had sold over $300 million in life insurance.8 Considering the company launched earlier that year, $300 million is an impressive leap.
Bottom line: Ladder is DIY insurance
If a quick online application process and taking control of your term life insurance sounds good to you, start your application with Ladder today.
ǂA.M. Best’s financial rating scale is the following: A++ (Superior), A+ (Superior), A (Excellent), A- (Excellent), B++ (Good), B+ (Good), B (Fair), B- (Fair), C++ (Marginal), C+ (Marginal), C (Weak), C- (Weak), and D (Poor). A.M. Best’s Financial Strength Rating (FSR) is an independent opinion of an insurer’s financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations. An FSR is not assigned to specific insurance policies or contracts and does not address any other risk, including, but not limited to, an insurer’s claims-payment policies or procedures; the ability of the insurer to dispute or deny claims payment on grounds of misrepresentation or fraud; or any specific liability contractually borne by the policy or contract holder. An FSR is not a recommendation to purchase, hold, or terminate any insurance policy, contract, or any other financial obligation issued by an insurer, nor does it address the suitability of any particular policy or contract for a specific purpose or purchaser.
- A.M. Best, “Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company”
- Fitch Ratings, “Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance Underwriters, Inc.”
- Standard and Poor’s, “Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Co.”
- NAIC, “Consumer Information Source”
- Value Penguin, “Ladder Life Insurance Review: Quick and Simple Coverage You Can Manage Online”
- Trustpilot, “Ladder”
- NAIC, “Consumer Information Source”
- Medium, “Making Life Better—200 Days and $300M”