MetLife Insurance Company Review

MetLife was founded in New York City in 1863 to insure Civil War soldiers against disabilities due to war. Some years later, the company survived to become a dedicated life insurer. Keeping the focus on industrial and working class people kept MetLife strong through more than one depression.

Present day, MetLife is a strong brand (everyone recognizes ‘Snoopy One’) and has good financial strength. Financial reports and ability to pay claims earn MetLife excellent ratings across the board. Moody’s rates them as ‘Aa3’, which places them at the bottom of the excellent category. Standard and Poor’s says they are very strong, and rates them ‘AA-‘. AM Best gives them an ‘A+’ rating; which is a superior grade for MetLife.

Term Life Insurance Choices

MetLife offers traditional term life insurance with level terms of ten, fifteen, twenty, and thirty years. Also available is one year term and annual renewable term life insurance. Term policies can be converted to permanent insurance at the end of a level term or at age seventy.

There are four optional features available as riders for an additional cost. ‘Disability protection’ will waive premium payments and continue coverage in the event that the owner becomes sick or disabled. This protection can also be carried over to a conversion to permanent insurance. ‘Early payment’ is an accelerated death benefit available to policy owners with a terminal illness. Also available is a long term care purchase option, which will allow the policy owner to purchase long term care insurance without evidence of insurability.

Whole Life Insurance Options and Riders

MetLife offers traditional whole life insurance which provides lifetime coverage (as long as premiums are paid). Premiums are guaranteed not to increase, regardless of the insured’s age or health. The cash value grows each year and is accessible by withdrawal or loans, possibly paying dividends.

A number of riders are available at an additional cost and can enhance the life insurance policy. There is a ‘long term care guaranteed purchase option’, which guarantees the owner’s insurability for LTC insurance in the future. There is a ‘disability waiver of premiums benefit’ to protect against having to pay premiums while disabled.  

MetLife also offers a ‘guaranteed issue rider’ that guarantees the right to buy additional policies without evidence of insurability at that time. This could protect insurability in the future as life changes and insurance needs increase or change. The ‘Enricher’ option allows the owner to increase the cash value and death benefit by paying additional premiums.

Guarantee Advantage Universal Life Insurance

MetLife has one universal life policy which they will customize for the owner to maximize the guaranteed protection or to accumulate cash value. When guarantee is more important, the length of protection and premium schedule are set up front and won’t change so long as premiums are paid as planned.

When liquidity and flexibility are most important to the owner, the policy is designed to maximize cash value. This provides more flexibility to change premium payments or the amount of insurance to adjust to changes in needs and other financial circumstances.

The ‘long term guarantee purchase option’ and a form of disability premium waiver are both available as riders. Additionally, the policy owner may add the ‘guaranteed survivor income benefit’ rider which will pay beneficiaries a stream of lifetime income rather than a lump sum death benefit.  There is also a ‘guaranteed survivor plus purchase option’ that will allow the owner to buy permanent life insurance in the future on up to five other people.

Equity Advantage Variable Universal Life

MetLife offers this policy as the sole VUL policy, though it can be designed with much flexibility built in. As the policy cash value changes, the owner can decide whether to have fluctuating premiums or a fluctuating amount of insurance. There are also as many as sixty funding options, including fixed accounts and investment accounts ranging from conservative to aggressive.

There is access to the cash value of the policy, which may be used for emergencies, college expenses, or even to supplement retirement savings. Keep in mind that withdrawals and loans will affect the cash value and may affect the death benefit. Do not allow the policy to lapse or become a modified endowment contract (MEC), both of which may have dire tax consequences.Riders are available to guarantee coverage and eliminate premiums and policy expenses in the event of a disability. There is also a ‘guaranteed minimum death benefit’ rider that will lock in a death benefit until age eighty five or age one hundred twenty one, regardless of investment performance.

MetLife also offers a ‘guaranteed insurability’ rider which will allow the owner to increase coverage or purchase additional insurance even if the insured’s health has changed. The ‘guaranteed survivor income benefit’ is also offered as a rider for this policy. This feature will allow beneficiaries to receive a stream of lifetime income rather than a lump sum death benefit.

Survivorship Life Insurance: Leave a Legacy

MetLife now offers a ‘Legacy Advantage Survivorship Universal Life’ policy designed as an estate planning tool for wealth transfer and protection. Survivorship life insurance is one policy that covers two individuals, paying a benefit only after the second person passes away. In most cases, this will be a less expensive option when compared to carrying two separate policies.This type of policy can help plan a legacy for charities, universities, and beneficiaries. It allows for flexibility in balancing inheritance even when assets that are hard to divide are involved (such as businesses and real estate). There is flexibility with premiums, benefits, as well as other policy changes suited to life changing events like divorce or tax law changes. Riders are available to protect against disability as well as guarantee insurability for a future long term care insurance need. MetLife also offers the option to provide beneficiaries a lifetime income in lieu of a lump sum payout. Additionally, an ‘estate preservation term’ rider can be added to the policy, which will offset any estate taxes on the death benefit if you move the policy out of your estate (into an life insurance trust for example).