Colonial Penn Life Insurance for Seniors (Beware)

Colonial Penn Life Insurance for Seniors (Beware)

September 27, 20237 min read

When it comes to life insurance for seniors, the options can be overwhelming, and it's crucial to make an informed decision. One provider that has garnered significant attention is Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company. While they offer policies tailored specifically for the senior demographic, it's important to be aware of the potential drawbacks and carefully consider whether their offerings truly align with your needs.

Colonial Penn Life Insurance: A Closer Look

Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company has been in the business of providing life insurance solutions for seniors for over 50 years. The company was founded by Leonard Davis, a co-founder of AARP, and it has since become one of the prominent players in the senior life insurance market.

One of the primary selling points of Colonial Penn's policies is their simplified issue process, which often does not require a medical exam. This can be particularly appealing to seniors who may have health concerns or want to avoid the hassle of a full medical evaluation. However, this convenience often comes at a price.

Rates and Waiting Periods

Compared to other life insurance options on the market, Colonial Penn's policies tend to be more expensive. The cost of their coverage is generally greater than the industry average, which is an important factor to consider when exploring senior life insurance options.

Additionally, Colonial Penn imposes a two-year waiting period on their guaranteed acceptance policies. This means that if the policyholder passes away within the first two years of the policy, the beneficiaries may only receive a refund of the premiums paid, rather than the full death benefit. This waiting period can be a significant drawback, especially for seniors who may have a more immediate need for life insurance coverage.


Policy Limitations

Another aspect to consider with Colonial Penn's offerings is the relatively low death benefit amounts, which typically range from $1,000 to $50,000. While these coverage levels may be sufficient for some seniors' final expense needs, they may not provide adequate protection for broader financial planning goals, such as leaving a legacy or covering outstanding debts.

Furthermore, Colonial Penn's policies may have limited rider options and additional features compared to what is available from other insurance providers. Riders, such as accelerated death benefits or waiver of premium, can significantly enhance the value of a life insurance policy, and their absence could be a drawback for some seniors.

Comparison with Competitors

When evaluating Colonial Penn's offerings, it's important to compare their rates and coverage to other insurers in the senior life insurance market. Many competitors, such as Mutual of Omaha, Globe Life, and AARP, offer policies with more competitive pricing and potentially better-suited coverage options.

For instance, some insurers may provide higher death benefit amounts or more flexible policy terms, allowing seniors to tailor their coverage to their specific needs. Additionally, some competitors may have more lenient underwriting requirements or shorter waiting periods, which can be crucial considerations for seniors.

Assessing Your Needs

Before deciding on a life insurance policy, it's essential for seniors to carefully assess their coverage needs. This includes considering factors such as outstanding debts, final expenses, and any financial obligations they may have for their loved ones.

By understanding their specific requirements, seniors can then evaluate the various life insurance options available, including Colonial Penn's offerings, to determine the most suitable and cost-effective solution. Consulting with a financial advisor or an independent insurance agent can also be beneficial in this decision-making process, as they can provide personalized guidance and help seniors navigate the complexities of the life insurance market.

Colonial Penn's "Unit" System

One unique aspect of Colonial Penn's life insurance policies is their "unit" system. Each unit of coverage costs $9.95 per month and provides a varying amount of death benefit based on factors such as the policyholder's age and gender.

For example, a 75-year-old male may receive around $560 in coverage from a single unit. However, it's generally recommended that seniors only purchase the amount of coverage they actually need, as the average number of units purchased is typically around 12, which may result in an unnecessarily high premium.

Colonial Penn's "Living Insurance" Option

Colonial Penn offers a whole life insurance policy with a "Living Insurance" option, which allows policyholders with certain medical conditions to receive a portion of the death benefit while they are still alive. This feature can be particularly beneficial for seniors with critical illnesses, as it can provide financial assistance during their lifetime.

It's important to note, however, that this option is only available on Colonial Penn's whole life policies and not their guaranteed acceptance plans. Additionally, the specific eligibility criteria and benefit amounts may vary, so seniors should carefully review the policy details to understand the potential benefits and limitations.

Colonial Penn's History and Ratings

Colonial Penn has been in the life insurance business for over 50 years and has covered more than 10 million customers during that time. This longevity and experience in the industry can be seen as a positive, as it suggests a certain level of stability and expertise.

However, when examining Colonial Penn's financial ratings, the picture becomes more complex. According to various rating agencies, Colonial Penn's ratings fall below what would be considered good or average compared to other life insurance companies in the industry.

For instance, AM Best, a leading credit rating agency in the insurance industry, has assigned Colonial Penn a rating of "A-", which is considered "Excellent" but not the highest possible rating. Similarly, Standard & Poor's and Fitch have given Colonial Penn ratings of "BBB+" and "Baa1", respectively, which are considered investment-grade but not the highest quality.

Moody's, on the other hand, has given Colonial Penn a "CCC" rating, which is considered to be of "poor standing" and indicates unresolved claims or financial difficulties.

Additionally, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Colonial Penn has had a significantly higher-than-average complaint ratio, around 200% higher than the industry average. This suggests that the company may have had difficulties in providing satisfactory customer service or resolving claims in a timely manner.

It's important to note that these ratings and complaint data can change over time, and seniors should thoroughly research the current state of Colonial Penn's financial stability and customer satisfaction before making a decision.


Alternatives to Consider

Given the potential drawbacks of Colonial Penn's life insurance offerings, it may be worthwhile for seniors to explore alternative providers and coverage options. Some potential alternatives to consider include:

  1. Term Life Insurance: While Colonial Penn specializes in whole life insurance, seniors may find that term life insurance provides more affordable coverage, especially if they have a specific, short-term need, such as covering outstanding debts or final expenses.

  2. Burial/Final Expense Insurance: Many insurance providers offer specialized policies designed to cover funeral and burial costs, which may be a more targeted and cost-effective solution than a traditional whole life insurance policy.

  3. Mutual of Omaha, Globe Life, and AARP: These insurers are known to offer competitive rates and coverage options for senior life insurance, and they may be worth considering as alternatives to Colonial Penn.

When evaluating these alternatives, seniors should carefully compare premiums, coverage amounts, policy features, and the overall financial strength and customer service reputation of the insurance providers.


While Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company has been a longstanding player in the senior life insurance market, it's crucial for seniors to approach their offerings with caution and carefully consider the potential drawbacks. The relatively high premiums, low death benefit amounts, and the two-year waiting period on their guaranteed acceptance policies may not align with the needs and budgets of many seniors.

By comparing Colonial Penn's offerings to other insurers, understanding their specific coverage requirements, and consulting with financial advisors or independent agents, seniors can make an informed decision on the most suitable life insurance solution for their individual circumstances. Ultimately, seniors should prioritize finding a policy that provides the necessary coverage at a reasonable cost, ensuring that their final expenses and financial obligations are adequately addressed.

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