If you’re like me, you’re seeing ads for all these new life insurance companies all over the place. Ethos Life Insurance, Haven, Ladder, Bestow, Fabric — where did they all come from, and are any of them good enough to trust? How can you compare their rates and pricing, or even compare life insurance policies to begin with? And should you consider any of the old-school providers like MassMutual or Northwestern Mutual? We aren’t getting any younger, so let’s dive into these new life insurance vendors and figure it out.
First, what is life insurance, and who needs it?
The basic concept is pretty simple. When you die, the person (or people) you choose will get paid. You don’t get paid because you are dead, and it’s not like you can take it with you…It’s a win/win for everyone.
Sounds easy enough, but leave it to the finance people to really make it more complicated than necessary. (If you want to skip ahead to the direct comparisons of Ethos, Ladder, Haven, Bestow and Fabric, click here)
Types of life insurance
So, from a simple concept to a really complicated reality, there are many, many flavors of life insurance. Just to list out a FEW of the different kinds, you can get:
- Level Term
- Decreasing Term
- Traditional Whole
- Variable Universal
- Ok, this is getting ridiculous . . .
The Insurance Information Institute tries to make the different kinds easier to understand in this article, but, in case you don’t have an MBA, here is a bit of a dumbed down primer. You can get one of two basic kinds:
- Term: The policy only lasts for a particular number of years – that period of time is called the “term.” You pay while the policy is valid, and if you die during the policy, hooray, your beneficiaries get paid! (Actually, kind of sad because you are dead.) You stop paying when the policy is over – and again, the policy ends, so no one gets paid.
- Whole/Permanent: This policy is more or less designed to last as long as you do. It doesn’t expire in the same way as term does. There are a lot of different kinds of whole life insurance, and since none of the companies we are reviewing in this piece offer it we won’t get into too much detail on the different versions. Suffice to say it gets complicated, because whole is sort of bundled with the ability to build up cash value. I’ve found term premium payments are typically cheaper than whole as well.
Ethos, Haven, Ladder, and Bestow offer TERM life insurance
Ethos, Haven, Ladder, and Bestow all offer term insurance, not whole life. Why? Term has the following advantages over whole/permanent:
Some sites quote whole life as 6 to 10 times more expensive per month.
Easier to understand
You pick the coverage you want, and how long you want it for; the cost is then shown and there’s no further surprises.
We won’t get into the advantages of whole life insurance now, but there is definitely value for people who want an option to build up cash value.
So who needs term life insurance, anyway?
Should everybody have life insurance? Nope.
Single people without children or dependents usually don’t need it. But, if you’ve got a significant other who you’d like to help protect should you pass, or if you have children (who, it turns out are very expensive!) this kind of protection can be extremely helpful.
Other times single folks may want it for a disabled or elderly person who they take care of, so that there’s money to take care of them in the event of a tragic accident.
An additional use case that single people should consider is if you have cosigned debt, like student loans. Around one in five Americans have student loan debt, and if a parent cosigned your loans they will likely be on the hook to pay them off should you perish.
To summarize, you should consider life insurance if:
- You have kids
- You are married
- You take care of someone else who will need to be taken care of if you die
- Your parents (or someone) cosigned your student loans or other debt
I like term life insurance, since it’s the most basic, easy to understand type of life insurance. There are no strange terminal values or “investment accounts” that you build up over time. Plus they just cost a lot less than whole life. Bestow, Haven, Ladder, Fabric, and Ethos offer plain vanilla term life insurance, so let’s compare them.
Comparing Ethos, Haven, Ladder, Bestow and Fabric
What are the main differences between Ethos, Haven, Ladder, Bestow and Fabric? Each of these life insurance startups has unique takes on signing up, how you get the policy and more. We compare these new vendors on terms, high-level cost, financial strength, ease of signing up and more in the table below (further down we’ll have an entire chart dedicated to pricing at each of the providers):
Online Term Life Insurance Startups
|Coverage Options||Up to 30 Years||Up to 30 Years||Up to 30 Years||2, 10 and 20 Years||10, 15 or 20 Years|
|Ages Covered||18 – 75||18 – 64||20 – 60||21 – 54||21 – 60|
|Amount Covered Range||$25,000 to $10,000,000||$25,000 to $3,000,000||$100,000 to $8,000,000||$50,000 to $1,000,000||$100,000 to $5,000,000|
|Simple Term Insurance?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (except CA+NY, more below)|
|Typical Cost||Above Average||Above Average||Above Average||Most Competitive||Most Competitive|
|Easy to Apply||Very Easy||Very Easy||Pretty Easy||Easiest||Easy|
|Have to Talk to a Sales Person||No||No||No||No||No|
|Health Check Up Required||Usually Not||Usually Not||Often No||Never||Usually No|
|Display Price Online||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Issuer||Banner Life Insurance Company||MassMutual||Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company||North American Company for Life and Health Insurance||Vantis Life|
|Underwriter A.M. Best Financial Strength||A+||A++||A||A+||A+|
|Policy Riders||Critical Illness, Child Term, Premium Waivers, Endowment Benefit Rider|
|Convert to Whole Life Option||Available||No||No||No||Yes|
Since nothing about insurance is simple, let’s talk a bit about the different features offered by Bestow, Ethos, Haven, Ladder and Fabric so you can understand what might make a difference to you.
Coverage options – length of coverage
Ethos, Bestow, Haven, Ladder and Fabric all offer more than one policy term length, meaning you have choices as to how long you want your policy to last. Some, like Bestow, offer terms as short as 2 years. Ethos, Haven and Ladder have policies that last as long as 30 years, while Bestow and Fabric top out at 20 years. In general, as long ask you keep making the payments you keep your coverage for the length of the contract.
If you are looking for super-short term coverage, Bestow has 2 year policies. If you need, or would prefer to get protection for 30 years, concentrate on Ethos Life, Haven Life, or Ladder Life.
Ages for which coverage is offered
Like it or not, the older you get the higher the probability that you pass away. So these insurance companies do not offer policies to folks with a lot of grey hair. Most stop selling new policies to people over the age of 60, although Ethos will sell a new policy to someone as old as 75. If you are over 60, your choices are limited to Ethos and Haven, so you might want to go through a traditional broker. And on the younger end, Fabric won’t insure anyone below the age of 21 in most states (25 in California and New York), while Bestow’s lower limit is 21 everywhere, Ladder is 20 and Ethos and Haven go as young as 18. You should note that if you buy a 20 year policy at the age of 50, your policy will last until you are 70 (assuming you keep paying, of course).
The variety here is pretty amazing. Some of the providers will offer policies as small as $25,000, others only offer ones that are a minimum of $100,000. At the high end the variance is even bigger, with Ethos offering plans as large as ten million dollars, and others like Bestow offering plans up to one million dollars. You’ll need to think about how much protection you want to offer your beneficiary; for most people, all of these companies offer a good range of coverage.
The cost of each provider deserves its own section, which we have below. Click here to jump to the pricing tables. We’ve rated each vendor based on us filling out their forms and seeing what they offer based on a variety of ages and coverage amounts. You’ve got to applaud these companies for putting their prices right on their website – this is amazing, and a huge step forward in the industry’s transparency.
Since the cost varies by your coverage needs, health, age, location and more it’s hard to generalize about which provider is the lowest cost. However, we roughly rank them as follows, based on the pricing tables we have below:
- Best Pricing: Bestow, Fabric, or Ladder
- Next Best Pricing: Haven Life
- Next Next Best Pricing: Ladder
- Highest Pricing: Ethos
- Even Higher: Traditional life insurance companies
For the ranking above, we just averaged the cost for each company for all the price points available in our pricing table below. It’s not really a great way to compare the cost of term life insurance – we suggest you read our “how to compare online insurance pricing” section below and price out a few plans yourself. It’s easy to do on these company’s websites.
How easy is it to apply, and do you need a health checkup?
Purchasing life insurance has never been an easy process — until these companies came along. Now, with startups like Bestow, you can fill out a few forms and get a policy in a matter of minutes. With a traditional life insurance company, you typically need to talk to a sales person, fill out forms and — if you are asking for enough coverage — have a visit with a nurse or medical professional for a health checkup. This health checkup may even include getting blood drawn and tested.
If you want to avoid this, the best bet is Bestow, which promises to never have a health check up. The others, like Haven and Ethos, may require a checkup if the information you provide in your sign up suggest that you “need” one for their underwriting. They say they generally won’t for otherwise healthy people, but it potentially adds an additional step. One of the main reasons you’d go with one of these newer online vendors is to skip the sales call, tedious paperwork and health checkup — all major reasons why these startups are compelling. Fabric tries hard to make it so that you don’t have to do a health checkup, so they score highly on this measure.
Buying life insurance from a traditional vendor is more complicated than you would expect. First of all, you typically have to talk to an agent, who has to do some sort of a dance and come up with some options for you. Since the agents are typically paid a commission, I’ve found that a lot of times they are incentivized to push more expensive stuff – things like whole insurance that have strange, expensive “savings accounts” or other policy riders. While it’s not always the case, it can sometimes feel like you are dealing with a used car salesman.
Thankfully, these new life insurance agencies are trying to make it super fast and easy for you to see your pricing and get a quote – without having to talk to any sales person (actually, without having to talk to anyone most of the time!)
That being said, if you are just shopping around, you don’t want to have to do a 20 minute health quiz to get a quick price quote, so some of these players are easier than others.
Bestow’s online experience is awesome – his the get started button, do a single form, see a price. All they ask for is gender, birthdate, height, weight, your home state and if you smoke. No contact info or health quiz. Pretty amazing. It’s a great place to start.
Showing the price online
Price transparency is a major point in our book — the industry is really confusing, it’s hard to understand what you get for what you pay. We LOVE the fact that Haven, Bestow, Ladder, and Ethos are open enough to display the cost of their coverage as you fill out their forms.
Fabric’s pricing is also easily to find, but it’s a bit tricky if you live in NY or CA. That’s because they require that you buy accidental death insurance first, before showing you the full price of your term life insurance. In other states, you simply have to fill out a questionnaire before getting to the price. All in all, I don’t think they are trying to “hide” anything, but rather, they are just less established in CA and NY, and thus their process is just not quite as seamless as the others.
All about the Issuers
The Issuer (or provider) matters more than you might think. To give you a bit of detail, these startups don’t actually “do” the insurance (nor would you want them to). Instead, they contract with a big, old-school and financially stable life insurance company that takes on the risk and work of paying out to your beneficiaries if you die and your policy is invoked. This is good, because the companies they work with, like MassMutual, Fidelity Security Life Insurance, Vantis Life and others are strong companies that should hopefully be around for the length of your contract. These big companies are “rated” by A.M. Best on their financial stability. A++ is the best you can get, which is what Haven’s MassMutual has. Bestow’s North American Company for Life and Health Insurance has an A+, which is also very amazingly solid.
The other aspect you need to consider with the underwriter is that this is the company your loved one will have to deal with to get the money, should you die. I think we can all assume they will be pretty shaken up if you pass away, so you don’t want them dealing with a jerk provider trying to get paid the benefit.
A couple of these online players give you the option to purchase “policy riders” – basically, for an additional expense, you can customize or “soup up” your policy. Policy Riders = Additional Coverage Options, basically. Only Ethos and Haven offer policy riders, Ladder, Bestow and Fabric has not policy rider options. We’ll update this if the other players do create riders.
Now that we’ve discussed the different features of Ethos, Haven, Ladder, Bestow and Fabric, it’s time to look at how their costs compare.
Comparing the cost of Ethos, Haven, Ladder and Bestow life insurance
Ok, time to compare costs – how much does it cost to get term life insurance from Ethos Life, Ladder Life Insurance, Bestow, Haven Life and Fabric? We break it down in a few different charts below. Remember, there are a lot of different options that can influence the price – your health, your age, your gender, where you live and more. (Oh yeah, and if you are a smoker – guess what, you pay a lot less if you don’t smoke!)
For our analysis, we picked a few different life insurance plans/options and display the price below. Your actual price may vary depending on how you fill out each company’s forms and your individual circumstances, but these charts should be informative of the overall pricing based on a variety of standard factors.
Monthly Life Insurance Pricing for Men
30 year old male
|2 / $100,000||na||na||na||$7.67||na|
|10 / $100,000||$11.00||$10.15||$10.00||$9.58||$10.78|
|20 / $100,000||$12.00||$11.10||$14.00||$10.25||$11.53|
|30 / $100,000||$15.00||$14.98||$17.00||na||na|
|2 / $500,000||na||na||na||$32.92||na|
|10 / $500,000||$28.00||$18.50||$22.00||$23.33||$16.25|
|20 / $500,000||$32.00||$27.35||$27.00||$26.25||$23.56|
|30 / $500,000||$49.00||$41.92||$42.00||na||na|
|20 / $1,000,000||$59.00||$48.71||$49.00||$49.16||$39.16|
40 Year old male
|2 / $100,000||na||na||na||$8.67||na|
|10 / $100,000||$13.00||$11.72||$12.00||$11.67||$12.58|
|20 / $100,000||$18.00||$14.28||$16.00||$13.33||$16.13|
|30 / $100,000||$25.00||$22.54||$23.00||na||na|
|2 / $500,000||na||na||na||$39.17||na|
|10 / $500,000||$39.00||$24.63||$30.00||$31.25||$23.60|
|20 / $500,000||$59.00||$39.75||$38.00||$39.16||$40.05|
|30 / $500,000||$92.00||$68.56||$66.00||na||na|
|20 / $1,000,000||$112.00||$131.12||$70.00||$75.00||$71.58|
Prices lists as of 10/22/2019
Monthly Life Insurance Pricing for Women
30 Year old female
|2 / $100,000||na||na||na||$4.75||na|
|10 / $100,000||$9.00||$9.16||$10.00||$8.42||$9.78|
|20 / $100,000||$10.00||$9.78||$12.00||$8.83||$10.61|
|30 / $100,000||$15.00||$12.95||$15.00||na||na|
|2 / $500,000||na||na||na||$20.42||na|
|10 / $500,000||$17.00||$15.58||$18.00||$15.83||$15.00|
|20 / $500,000||$24.00||$22.58||$22.00||$19.58||$20.43|
|30 / $500,000||$36.00||$33.91||$33.00||na||na|
|20 / $1,000,000||$42.00||$39.17||$37.00||$35.83||$34.09|
40 Year old female
|2 / $100,000||na||na||na||$6.17||na|
|10 / $100,000||$11.00||$10.65||$11.00||$11.17||$12.58|
|20 / $100,000||$15.00||$12.24||$15.00||$12.92||$16.13|
|30 / $100,000||$20.00||$17.26||$20.00||na||na|
|2 / $500,000||na||na||na||$27.08||na|
|10 / $500,000||$32.00||$21.62||$26.00||$26.66||$21.26|
|20 / $500,000||$48.00||$32.94||$33.00||$38.33||$31.70|
|30 / $500,000||$71.00||$51.97||$53.00||na||na|
|20 / $1,000,000||$90.00||$59.87||$60.00||$73.33||$57.39|
Prices lists as of 10/22/2019; Fabric prices provided by the company
More detail on how we generated these quotes: We used the websites of Bestow, Haven, Ladder and Ethos to quickly and easily come up with the prices listed above. Obviously there are a few questions you have to answer to generate a price quote, and we attempted to use the same criteria to produce these cost charts.
In general, beyond the gender and term/coverage amount listed in the chart, we make the following assumptions: 30 or 40 year olds born on 10/01/1989 and 10/01/1979. Non-smokers. Since a lot of our site visitors are from California, we picked that as the state.
We assumed normal/average height and weights for Americans at the ages picked (source for men, women). Additionally, when asked, we gave our health as “good” or the middle tier, not amazing or bad.
Obviously you may get different life insurance quotes from Ethos, Haven, Ladder, Bestow, based on your personal information. The good news is that it’s easy to get a quote from those companies! Learn more about how to comparison shop next.
How to comparison shop for life insurance online
If you are ready to get shopping for life insurance online we’ve ranked the top three online life insurance sites by simplicity, speed and lack of a need to fill out complex, lengthy forms. These three are the best way to compare quotes without submitting your social security number and contact information — yuck! Plus you don’t have to talk to a salesperson, so we recommend you visit three companies and get a price comparison ASAP:
In our opinion, those are the top online sites. On each, you only have to click a few times to get a quote. They’ll all ask you for your age, location and a few other, basic questions before giving you a price estimate. Bestow even promises to never give you a health checkup (something that is possible, but rare with Ethos and Haven.) So go for it, click on the links above and see how much it might cost you!
How to get a Bestow Life Insurance Quote
How to get a Haven Life Insurance Quote
Ethos makes you push a few more buttons, but the basic questions are the same. Again, super simple and fast – and no contact or personal information required.
Ladder is a bit more complicated. Ladder has a longer series of online questions, nothing too complicated (questions that I’ll paraphrase into “anyone in your family died of cancer or heart disease at a young age?”).
Fabric Life Insurance Online Price Quoter – start here!!
Fabric has a great price quoter tool that you can access here. This tool is great for getting a quick price estimate – just enter your age, sex, state, if you smoke and your general health. I wish it was easier to estimate your Fabric Life Insurance price quote directly from their home page – so instead of starting there, start with the price quoter!
If you are in California or New York, Fabric wants you to start with Accidental Death and Disability insurance. This is really easy to do, but start with the price quoter to see what it might cost you first; if you go through the home page “get started” button, you have to answer a bunch of questions.
Again – to get directly to a price estimate for Fabric, which you should for sure do because the pricing is strong, click here and start with the price quoter.
Ok, now let’s get to our recommendations.
Which do we recommend, Bestow, Ethos, Ladder, Haven or Fabric life insurance?
So what’s our opinion on the right online life insurance for you? All of these companies are price competitive, with Fabric and Bestow the most price competitive for 30 year old men and women, with Haven and Ladder duking it out for 40 year old men and women looking for coverage between $100,000 to $500,000. If you need one million dollars worth of coverage, Haven generally takes the cake – although men should also shop Ladder, as some of Haven’s policies can scoot up in price depending on how old you are.
But it’s not just about price – since none of these companies actually issue the policy, you are also forming a relationship with the underwriter that they’ve chosen to work with. That provider needs to be stable, and also should be known as being fair to work with (should you pass away, you don’t want your spouse or whoever dealing with a jerk company to get their money!) Because of that, we like Bestow, Fabric and Haven best.
Finally, which is easiest to get going with? You are shopping online for a reason, right, you shouldn’t have to deal with salespeople, agents or crummy websites. And if you can avoid having to be seen by a doctor or nurse to get your health checked out, even better. For that reason, we love Bestow’s online user interface – you can get a quote in a second, and the fact that they don’t require health checkups is a huge plus. As we mentioned above, Haven and Ethos also have great online experiences, and it’s worth filling out their simple forms quickly to see the cost if you want to shop around. And you can use the Fabric price quoter to quickly see if you can get some of their great pricing.
More nerdy low cost online life insurance stuff
Want more info on the low cost online life insurance brands Bestow, Fabric, Ethos, Haven and Ladder Life? Keep reading – we’ll compare each one against the other in head to head comparisons.
Bestow vs Ethos
Which life insurance provider is better, Bestow or Ethos? As we explained above, both offer simple online forms that quickly give you a price quote. Bestow’s life insurance company is North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, and has an A+ financial strength rating from A.M. Best. Ethos works with Banner Life Insurance Company, which also has an A+ rating, and is known as a company who is easy for your beneficiaries to work with. Comparing the pricing of Bestow vs. Ethos, Bestow has slightly lower prices for men aged 30 and 40 looking for $100,000, $500,000 to $1,000,000 in coverage at a variety of terms. For example, based on the pricing in our charts above, a 20 year, $500,000 policy for a man is $26.25 with Bestow and $32 with Ethos. Unless you need policy riders, want a 30 year term, or want the option to convert your term insurance to whole life, Bestow is probably better.
Ethos vs Haven
Trying to decide between Ethos and Haven for your term life insurance? Both come with some strong positives – here are some of the differences. In general, for men Haven seems to have slightly better pricing, although we have found some exceptions depending on how much coverage and the policy length that you are shopping for. For women, Haven beat Ethos on many of the price points that we looked at – for example, for a 30 year old female looking for half a million in coverage for 20 years, Ethos was $24 per month while Haven was $22.58 per month. Our pricing chart above has more details. Both use underwriters who have great A.M. Best Financial Strength ratings, and while both had low NAIC complaint ratings (meaning the underwriters were easy to deal with if you die and your beneficiaries have to try to collect), Haven slightly beat out Ethos. Ethos does have a few more policy waivers, and you can covert to to whole life, while you can not with Haven. Given the the pricing does vary, and because it’s so easy to do, you probably want to get a quick online price quote from both Ethos and Haven.
Haven vs Bestow
Which online life insurance company do we recommend, Haven or Bestow? The good news is that Bestow’s and Haven’s pricing is pretty similar, although Bestow does seem to slightly beat Haven at a number of the permutations we list in our pricing chart above. For example, for a 30 year old female looking for a 20 year, $500,000 policy Bestow is $19.58 and Haven is $22.58. For a 30 year old man looking for the same policy, Bestow is $26.25 and Haven is $27.35. One important difference is that Bestow offers 2 to 20 year policies, while Haven offers 10 to 30 year policies. Bestow’s life insurance company is North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, while Haven works with MassMutual – both have amazing financial strength ratings (A+ and A++ respectively). Bestow has a best in class online experience, and never requires an in-person health checkup with a doctor or nurse, while Haven may occasionally require such a checkup, depending on your policy. Finally, Haven will cover from $25,000 to $3 million, while Bestow will cover between $50,000 and $1 million. It probably makes sense to quickly shop both online to get a customized price quote – it’s easy and fast with each of them.
Ladder vs Ethos
Both Ladder and Ethos offer term life insurance policies up to 30 years in length. In our opinion, Ethos has one of the simplest online pricing websites, meaning it’s fast and easy to get a price quote. Ethos offers policies to people aged 18 to 75, while Ladder is for people 20 to 60. Both offer wide ranges in policy sizes; Ethos will provide polies from $25,000 to $10,000,000 and Ladder can go from $100,000 to $8,000,000. As our pricing chart above shows, they are pretty price competitive for both men and women, although Ethos seems to be a tiny bit more expensive for the men we priced out. For women, both offered 40 year old women 10 year, $100,000 policies for $11 per month. Ladder’s million dollar policies seem to be more affordable. Both farm out their policy underwriting to a third party company, and here Ethos has an edge, as it’s underwriter, Banner Life Insurance Company, has an A+ A.M. Best financial strength rating and also has a vastly superior complaint ratio, meaning it is an easier company to deal with to get the policy paid out, should you pass away.
Comparing low cost online term life insurance Ethos, Ladder, Bestow, Haven vs. traditional insurance companies
How do the online providers compare against the traditional life insurance providers? First of all, Haven, Ethos, Ladder and Bestow don’t require you to talk to an insurance agent or commissioned sales person, AND they have great websites that can quickly estimate your price after you answer just a few questions. Plus, Ladder, Ethos, Bestow and Haven don’t typically make you do a health checkup with a doctor or nurse, which is better than many of the traditional vendors. If you are interested, here are the largest life insurance companies in the United States who you might know about:
- Northwestern Mutual
- Lincoln Financial
- New York Life
- Prudential Financial
- John Hancock
- State Farm
- Pacific Life
How does the pricing of leading online life insurance companies Ethos, Haven, Ladder and Bestow compare to the cost of insurance from a traditional vendor? Well, it’s not typically very easy to figure out what the cost of a big vendor is, because you usually have to go through a live insurance agent to get a price quote. The ability to get a price right online without talking to anyone is a key advantage of the players like Haven, Ethos, Ladder and Bestow. Below, we compare the price of a 20 year, $100,000 policy for a 30 year old male in California in good health between Bestow, Ladder, Haven, Ethos and Sagicor, a well-known, traditional life insurance provider:
You can see the pricing is much lower with the online vendors. As we mention above, the pricing for Bestow, Haven and Ethos is super easy to get online, so we recommend getting a few quotes to see what kind of coverage makes the most sense for you.