Ameritas Life Insurance Company Review

Ameritas Life Insurance is one of several life insurance companies operated by the Nebraska-based UNIFI Mutual Holding Company. Although the company is nearly 125 years old, it has undergone a significant corporate expansion and makeover in the last decade.

UNIFI Mutual Holding Company currently holds an A (excellent) rating from A. M. Best for financial strength. In addition the company has recently earned an A+ (strong) rating from Standard and Poor’s.

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History and Structure

Founded in 1887 in Lincoln, Nebraska, as the Old Line Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska, Ameritas Life Insurance is the one of oldest life insurance companies in a state that has since become virtually synonymous with the industry. Although it began modestly, by 1950 Bankers Life had grown to become one of the country’s top 100 insurance companies. Ameritas Life Insurance assumed its current name in 1988.

In 1998, Ameritas Life Insurance was reorganized as the Ameritas Mutual Insurance Holding Company. The following year it merged with another mutual holding company, the Washington, D.C.-based Acacia Mutual Holding Corporation, the first-ever merger of mutual holding companies. The resulting Ameritas Acacia Companies merged with the Ohio-based Union Central Mutual Holding Company seven years later to form UNIFI Mutual Holding Company. In 2009, both Acacia Life Insurance and Union Central Life became full subsidiaries of Ameritas Life Insurance within UNIFI.

Still headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, today the company operates as Ameritas Life Insurance Corporation, Acacia Life Insurance Company and Union Central Life Insurance Company. First Ameritas Life Insurance Corporation of New York operates in New York state only. The companies employ an independent agency force. Variable products are underwritten by Ameritas Investment Corporation.

Term Life

The following product discussions are intended to be a generic representation of the policies Ameritas Life Insurance offers. Not all products may be available in every state as described. In addition policy features and underwriting requirements may change without notice. Consult with a Ameritas Life Insurance agent for the most up-to-date information.

At present only the Union Central Life Insurance Company actively sells term and whole life products within the UNIFI parent company. Ameritas Life Insurance markets universal life plans only. Accordingly discussions of term and whole life insurance products available pertain to Union Central.

The term life product offered by Ameritas Life Insurance through their Union Central subsidiary is the Keystone Term policy. This term product is available for one, 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. If necessary the policies can be renewed each year past the policy term up to age 100 based on premiums appropriate for the age of the insured at the time.

The Keystone Term can also be converted to a permanent policy issued by any of the UNIFI companies. Available riders include waiver of premium, children’s term, accidental death and accelerated benefit.

Whole Life

Also issued by the Ameritas Life Insurance subsidiary Union Central, the Keystone Whole Life is a fixed rate whole life product with a guaranteed minimum interest rate built into its cash value mechanism. The product can also pay nonguaranteed dividends based on company performance in the form of cash, increased cash value, increased coverage or reduced premiums.

The Keystone Whole Life offers a wide-ranging choice of riders. In addition to the waiver of premium, children’s term, accidental death and accelerated benefit riders, the Keystone Whole Life also offers an estate protection rider to cover estate taxes, an insurance exchange rider, which allows the policy to be effectively transferred to another person pending underwriting, and a paid up additions rider which automatically purchases additional paid-up whole life insurance incrementally in addition to the original base policy.

Universal Life

In contrast to its rather sparse choice of term and whole products, universal life and variable universal life insurance options offered by Ameritas Life Insurance and its subsidiaries are truly wide ranging. Ameritas offers a UL product under its own brand, while Union Central offers three more UL products. Both companies also feature VUL products.

Ameritas’ Excel Essential UL is a fairly typical universal life product which offers permanent protection and flexible payments using a fixed cash value mechanism. The product also features accidental death, accelerated benefit and total disability benefit riders. Union Central’s Excel LifeValue UL is a similar product. The Union Central Excel LifeValue Survivor UL is a two-party survivorship policy.

The Union Central Excel Index UL is an indexed universal life insurance policy, or IUL. The cash value on an IUL is tied to the performance of a stock index rather than a fixed account or separate accounts. Specifically the Excel Index is tied to the Standard and Poor’s 500, which is a common stock indexed used in indexed insurance products. If the index underperforms, a guaranteed interest rate kicks in allowing cash value to grow in the policy even during bad market years. Rider options are similar to those offered on Union Central’s whole life products.

The policy is available in either a capped format, in which the cash value cannot go past a certain percentage even in good market years, or an uncapped format. The advantage to the capped format is that it offers a better participation rate, which is a percentage multiplier which can reduce the actual rate of return. For example, if the Standard and Poor’s 500 increases 10 percent during a given period and the policy has a 60 percent participation rate, the rate of return on the policy for that period will be six percent (10 x 0.6 = 6).

Ameritas’ and Union Central’s variable life insurance policies offer separate accounts managed by third party asset management firms as well as separate accounts managed by the UNIFI-owned Calvert Investments.

Annuities and Other Products

Ameritas Life Insurance and its subsidiaries offer fixed, indexed and variable annuities in both single-premium and traditional formats. As with the VUL products, variable annuity separate accounts are managed by the UNIFI’s Calvert Investments company as well as by third party asset managers.

A unique life insurance product offered by Union Central is the Focus 10, which provides simultaneous term life insurance coverage on no less than 20 people. It is marketed to employers as a key person policy for multiple employees.

Ameritas Life Insurance’s Acacia subsidiary is an early entrant in the retail banking industry, founding Acacia Federal Savings Bank in 1985 with Congressional approval. Today Acacia Federal Savings Bank operates as an online bank offering savings and checking accounts as well as certificates of deposit.

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