Hartford Life Insurance Company Review

2010 marks the two hundredth year that The Hartford has been offering insurance in the United States. Founded in Hartford, Ct, the original company name was Hartford Fire Insurance Company. Famous clients over the years include Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and even ‘Babe’ Ruth. The Hartford currently maintains offices and serves clients around the world.

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Financial Strength and Ratings

The Hartford Life Insurance Company has consistently received strong ratings for financial strength and their ability to pay claims. At the end of 2009 the Hartford had $307 Billion in assets. Standard and Poor's rates Hartford Life with an 'A' rating for financial strength. Moody’s gives them an ‘A3’ rating, considered to be very good when compared to other rated companies. Regarding The Hartford’s ability to pay claims, AM Best grades them with an ‘A’ or strong ranking. Fitch concurs with their evaluation, giving a rating of 'A-'.

Term Insurance Policies

The Hartford offers traditional term insurance policies which they currently call Hartford Bicentennial Term Policies. Terms are available in ten, fifteen, twenty, and thirty year level premium periods. Hartford allows any term policy to be converted to permanent insurance anytime within the first twenty years of the policy and before age seventy. Additionally, they will offer a credit of up to twelve months premium payments toward a policy converted within the first five years.

Further, The Hartford makes available two supplemental protections through the purchase of riders on certain policies. A waiver of premium rider will protect the policy owner from having to pay premiums during any period of disability. The child insurance rider provides coverage for each of the insured’s children up to age fourteen at issue. This coverage can be converted to individual policies at age twenty five. Hartford Life also offers an ‘Annual Renewable Term’ policy, which may be more affordable coverage for younger families. Premiums are typically lower during an insured’s younger years and rise later. Otherwise, a level premium is set and the coverage decreases over time.

Hartford Extraordinary Whole Life

Hartford suggests this traditional permanent insurance for individuals as protection for income replacement, estate planning, and charitable contributions. They provide some flexibility with premium schedules as well as the option to make additional premium payments to boost the cash value. Access to the policy cash value is available through loans. Funds can be used to pay for college, buy a home, or even supplement retirement income. Hartford also recommends that this whole life policy be used in business situations. For example, this policy may work well as part of a buy/sell agreement, defined benefit plan, or an executive bonus vehicle.

Bicentennial Universal Life Options

The Hartford has three distinct universal life policies, all answering the specific needs of different market segments. All three fall into a low risk, permanent policy with a guaranteed minimum rate of interest on the policy cash value. The 'Freedom' policy is the most conventional of the three. Pitted as a 'cost effective, single life insurance policy', this insurance vehicle is focused on protection. This policy lacks bells and whistles, though a full array of riders is available to customize the policy. One noteworthy and unique rider is the ‘owner designated settlement option' which allows the owner to dictate how proceeds will be paid to beneficiaries.

The second such policy is the 'Joint Freedom II' which is very similar to the ‘Freedom’ version. The primary difference is that the Joint Freedom II insures two people and pays the death benefit upon the second death. Automatically included is the policy protection rider, which won’t allow the policy to lapse as long as premium requirements are met, regardless of the cash value account performance. Fewer riders are available for this type of policy. The notable owner designated settlement option is available, as well as an estate protection rider and a last survivor exchange option.

Hartford also offers the 'Founders II' universal life policy, which is more focused on providing versatility for the policy owner and living needs. Those intending to supplement retirement income or protect a small business will find this policy well suited. Additionally, this policy is also an excellent option for providing resources to a loved one with special needs. Founders II has a full array of riders the owner can purchase to customize the policy to specific needs. Another notable rider for this policy is the extended value option, which offers lower premiums in exchange for lower values and less liquidity in the early years of the policy.

Variable Universal Life Policies

Hartford also offers three variable universal life choices, all of which mirror the UL’s other than the fact that they offer variable investments within the policy. Variable insurance policies are offered through Hartford Leaders. The policy names are VUL Liberty, VUL Legacy, and VUL Joint Legacy II. Families with less aversion to risk that desire the flexibility and protection of universal life insurance will find the policies very solid. The investment choices within the policies are among the vastest collections of funds and leading companies in the industry. Ten premier fund families are included among the investment choices within Hartford Leaders Policies are as follows: Alliance Bernstein, American Funds, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, Hartford, Invesco, Lord Abbett, MFS funds, Putnam, as well as Wellington Management. Choose a self directed approach or professionally allocated options offered at no additional charge.

Overview and Summary

Hartford Life Insurance Company is a sound choice for insurance policy needs, particularly the VUL policies offered through Hartford Leaders. The premier fund selection is among the best in the business, and the policies are fully customizable. Term options and whole life options are good, though Hartford is slightly behind a few other companies with regard to independent financial ratings. The wide selection of riders available can enhance the policies, with a few unique riders definitely worth consideration.

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