Vantis Life boosted its single-premium whole life product’s death benefit by several thousand dollars and added a charitable giving rider.
The new features have also meant going upscale in the branding, from EstateWise to EstateWise Platinum. The product is sold mainly through banks.
EstateWise Platinum replaces EstateWise, launched in 2004.
Under the platinum version “The payout at death is now superior,” said Craig Simms, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Vantis Life in Windsor, Conn.
A beneficiary who received $101,000 or $102,000 upon the death of the policyholder with the original product will receive about $108,000 under the platinum version, he said.
Industrywide, average deposits for single-premium whole life range from about $50,000 to $80,000, and average age of purchase is about 69 years old. That means payouts typically range from $100,000 to $120,000 at death, Simms said.
Single-premium whole life competes for retail deposits against bank CDs, which aren’t that attractive now because interest rates are still so low and because CDs don’t receive the same tax benefits upon inheritance.
“This product is driven by the death benefit – it’s money you don't need and has been rolling over into CDs year over year,” Simms explained. “Some companies focus on cash value but that's not going to be our niche.”
A Charitable Giving Rider
A charitable giving rider, a feature said to be unique to EstateWise Platinum, provides an additional death benefit of 1 percent of the policy face amount to policyholder’s designated charity, Simms said.
The beneficiary receiving $108,000 could designate $1080 to charity thanks to the charitable giving rider, but wouldn’t pay anything extra.
Simplified underwriting is available with EstateWise Platinum, as it was with the previous version of the product.
Unlike the older version, the newer product comes with a return of premium, the company said.
It also comes with a guarantee that the policy’s cash surrender value will never be less than the premium payment, and comes with accelerated illness benefit riders, Vantis said.
The maximum premium deposit under simplified issue is $175,000, and larger premiums are subject to full medical underwriting.
The Competitive Landscape
EstateWise Platinum competes in the bank channel with single-premium whole life products from Liberty Mutual and Western & Southern.
In December 2016, Penn Mutual bought Vantis Life to expand its reach through bank and direct-to-consumer channels.
Whole life single-premium products generate about $1.2 billion in new premium every year in the bank channel.
“We want to capture 20 percent of the market and I think we have a product that can do that,” Simms said.
Third-quarter 2017 sales of whole life policies dropped 4 percent compared to the year-ago period, industry data show.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected]
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