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Colonial Life Summary
Colonial Life was founded in 1937 as a Mutual Accident Company in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1939, the company made the name change to Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. In 1955, Colonial Life introduced the option to have voluntary benefit premiums deducted through payroll systems.
Colonial Life was purchased by a major disability insurance company, Unum, in 1993 and became a wholly owned subsidiary. The company’s headquarters remains in Columbia.
Today, Colonial offers a variety of life insurance products as well as accident, disability, cancer care, hospital confinement, and even dental coverage products. These are sold to employees through a network of independent agents as optional coverage. Employees can then elect to have their premiums deducted pre-tax through payroll.
Colonial Life provides little in the way of details about their individual products on their website. Since the majority of their business goes through companies offering voluntary benefits to their employees, plan details are worked out with each individual company to suit the coverage needs of that business.
Colonial Life’s products include:
- Life Insurance – which can be purchased as main coverage or as supplemental coverage for a personal insurance policy or employer-provided policy.
- Accident Insurance – which provides added coverage for costs associated with an accident that aren’t covered by health insurance, such as ambulance fees.
- Cancer Care – a policy designed to help with the costs that are incurred during the treatment of cancer. This includes things like lost wages, childcare costs, transportation and lodging, and even health insurance co-pays.
- Critical Illness – which provides a lump sum payment when the policyholder is diagnosed with a critical illness (such as heart attacks, renal failure, or stroke) and can be used to pay for any associated costs.
- Disability Insurance – which helps to cover lost wages as well as multiple other related costs when the policyholder is unable to work due to a disability.
- Hospital Confinement – a policy that covers excess costs associated with a hospital stay that aren’t covered by health insurance. This includes co-pays, tests, and doctor visits.
- Dental Insurance – to cover routine care as well as unexpected dental care needs.
Many of Colonial Life’s products are designed to provide supplemental coverage, paying for the costs that are often not covered by standard health insurance. Some products also include wellness benefits that pay for preventative care.
Colonial also writes group benefit plans for companies ranging from small to mid-sized.
Colonial Life does not offer online quoting, and products are tailored to each business and its particular needs. As a result, we are unable to offer a comparison between Colonial Life and other companies offering similar products.
One of the money-saving benefits of Colonial Life is that they can, in many cases, deduct premiums directly from payroll, pre-tax.
Colonial Life provides both online claims filing and access to downloadable claims forms. Printed claims forms can be filled out and returned either by mail or by fax. There is also a toll-free policyholder customer service line for claims assistance, 800 325 4368, Spanish speaking agents are also available during business hours.
The Colonial Life website offers a customer portal where policyholders can log in to manage accounts, as well as follow up on the progress of a claim.
The website also offers a series of tips on how to file a claim, with specifics for each type of insurance product.
Since the type of policy sold by Colonial Life can differ, processing times can vary. In addition, the requirements for filing may also differ depending on the product and the type of claim.
Colonial Life & Accident Company is not BBB accredited, and does not have its own rating anymore due to the BBB’s new aggregate system. This system lumps Colonial Life in with its parent company, Unum, making it very difficult to determine which complaints pertain directly to Colonial.
Unum does have an A- rating with the BBB, with 79 complaints in the past three years, 34 of which were closed in the last 12 months. Again, it’s difficult to say how much of that rating is related to Colonial and how much to other Unum companies.
ConsumerAffairs.com has a total of 74 reviews, 73 of which left ratings. Of those, 62 were negative, one-star reviews. Only 6 were five-stars. These reviews contain repeated complaints of slow benefits payouts, slow claims response and processing overall, and of claims being denied for reasons with which the policyholder disagreed.
Similar complaints exist on various other review sites across the internet, covering the same issues.
The volume of complaints, along with the repeated comments outlining similar problems in which Colonial appears to find loopholes to get out of paying out on policies, are both red flags.
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Colonial Life has been in business for a long time and is a subsidiarity of a Fortune 500 company, however this doesn’t make for guarantees of good service or easy claims handling, as the company’s reviews would imply.
Since Colonial is generally offered through employers as payroll-deducted voluntary benefits, employees may feel they do not have other options for this sort of coverage, but it’s a good idea to take the time to shop around for individual coverage, even if it’s not payroll deducted, before purchasing employer-offered benefits. It’s likely that most people will be able to find similar, affordable coverage elsewhere by comparison shopping. While payroll-deducted benefits are convenient, it’s more important to be confident in the company offering the coverage, particularly with this type of policy.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.