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Zander Insurance Review

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zander life insurance review

Zander Insurance represents many of the best life insurance companies in the U.S. Similarly, so do we at I&E.

What differentiates us from them, is that we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to life insurance. That is why, unlike Zander Insurance, we do not always advocate that you buy term and invest the difference.

Table of Contents:

What is Zander Insurance?

Nashville-based Zander Insurance Group is one of the nation’s largest and oldest independent insurance agencies, with roots going all the way back to 1925.  Throughout its history, the agency’s management has stayed within the Zander family.  Current CEO Jeffrey Zander is the great-grandson of the agency’s founder.

Along with the deep roots and family ownership, Zander Insurance has a couple other traits that make it a fairly likeable company.  As reported on Zander’s website, the agency is 49% employee-owned—a number presumably calculated to allow employees a meaningful stake in the agency’s profitability while keeping managerial control within the family.

And the Zander Group also sponsors a scholarship for students in financial need due to the loss of a parent.  That seems like a pretty clever way for a life insurance broker to simultaneously market its services and do a good deed.

Dave Ramsey

And then there’s Dave Ramsey, the well-known consumer-finance pundit and radio personality.  Zander pays for advertising on Dave Ramsey’s programs, and Mr. Ramsey “endorses” Zander Insurance.

In fact, Dave Ramsey’s smiling face is all over Zander’s website.  Zander doesn’t just enjoy Dave Ramsey’s seal of approval—it is the exclusive broker he endorses for life insurance.

Now, there’s obviously money changing hands here, but that doesn’t mean Dave Ramsey doesn’t actually believe Zander is a genuinely good company.  Michael Phelps probably really does love those foot-long subs.

What Services does Zander Insurance Provide?

Zander Insurance Group is an independent insurance agency.  That means Zander markets and sells insurance products to the general public on behalf of multiple insurance companies with whom the agency partners.

Basically, prospective insurance purchasers contact Zander, and Zander helps find appropriate coverage through one of the carriers in its network.

You don’t purchase an insurance policy from Zander.  You buy it from an insurance company Zander works with, and Zander facilitates the transaction.

How Does Zander Insurance Make Money?

If a client ends up purchasing a policy, Zander’s fee comes in the form of an agent commission built into the cost of the policy.  The money is ultimately derived from premiums, but Zander gets paid by the insurance company—not the consumer.

By comparison, captive agents work with only one carrier and can only help consumers find coverage through that specific company.  Captive agents are usually paid on commission, too, though sometimes supplemented with a salary.

More importantly, though, a captive agent can only provide quotes from a single company.  So, there’s no opportunity to compare rates when you work with a captive agent.

Of course, “independent agent” is still a broad category that can include anyone from the fella’ with the little office beside the hardware store to a colossal, private-equity-backed online broker that generates absurd levels of web traffic.

While Zander Insurance does have an online presence (who doesn’t these days? Even the guy next to the hardware store has a Facebook page), the company functions more like a traditional independent agency than most of the big online brokers.

Most customer interactions with Zander occur over the phone (rather than exclusively online), and Zander stays more involved with purchasers after a policy is issued.

Where virtual brokers tend to be out of the picture once a sale is completed, a classic independent agent is more likely to assist with policy questions, claims, and general interactions with the insurance carrier.

In its marketing, Zander Insurance places a big emphasis on customer service, and online reviews of the company are mostly positive, though not spectacular.

The agency has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2004 and currently holds an A+ rating.

And, as Zander is not shy about telling you, it boasts the endorsement of one David Lawrence Ramsey, III.

What Types of Insurance Does Zander Insurance Sell?

Zander Insurance Group is sort of a Jack-of-all-trades independent agency—at least compared to the online brokers specializing in life insurance.

Term life seems to be their headliner, but the company also markets home and auto coverage, disability and long-term care insurance, identity-theft insurance, and health insurance.

For businesses, Zander brokers property insurance and also offers assistance with employee-benefit administration and bonding.

Term Only

Regarding life insurance specifically, Zander emphatically limits itself to only term life insurance coverage—and only term policies from carriers with an A.M. Best rating of “A” or better.

The specific term policy options available through Zander vary among the companies in the agency’s network, though they specifically mention 10, 15, 20, and 30-year level-term coverage—pretty standard fare.

Zander’s term life insurance carrier network includes Banner, Midland, Protective, Prudential, and SBLI, along with several others.

How Does Zander Insurance’s Life Insurance Application Process Work?

The application process with Zander Insurance is more similar to working with a traditional independent agency than the big internet-oriented brokers that do everything online.

In general, you start by clicking the “Get an Instant Quote” button on the website.  The site asks for the term length and coverage amount you have in mind.

Then, you enter your estimated health-rating category and tobacco use status.

Next, you’ll need to provide your “Personal Information:” name, email, phone number, and ZIP code.

From that point forward, you’re chiefly working with a Zander representative over the phone. Or, you can skip the online part altogether and just call the agency from the start.

Either way, you’ll need to submit more underwriting info, and the agent will provide one or more initial rate quotes based on that information.

If you decide to formally apply for coverage, the agent assists you in completing the chosen carrier’s application, and, in many cases, you need to undergo a medical exam before a policy can be issued.

Once the underwriting requirements are complete, the insurance company provides an offer of insurance with the official premium rates.  If you accept and start paying the premiums, you have life insurance, and Zander earns its bread.

What are Zander Insurance’s Strengths?

More Personal Touch than Most Online Brokers:

Zander’s customers work with an actual human being instead of an algorithm.  Granted, there are some folks who prefer to do everything online, but, when you’re making an important financial decision like purchasing life insurance, it’s nice to be able to ask questions and bring up any relevant details not addressed on the web form.

Zander also continues the business relationship after a policy is issued. Most of the big online brokers are more or less out of the picture once a sale is completed.

If you have future questions about your life insurance policy or need help communicating with the insurer or filing a claim, Zander’s agents can provide assistance.  Or, if you need another type of coverage, Zander may be able to help with that, too.

Independent Agency:

As an independent broker, Zander can help you compare policies and rates offered by the different carriers in its network.  Hopefully, that’ll mean you identify the company with the best deal for someone in your situation.  Captive agents can’t do that.

In general, the more companies there are in an agency’s network, the better the chance of finding the optimal policy.

This is particularly true if your health status could result in higher premiums. 

Insurance companies view medical conditions and other underwriting criteria differently, so an individual might qualify for “standard rates” with one company and “preferred” with another.  A bigger carrier network increases the odds of finding the insurer that views you as the lowest risk.

Zander has a decent-sized network—larger than many big online brokers.  But there are independent brokers out there who work with more insurance companies.  Part of that is because Zander only works with A rated carriers.

That’s generally a good thing unless there’s an A- company offering better rates, and you’re comfortable with A-.

Other reviewers have also noted that there are a few high-rated insurers—such as John Hancock, Fidelity Life, Pacific Life, and Minnesota Life—absent from Zander’s network.

What are Zander Insurance’s Weaknesses?

No Rate Shopping Without Personal Information:

One of the advantages of online brokers is that most of them make it relatively easy to get a general idea of what kind of rates are available.

You can’t get a precise figure without providing personal information and going through underwriting.  But you can at least get a ballpark estimate of what the rates will look from different insurers.

You can’t do that on Zander Insurance’s website.

You can submit some information through the website to speed along the process, but, in the end, you’re relying on the agent to shop between the carriers and find the best deal.

Ideally, that’s what will occur, and the rate you’re quoted will be the best rate on offer from among the insurance companies in Zander’s network.

But it’s nice to be able to see for yourself the carriers and rates that are available—even if you’re just seeing non-binding, preliminary quotes.

A couple of the negative assessments online for Zander Insurance were from customers who said that the rates ultimately offered were higher than the initial quotes.  This may have resulted from individuals not qualifying for as high of a health category as anticipated.

In that scenario, you’d want to know what other carriers were charging and how you fit within their underwriting standards so you don’t end up paying more than you have to.

And this is why going with an agency (like I&E) that can shop your health rating with other carriers is a plus.

No Permanent Policies:

When it comes to life insurance, Zander Insurance Group sells term policies.  And that’s it.

For many (maybe even most) people, term life is the best fit because it allows for greater coverage levels with lower premiums.

Most term policies never result in a payout, so the insurance company can charge less.

If you need life insurance for a definite period solely as a means of income replacement, term life will likely do the trick.

However, the term-life-absolutist philosophy assumes that everyone eventually reaches a point where they no longer need life insurance.

But that’s not necessarily a safe assumption, and it overlooks the fact that certain whole life insurance policies have increasing death benefits that grow as you age.

Dave Ramsey notwithstanding, there are some people who can better accomplish their life-insurance objectives through a permanent policy.

If you need to know with absolute certainty that a death benefit will be available for your loved ones regardless of how long you live, you need whole life or another type of permanent life insurance.

Whole life proceeds can be a smart way to fund a special needs trust for a loved one who has a disability, pay for final expenses or pay off estate debts, provide liquidity for a buy/sell agreement for your business, or a bunch of other, narrower estate-planning objectives.

And there are situations in which a fixed indexed universal life policy—with tax-deferred growth, equity index-linked returns, and no risk of lost principal—is a legitimately good tool for estate and retirement planning.  Not for everyone, but for some people.

BTID

Zander comes down firmly in favor of the “buy term and invest the difference” approach.

Converts to that philosophy are often quite zealous, viewing whole life policies as life insurance heresy.

They will literally[1] deny you communion if you recommend a universal life policy to someone.

But it shouldn’t be heresy to suggest that certain people might be better off with whole life or universal life.

Huh?

On the agency’s website, Zander asserts that cash value life insurance is the “primary reason” that 50 million American families are uninsured or underinsured.  This is, of course, a non sequitur.

The mere existence of life insurance policies that accrue cash value cannot possibly cause millions of people to not buy life insurance.  It’s like concluding that the reason so many people don’t have reliable transportation is that Cadillacs are too pricey.

Ultimately, if you’re sure you want term coverage, Zander should be able to help you.  But if you want permanent coverage—or if you just want some impartial information on cash-value policies in general—Zander isn’t the place to go.

The Dave Ramsey Thing is Over-the-Top:

There’s nothing wrong with Dave Ramsey and his financial advice.  He has plenty of useful tips, and we’re sure he’s helped bunches of people.  But Dave Ramsey’s picture and name appear on nearly every page of the Zander Insurance Group’s website.

Zander’s blog recurrently appeals to Dave Ramsey’s authority, referencing his “Baby Steps” system as if it were divinely inspired.  And the site gratuitously offers Dave’s recommendation for just about everything.

We get that Zander Insurance wants to play up its association with Dave Ramsey.  After all, Dave Ramsey is famous for talking about consumer finance, and he passionately recommends Zander Insurance with his every breath.

But the folks responsible for Zander Insurance’s online marketing significantly overestimate both the credence carried by Dave Ramsey’s opinions and the amount of in-your-face Dave Ramsey worship it takes to make the average Joe not want to see or hear the name ‘Dave Ramsey’ again for at least the guaranteed 15 or 20-year term Dave recommends.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for plain vanilla term life, with no bells or whistles, and you don’t want to speak to someone that might be able to direct you to a better term policy, or perhaps a superior permanent policy, then Zander Insurance is probably the right choice for you.

In contrast, if you want to talk to someone who is passionate about blending life insurance into a comprehensive holistic life plan, focused on helping you escape the rat race, and take back control of your finances, then maybe the right choice would be to give us here, at I&E, a call.

Thanks for reading!

[1] Not literally.

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