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ING (Voya Financial) Review & Complaints | Life Insurance

VOYA Financial
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Financial Strength

Once a part of multinational financial services giant ING Group, VOYA Financial made the transition to a standalone company just a few years ago after a rebranding from ING US. Still partially owned by ING, the company is expected to be entirely independent by the end of 2016.

VOYA offers life insurance and retirement savings products along with other investments, much like they did under the powerful ING name. Like many companies after undergoing a rebranding, VOYA still needs to develop name and brand recognition outside of its existing customer base. Fortunately for the company, that customer base is fairly large, and in 2015 Voya made it’s first appearance on the Fortune 500 list, coming in at number 268.

Under ING, VOYA goes back to the 1970s in America, although companies acquired by ING go back quite a bit further. That’s still relatively young for an insurance company and certainly young for a company in the U.S., but the recently minted company isn’t starting from the ground up. With over $500 billion in assets managed, there’s no question of their financial standing, so it will be the reputation VOYA’s going to have to work on to keep the leg-up that ING gave them.

VOYA Overview

VOYA traces its roots in Europe back to 1845 with the establishment of the Fire Insurance Company of the Netherlands, which would become the Nationale-Nederlanden in 1963. A merger in 1991 formed ING Group, which would go on to become an international financial giant, acquiring banks and financial companies across the globe.

The company’s first foray into the U.S was in 1977 with the acquisition of the Security Life of Denver Insurance Company, which had been in business since 1928. Further acquisitions in the following decades expanded the company’s influence in America, including acquiring Aetna Financial Services in 2000 and CitiStreet in 2008.

In 2013, ING spun their U.S. operations off into a new company with a new name: VOYA Financial. The rebranding and changes also marked the beginning of trading as a new company on the New York Stock Exchange, although the name change wasn’t completed until September of 2014.

The changes don’t seem to have hurt performance, and we’ll take a look a little further on in this review at how they may have impacted customer service.

VOYA offers a range of life insurance options as well as financial products for general investments and retirement planning. Quotes are offered through the company’s website, over the phone, and through VOYA’s financial advisors. However, products can only be purchased through an agent. They also offer a strong employee benefits package, and continue to be active in that area, just as they were under the ING name.

VOYA’s headquarters are located in New York City, although there are branch offices in other locations across the country. The final stages of separation from ING are expected to be completed by 2016, but VOYA is already operating as an independent company.

Products

Voya has a full range of life insurance products as well as a variety of financial products aimed at retirement planning and investing. They do offer some health products, although these are currently only available as group products.

Life Insurance

VOYA offers all of the basic life insurance choices, with several options under each heading. Both term and permanent insurance options are available to meet varied financial needs.

Life insurance policies are underwritten by VOYA subsidiary ReliaStar, a company that was owned under the ING name and is now part of the VOYA family of companies.

Term Life

There are two term life products available from VOYA.

The VOYA TermSmart is the basic term life policy that is the simplest and most affordable choice available from the company. The policy offers death benefits starting at $100,000 and ranging up to several million. Term options are 10, 15, or 20 years.

  • The TermSmart policy is a convertible term policy, so it can be converted into a permanent life insurance option if the policyholder wants to continue the coverage. The premiums will remain level throughout the term but will change if conversion is selected.
  • TermSmart issuing age is from 18-80 and offers tobacco use rates, although as with most insurance companies the best rates are offered to non-smokers in excellent health.
  • For New York residents, there is a specific TermSmart NY plan that is offered through a New York insurer to meet the particular laws of that state.

The ROP Endowment Term Life policy is a more unusual term life policy. It includes a cash accumulation account, much like a permanent life insurance policy, and the plan guarantees that all premiums paid will be returned if the insured outlives the policy term.

  • Term lengths are longer for this policy type, with 20, 25, and 30 years as options. Like the TermSmart, this policy can also be converted to a permanent life insurance product to continue the coverage if desired, with no health check required.
  • Again, there is an ROP Endowment policy that is specific to New York.

Universal Life

VOYA offers three types of Universal life insurance products. Each offers the same basic benefits that come with Universal life: level premiums, guaranteed death benefits, and a cash accumulation account. They each have slightly different options that can change the way the cash accumulation account grows as well as how it is invested.

The VOYA Universal Life CV is a basic universal life policy that offers a tax-free death benefit with level premiums. It offers a fixed interest rate of no less than 3% to guarantee the growth of the cash accumulation account. Policyholders can borrow against the cash accumulation account and use it for a variety of needs.

  • Like the other VOYA life insurance products, the CV policy is offered with a New York specific policy.
  • Indexed Universal Life policies offer a cash accumulation account that is tied to an Index account for the growth of the invested funds. This provides more growth potential than a standard universal policy.

Variable Universal Life from VOYA offers a selection of more that 55 investment choices. There are two options, the Variable CV, which is similar to a usual universal life insurance policy but with more focus on long-term growth potential, and the Variable DB, which focuses more on the death benefit.

There is also a Corporate Variable Universal Life policy that is designed to protect the lives of important executives, offering specific executive benefits.

Finally, VOYA offers two types of Survivorship Universal Life, both designed to protect two people under one policy. These are the Strategic Accumulator policy, designed to build cash value on a faster scale, and the Variable CV Survivorship Policy, which offers the same features as the individual Variable CV.

Annuities

VOYA offers several annuity options designed to provide retirement income, which can address both immediate and future financial needs.

Fixed Annuities are available with a guaranteed interest rate, tax-deferred benefits, and no contributions limits. These annuities can create income payments for retirement. VOYA has several fixed annuity choices:

  • Guarantee Choice Annuity
  • Select Rate Annuity
  • Lifetime Income Annuity

Fixed Index Annuities offer tax-deferred investment with growth linked in part to an index account. The VOYA index annuity usually includes a guarantee of interest. There are a several Index Annuities available:

  • Secure Index Five
  • Secure Index Seven
  • Secure Index Opportunities Plus
  • Wealth Builder Six
  • Wealth Builder Eight

Variable Annuities offer more growth potential, with a selection of investment options and tax-deferred growth. VOYA offers one choice in this area, the Preferred Advantage Variable Annuity.

Income Annuities offer guaranteed income either immediately or for the future. VOYA offers a Single Premium Income Annuity that offers guaranteed income from a single lump sum payment. They also offer a Lifetime Income Annuity that uses a portion of the investor’s savings to fuel a guaranteed income source for a lifetime.

Finally, VOYA offers an add-on Living Benefits endorsement that can provide extra value to an annuity by providing income protection.

Investments

VOYA has

a long list of options for investments, both for retirement and for other savings purposes. They offer the more common options as well as some less common ones.

IRAs

VOYA has several IRA options available that can be used to save money tax-deferred for retirement. Choosing the right IRA requires a careful examination and understanding of your financial situation and future needs, so it’s best to talk to a professional before making a choice.

VOYA offers the following selections to choose from:

  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Simple IRA
  • IRAs for spouses and rollover IRAs

College Savings

VOYA offers three different types of college savings plans to allow parents and others to put money aside for the college education of a child. These options are:

  • 529 Plans
  • Coverdell College Savings Plans
  • UGMA and UTMA Custodial Savings Accounts

Workplace Savings Plans

VOYA’s employer-sponsored savings plans for employees to select from include:

  • 401k
  • 401a
  • 403b
  • 457
  • SEP IRA
  • Simple IRA

Employee Benefits

VOYA offers a number of options that employers can offer as voluntary insurance choices through work, including:

  • Critical Illness Insurance
  • Accident Insurance
  • Hospital Indemnity
  • Disability Income
  • Universal, Whole, or Term Life Insurance

ING was a big provider of this type of benefits package and VOYA continues that tradition.

Prices and Premiums

VOYA does online quoting for their term life insurance products. A 30-year-old male in California can obtain a VOYA SmartTerm $1,000,000 20-year term life insurance policy for $44.63/ month. It puts VOYA about 10% below the average we see.

We were also available to obtain a quote for the same coverage with the ROP Endowment Term policy, which offers a full guaranteed return of all premiums if the policyholder outlives the policy. Because of these added benefits, this policy is quite a bit more expensive. Although we can’t compare this to other policies, as it’s a more unusual type of term coverage, we did run a quote for informational purposes. It came back at $173.25 per month.

What we can say is that VOYA offers a reasonable premium on their basic term life, particularly for a company that is not direct-buy, and although they are not the cheapest competitor on the block, insurance companies can make up some of that difference with a really good reputation and great customer service. We’ll take a look at what we know about VOYA’s reputation before and after the switch from ING to see if their service bears out a slightly higher rate than some competitors.

Overall, VOYA’s rates are competitive, even if they aren’t the cheapest choice – they still fall below average. After receiving a quote, the customer will be sent to a financial advisor to complete the application process if desired.

Claims

VOYA has a clear-cut claims center on their website that outlines the process of how to file a claim. This is a refreshing change from many similar life insurance companies whose websites offer little information on claims or make it really difficult to locate. While some life insurance companies hide the claims contact information in the contact us page of the website, there is a claims link that is easy to find and a full page dedicated to providing that information.

VOYA accepts claims online with a simple system that helps determine what type of claim is being filed, offers easy access to the correct claims forms, and allows them to be quickly submitted. This system appears to be very straightforward and user-friendly, based on the initial screen.

Unlike some similar companies, the same online system is used to submit claims for all of VOYA’s products, so there’s no need to jump around the website and locate the right form for your claim. The drop-down menu allows the customer to select the product and begin the claims process from there.

There is also a toll-free claims line at 1-888-238-4840

  • Open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.
  • This is fairly common, as most life insurance companies offer phone service only during business hours and not 24/7 like auto and home insurance companies.

Although the claims center does make the submission process easy, it lacks detail regarding how the process will proceed after the submission is complete. There is a customer account login that may give access to further claims information, but since beneficiaries may not have access to this during a death claim, this isn’t always helpful. We like to see at the very least a basic FAQ section where a beneficiary can get some simple questions answered about the process.

Certainly, though, VOYA does give beneficiaries easy access to the assistance they need in getting a claim taken care of, which is more than we can say for other companies of a similar size and stature, and the site does make good use of modern technology by allowing online claims assistance and filing.

While we’d like to see a little more information on what to expect from a claim, overall the claims center is clean, simple, and helpful.

Consumer Feedback and Ratings

VOYA is not BBB accredited, but does have an A+ rating with the BBB. There are a total of 10 complaints against the company in the past three years, and all 10 of those were recorded in the past 12 months. That may be a function of the fact that VOYA has only been operating under that name for a short time, and the previous ratings under ING U.S. may not have carried over.

Even so, 10 complaints in the time that the company has been operating is a low number, particularly for such a large organization. We generally see a lower number of complaints overall for life insurance and financial planning companies, but VOYA’s numbers are still notably low. It will take a few more years in business for the BBB numbers to create a more accurate picture, but as of this review it appears there’s not much of concern in that corner.

The 2015 J.D. Power rating of life insurance companies doesn’t leave VOYA looking particularly good. They earned a ranking of only 2 out of 5 overall, with only a few 3 out of five ratings in the separate categories of payment and policy offerings. That places them towards the bottom of the ratings and a long way off from the top-ranked companies.

Nothing in the reviews put up any major major red flags, although there does seem to be an issue with good communication between representatives and customers. It’s hard to say whether this could be due to growing pains as part of the change to VOYA, or an ongoing problem. Either way, the complaint volume and content don’t leave any major concern.

Bottom Line

VOYA has a longer history under the name ING and only a few years under its belt with its new name and logo, which leaves it in a position of needing to re-establish a reputation to a certain degree. The overall impression left by the reviews and ratings is that the company has some work to do in the customer service and communication departments, which could be due to the changes they have been going through in the past few years.

VOYA has a good lineup of products and their prices are pretty competitive. They even have a few uncommon policy offerings that might appeal to some people. Anyone in the market for term life is likely to fine it worth taking a look at a quote here, especially since their quoting system is simple and makes it easy to compare numbers.

With a navigable and helpful website and a strong financial backing, VOYA is a fairly safe bet. We’re hoping they’ll iron out some of the communication issues, but as there is nothing particularly alarming in the reviews, the company in general comes off as progressive, affordable, and a fairly strong choice to help with your financial goals.

For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.

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Category: Annuity

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