Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 8, 2021

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The Facts of Life

  • Primerica is a multi-level marketing scheme (pyramid scheme) that sells life insurance products
  • Primerica agents work part-time and are encouraged to target their friends and family, who then are supposed to target their friends and family, and so on

You’ve likely heard of the Primerica Life Insurance Company through a family or friend. We’re going to go over this company in detail in our review.

Primerica (or “Prime America” as some people erroneously call it) agents are trained to target their friends and family to help them with their financial planning when in reality this is all in an effort to sell Primerica term life insurance.

After your Primerica agent sells you term life insurance or any of their other financial products (like mutual funds), they’ll ask you to join them so they can then earn overrides on anything you sell.

The agent who sold you his policy makes a commission and so did his recruiter, his recruiter’s recruiter, and so on. There are 11 total tiers according to Primerica’s public prospectus (page 112).

Agents are encouraged to recruit more people to continue bringing in sales. This marketing strategy could impact the way that Primerica representatives sell their financial services and the individual life insurance they offer. You don’t want this level of conflict of interest when you’re looking for protection. Licensed representatives from other companies may try to sell you extra coverage when you’re comparing life insurance options but, they’re not going to try to give you a job. Unfortunately, most MLM schemes target middle-income households and this is not ideal when you are trying to make healthy money choices.

In fact, the average Primerica agent only makes $6,030 per year as of December 31, 2017 – and this comes directly from Primerica’s website buried in their disclosures. That’s because this business is a “side hustle” and you’re encouraged to do this part-time. Your life insurance purchase is going to follow you for the rest of your life and it’s important to think about your long-term security, personal finances, and the financial security of your family in the event of your untimely death. Instead of counting on a multi-level marketing organization, you would do better working with a more legitimate company with dedicated insurance agents to make sure you can strike a perfect balance between sufficient protection and your monthly premiums.

Do you want your life insurance and financial future planned by someone doing this part-time? I wouldn’t, though it’s working well enough that they went public and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

If you’re ready to compare Primerica life insurance rates, enter your ZIP code above. Find cheap Primerica rates and compare quotes to the top companies.

What is Primerica?

If you don’t want to read this entire insurance business overview, just digest this one piece of information:

You can find better life insurance plans and investment products by going elsewhere to compare rates.

Primerica's Term Life Insurance Coverage Details
Term lengthGuaranteed level premiumAvailability by age
10 years10 years18–70 years old
15 years15 years18–65 years old
20 years20 years12–60 years old
25 years20 years18–55 years old
30 years20 years18–50 years old
35 years20 years18–45 years old
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Primerica is by no means a scam. Its life insurance products are fine but lacking. Their mutual funds are fine but are expensive.

Primerica is a more than 2 billion dollar revenue company and most of the income is from term life insurance premiums. This is a life insurance company at its core. They insure over 4.4 million people.

Should you “buy term and invest the difference”?

Primerica agents are trained on the concept “buy term and invest the difference,” which means to not purchase whole life insurance. The company whole-heartedly believes everyone should own term life insurance and everything else is a rip-off. However, some people may feel that protection with term life coverage isn’t enough and would prefer permanent insurance.

Everyone is different. Some families want to pass on the death benefit to their children, guaranteed – a guaranteed universal life insurance policy will help with that. Primerica agents can’t sell it.

Some seniors over 60 years old may want a small whole life insurance policy to cover their burial and final expenses. There are final expense burial insurance policies out there available with guaranteed level premiums for the rest of your life – but the company won’t sell these.

These are just two examples of dozens of situations where a permanent policy would be appropriate. Having a blanket statement that term is better for everyone is absurd. Primerica advisors are not prepared to help you compare all of the life insurance offerings available to you and that’s important.

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Does Primerica term life insurance have good ratings?

Well, they can’t compete there, either. Term life insurance is a commodity – you can compare rates online and find a much better-priced term life insurance policy in minutes. All the companies you’ll see quoted online will also have conversion options that Primerica does not have.

A conversion is the ability to convert your term life insurance policy into a permanent one with no evidence of insurability. What this means is you can simply fill out paperwork, typically including a health questionnaire, and convert all or a portion of your death benefit at any time during your term to a permanent life insurance policy.

But why is this so important?

Consider this: What happens at the end of your term and you developed a health condition where you can’t qualify for traditional coverage anymore?

With this insurer, you can annually renew but the cost skyrockets every year. With other companies, you can convert your policy to a permanent one based on the health classification you received when you purchased the policy – even if that was 20 years ago. Low- and middle-income families are harmed by these rate hikes the most, and they are the ones that depend on access to affordable life insurance the most.

95 percent or more of term life insurance companies on the market have these very important conversion options built into their policies.

Primerica’s underwriting is very tight. We run across a lot of people who have been declined for a term insurance policy by Primerica because of health or lifestyle issues, but we were able to get them affordable coverage.

When it comes down to it, you can get better-priced coverage with more flexibility with other term policies on the market from a company like MetLife.

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How does Primerica insurance work?

As we said above, the average agent makes $6,030 a year. Most recruits are sold on the dream of what their top-tiered agents are doing and go to work part-time with that dream in mind.

Is it multi-level marketing?

Primerica is a multi-level-marketing scheme. No matter how a Primerica agent will spin it, it is. Becoming a Primerica representative costs $99 upfront and you’re highly encouraged to pay a $25/mo fee for access to Primerica Online. It’s easy to assume that any job that you need to buy into to get started is not one with your best interest in mind.

Primerica boasts 100,000 reps – so $2.5 million dollars in recurring fees on top of the 15,000 or recruits they get every month (nine out of 10 don’t make it) that pay $99. This money is from Primerica’s own “employees” and doesn’t even count the commission income.

There is no inventory, you have to pay fees, and there are 11 tiers above an entry point. This is multi-level marketing.

If you were thinking about buying from them, you can do much better. This is a payment you can potentially be making for 10-20+ years – you want to make sure you’re getting the absolute best rates.

What is Primerica’s story?

The company was formed in 1977 by a life insurance industry legend, A.L. Williams. He designed Primerica around the concept of “buy term and invest the difference” and used to write life insurance underwritten through Financial Assurance, Inc.

In 1980 A.L. Williams entered into a contract with Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of PennCorp. In 1983, PennCorp merged with American Can Company and in 1987 the American Can Company changed its name to Primerica Corporation. That’s where the name comes from.

In 1998 they became affiliated with CitiGroup. In 2009 the company went public. In 2011, CitiGroup sold off its remaining shares and they discontinued their association with CitiGroup.

There have been some household names associated with Primerica – Travelers Insurance and CitiGroup specifically. Both of them have distanced themselves from the company.

Should you buy Primerica life insurance?

If you do a little bit of Googling, you’ll find widespread skepticism about Primerica. The customer satisfaction ratings for Primerica as tabulated by J.D. Power was one of the lowest in the insurance industry in 2020. Most Primerica reviews are bad.

There are lots of pages on the net of ex-Primerica agents “telling all.” Reddit has some good ones as well.

Just know that you can buy a better term life insurance policy. There are other companies like AIG that can offer more competitive pricing.

If you’re ready to compare Primerica life insurance quotes with top competitors, enter your ZIP code below to buy cheap Primerica life insurance.