This is post 6 of 10 in my cryonics signup guide, and the third of five posts on life insurance.
It's more difficult to obtain life insurance for cryonics than to obtain life insurance in general, because there's a very limited number of (well-rated) insurance companies in the US that are okay with approving insurance 'for a cryonics objective.' One reason for this is that in the case of cryonics, your life insurance policy is owned by a third party, which makes things complicated and risky for the insurance company.
According to my insurance broker, there are currently ~four insurance companies in the US that will underwrite for cryonics. These companies – in order of how likely you are to want to use them – are:
Most people I know have used Kansas City Life (hereafter KCL), but there are situations in which Nationwide might be the right choice. Nonetheless, let's take a brief look at each of the options.
Basically, I think everyone should go with KCL unless they have a specific reason not to. (If you are young and healthy, you probably have no reason not to.) Here's why:
I recognize that I sound like a freaking advertisement, but taking into account all the factors it really does seem like KCL is the best option for most people when signing up for cryonics. The crux for me is the lack of added complexity – something that will become clearer when we look at other carriers below.
Depending on your age and other factors, Nationwide can be a more cost-effective option than KCL. My understanding is that, while Nationwide's premiums are generally cheaper, they require additional steps for cryonics clients that add both cost and complexity.
Nationwide offers all the types of insurance relevant to us: UL, GUL, IUL, whole life, and term.
If you choose Nationwide for a cryonics objective, you must establish a trust before you can apply for insurance. Establishing a trust which holds your life insurance policy for Alcor is a fairly common thing for Alcor members to do, and you can get help with it from Alcor (they have a whole Trust Department). Alcor must review and accept your trust before you can proceed. (I don't know how this works for CI, sorry.)
In addition (for Alcor members only), you're required to own a personal, non-cryonics life insurance policy before you can get approved for the cryonics policy. This is because insurance companies are wary of life insurance policies owned by a third party, due to the potential for lawsuits. So you'll own two separate life insurance policies, which somehow releases Nationwide from legal liability.
I'd ballpark the cost of this additional legal work at about $1000, but I haven't actually done it so I don't know. If you have experience with taking out a cryonics policy from Nationwide, let me know.
Stricter approval criteria
Nationwide has stricter guidelines than KCL for approvals – they need to see that you're employed and have sufficient income to pay your premiums.
If Nationwide is cheaper for you, but you're concerned about not being approved and really want cryonics coverage right now (e.g. if you're relatively old), you can take out a policy with KCL for the time being, then reapply through Nationwide. If you're approved, you can surrender your KCL contract and replace it with the new, lower-cost one from Nationwide.
Nationwide requires a substantial amount of additional legal work, but it is significantly more cost-effective for some people. I recommend talking to David Donato to find out whether Nationwide is a better fit for you than KCL.
These two companies are willing to underwrite life insurance policies for cryonics, but I haven't seen a good reason to go with either of them over KCL or Nationwide. Both are subject to at least some of the same additional work as Nationwide, and neither allows you to own your policy jointly with Alcor.
Northwestern's core competency is in whole life products, though they also offer UL and term insurance. Northwestern's premiums are more expensive than KCL's, and like with Nationwide, you'll need to take out two separate life insurance policies. Northwestern may or may not approve your cryonics policy without additional legal work.
New York Life (NYL)
Like Nationwide, NYL requires you to set up a trust and take out a personal life insurance policy before you can get approved for a cryonics policy. NYL offers term, whole life, and UL, and also something called Custom Universal Life Guarantee, which sounds a lot like GUL from the description.
If you live outside of the United States – or if you live in the States but aren't a citizen (and don't have a green card or an H-1B or L-1 visa) – don't worry! You can fund your Alcor or CI preservation with an insurance policy from your home country. For Alcor, you need to meet the following requirements:
CI stipulates the following:
So getting a cryonics life insurance policy elsewhere is not very different from doing it in the US, except that you won't have this detailed guide to help you. It's my impression that everywhere has the same basic types of insurance (e.g. term vs permanent), though they may go by different names; I might be wrong about this.
And of course there will be as many different regulatory environments as there are countries, which can introduce some roadblocks. For example, from CI's website:
In the United Kingdom there is a law that prevents a non-profit corporation, such as the Cryonics Institute, from being listed as a direct beneficiary on a British person's life insurance policy.
But people all over the world (including the UK) are signed up with Alcor and CI, so it's really just a matter of overcoming those roadblocks; they're rarely dealbreakers. As I mentioned in the first post in this sequence, if you're doing anything cryonics-related outside of the US, try to get in contact with cryonicists in your country; they're eager to help and they definitely know more than I do about what your options are.
Now that we know that KCL is the best, should we go directly to them or use an agent?
I'm not sure if one can interface with insurance companies without a broker? In fact, I'm like 70% sure that you can't. But if you try, let me know how it goes.
It's my impression that most, if not all, insurance carriers can be made compatible with CI at least. They have a number of acceptable options, one of which all 3 of the carriers I investigated were happy to abide by.
Does the fact that Alcor is co-owner create difficulties if you want to change cryonics provider at some point? Example: new tech (e.g. aldehyde stabilized cryopreservation) gets offered somewhere else but not at Alcor, so you want to change.
It shouldn't be a problem due to Alcor's buy-back agreement (essentially Alcor agrees to relinquish control of any insurance policy within a month of your written request).