Burial ceremonies are a meaningful tradition in Native American communities, and an important way to help preserve cultural practices. Members are family and because of this, tribes often take it upon themselves as a community to cover the costs of each individual’s funeral expenses.

While this practice takes some of the financial stress away from the family, it can create an economic challenge for the tribe, especially if several members pass away in the same year. Seeing that this was a need we could meet, Symetra created a life insurance policy specifically designed for tribal nations.

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Here’s how it works

Every policy we write is exclusive to the membership guidelines set by the tribe, rancheria or pueblo. This ensures that anyone who should be covered, is covered. Tribes aren’t required to waive their Sovereign Nation status, and most policies are guaranteed issue with no age reduction schedules.

But in my opinion, the most compelling part of the story is that we allow the tribe to be named beneficiary when they pay 100% of the premium.1 It’s a pretty unique provision that gives tribal leaders immediate access to the funds needed to start the burial ritual for a covered member. The tribe can also choose to name a specific member to be beneficiary or do a “split primary,” where the tribe is a co-beneficiary.

When a loved one dies, not only is the family grieving but they’re probably dealing with closing out the estate, ensuring final documents are in order and a myriad of other details. That’s where our Beneficiary Companion program comes in.

What I like about this program is tribe members or shareholders can call a toll-free number any time, day or night, for support with all the things you never realize you have to address until someone close to you dies—getting death certificates, notifying credit card companies or working with the Social Security Administration and other government agencies. And with fraud and ID theft an unfortunate reality, it’s nice to know you have a team of pros who can help safeguard the deceased’s identity from the start, or lend a hand in the event it’s stolen.

Most policies can also include an employee assistance program type value-add called Tribal Member Assistance Program or TMAP. Members have unlimited access, by phone, to general guidance consultants who can help with managing stress, finding child or elder care, or coping with loss. There’s also a website with a vast amount of resources ranging from videos and tutorials to help finding a financial planner or attorney.

While the rituals and traditions may vary between tribes, when a member passes, a funeral or memorial service can help honor the life that they lived. At Symetra, we want to help ensure tribes have the financial resources available to help preserve these customs for future generations.

To learn more about our tribal group life policy, send us an email at grplif@symetra.com or talk with your benefits broker or consultant.


1Not available in Alaska, Louisiana or North Dakota.

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