Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2020

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Aflac vs. Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company

Aflac Incorporated, which is an abbreviated term for the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, is a life assurance provider. While the company does sell life insurance products, its business focuses almost entirely on supplemental health insurance which is meant to provide cash benefits for certain covered illnesses or accidents.

Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company is a provider of a variety of insurance policies. These include life insurance and coverage plans for final expenses, also known as burial costs.

These two companies represent two large competitors within the insurance providers market.

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Company Type

Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company is a mutual insurance organization. This means instead of having shareholders, its members, or policyholders, hold stakes in the company and that profits that the company makes are distributed to its members either as dividends or lower premium costs; its sales force is paid by commissions.

Aflac is a company that is publicly traded. It is listed in both the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO). This means it is listed on the NYSE as AFL and the TYO as 8686 and in addition to wages paid to employees and commissions paid to sales agents, its stocks are distributed to its shareholders.

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Business Model

Columbian Mutual Life primarily sells life insurance. The company provides life insurance benefits to policy holders’ named beneficiaries upon the policy holder’s death. In addition, it offers policies that pay burial expenses to named beneficiaries after the policy holder has died.

Aflac’s business model centers primarily around its life assurance services. Life assurance is different from life insurance in that benefits are paid out in cash to help with expenses for illnesses and injuries that are covered by its insurance policies. By its nature the policy holder must be alive to receive the benefits. Aflac makes benefits payments directly to the policy holder, not to hospitals or other entities on behalf of the customer.

Additionally, there are other differences between the business models of Aflac and Columbia Mutual Life Insurance Company. These differences include:

  • Columbian Mutual funds its policies through a steady stream of premium payments which it receives from its policy holders. The premiums are paid by the customer directly each month, typically through direct billing.
  • Aflac policies are paid for by premium deductions taken directly from the policy holder’s paycheck. These deductions are typically pre-tax deductions, which means that the customer’s taxable income is technically reduced, and as a consequence so is their tax liability. However their take-home pay is only marginally reduced, if at all. The policy holder’s FICA deductions may also be lowered by pre-tax deductions.
  • Agents working for the Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company cannot sell policies from other life insurance companies. Agents that work with Aflac can theoretically also sell another company’s health insurance, as long as that company doesn’t also offer its own supplemental plan. This is because Aflac operates differently from a health insurance company in that they offer one-time lump sum payments which are typically meant to help with out of pocket costs.
    Aflac does not offer any actual medical insurance, therefore it can avoid coming into conflict with other health insurance companies.
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Types of Plans and Benefits Offered – Columbia Mutual Life Insurance Company

Columbia Mutual Life Insurance Company offers a variety of benefits policies. These benefits include:

  • Term life insurance – This is a life insurance policy that stays in force only for a limited period of time as specified by the policy. It does not build cash value like other plans.
  • Whole Life Insurance – This type of policy builds cash value and can stay in force for the policy holder’s entire life.
  • Universal Life Insurance – This life insurance policy is like whole life, except that its death benefit can be adjusted.
  • Group Life Insurance – This type of coverage is for groups of policy holders. Companies or organizations typically take out group life insurance policies for a number of their employees.
  • Pre-need Program – This is a benefits program paid in advance to cover final expenses, such as burial costs. Benefit levels range from $500 to $25,000 and are usually paid out within 1 day.

Types of Plans and Benefits Offered – Aflac

In comparison, Aflac offers a life insurance program, whose benefits are similar to Columbia Mutual Life’s, but their primary business is supplemental health insurance coverage. Their plans include:

  • Accidents – Aflac gives cash benefits to help with everyday expenses in the case of an accident that is covered by their policies.
  • Cancer and Specified Diseases – This is Aflac’s famous cancer coverage policy. While patients are fighting cancer or certain covered diseases, this policy distributes benefits directly to the policy holder. This money can be used to help with incidental expenses, or anything else the policy holder desires.
  • Critical Care and Recovery – This is another optional policy benefit, which is designed to provide financial help when one is recovering from a medical incident in the hospital.
  • Dental – This policy can be purchased to help with dental expenses. Again, how the policy holder spends the money is up to them.
  • Short Term Disability – This is another famous Aflac policy that can cover certain incidents of sickness, particularly those that result in short-term disability. In addition, injuries that occur on the job are also covered. These benefits can come in addition to worker’s compensation benefits, and may actually be paid out before worker’s comp.

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Market Prominence

Both Aflac and Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company are well recognized, however their prominence varies in terms of assets, policy holders and availability.

  • Aflac has a license to sell insurance in all 50 states and Japan as well. In Japan, 25 percent of all households have Aflac policies.
  • Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company operates in the United States, also in all 50 states.
  • In the case of both companies, not every policy is available in all states.
  • With $101 billion in assets and over 50 million policy holders as of 2010, Aflac is the largest player in the supplemental insurance industry in the United States. Aflac is also the largest insurance company in Japan by number of policy holders.
  • Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company’s total assets amount to $1.4 billion and the company has 800,000 policy holders. The Columbian Financial Group is the parent company of Columbian Mutual Life.

Both Aflac and Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company are well-recognized providers of insurance products. When comparing them against one another, it is important to keep in mind that they are two distinctly different types of insurance companies that meet different needs.

While Aflac is intended to provide supplemental accident, disability and critical care insurance, Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company is meant to meet the life insurance needs of subscribers.

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