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11 Best Life Insurance Companies of February 2024

We found that the best life insurance company overall is because of its generous no-exam policies, solid financial strength and customer satisfaction ratings, and three living benefit riders included with most plans at no extra cost. For our life insurance ratings, we evaluated 88 life insurance carriers on 55 criteria that cover policy types and features, financial stability, ease of application, customer satisfaction, and costs.

In the company information below, we mention NAIC complaint index scores. The NAIC complaint index is a tool in which the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) shows whether a company has received more or fewer complaints than other insurers, after adjusting for market share.

11 Best Life Insurance Companies of February 2024: Compare Rates & Coverage

Why Trust Us
91
Companies reviewed
55
Features considered
5,005
Data points analyzed
We collected over 5,000 data points from 91 life insurance companies to measure financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, and the overall buying experience. We then evaluated each company based on 55 metrics to develop unbiased, comprehensive reviews.
with our partner Covr Financial from multiple providers before buying.

Best Overall : Nationwide


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
For the most personalized quote experience, call Nationwide directly at 844-457-7984. And if you're over 50 or in poor health, it's best to work with a licensed agent.
Why We Chose It
Three living benefits included with most policies, generous no-exam requirements, strong financials, and satisfied customers make Nationwide our top pick.
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No-exam life insurance available to very healthy applicants
  • Low NAIC complaint index
  • Living benefits included on most policies
  • Allows credit card payments
Cons
  • No live chat available
Overview

Nationwide is a financially stable life insurance company that's been in business for nearly a century. It offers a wide range of policies that may be available without a medical exam and with fast approval. It's also our top pick for best whole life insurance companies, best no-medical-exam life insurance companies, and best life insurance companies for people over 50.

The company garnered an A+ (Superior) financial stability rating from AM Best and had the number of complaints you'd expect for a company of its size in 2022 (the most recent year for which data is available), though the two prior years saw fewer complaints. It boasts a wide range of policy types and riders, no-exam life insurance for healthy applicants, and most policies include three accelerated death benefit riders at no upfront cost for chronic, critical, and terminal illnesses. This was a rare offering among the insurance companies we considered. Its host of exceptional features puts it squarely at the top of our best life insurance companies list. 

Nationwide's life and annuity products are issued by Nationwide Life Insurance Company or Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio.

Plans & Pricing
Nationwide offers term policies as well as traditional whole life insurance, universal life insurance (UL), variable universal life insurance (VUL), and indexed universal life insurance (IUL).
  • Guaranteed Level Term
  • Whole Life 100 and 20Pay Whole Life
  • Simplified Whole Life
  • No-Lapse Guarantee UL II (universal life insurance)
  • VUL Accumulator (variable life insurance)
  • VUL Protector
  • Advisory VUL
  • IUL Accumulator II 2020 (indexed universal life insurance)
  • IUL Protector II 2020
  • Survivorship IUL 2020

Nationwide's indexed policies let you participate in stock market gains, but without direct market exposure. Cash value growth is tied to the S&P 500, NASDAQ-100, and/or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Though not as risky as variable life insurance, these policies are complex and can still lose value when market gains aren’t enough to offset policy expenses. 

Term pricing

Although plan prices and coverage differ depending on your ZIP code, we found on average that a healthy 40-year-old female would pay $26.25 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy, which is in the middle of the pack compared to other insurers we researched.
Available Riders
Depending on your policy, you may have access to the following:
  • Chronic illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Critical illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Long-term care accelerated death benefit rider 
  • Accidental death benefit rider
  • Children's term insurance rider
  • Guaranteed insurability benefit rider
  • Waiver of premium riders
  • Return of premium riders
  • Overloan lapse protection rider

Best Term Life Insurance : Protective


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Why We Chose It

Protective's term life insurance policies are the most affordable of all insurers we reviewed (tied with two others), and it offers terms up to 40 years, which is uncommon.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lowest pricing along with Banner among 91 companies
  • Offers term coverage for up to 40 years
  • Allows credit card payments
  • Offers no-medical-exam coverage
Cons
  • Ranked 18th out of 22 companies for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power's life insurance study
Overview

Founded in 1907, Protective has the cheapest term life coverage of all the companies we reviewed (along with Banner). Its excellent pricing and policy options make it our pick for best term life insurance company, most affordable life insurance company, and best life insurance companies for young adults.

Protective offers longer-than-average term policies and it received fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size over the past three years. The company also offers generous child riders on its policies, which makes it a good life insurance company for children.

However, Protective did not rank well in J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, coming in at #18 out of 22 companies. This is an indication that you may have issues with Protective's customer service, as J.D. Power rankings are based on five factors: communication; interaction; price; product offerings; and statements.

Protective Life is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, and has offices in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area and St. Louis, Missouri.
Plans & Pricing
Protective offers term, whole life, universal life, variable universal life, and indexed universal life insurance policies.
  • Protective Classic Choice Term
  • Non-Participating Whole Life
  • Custom Choice Universal Life (UL)
  • Advantage Choice UL
  • Lifetime Assurance UL
  • Executive UL
  • Strategic Objectives II VUL (variable universal life insurance)
  • Indexed Choice UL

Term Pricing

A healthy 40-year-old female would pay $22.88 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy. Your pricing and coverage will vary depending on your state, age, and the coverage you choose.
Available Riders
  • Accidental death benefit rider
  • Accelerated death benefit rider (for chronic, critcal, or terminal illnesses)
  • Disability income rider
  • Children’s term rider
  • Waiver of premium rider
  • Guaranteed insurability rider
  • Term insurance rider

Best Convertible Term Life Insurance : MassMutual


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Why We Chose It

MassMutual stands out because unlike some competitors, many of its term policies can be converted to any type of permanent policy. The company is top-ranked for financial strength, has paid dividends every year since 1869, has few complaints, and has a wide selection of policies.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Rated A++ for financial stability
  • Long history of paying dividends
  • Low NAIC complaint index
  • Liberal term conversion options
Cons
  • Few accelerated benefit riders included at no cost
  • Doesn’t accept credit card payments
Overview


MassMutual stands out for a number of reasons. It has an A++ (Superior) financial rating from AM Best. This is the highest rating a company can receive and indicates a “superior” ability to pay claims. MassMutual’s dividend-paying history also adds to its clout: Every year since 1869, eligible policyholders have received life insurance dividends. In 2024, MassMutual plans to pay $2.2 billion in dividends, which is its largest payout ever. Plus, the company has received far fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size, according to the NAIC, and offers a wide range of policy types.

It’s worth noting that many MassMutual term policies can convert to any of MassMutual’s permanent life policies. This is important because some companies limit the types of policies you can convert your term policy into. (Convertible term life insurance allows you to exchange some or all of your term coverage for permanent without having to re-qualify for life insurance.)

MassMutual was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts and has offices in Boston and New York City. In October 2023, it announced a pilot program in which new term life policyholders could earn cash incentives of up to 5% of their annual policy premiums by using an app to track their physical activity and sleep data.

Plans & Pricing

MassMutual offers term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance, and variable universal life insurance.

  • MassMutual Term
  • Whole Life 100
  • Whole Life 65
  • Whole Life 10/15/20-Pay
  • Whole Life High Early Cash Value (HECV)
  • Survivorship Whole Life 100
MassMutual’s whole-life policyholders are eligible to receive annual dividends based on the company’s financial performance. Dividends can be used to increase the death benefit or cash value, or pay premiums. 
  • Universal Life (UL) Guard
  • Survivorship Universal Life (SUL) Guard
  • Apex VUL (variable universal life insurance)
Some universal life insurance policies can be structured like term coverage, where the coverage is designed to remain in effect for a fixed period of time.

Term pricing

Our research shows on average across several ZIP codes, a healthy 40-year-old female would pay $27.26 per month for a $250,000 30-year MassMutual term policy.

Available Riders
  • Guaranteed insurability rider
  • Waiver of premium rider
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Long-term care accelerated death benefit rider
  • Chronic illness accelerated death benefit rider 

Best Return-of-Premium Term : Mutual of Omaha


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Why We Chose It
Mutual of Omaha is the top company we reviewed that offers return-of-premium (ROP) term life insurance. We like that it has a wide range of riders, and most policies include at least two living benefits.
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Many plans with living benefits
  • Wide range of riders available
  • Guaranteed issue options
  • Return of premium term available
Cons
  • Online applications unavailable for term policies
Overview

At no upfront cost, Mutual of Omaha includes three accelerated benefit riders on its Term Life Express and IUL Express policies (for critical, chronic, and terminal illnesses), and most other policies include two of these benefits. Accelerated benefit riders add flexibility to a life insurance policy by letting you tap the death benefit early if you have a qualifying illness.

Plus the company offers at least two uncommon features: a disability income rider and a return of premium benefit on select term policies (both for an extra cost). With return of premium (ROP) term life insurance, you can receive up to 100% of premiums back if you outlive the term. Only 11 of the 91 life insurance companies we reviewed make this type of coverage available. Mutual of Omaha is also our top pick for the best burial insurance companies.

The aptly named Mutual of Omaha is based in Omaha, Nebraska. It has locations in 42 states.
In the News

Mutual of Omaha and two other members of its group entered a settlement with the Labor Department in September 2023 after an investigation into claim denials for employee-sponsored life insurance plans. The probe found that subsidiary United of Omaha, and that company's subsidiary, Companion Life Insurance, had accepted premiums for five years without getting proof that applicants were insurable. When participants died, United would often deny claims on the grounds that it had never received the insurability evidence. The company has reprocessed such claims dating back to February 2018 and changed this practice.

Plans & Pricing
  • Term Life Answers
  • Term Life Express
  • AccumUL Answers (universal life insurance)
  • Income Advantage IUL (index universal life insurance)
  • Life Protection Advantage IUL
  • IUL Express
  • Children’s Whole Life Insurance
  • Guaranteed Whole Life Insurance

Term Pricing

A healthy 40-year-old female would pay $28.38 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy.
Available Riders
Chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders are included free of charge on Mutual of Omaha’s Term Life Express and IUL Express policies. Most other policies include chronic and terminal illness riders at no additional cost. 
  • Critical illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Chronic illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Accidental death benefit rider
  • Dependent children's rider
  • Guaranteed insurability benefit rider
  • Waiver of premium rider
  • Disability income rider
  • Long-term care rider

Great Traditional Insurer : Guardian


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Why We Chose It
Guardian received an exceptionally low number of customer complaints, has an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating, and pays dividends to eligible policyholders.
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Low NAIC complaint index
  • Receives an A++ for financial stability
  • Whole life policies are eligible for dividends
Cons
  • Online application and claim filing not available
  • Credit card payments not accepted
Overview

Along with MassMutual and New York Life, Guardian is one of only nine companies we reviewed to earn a top financial strength rating of A++ from AM Best, reflecting superior financial stability. Also like MassMutual and New York Life, Guardian offers dividends to eligible whole-life policyholders and announced its largest dividend payment ever for 2024. The payout totals $2.2 billion. For these reasons, it ranked highly among the best whole life insurance companies, best life insurance companies for people over 50, and best senior life insurance companies.

Guardian Life received an excellent NAIC index over the past three years, indicating it has fewer complaints with the NAIC than expected for a company of its size. Additionally, the company offers no-exam policies to eligible applicants. But if you’re seeking a streamlined online experience, Guardian falls short. It doesn’t offer an online application process (without an agent), online claim filing, or credit card payments, and information on its individual product offerings is hard to find, making it difficult when comparing life insurance plans.

Guardian was founded in 1860 in New York City, and its headquarters are still there. It has four main business hubs in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Holmdel, New Jersey; Hudson Yards in New York City, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Plans & Pricing
  • Guardian Level Term
  • Guardian Level Premium Whole Life
  • Limited Pay Whole Life
  • Guaranteed Universal Life
  • Variable Universal Life Insurance

Term Pricing

A healthy 40-year-old female would pay $27.47 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy. Your pricing will depend on your ZIP code, age, and coverage, among other things.
Available Riders
  • Waiver of premium rider
  • Accidental death benefit rider
  • Term conversion rider
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Long-term care accelerated death benefit rider
  • Chronic illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Paid-up additions (PUA) rider

Best for Military : USAA


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Why We Chose It
USAA offers military-specific benefits that pay out if you become injured in the line of duty and cover you during war.
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Severe injury benefits
  • Add to your term coverage without taking another exam
  • Included term conversion rider
  • A++ AM Best rating
Cons
  • Doesn’t take credit card payments
  • No-exam coverage options are limited
Overview

What makes USAA a solid choice for military families are its military-specific riders. Level Term V policies include a severe injury rider that pays out $25,000 for specific injuries incurred during military service. USAA also offers guaranteed insurability riders at no additional cost that give you the option to increase coverage after leaving the military (and without having to prove insurability) or if you experience certain life events, like having a child. Level Term policies also include a conversion option that allows you to convert to permanent coverage without a medical exam or questions after you've had your term policy for at least one year.

The drawbacks are that USAA life insurance does not accept credit card payments and has limited no-medical-exam options. USAA sells Mutual of Omaha's guaranteed issue whole life policies that have a minimum age of 45 and a coverage maximum of just $25,000. USAA's life insurance and annuities products are provided by USAA Life Insurance Company in San Antonio, Texas and in New York by USAA Life Insurance Company of New York, which is in Highland Falls, New York. 
Plans & Pricing
  • Level Term
  • Essential Term
  • Simplified Whole Life
  • Guaranteed Issue Whole Life (via Mutual of Omaha)
  • Universal Life Insurance (via John Hancock)

Term Pricing

A healthy 40-year-old female would pay $26.86 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy.
Available Riders
  • Guaranteed insurability rider
  • Term life-event option rider
  • Life event option rider
  • Child rider
  • Waiver of premium rider
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Military Severe Injury Benefit Rider
  • Military Future Insurability Rider

 Great for Dividends and No-Medical Exam Life Insurance : Penn Mutual


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Why We Chose It
Penn Mutual has paid dividends for nearly 175 years and offers up to $7.5 million in coverage for no-medical-exam life insurance to eligible applicants—the highest limit we've seen.
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Strong dividend-paying history
  • High coverage no-medical-exam life insurance
  • 5th-lowest pricing among 91 companies
  • Excellent NAIC customer complaint index
Cons
  • Limited website information
  • Quotes not available on the website
Overview
Penn Mutual is a well-established insurer with superior financial strength and an impressive track record of customer satisfaction. It has the longest dividend-paying history of companies on this list and announced that it plans to pay eligible policyholders $200 million in dividends in 2024, which is a record payout. Penn Mutual is also an excellent choice for those with high-coverage needs. The company offers $7.5 million in coverage to very healthy applicants up to age 65 without a medical exam. This is the highest no-exam limit we've seen, and the highest age limit we've seen for no-exam policies, which is why it's a top pick for: But Penn Mutual doesn't just cater to those looking for high coverage or permanent policies. Its quotes for term coverage were the fourth most affordable of the 32 companies we collected quotes for. That said, the company does not make term quotes available on its website. For details and to apply for any type of coverage, you'll need to get in touch with an agent. The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company is based in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
Plans & Pricing
  • Guaranteed Convertible Term
  • Protection Non-Convertible Term
  • One-Year Term
  • Guaranteed Whole Life II
  • Protection Whole Life
  • Survivorship Whole Life
  • Guaranteed Protection UL (universal life insurance)
  • Protection UL
  • Diversified Advantage Variable Universal Life (VUL)
  • Protection VUL
  • Accumulation VUL
  • Survivorship Protection VUL
  • Accumulation Indexed Universal Life (IUL)
  • Survivorship IUL

Term Pricing

A healthy 40-year-old female would pay $23.92 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy.
Available Riders
  • Guaranteed increase option (guaranteed insurability rider
  • Additional insured term insurance rider
  • Children's term rider
  • Disability waiver of premium rider
  • Disability completion benefit rider
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Chronic illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Accidental death benefit rider
  • Overloan protection benefit rider
  • Supplemental term insurance rider

Cheapest Term Premiums : Banner by Legal & General


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Why We Chose It
Banner's term premiums were tied for the lowest with Protective, and Banner offers terms up to 40 years.
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Tied with Protective for lowest pricing
  • 40-year terms available
  • Generous term conversion period
  • Online application available
  • Excellent NAIC customer complaint index
Cons
  • Few policy types available
  • Limited riders
Overview

Banner, along with Protective, is an excellent choice if you're looking for the cheapest term life insurance. Banner is also one of only two companies that offer 40-year term policies (Protective is the other). Additionally, Banner boasts generous term conversion options—you can convert your term policy through the end of the level-premium period or until you turn 70, whichever happens first. This is important because some companies limit the conversion period to the first 10 years of the policy.

While there's a lot to like about Banner, it doesn't offer many policy options—just term and universal life policies. It also doesn't offer as many riders to customize policies as some of its competitors. Banner Life Insurance Company is located in Frederick, Maryland. It is owned by Legal & General America, which also owns William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York.
Plans & Pricing
  • OPTerm
  • Life Step UL (universal life insurance)

Term Pricing

While your pricing will depend on factors such as your age, state, and coverage amount, our research showed a healthy 40-year-old female would pay $22.89 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy.
Available Riders
  • Child rider 
  • Term life riders (stackable coverage)
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider

Best for Customer Satisfaction : State Farm Life Insurance

Investopedia's Rating
3.7

  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Why We Chose It


State Farm has earned the #1 spot in J.D. Power's customer satisfaction rankings for life insurance for the past four years.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Superior financial stability
  • Scored first for customer service by J. D. Power

  • Whole life policies can earn dividends
  • Bundling discounts may be available
Cons
  • Fourth-worst for pricing
  • Limited coverage for no-medical-exam life insurance
Overview

State Farm is our pick of the best life insurance companies for customer satisfaction because it ranked #1 in J.D. Power's U.S. Individual Life Insurance studies for 2023, as well as 2022, 2021, and 2020. The studies measured consumer experiences with the largest life insurance companies nationwide. Plus, State Farm boasts an A++ (Superior) rating for financial strength from AM Best, which is the highest rating possible.

The company is also one of our: If you're looking for a whole life policy that pays dividends, State Farm offers one. Plus, you may be able to save on your premium by bundling life insurance coverage with another State Farm coverage, such as auto. However, the company's term policies are priced high compared to our review of 32 life insurance companies offering term quotes online. If you don't have the best medical history and are in the market for life insurance without a medical exam, you may want to look elsewhere. At present, the most coverage you can get with State Farm without a medical exam is $50,000. State Farm is based in Bloomington, Illinois.
Note

In November 2023, State Farm agreed to a $325 million settlement for a class action suit in which the plaintiffs said the company deducted too much for cost-of-insurance charges for flexible premium adjustable whole life and universal policies. This followed an August 2023 $65 million settlement of a different class action lawsuit making similar allegations related to universal life insurance policies.

Plans & Pricing
  • Select Term Life
  • Return of Premium Life
  • Instant Answer Term
  • Limited Pay Whole Life
  • Single Premium Whole Life
  • Universal Life
  • Survivorship Universal Life
  • Joint Universal Life
  • Final Expense (called $10,000 Whole Life in New York State)

Term Pricing

A healthy 40-year-old female would pay $35.24 per month for a $250,000 30-year term policy, which is one of the highest rates we've seen. Your coverage will depend on your ZIP code, age, health, gender, and coverage.
Available Riders
  • Guaranteed insurability rider
  • Family coverage rider
  • Waiver of premium rider
  • Flexible care benefit rider (long-term care rider)
  • Select term rider
  • Level term rider

Best Whole Life Insurance : New York Life


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Why We Chose It

New York Life is the second-largest life insurance company, according to the latest available NAIC data, and has been paying dividends to eligible whole life policyholders every year for the past 169 years.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • A++ (Superior) AM Best rating
  • Long history of paying dividends
  • Some policies available to applicants up to 90 years old
  • Broad selection of riders
Cons
  • Can’t get too many policy details online without contacting an agent
  • Online quotes and applications not available
Overview
New York Life, founded in 1845, is the oldest company on this list and has paid dividends for 169 consecutive years. In 2024, it plans to pay $2.2 billion in dividends, which is the largest payout in company history.

New York Life earns an A++ (Superior) AM Best rating and receives very few customer complaints. It also issues whole life policies to eligible 90-year-old applicants. Its stellar reputation and financial stability are two reasons it's top-ranked in our best life insurance companies for seniors and best whole life insurance companies reviews.

The company offers term, whole life, and universal life policies, including variable universal life (VUL) insurance, plus a diverse mix of riders and options for life insurance plan customization. Among these are living benefits riders and a Spouse’s Paid-Up Purchase Option (SPPO). The SPPO is an uncommon offering that lets the spouse of the insured person use the death benefit to purchase a fully-paid-up life insurance policy on their own life (without medical underwriting) upon their spouse's passing. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to locate policy-specific information on the website. If you have questions or want a quote, you’ll need to provide your name and number and wait for an agent to contact you.  New York Life was founded in 1845 in New York City and is still headquartered there.
Plans
  • Level Premium Term
  • Yearly Renewable Term
  • Whole Life Insurance
  • Custom Whole Life Insurance
  • Secure Wealth Plus (whole life)
  • Universal Life Insurance
  • Custom Guarantee Universal Life 
  • Variable Universal Life Accumulator II
  • Market Wealth Plus (variable life)
Available Riders
  • Spouse’s paid-up insurance purchase option (SPPO)
  • Guaranteed insurability rider 
  • Child term rider
  • Disability waiver of premium rider 
  • Disability income rider
  • Accidental death benefit rider 
  • Terminal illness accelerated death benefit rider 
  • Long-term care accelerated death benefit rider
  • Chronic illness accelerated death benefit rider
  • Critical illness accelerated death benefit rider 
  • Paid-up additions (PUA) rider
  • Money-back option rider

Largest Life Insurance Company : Northwestern Mutual


  • AM Best Rating:  AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Why We Chose It

Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance company in the country with 7.20% market share, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Established in 1857, it has stellar financial ratings across multiple rating agencies and offers a wide selection of life insurance plans.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Highest financial strength ratings
  • Long dividend-paying history
  • One of the best NAIC complaint indexes
  • Largest insurance company, nationwide
Cons
  • Must work with a financial advisor to buy a policy
  • Poor digital experience that lacks details about policies
Overview
Northwestern Mutual ticks all the boxes for financial stability: it boasts the highest financial strength ratings from AM Best (A++), Moody's (Aaa), and Fitch (AAA), and it's stood the test of time. The company has been in business since 1857, weathering numerous financial storms, and has paid eligible policyholders dividends for over 150 years.

Northwestern Mutual is on track to pay $7.3 billion in dividends to eligible policyholders in 2024. Not only is this its largest payout ever, it's also the largest overall dividend payment of all companies on this list. Dividends are a key feature of some of the best whole life insurance companies.

Plus, Northwestern Mutual had the second-lowest NAIC complaint index among the 91 companies we analyzed, meaning the company has an incredibly low rate of complaints relative to its size. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do without an agent at Northwestern Mutual. Policy details are lacking online so you'll need to contact the company for specifics. It's primarily because of the company's lack of transparency and self-serve options that it didn't score higher in our review.

Northwestern Mutual is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Read the full Northwestern Mutual life insurance review.

Compare the 11 Best Life Insurance Companies of February 2024: Compare Rates & Coverage

Best For
AM Best Rating
AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.
Term Life Sample Cost
Policy Types
Accepts Credit Cards
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Nationwide Best Overall A+ $26.25/month Final Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole Yes Get A Quote
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Protective Best Term Life Insurance A $22.92/month Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole Yes Get A Quote
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MassMutual Best Convertible Term Life Insurance A++ $26.97/month Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole No Get A Quote
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Mutual of Omaha Best Return-of-Premium Term A+ $28.38/month Final Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL) Yes Get A Quote
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Guardian Great Traditional Insurer A++ $27.47/month Term, Universal (UL), Whole Yes Get A Quote
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USAA Best for Military A++ $26.86/month Term, Universal (UL), Whole No Get A Quote
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Penn Mutual Great for Dividends and No-Medical Exam Life Insurance A+ $23.92/month Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole Yes Get A Quote
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Banner by Legal & General Cheapest Term Premiums A+ $22.92/month Term, Universal (UL) No Get A Quote
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State Farm Life Insurance Best for Customer Satisfaction A++ $35.24/month Final Expense, Term, Universal (UL), Whole Yes Get A Quote
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New York Life Best Whole Life Insurance A++ N/A Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole No Get A Quote
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Northwestern Mutual Largest Life Insurance Company A++ N/A Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole No Get A Quote
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The Bottom Line

You can't go wrong with Nationwide, which is a financially strong company with a wide range of policies that you may not need a medical exam for (though you'll score a better rate if you're healthy and get a medical exam). Most policies include three living benefit riders—a rare benefit—so if they appeal to you, Nationwide may be your best bet. If you're set on getting a term life insurance policy, check out Protective, which rises above most competitors—just be aware that its customer satisfaction ratings are low. Also consider MassMutual for convertible term policies and Mutual of Omaha for return-of-premium policies. Banner is another favorite, and its term pricing is on par with Protective's, but it comes with limited rider options.

Shoppers for whole life insurance should pay attention to New York Life, our all-around favorite for that kind of policy, and Penn Mutual, which excels when it comes to dividends.

Best Life Insurance Companies

What Are the Types of Life Insurance?

Life insurance can be divided into two main types: term and permanent, or cash value life insurance. Term life insurance policies only provide coverage for a certain period of time, such as 30 years. Permanent insurance is designed to offer coverage for your entire life. Two common types of permanent life insurance include whole life and universal life.

Term life insurance is often the easiest to buy: If you're healthy and under 50, you could get a 20-year term policy online in minutes. But if you need a permanent policy that will cover you for your entire life, you're 50 or older, or are in poor health, be prepared to speak to an agent and for a longer application process (which may include a medical exam).

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is the most affordable type of life insurance coverage because it lasts for a limited period of time. Most term life policies cover you for between 10 and 30 years.

The best term life insurance policies offer affordable coverage that can be converted into permanent coverage before the term policy expires. This is called convertible term life insurance. The advantage of buying convertible term is that you can lock in the health classification the insurance company gave you when you first applied for the term policy. (This is important if you develop a health issue that could increase you rate, or make you ineligible for coverage.)

Most term life insurance policies also allow you to renew coverage on an annual basis once the term expires. But the premium will increase annually based on your current age; if you want coverage longer than the duration of your term policy, it's best to convert to whole life instead of renew. Most companies offer term life insurance for terms up to 30 years, but some, such as Protective, offer terms up to 40 years.

Best Term Life Insurance
Best Overall  
Best for Cheap Insurance
Best for Living Benefits
Best for Financial Stability

For more information, check out our full article on the best term life insurance.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance and even universal life insurance (another form of permanent coverage). This is because whole life insurance has strong contract guarantees that ensure your coverage won't lapse: As long as you pay premiums as scheduled in the contract, the insurance company guarantees the death benefit and cash values for life. This is why it's an ideal solution when you need rock-solid permanent coverage and can afford the premiums. Some whole life insurance policies offered by mutual companies also pay dividends.

Universal life insurance, on the other hand, is more flexible (you can skip premium payments as needed), but could lapse in later years if you don't build up the cash value sufficiently.

"After getting engaged in 2019, I decided to get life insurance so that my partner would be covered if anything ever happened to me. I chose a whole life policy after reviewing all of the types because I liked the idea of being fully covered until death and not just until a certain age (like you get with a term policy). The ability to access the cash value in the future, if I ever needed or wanted it, also appealed to me. Now, years later, I simply pay my premium every January and can live my life knowing my partner will be financially secure if something ever happens to me."

—Hilarey Gould, Editorial Director for Financial Products and Services at Investopedia

Best Whole Life Insurance
Best Overall  
Best for Living Benefits
Best for High Issue Age
Best Traditional Insurer
Best for Burial Insurance
Best for Dividends
Best for Customer Satisfaction
Best for Financial Stability

For details, see our full article on the best whole life insurance.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life (UL) insurance is similar to whole life insurance with a couple of important distinctions. UL has flexible premiums, a flexible death benefit, and interest that is credited to the cash value based on current interest rates, which vary. So, unlike with whole life insurance, you don’t know in advance how much the cash value will be worth in the future.

Universal life insurance is more affordable than whole life insurance, but you may need to increase your premium payment in the future if the cash value doesn't perform as expected and/or you don't make sufficient premium payments.

Most permanent policies have a surrender period, during which time you’ll pay a surrender charge for withdrawing from the cash value or canceling the policy. Ask how long the surrender period is on any cash value life insurance you might buy.

Indexed Universal Life (IUL)

Indexed universal life insurance (IUL) policies are a hybrid type of UL coverage that provide an opportunity to profit from upward swings in a variety of popular stock market indexes, such as the S&P 500. Positive index performance results in the cash value being credited, while negative performance does not result in a cash value loss. The least amount the cash value will be credited is referred to as the floor (for example, when the index experiences a negative return). Most IUL policies have a 0% floor.

Conversely, gains are limited as well. In fact, insurance companies are innovative when it comes to the complexity of calculations they employ to limit gains. For example, an IUL policy may be subject to one or more (usually “more”) of the following:

Participation rate: This is the percentage of index gains that will be credited to the policy. For example, if the index returns 10% and the participation rate is 60%, 6% would be credited).

Spread: This rate is deducted from the index’s gains. If the index returns 10% and the spread is 4%, your policy would be credited 6%.

Cap: This limits the amount of interest your policy can be credited. If the cap is 6% and the index returns 10%, 6% will be credited to the cash value.

IUL policies can be an attractive proposition if you want the potential for stock market gains but want to avoid losses. Just be aware that if the index doesn’t perform well enough, interest credited could be insufficient to keep up with policy expenses and your premium could increase. 

Variable Life Insurance and Variable Universal Life (VUL)

Variable life insurance and variable universal life insurance (VUL) are the riskiest types of coverage. That's because you invest the cash value component directly in the stock market via subaccounts, which are very similar to mutual funds.

The difference between variable life and VUL is that VUL has a flexible death benefit and flexible premiums, while those things are fixed in a variable life policy.

While variable life products can be a tax-advantaged way to invest in the stock market, the cash value is not protected from market losses. This means if your investments underperform, you could be required to increase premium payments or the policy could lapse. What's more, variable policies that lapse may result in severe tax consequences. Most people should only invest in variable life insurance if they have sufficient life insurance coverage in place via another policy. Since this is considered an investment product, it can only be sold by life insurance agents who are also licensed to sell securities. Always ask for a prospectus before investing in VUL. It's best to speak with a financial advisor to be sure an investment in variable life insurance makes sense.

Burial Insurance (a.k.a. Final Expense and Guaranteed Issue)

Burial insurance policies are whole life policies designed for older applicants in poor health and don't require a medical exam. Some policies have a handful of health questions, while others are considered guaranteed issue and do not consider your health at all when determining your rate or approving your application. As a result, these policies are the most expensive, relative to the amount of coverage.

They also carry a “graded benefit” for two to three years. If you die from natural causes during this time, your beneficiaries will only receive a return of the premiums you paid (usually plus a percentage like 10%). They will not receive the full death benefit unless you die after the graded period is over.

The minimum age for burial insurance may be as low as 40 years old, but some companies have higher minimum age limits. Final expense policies also have low coverage amounts (typically not more than $35,000) as they are intended to cover the insured person's final expenses.

No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance

No-medical-exam life insurance refers to any life insurance policy you can apply for without taking a medical exam. Instead of an exam, you answer health questions and the insurance company checks your medical and other records. You may also have a phone interview. If you qualify, you can get a policy within a few days, or sometimes instantly online. But note that if you're healthy, you're probably better off getting a policy that requires an exam because the rate will be cheaper.
Best No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance
Best Overall  
Best for Financial Stability
Best for High Coverage
Fewest Complaints

Find out more in our full article on the best no-medical-exam life insurance companies.

How to Choose the Best Life Insurance Company

If you get group life insurance through your employer, you usually don't have a choice of providers. But if you want more coverage, or you don't have an employer-provided plan, you'll need to buy it on your own.

To choose the right life insurance company for you, consider financial strength, customer complaints, customer satisfaction, available policy types, available and included riders, and ease of application. Then, collect quotes among your top picks. Doing this homework will ensure that when you buy life insurance, you've chosen a company that offers the life insurance options that suit your needs and will be there when your family needs it.

  1. Check out the company's financial strength: You want a company that will be in business long enough to pay out your death benefit. So, look at for financial stability. A++ and A+ ratings are considered “Superior,” while A and A- are considered “Excellent.” Other agencies also rate insurance companies, including Moody's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Demotech.
  2. Look for a company with relatively few customer complaints: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) uses customer complaints to create the, which indicates whether a company received more or fewer complaints than expected, based on its market share. An index lower than 1 indicates the company received fewer complaints than expected, while a number over 1 means it got more than expected. The higher the index, the more customers complain, and vice versa. 
  3. Investigate other measures of customer satisfaction: Not all companies are ranked for customer satisfaction, but check sources like to see if companies you’re considering are. At a glance, you can see how a company ranks compared to others when it comes to customer satisfaction.
  4. See if the company offers the kind of insurance you want: If you know which type of insurance you need, make sure each company you’re considering offers it. But note that a whole life policy with one company can be very different from a whole life policy with another. Though policies between companies might have the same name, each company tries to make its product stand out. Make sure their efforts suit your needs.
  5. Don't forget to research available and included riders: This is a major way that same-named policies can differ. For example, a universal life policy with one company might include a generous accelerated death benefit rider at no cost, while a UL policy with another company may not. Or a term policy with one company may allow you to convert it to permanent coverage, while a term policy with another company may not. Research riders to know what you’re paying for.
  6. Consider companies that make applying easy: Sometimes the biggest barrier to buying life insurance is the application process. And often, it’s better to get some coverage in place—especially if you have dependents—than it is to find the absolute best coverage you can. If you’re too busy for a medical exam, look for companies that don’t require one.
If you’re healthy, choose a company that requires a medical exam or offers an accelerated underwriting process (meaning, the company will examine your medical history but won't require an exam). This means the insurance company will take your health conditions into consideration, which could significantly reduce your life insurance cost.

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost on Average?

Term life insurance can cost as little as $13 per month, on average, for a $250,000 30-year policy for a healthy 25-year-old. Or, the same policy could cost around $400 for a 65-year-old smoker. The monthly cost of whole life insurance for the same amount of coverage is over $100 per month for a healthy 25-year-old, and almost $1,000 for a 65-year-old smoker.

Life insurance companies determine how much you'll pay through the application process, during which they consider factors such as your age, health, occupation, and location. Older applicants and those in poor health pay the most for life insurance, which is why it often makes sense to apply while you're younger and healthier.

Average Life Insurance Cost Per Month ($250,000, 30-year term policy)
 Company 25 years old (average) 40 years old (average) 55 years old (average)
Nationwide $20.89 $28.88 $99.97
MassMutual $18.15 $29.58 $122.46
Protective $16.06 $25.66 $107.12
Banner $16.07 $25.71 $107.91
Mutual of Omaha $19.68 $31.39 $137.39
Guardian $19.53 $31.65 $110.49
USAA $20.82 $30.09 N/A
Lincoln Financial $17.25 $26.36 $114.05
Penn Mutual $16.78 $26.48 $110.38
Transamerica $16.99 $35.70 $128.68

*Life insurance quotes above are examples only and were collected for 30-year $250,000 term life insurance policies for non-smoking males and females ages 25, 40, and 55 in excellent health.

Life Insurance News

Haven Life has stopped selling policies: As of Jan. 12, 2024, you can no longer buy a new policy from Haven. The company's parent, MassMutual, has always issued and managed Haven's policies, and that will continue once the Haven brand is discontinued this spring.

Only one-third of millennials have life insurance: Some members of this generation are turning 40, and have families and debts such as mortgages, student loans, and credit cards. Yet only 34% have bought life insurance, according to a Mutual of Omaha survey. The same study found that only 41% of baby boomers are insured.

Many Americans don't think they have enough life insurance: Nearly half of Americans are either without life insurance or don't carry enough coverage, according to the 2023 Insurance Barometer Study by LIMRA, which stands for the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association. According to the study, nearly 70% of Americans who have a life insurance policy feel confident in their financial security, while the number drops to less than half for people without life insurance. The largest groups saying they don't have enough coverage include Gen Z and Millenials, women, and Black and Hispanic people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why You Should Trust Our Expert Insurance Reviewers

Investopedia launched in 1999, and has been helping readers find the best life insurance companies since 2020.

We are dedicated to helping you find the right life insurance provider for your needs. In order to compile our list of the best life insurance companies, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We started off by researching what consumers want from life insurance companies, and for that, we looked to third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2022 Individual Life Insurance and Annuities studies and the 2022 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA. 

With those findings in mind, we spent three months digging up information about more than 55 features on 88 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength by AM Best, customer satisfaction, and individual customer complaints reported to insurance state commissioners and recorded by the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners). We also considered years in business, cost, online tools, no-medical-exam options, policy types and features, and available riders. 

NAIC Methodology: We considered each company's NAIC complaint index for its life insurance business by averaging those NAIC complaint index values over the three years (2021, 2020, and 2019). Our review process gave preference to companies with superior financial stability, few customer complaints, and a robust suite of products and resources. In particular, we valued online quoting and application tools, transparent pricing, and no-exam policy options. Companies received ratings boosts if customer service was accessible via features like live chat. We ranked each company according to the following categories and weights:
  • Policy types and features: 21%
  • Financial stability: 17% 
  • Application process: 16%
  • Customer satisfaction ratings: 15%
  • Customer service: 14%
  • Riders and living benefits: 9%
  • Cost: 8%
Costs were evaluated by collecting term life insurance quotes for 25-, 40-, and 55-year-old male and female non-smokers in excellent health for 30-year $250,000 term life policies. We used Compulife data available through Term4sale.com. We compared individual offerings between companies by delving deeper into product specifics, including maximum coverage amounts, maximum issue ages, included riders (in particular, the number and type of living benefits available at no upfront cost) , and product-specific application processes. We used this research to determine the best companies for different products, consumer groups, and use cases.  Of the companies we considered, those with the greatest financial stability, fewest complaints, lowest cost, most generous benefits, easiest application process, most generous no-medical-exam options, and widest available features scored the highest across categories.

Guide to Life Insurance

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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