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Choosing the right life insurance policy is a critical part of your financial planning, but it's often difficult to understand the different rules and policies that insurance companies throw at you. To make it easier, we've taken an in-depth look at the top 28 life insurance companies and highlighted the ones we think offer the best value in different situations.

The best life insurance companies of 2022

Because life insurance typically lasts for decades, it's important to choose an insurer that offers consistency and high quality. The following life insurance companies represent our top recommendations for a number of categories.

Best term life insurance

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Best online life insurance

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Best whole life insurance

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Best term life insurance companies

How does term life insurance work? A term policy will have a designated length, after which the policy will expire and cease to exist. If you were to pass away during the policy's term, your beneficiaries would receive the full policy value.

Below we have provided our rankings of the best term life insurance companies for 2022. We suggest evaluating the complete list of rankings since the best life insurance company for you may change.

A factor such as pricing may be the most important feature of your financial decision-making process and could change your own best life insurance company rankings.

Fortunately, term life insurance is the simplest and often cheapest life insurance available to purchase.

Rank
Company
AM Best
NAIC complaint index
Annual cost
1Massachusetts MutualA++0.14$124
2Lincoln FinancialA+0.26$126
3John HancockA+0.40$115
4New York LifeA++0.24$137
5Protective LifeA+0.79$110
6Northwestern MutualA++0.07$165
7Principal FinancialA+0.08$142
8Brighthouse FinancialA0.89$118
9Guardian LifeA++0.06$162
10Minnesota LifeA+0.29$147

Term life insurance rates are for a 35-year-old applicant in excellent health. Sample policies have a term length of 20 years and a $100,000 face value.

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Best online life insurance companies

Until recently, you could get life insurance rates online, but if you wanted to purchase a policy, you had to complete forms and speak to an agent offline. Now, a number of startups allow you to handle the entire application process online, with near-immediate approval or rejection in many cases.

Consider this if you want to buy life insurance entirely online from a trusted company with the best rates.
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Insurer details

  • Editor's rating:
  • J.D. Power score (MassMutual): 782
  • AM Best rating (MassMutual): A++ (Superior)
  • Payment options: credit card, electronic funds transfer (EFT), direct bill
  • Unique value: Fast approvals for coverage and competitive rates for many shoppers.

Read the full review.

Haven Life Insurance provides the best term life insurance quotes for a wide variety of customer profiles and allows you to complete the entire quote and application online.

You can even pay for your policy with a credit card, which is rare for life insurance. In addition, Haven Life offers some of the fastest approvals. Although some policies are fully underwritten with a medical exam, many customers will get a same-day determination.

Term policies can be purchased from Haven Life for periods ranging from 10 years to 30 years, and the company offers up to $2 million in coverage. Though Haven Life's set of optional features, also known as riders, is somewhat limited, it has all the standards you'd expect from an insurer, such as an accelerated death benefit rider and a waiver of premium rider .

And, while Haven Life is a relatively new insurer, the company is backed by MassMutual (our pick for overall best term life insurer), meaning you can rest assured that the company will be there when needed.

Consider this if you want to purchase life insurance online and expect your needs to change over time.
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Insurer details

  • Editor's rating:
  • J.D. Power score: Not rated
  • AM Best rating (Fidelity Security): A (Excellent)
  • Payment options: electronic funds transfer (EFT), direct bill
  • Unique value: Quick coverage that's customizable over time.

Read the full review.

The amount of life insurance you need changes over time — unlike most insurers, Ladder Life Insurance allows you to easily increase or decrease your policy limits. This means you don't have to pay for unnecessary coverage now if you expect your financial situation to change later — for example, when you have kids or buy a house.

Though Ladder Life's rates aren't the lowest, the company is quite competitive, often with below-average premiums. Its term life policies can be purchased for periods of 10 to 30 years, and Ladder lets you purchase up to $8 million in coverage. This is the highest coverage limit we came across for a completely online insurer.

Best whole life insurance companies

Whole life insurance is the most popular form of lifelong coverage, as it provides a death benefit plus a cash value that grows consistently over time.

The cash value can be borrowed against if you want to cover an expense, such as buying a car or paying off medical expenses. It can also be returned to you if you decide you no longer want coverage. Since whole life insurance needs to provide coverage for decades, we analyzed insurers to find the largest companies with the highest possible financial strength ratings.

Best whole life insurance overall

Consider this if you need a flexible payment schedule and prefer a company with outstanding consumer reviews.
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Insurer details

  • Editor's rating:
  • J.D. Power score (out of 1,000): 807
  • AM Best rating: A++ (Superior)
  • Minimum coverage: $25,000
  • Unique value: Flexible payment options and unique forms of coverage.

Read the full review.

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. has some of the best consumer reviews, and as a mutual insurance company, it has consistently issued dividends to whole life insurance policyholders. When the company issues annual dividends, you can choose whether you want to receive the payment as cash, use it to pay premiums or purchase additional coverage.

Northwestern Mutual's whole life insurance payments are flexible, as you choose to pay for coverage until age 65, until age 90 or for a certain period of time (such as 20 years). Paying over a limited time means you can invest a greater amount in the cash value portion of the policy early on, which gives you higher returns over the length of coverage.

In addition, Northwestern Mutual offers a unique option called an accelerated care benefit. While most insurers only allow you to receive a portion of your death benefit early if diagnosed with a terminal illness, Northwestern Mutual lets you access funds to pay for long-term care.

Northwestern Mutual's life insurance policies come with some restrictions. They aren't available with lower death benefits (the minimum is $25,000), and the company requires a medical exam for all policies. If you have a preexisting medical condition or certain health problems, for example, you would have to apply with a different insurer.


Best whole life insurance for policy options

Consider this if you want a customized whole life insurance policy.
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Insurer details

  • Editor's rating:
  • J.D. Power score (out of 1,000): 777
  • AM Best rating: A++ (Superior)
  • Minimum coverage: $25,000 to $100,000 depending on the policy and health
  • Unique value: Customizable policies, including a range of payment structures.

Read the full review.

New York Life Insurance Co. has the highest attainable financial strength rating from AM Best, and dividends can be used to pay premiums or increase coverage. New York Life also offers a wide variety of structures for whole life insurance policies.

For example, if you want the benefits of paying whole life insurance premiums over a shorter time period but can only afford a particular dollar amount per year — New York Life offers you the ability to choose exactly how much you want to pay and adjust the length of your payment period accordingly.

Couples can also choose a joint "second-to-die" whole life insurance policy, which is typically used to leave an inheritance or help dependents cover estate taxes. While New York Life doesn't have first-to-die whole life insurance, it does have a spouse's paid-up insurance purchase option (SPPO), which allows your spouse to purchase single-premium whole life insurance upon your death without proving insurability.

While a portion of your policy's death benefit would go toward the cost of the SPPO, this can be a valuable benefit because it provides your spouse coverage if they are uninsurable.


Best guaranteed whole life insurance

Consider this if you want a small face value guaranteed whole life policy.
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Insurer details

  • Editor's rating:
  • J.D. Power score (out of 1,000): 795
  • AM Best rating: A+ (Superior)
  • Minimum coverage: $2,000 to $25,000
  • Unique value: Comparatively affordable rates and above-average customer service ratings.

Read the full review.

Mutual of Omaha is a life insurance company that offers guaranteed whole life policies. These life insurance plans are similar to standard whole life but do not require you to take a medical exam. However, the policies have much smaller death benefits — Mutual of Omaha offers coverage amounts of less than $25,000. For this reason, guaranteed whole life is often used by older individuals to help pay for funeral expenses.

Compared to other guaranteed life insurance quotes, Mutual of Omaha has some of the best rates available in the industry. This, coupled with better-than-average complaint numbers and a strong financial rating, makes the life insurance provider a great option for any final expense insurance needs.

Life insurance company ratings

State Farm is the top-rated life insurance company, considering its high rating from our editors and low number of complaints in relation to its competitors.

Life insurance companies are given grades by many rating agencies on different factors, including financial strength and customer reviews. These metrics are extremely useful for analyzing the best life insurance company.

Best life insurance companies by ratings

Insurer
Editor's rating
J.D. Power
NAIC complaint index
AM Best
State Farm
8220.26A++
Nationwide-8130.75A+
Northwestern Mutual
8070.07A++
Pacific Life-8010.05A+
Mutual of Omaha
7950.80A+
Globe Life
7886.56A
MassMutual
7820.14A++
John Hancock-7810.40A+
New York Life
7770.24A++
Principal Financial-7760.08A+
Show All Rows

With these ratings, you can get an excellent picture of the inner workings of many life insurance companies. Then, looking at policy prices, you can determine the best life insurance company for you.

How to choose the best life insurance company

When shopping for life insurance, the best strategy is to consider the type and length of coverage you need, policy costs and customer reviews. You should also compare quotes from several providers so you can find the best insurance company for your needs and budget.

Policy details and options

Before you compare quotes, you need to determine how much coverage you will need and for how long.

Deciding whether to purchase term or permanent life insurance will depend on how long you need coverage.

Term life insurance is the cheapest life insurance option available because it provides coverage for a limited period of time. Other forms of life insurance, like whole and universal policies, tend to be more expensive since these plans are designed to provide life insurance coverage for your entire life and often include extras like cash value accounts.

Customer reviews

Finding the cheapest life insurance rates is important, but choosing a company that provides an excellent customer experience can be equally important. Life insurance is a personal product, and getting relevant information about your policy is essential to understanding the details of your plan. You can find information about the experience of dealing with a life insurance company through customer reviews.

The most important customer experience will occur once you have passed away and your loved ones try to obtain the death benefit from your life insurance policy. Many insurance companies have mixed reviews when it comes to this process. For example, some beneficiaries have found that an insurance company will hold out paying the death benefit until the last possible moment. For this reason, you should look carefully at customer reviews to find the best life insurance company.

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Nearly 10% of people have never reviewed their life insurance policy

It is important to review your life insurance policy at least once a year and to reevaluate your needs as life progresses. The best policy for your needs may evolve over time since your financial responsibilities will be changing. For example, you may change jobs or get a salary increase, which could result in lifestyle changes.

Updating your life insurance to reflect a change in expenses is a smart financial decision.

Yet nearly 10% of people claim to have never reviewed their policy, according to our latest survey. Further, the 2019 survey revealed that more than a quarter (29%) of total respondents either were not very confident they understood their policy or did not understand it at all. Additionally, a third (33%) of Generation Xers (38- to 53-year-olds) were not confident at all about the nuances of life insurance. Gen Xers are in the midst of their prime working years, and thus, acquiring the proper financial protection through life insurance is necessary.

How are people shopping for a life insurance policy?

Method
Gen Y
Millennial
Gen X
Baby boomer
Silent generation
Through a recommended financial advisor32%23%23%18%18%
Recommended by family or friend29%27%28%21%27%
Conducted research online23%25%22%23%9%
Cold-called by a life insurance agent3%6%4%8%0%
Saw an advertisement for life insurance10%4%5%10%36%
Added on coverage to employer-provided policy3%12%14%14%0%
Other0%4%4%6%9%

Frequently asked questions

Should I get term life or whole life insurance?

Term life insurance is usually best for people with young families since it's cheaper and only lasts for a set period of time. This makes it ideal for covering the costs of raising children and sending them to college or making sure a spouse can pay off large expenses, like a mortgage, alone. Whole life insurance is best if you need lifelong coverage for final expenses, like funerals and estate taxes.

What is the best life insurance company for me?

We've reviewed several companies that we think do a great job at providing coverage in several different contexts. MassMutual offers the best term life insurance policy for most people, while Northwestern Mutual has an outstanding whole life policy. However, the best company for you depends on your preferences, including the amount you're willing to spend, the type of policy you select and the quality of customer service you expect.

What happens if my life insurance company goes bankrupt?

Don't panic: As a policyholder, you're covered by your state's life and health guaranty association, which includes all licensed life insurance providers. If a company goes bankrupt, the guaranty association will arrange for it to be liquidated and transfer its active life insurance policies to another life insurance company. However, when you're shopping for a policy, it's important to pay attention to insurance company ratings, which can help you choose a financially stable insurer.

How much is a life insurance policy?

On average, a term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit with 20 years of coverage costs about $126 per month. That number varies greatly based on your age, insurer and the amount of coverage you choose. For example, a 25-year-old nonsmoker can expect to pay around $31 per month for the policy above, while the same benefit costs $318 per month for a 60-year-old.

Methodology

We determined the rankings for the best term life insurance companies by compiling a list of the largest life insurance companies. Our analysis of the best life insurance companies included:

  • AAA
  • AIG
  • American National
  • Americo
  • Assurity
  • AXA
  • Brighthouse Financial
  • Columbian
  • Farmers New World
  • Fidelity Life Association
  • Guardian Life
  • John Hancock
  • Lincoln Financial
  • MassMutual
  • Minnesota Life
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • National Life
  • New York Life
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • Pacific Life
  • Primerica Life
  • Principal Life
  • Protective Life
  • Prudential
  • Sagicor
  • SBLI USA Life
  • State Farm
  • Transamerica

Then, we used three ranking factors to assign a value to each company:

  • AM Best: A score that is based on the financial health of a life insurance company. Maximum points (50) could be earned if the insurer had the top AM Best score of A++. For each step down in AM Best score, our rating declined by 5 points (A+=45, A=40, A-=35).
  • NAIC complaint index: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index measures a life insurer’s complaints to regulators weighted against its market share. A score of 1.00 indicates that the company received an average number of complaints relative to its size. The max ValuePenguin score of 50 could be earned if the insurer had an NAIC complaint index value of less than 0.1.
  • Pricing: We compiled term life insurance quotes from each insurer using a sample application, then ranked providers from cheapest to most expensive. The life insurance company with the cheapest term life insurance premium received the max score of 50 with each successive ranking decreasing the score by 1. The applicant was a 35-year-old nonsmoker in excellent health, meaning they had no significant health issues.

The best whole and online life insurance companies were determined through a combination of NAIC complaint index scores, AM Best ratings and the variety of policies offered by each insurer.

We commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,029 Americans to understand their feelings toward life insurance. The survey was fielded May 24-27, 2019.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.