Best Life Insurance Companies: Top Rated Insurers for Term and Whole Life Insurance in 2018

Choosing a life insurance policy is a critical component of financial planning. We've reviewed the twenty largest life insurance companies so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

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Life Insurance Companies with the Best Ratings

Life insurance offers financial protection to your family and is a product that you typically keep for decades, so it’s important to find a top rated insurer. We’ve listed below the companies with the best financial strength ratings and fewest customer complaints.

MassMutual

Consider this if you want an insurer with competitive prices, a wide range of products and some of the highest ratings.

If you’re looking for the best rated insurer with competitive prices, MassMutual is our top choice. They hold the top financial strength rating available and have a disproportionately low number of consumer complaints, given they’re one of the ten largest life insurance companies in the United States. MassMutual is also a mutual life insurance company, meaning it’s owned by its policyholders and the company has consistently distributed dividends to those with whole life insurance policies for over 150 years.

MassMutual offers a wide range of life insurance policies, such as term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance. In addition, if you have medical problems, MassMutual accepts a variety of conditions with their no medical exam and guaranteed acceptance policies. While MassMutual’s rates aren’t the absolute lowest for term life insurance, they’re below average as compared to the largest insurers.

  • A++ (Superior) A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating
  • 0.04 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median score, 0 would be no complaints)
  • Products: Term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance, variable universal life insurance
  • Offers no medical exam term life insurance policies
  • Guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance available
Northwestern Mutual

Consider this if you want a financially strong insurer with outstanding consumer reviews.

Northwestern Mutual is the largest mutual life insurance company in the U.S., in part because of its outstanding service. The company has some of the best consumer reviews and holds the top financial strength rating. Northwestern Mutual offers the standard term, whole and universal life insurance policies, but they also have their own policy called CompLife. CompLife is a permanent life insurance policy to which you can add term coverage if you just need the additional financial protection for a short period of time.

The one downside to Northwestern Mutual is that they have comparably higher rates for simple products, like term life insurance. However, if you’re primarily concerned with the company’s financial stability and how you’ll be treated as a customer, you’ll find few insurers that rank as well.

  • A++ (Superior) A.M. Best Rating
  • 0.04 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median, 0 would be no complaints)
  • Products: Term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance, CompLife

Companies with the Best Term Life Insurance Rates

We often recommend term life insurance as policies can be customized to nearly any situation and often have the lowest rates for coverage. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around--term quotes can vary by over 100% for the same person depending on the company you choose. We compared quotes across multiple shopper profiles to find the companies that consistently offer the best prices and coverage.

Voya Financial (ReliaStar)

Consider this if you want cheap term life insurance.

Whether you’re a senior, a smoker or in perfect health, Voya’s term life insurance rates are consistently some of the lowest available. In addition, if you really want the best price, they offer a discount for paying annually.

Voya’s TermSmart policies are offered for 10, 15 and 20 year periods, and you can purchase between $100,000 to over $1 million in coverage. Term policies can also be customized with a variety of standard riders, such as an accidental death benefit, accelerated death benefit (to help with costs if you become terminally ill), and a waiver of premium rider (in the case you become disabled).

If you aren’t yet certain that you want term coverage, Voya also offers a wide selection of permanent life insurance policies and you can convert your policy later without having your health reassessed.

  • A (Excellent) A.M. Best Rating
  • 0.28 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median, 0 would be no complaints)
  • Products: Term life insurance, survivorship life insurance, universal life insurance, indexed universal life insurance, variable life insurance
Pacific Life Insurance

Consider this if you want low-cost level term life insurance from a company with outstanding consumer reviews.

Pacific Life Insurance is not only one of the best companies for term life insurance, but they also have incredible customer service. Of all the companies we compared, they had the lowest complaint ratio and are highly rated for their customer satisfaction. Considering they also have some of the lowest premiums, even if you’re older or have health issues, Pacific Life is a top choice for term life insurance.

If you want term life insurance for a longer period of time, Pacific Life offers coverage for up to 30-year terms. In addition, you can convert your policy to permanent coverage without additional medical exams or underwriting.

  • A+ (Superior) A.M. Best Rating
  • 0.02 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median, 0 would be no complaints)
  • Products: Term life insurance, universal life insurance, indexed universal life insurance, variable life insurance

Best Online Life Insurance Companies

Until recently, you could get quoted for life insurance online but, if you want to purchase a policy, you had to complete forms and speak to an agent offline. Now a number of startups have emerged that allow you to handle the entire application process online and, in many cases, get a near-immediate approval decision.

Haven Life

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

Haven Life provides the best term life insurance quotes for a wide variety of customer profiles while allowing you to complete the entire quote and application experience online. In addition, Haven Life offers some of the fastest approvals for coverage purchased. Though some 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 riders is somewhat limited, they have all the standards you’d expect from an insurer, such as an accelerated death benefit rider and waiver of premium rider.

And, while Haven Life is a relatively new insurer, the company is backed by MassMutual (our pick for Best Rated Insurer) meaning you can be comfortable the company will be there when needed.

  • A++ (Superior) A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating
  • 0.04 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median score, 0 would be no complaints)
Ladder Life

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

Ladder Life is a new insurer focused on simplifying the process of purchasing coverage, but also addressing people’s changing financial situations. The amount of life insurance you need changes over time so, as part of their platform, Ladder Life 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, such as if you expect to have a kid in the next several years.

Though Ladder Life’s rates aren’t the absolute lowest, the company is quite competitive, often with below average premiums. Their 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.

  • Underwriter has A- (Excellent) A.M. Best Rating
  • Payment Options: Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Direct bill

Top Whole Life Insurance Companies

Whole life insurance is the most popular form of lifelong coverage as, it not only provides a death benefit, but also has 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 medical expenses. It can also be returned to you if you ever decide that you no longer want coverage. Since whole life insurance needs to be able to provide coverage for decades, we analyzed insurers to find the largest companies with the highest possible financial strength ratings.

Northwestern Mutual

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

Northwestern Mutual has some of the best consumer reviews and, as a mutual insurance company, has consistently issued dividends to whole life insurance policyholders for decades. 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 well, as you choose to pay for coverage until age 65, age 90 or for a certain period of time (such as 20 years). A great benefit of paying over a limited time is that you invest a greater amount in the cash value portion of the policy early on, meaning you earn higher returns over the length of coverage.

In addition, Northwestern Mutual offers a fairly unique rider 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 accelerate funds to pay for long term care.

The only restrictions to Northwestern Mutual’s life insurance policies are that they aren’t available with small death benefits (the minimum is $25,000) and the company doesn’t offer policies with limited underwriting. So, if you have a pre-existing medical condition or certain health problems, you would have to apply with a different insurer.

  • A++ (Superior) A.M. Best Rating
  • 0.04 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median, 0 would be no complaints)
  • $25,000 minimum coverage
New York Life

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

New York Life is also a mutual insurance company with the highest attainable financial strength rating from A.M. Best, and dividends can be pushed to pay premiums or increase coverage. However, New York Life offers a wider variety of structures for whole life insurance policies. For example, say 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 the ability to choose exactly how long you pay premiums.

Couples are also offered the option of a joint second-to-die whole life insurance policy, which is typically used to leave an inheritance or help dependents to cover estate taxes. While New York Life doesn’t have first-to-die whole life insurance, they do have an “SPPO” option. This is a fairly unique rider as it gives your spouse the ability to purchase single premium whole life insurance upon your death without demonstrating insurability. While a portion of your policy’s death benefit would go towards the cost of the SPPO, this can be a valuable benefit as it can provide your spouse coverage even if they would otherwise be uninsurable.

  • A++ (Superior) A.M. Best Rating
  • 0.16 NAIC Complaint Rating (1.00 is median, 0 would be no complaints)
  • $25,000 to $100,000 minimum coverage, depending on policy and health

How We Picked the Best Life Insurance Companies

We compared the 20 largest life insurance companies in the United States that offer individual life insurance coverage. Our comparison of each company took into account:

  • Cost - The cost of life insurance can vary significantly from one person to another, as each insurer weighs health factors differently. For example, some insurers cater to seniors while others won’t offer them coverage over 10 years. We looked for the companies that consistently offered some of the best rates, whether you’re young, old or higher-risk.
  • Reviews and Complaints - How a company interacts with its clients is incredibly important when it comes to life insurance. You want to make sure your insurer has guided you to the right coverage for your particular situation, and not just a high-cost product. In addition, you need to trust that the company will do its part if you pass away, paying out claims quickly and without hassle.
  • Financial Strength - A company’s financial strength indicates its ability to pay future claims, as well as the likelihood a company will continue to be in business in decades to come. Considering many life insurance policies last for 20 or 30 years, this is important to determining which insurer to choose.
Maxime Croll

Maxime is a Product Manager at ValuePenguin focusing on insurance. Previously she was the Director of Product Marketing at CoverWallet.

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