The Best Life Insurance Companies In 2020

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Key Takeaway

We’ve scored over 100 companies and this year’s best life insurance company, by the smallest of margins, is Northwestern Mutual.

Searching for the best life insurance company could take you a staggering amount of hours scouring financial strength ratings, customer service ratings and reviews, and comparing thousands of prices.

We know, because we’ve done it for you.

After reviewing more than 100 of the nation’s leading brands using thousands of data points – here are the results.

Our Top Choice
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

This is the nation’s leading mutual life insurance company who ranked #1 out of more than 100 companies for several reasons: security, products, price and customer satisfaction.

Rating

5.00/5

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Read Full Review

New York Life Insurance Company

Similar to Northwestern Mutual, New York Life embodies a financially strong, diverse, and long-standing life insurance company who you can count on.

Rating

4.83/5

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Read Full Review

MassMutual

A leader among the pack in more ways than one, it boasts excellent ratings, affordable pricing, and an affiliation with Haven Life, the nation’s top no exam carrier.

Rating

4.74/5

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Read Full Review

Top 10 Best Life Insurance Companies in the U.S.

  1. Northwestern Mutual
  2. New York Life
  3. MassMutual
  4. Pacific Life
  5. Banner Life
  6. The Guardian Life
  7. Principal Life
  8. Protective Life
  9. Mutual of Omaha
  10. USAA

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

5.00/5

There can only be one true best life insurance company, and in 2020 this is Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern has affordable coverage and the highest financial ratings any carrier could obtain, with outstanding customer service and user experience ratings, superior variety in its product line, and one of the strongest brand names, period.

If their top-of-the-line life insurance products weren’t enough, they can accommodate your full financial planning needs, too.

J.D. Power & Associates places them at #1 for this year, and they’ve been in the Top 5 for five consecutive years, the only life insurance company to have done so. Fortune has also recognized them as a Top 5 Most Admired Company in 2020.

The Good

  • Affordable
  • Most Safe, Secure
  • Highest Satisfaction Ratings
  • Very Low Complaint Ratio
  • Wide Range of Products
  • Possibility to Earn Dividends
  • Full Financial Planning Available

The Bad

  • Need Local/Captive Agent
Read our full Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company review

New York Life Insurance Company

4.83/5

The closest competitor to Northwestern, New York Life Insurance Company is very similar in a lot of ways.

They, too, have affordable coverage, the highest possible financial ratings, superior customer service and user satisfaction ratings, life insurance products right in line with Northwestern Mutual, and the ability for full financial planning.

In addition, they own NYLAARP, the life insurance program for AARP, which is very well known and positioned for the senior market, and New York Life is currently the largest mutual life insurer. NYLife paid nearly $2 billion in dividends to shareholders in the past year.

If you want permanent coverage, ask an agent about their participating whole life insurance policies.

If you’re looking for AARP, you’ll need to contact them separately.

The Good

  • Affordable
  • Most Safe, Secure
  • High Satisfaction Ratings
  • Very Low Complaint Ratio
  • Wide Range of Products
  • Possibility to Earn Dividends
  • Full Financial Planning Available
  • AARP Life Insurance Program

The Bad

  • Need Local/Captive Agent
Read our full New York Life Insurance Company review

MassMutual

4.74/5

Rounding out our Top 3 is Massachusetts Mutual, or MassMutual, for short.

MassMutual packs the one-two punch of being a top notch mutual life insurance company nearly comparable to Northwestern Mutual and New York Life, but also underwriting for the Haven Life insurance agency who has the top non-medical product on the market right now by a mile.

Massachusetts Mutual has nearly perfect financial ratings and is even more affordable than Northwestern Mutual and New York Life, on the whole. They fall a little short on user ratings, however, and don’t quite have as big of a brand name as some other major insurers.

Enjoy full financial planning, insurance, investments, and the history of a long-standing company. The versatility of MassMutual is unparalleled.

The Good

  • Very Affordable
  • Very Safe, Secure
  • Wide Range of Products
  • Possibility to Earn Dividends
  • Full Financial Planning Available
  • Non-Med Term

The Bad

  • B- with Better Business Bureau
Read our full MassMutual review

Pacific Life Insurance Company

4.54/5

Pacific Life has been doing a phenomenal job in the past few years, and has really moved up the ranks in the life insurance industry.

Over the breadth of life insurance products it offers, it’s one of the more competitive companies you may have access to, though some of its term products for younger crowds fall a little short.

With a wider selection than the mutual companies above, and a new policy not requiring an exam, it’s a tough contender.

Its financial ratings fall short of those above, however, as does its brand recognition. In either scenario, both are still ahead of most of the competition.

Consumers report positive feedback with Pacific, and the company’s proactivity and diversity for their customers has locked them in as an excellent option for a wide majority of people.

The Good

  • Very Affordable
  • Very Safe, Secure
  • Widest Range of Products
  • Full Financial Planning Available
  • Non-Med Term

The Bad

  • Less Competitive Term Rates
Read our full Pacific Life Insurance Company review

Banner Life Insurance

4.52/5

If you want extremely affordable term life insurance, Banner Life is your company.

Banner has by far the best bang-for-the-buck life insurance coverage you can buy if you want a cheap term policy, especially for young adults and middle aged folk. If you’re older, they do have a final expense option with up to $15,00 in coverage.

Even if you’re not the most healthy, you might find Banner Life is still cheaper than its competitors, and you’ll still get the financial stability of an insurer who has garnered “A” or better rankings, and an “A+” by the Better Business Bureau.

Banner has exceptional underwriting leniency in several categories, and employs an unique table rating format to capture better pricing for those not in perfect health.

Banner is a division of Legal & General Group, so don’t be confused by the name when you apply. They’re also called William Penn in the state of New York.

The Good

  • Best-in-Class Term Life
  • Very Safe, Secure
  • Lenient Rating Tables
  • Multiple Types of Coverage
  • International Company

The Bad

  • Low Limit on Final Expense
Read our full Banner Life Insurance review

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

4.50/5

Guardian is a highly notable life insurer throughout the industry, who is extremely safe and conservative.

They also boast a very high consumer satisfaction rating, nearly perfect financial stability ratings by all major credit agencies, and an “A+” from the Better Business Bureau. But what’s holding them back?

Among the top competitors here, it came down to price.

Guardian has all the most widely used products and the brand to back up their storied history, but competitive pricing is their kicker currently.

One big positive, though, is they have other lines of insurance many of these others don’t have, which can be a big differentiating factor if you like having your insurance policies in one place.

The Good

  • Most Safe, Secure
  • Widest Range of Products
  • Other Insurance & Investments
  • Possibility to Earn Dividends
  • Highest Satisfaction Ratings
  • Low Complaint Ratio

The Bad

  • Uncompetitive Pricing
Read our full The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America review

Principal Life Insurance Company

4.47/5

Principal is yet another fiscally strong company, with four credit ratings of “A” or better and an impressive outlook, with insurance benefits and investing for people, businesses, and even institutional investors.

In the life insurance space, Principal stands out not only for its term, universal and variable universal products, but also for no medical exam underwriting on disability insurance and up to $1,000,000 of life insurance coverage.

Principal is a slightly lesser known brand, though they have many different products which are very competitively priced, and are among our top 10 carriers for user experience and customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking for a great value with the ability to skip the typical exam, Principal is a great fit. There are other carriers who have these products, too, though Principal is competitively priced.

The Good

  • Safe, Secure
  • High Satisfaction Ratings
  • $1,000,000 Non-Med Product
  • Low Complaint Ratio
  • Serves Consumers, Businesses, Institutions
  • Other Investments Available

The Bad

  • Lacks Permanent Product Variety
Read our full Principal Life Insurance Company review

Protective Life Insurance Company

4.43/5

Tied with Banner and Principal for some of the most affordable coverage options available, Protective Life is an especially great option for those who are looking for long-term or permanent coverage which is affordable and flexible.

Like its name alludes, Protective has become a staple in longer term and universal life insurance protection, and it resides in the top quartile for financial safety and security, with “A” or better ratings from all credit rating agencies.

If you feel as though you need flexibility in your life insurance coverage, look no further.

Offering lots of product options is a specialty, among customizable policies which are typically top-tier in pricing and value, so you’ll get coverage for as long as you want at a price you can afford.

Users report a strong affinity to working with Protective, though the brand image is still modest when compared to some of the larger brands.

The Good

  • Safe, Secure
  • High Satisfaction Ratings
  • Low Complaint Ratio
  • Best-in-Class Universal Life
  • Ultra-flexible, Custom Products
  • Competitively Priced
  • Easy-to-Use Website

The Bad

  • Lacks Brand Image
Read our full Protective Life Insurance Company review

Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company

4.40/5

Yet another strong mutual insurer on our list, Mutual of Omaha is a staple for anyone looking for a final expense life insurance policy.

Financially strong and stable with a long-standing history, Mutual of Omaha has been perfecting small whole life and guaranteed policies for over a hundred years.

But on top of the best-in-class product, they have term, universal, whole, and even other types of coverage like disability, long term care, dental, medicare, and more.

Mutual of Omaha also has some of the industry’s highest user satisfaction ratings, a complete portfolio of life insurance products to choose from, and a moderately well-known brand.

You’ve got a safe bet in Mutual of Omaha, and if you’re seeking a small burial policy, this carrier is a no-brainer.

The Good

  • Best-in-Class Final Expense
  • Very Safe, Secure
  • Wide Range of Products
  • Highest Satisfaction Ratings
  • Low Complaint Ratio
  • Multi-Line Insurance Available

The Bad

  • Less Competitive Term Product
Read our full Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company review

USAA Life Insurance Company

4.34/5

USAA is perhaps one of the better-known insurance companies, but more so because of its clout with veterans and servicemembers, and less-so within the life insurance industry.

Many people know about USAA for their extremely wide range of products and financial services tailored toward those who are active-duty, have served previously, or have close relatives who have. It’s become a one-stop-shop for millions of Americans.

Their life insurance products are modestly competitive, though easy to obtain for those who are already utilizing USAA. They do lack in variety, despite having the basic three: term, universal, and whole.

If you just want life insurance, you may find cheaper prices somewhere else, but if you’re a USAA member, it might be simplest to keep your coverage under one roof.

The Good

  • Highly Trusted Brand
  • Very Safe, Secure
  • High Satisfaction Ratings
  • Low Complaint Ratio
  • Multiple Lines of Insurance
  • Banking, Investments, & More

The Bad

  • Low Variety of Life Insurance Products
Read our full USAA Life Insurance Company review

How We Chose the Best Companies

Because we have the first and only consensus and data-driven model, you can rest assured these rankings can be trusted and without bias.

Every single company we reviewed was evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Price/Value – Does the company offer competitive rates, on average?
  • Financial Strength – Does the company have the ability to pay out their claims?
  • User Experience – Does the company make it easy to understand their product, buy their product, and make a claim?
  • Product Availability – Does the company have the right product to meet your needs?
  • Brand/Size – Does the company have a strong reputation, with customers and the industry?
  • Consensus – Does the general consensus of the company appear to be positive?

You can read more below about how we counted each factor.

The Complete Methodology, Fully Transparent

We’ve thoroughly analyzed over a hundred providers using thousands of data points to bring you an objective list of the best companies in the market.

Our methodology weighs criteria across six different categories which were deemed the most important to purchasing life insurance.

Price/Value (30%)

The cost of premiums for the average applicant.

Why It Matters

As long as the companies you’re comparing are financially stable and have the coverage you need, you should ultimately choose the one that offers the lowest rates.

What We Considered

To determine this score, we look at the average cost of coverage for many different sample sizes, products, and demographics, comparing rates from over a hundred providers.

You’ll always need to get your quotes based on your age and health, but price is almost always the deciding factor, so discovering the average (and the distance from the average) is a big deal.

Financial Strength (20%)

The provider’s ability to pay out claims.

Why It Matters

It’s crucial that you buy life insurance from a financially solvent company to ensure they’re capable of paying out your policy as promised.

What We Considered

Some of the factors that determine this score are:

  • Credit ratings from A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P
  • Assets under management
  • Amount of policies in force
  • Cash reserves, and bond ratings of investment portfolios

Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but liquidity, solvency, and the ability to weather a financial storm mean quite a bit.

User Experience (15%)

The ease of using the website, applying for coverage, and filing claims.

Why It Matters

Researching, buying, and maintaining a life insurance policy should be simple. The best life insurance companies provide you with great customer service from the day you apply for coverage to the time a claim is made, whether it’s online, over the phone, or in person.

What We Considered

To calculate this score, we use metrics like J.D. Power, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and BBB ratings (for each company, respectively), weighing factors including:

  • Consumer complaints
  • Application processes
  • Online interactions
  • Active & closed complaints
  • History of claims paying ability

Product Availability (15%)

The breadth of products to meet most people’s needs.

Why It Matters

Financial stability, price, and user experience don’t count for much if you can’t find the right policy. The best providers have a variety of products made to meet the majority of people’s life insurance needs.

What We Considered

To assess a carrier’s product availability, we look at some of the factors below:

  • Range of policy types
  • Riders and additional benefits
  • Availability of coverage
  • Other lines of insurance, investments, or annuities

Consensus (15%)

The overall agreement on the quality of a provider.

Why It Matters

You shouldn’t take just one person’s word for it when you’re looking for the best life insurance company, including ours. There should be a generally positive consensus among the industry and consumers regarding the provider you choose.

What We Considered

We utilize a plethora of authoritative online rankings by industry experts, independent review sites, financial sites, and individual consumer reviews across many platforms to assess the general consensus of a company.

We are the first and only one to incorporate this metric to ensure the ratings are as unbiased and true as possible.

Brand/Size (5%)

The company’s overall size, market presence, and general brand recognition.

Why It Matters

The size of a company and the familiarity of its brand are important markers of credibility for a lot of consumers. These factors make it easy to find ample information on the company, as well as its agents, and can further solidify it as a legitimate and trustworthy option.

What We Considered

To rate a company’s brand recognition and size, we evaluate elements like its:

  • Number of employees
  • Amount of policyholders
  • Social media presence
  • Website

The Best Life Insurance Carriers By Category Or Product Type

There are a few common reasons to make sure you have life insurance in place:

  • It’s key to a full financial plan, protecting your family emotionally and financially.
  • It’s the best tool to protect a person’s lifelong earning potential.
  • It can help your loved ones avoid the accumulation of debt and loss of assets.

While the needs above may be universal, not all situations are the same. While no single carrier has the best product in every category, some companies excel in certain niches.

Our Methodology for the Best Carriers by Category or Product

To select these companies, we built on our methodology above, adding an extra metric for product specialty.

This additional factor accounts for a full 20% of the final decision, reducing the other factors proportionally. We evaluated:

  • The product: The utility of a product, riders, convertibility (where appropriate), and availability.
  • The price: Competitiveness of the underwriting process and pricing for each product.

Here are the best in class for each specialty:

Best Term Life Insurance Company

Banner Life Insurance

4.52/5

Banner Life exemplifies what consumers want 
from term life insurance: simplicity, wide 
availability, and superior pricing.

Banner has some of the most cost-effective 
term products on the market with excellent 
riders and convertibility.

Banner also has a subsidiary, William Penn Life Insurance of New York, operating in the state of New York.

Best Universal Life Insurance Company

Protective Life Insurance Company

4.43/5

Protective Life hosts the most comprehensive assortment of universal life at virtually unbeatable prices, with a highly customizable universal product.

When you apply for Protective’s universal policy, you can specify an age to extend coverage to, ranging from 90 to 121.

For permanent coverage with lower premiums than a true whole life product, look no further than Protective.

Best Whole Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

5.00/5

Northwestern Mutual, takes the cake for top-notch whole life insurance and survivorship life insurance, based on safety, security, guarantees, and growth.

A solid selection of riders, term conversion credits, and dividends make these products second to none.

If you’re looking to pair your retirement with the same company as your insurance, Northwestern Mutual has you covered with a full suite of options.

Best No Exam Life Insurance Company

Haven Life

4.65/5

Haven Life has taken over Sagicor as the winner for the top no exam life insurance company for this year.

This company has continued to push the needle and extend the amount of coverage it offers well beyond its competitors, as well as make getting coverage even easier than before.

With extremely fast coverage, affordable rates, and the largest amount of coverage available without an exam, they stand a head above the rest.

Best Burial Life Insurance Company

Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company

4.40/5

In a comparison of all types of burial insurance (level, graded, guaranteed), Mutual of Omaha stood out with superior availability to wider demographics, simple and fast underwriting, and comparable prices.

Their products have long-term guarantees, and the company is strong and stable. You can feel confident in buying the last policy you’ll ever need from Mutual of Omaha.

Best Impaired Risk Life Insurance Company

Pruco Life Insurance Company

4.00/5

The most aggressive, liberal underwriter for coverage in the industry, Pru has uncharacteristically relaxed guidelines in the most progressive areas of life insurance.

Where some carriers aren’t competitive, Prudential offers traditional coverage with little reserve.

Underwriting may take a little longer and be more comprehensive, but you’ll save in premiums if you have a medical condition or impairment.

Best Life Insurance Company For Smokers

Pruco Life Insurance Company

4.00/5

Whether you smoke cigarettes or cigars, chew dip, use e-cigarettes or even marijuana, Prudential should be atop your list.

Their liberal underwriting towards riskier applicants applies to tobacco users as well.

Pru’s guidelines are a bit technical for each type of tobacco use, so we highly suggest talking to an agent before applying and informing the company upfront about any types of smoking.

Best Life Insurance Company For Diabetics

AIG Direct

3.89/5

AIG stands out as a top provider for fully underwritten life insurance for diabetics, with high-quality term and the best guaranteed universal coverage option available.

If you have diabetes but are otherwise an average risk or better, you can expect a great experience and competitive rates from AIG.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you’d like more information on picking a life insurance company, the questions and answers below can help.

How many life insurance companies are there?

There are more than 800 life insurance companies throughout the United States, all of which are different sizes, structures, and business models.

We have individually reviewed more than 100 of the top carriers.

What exactly do life insurance company ratings mean?

A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s are the top four major credit rating agencies that assess a company’s ability to keep its financial commitments.

Within the financial space, the “Big Three” consist of Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s; within the life insurance arena, A.M. Best holds the most clout.

What is considered a good credit rating?

Each of the four major agencies uses its own grading scale, with A-level ratings being the best across the board.

Generally, you should look for a company with nothing lower than an “A-” from A.M. Best, which all of the best companies should have.

What type of life insurance company should you consider?

There is more than one type of life insurance provider, with different internal structures and operating personnel. Here’s a breakdown of the two different types of companies, mutual and stock held:

Mutual company: These companies are owned completely by policyholders, with dividends (not guaranteed) typically distributed to consumers who hold permanent products. You’ll likely have to work with a captive agent to make a purchase (more on this below).

Stock held company: These companies are publicly traded on a stock exchange like the NYSE, available for anyone to become a part-owner. That means profits go back to those who own stocks first, not those who actually own a life insurance policy from that company.

How do you gauge a company’s customer service?

As with any industry, the level of customer service you receive from a company can vary widely.

It should reflect:

– Ease of using the company’s website
– Ease of purchase
– Availability of someone to talk to, quickly
– Claims paying process

This can be the hardest component of a carrier’s reputation to judge, but here are a few pointers:

1. Ask around: Ask for referrals to a company or agent whom people were exceptionally satisfied with.
2. Read reviews: You can also check out reviews to get a picture of customers’ experiences.
3. Get in touch: Dial a few companies to see how quickly you can get access to someone, or reach out to agents to see which ones are responsive and helpful.
4. Check BBB ratings: The Better Business Bureau is one of the easiest places to get an overview of complaints filed against a company and see a score of their user experience.

What types of agents do you have access to?

There are two types of agents: captive life insurance agents and independent life insurance agents.

Here are the key differences between captive and independent agents:

Captive agents: Employed directly by the company for whom they offer insurance, these tend to be local agents who usually don’t sell for any other providers, though they can with special arrangements.

Independent agents: Not employed directly with any one company, these brokers “shop your rate” and should be well-versed in various products and their underwriting guidelines.

Should you work with a captive or independent agent?

In most cases, it’s best to work with an independent agent whose main goal is getting you the best rates.

However, If you want access to a mutual life insurance provider’s policy, they may not be able to assist you.

Another option is to work with a broker or insurance aggregator.

How often do you communicate with the company or an agent?

If you work with an agent, communication is very important in the beginning as you share your goals and budget and choose which product and insurance company are the best fit.

But, you will likely only speak with your agent at annual reviews, with product changes like conversions or adding new riders, or if you change contact information or beneficiaries.

Claims, however, are filed directly with the carrier and take around 7-10 days. Your agent can assist you in finding the proper contact information for the insurance company.

What types of life insurance are there?

You have two basic options when it comes to purchasing life insurance: term and permanent.

Term life insurance grants you temporary coverage, promising a death benefit in exchange for premiums if you pass away while the policy is active.

Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, can cover you for life, providing both a death benefit and a potentially interest-bearing cash value account.

Term life insurance is the most flexible and cost-efficient option, fitting most people needs, but you should ultimately choose what type of life insurance fits your circumstance.

You have a host of life insurance options, which suit different needs, goals, and risk tolerances.

How are premiums calculated?

A lot of factors go into determining the cost of your life insurance. A few key factors are your:

– Age
– Gender
– Tobacco use
– Health condition
– Family health history
– Policy type and size

Are the best policies available as a bundle?

While some companies might have what you need, bundling might not be the best solution because of the health rating you’ll get, the level of service you require, or simply, price.

However, if you’d like to simplify your account management and have all of your policies in one place, the extra cost to have your auto, homeowner’s or other under one umbrella could be worth it.

Who Has The Best Life Insurance Policy For You?

The best insurance companies are the ones who give you the exact policy you need, for the best price you can get, with the stability and financial foundation you should expect of a multi-million or multi-billion dollar institution.

Author:

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Jason Fisher

Jason Fisher is the founder and CEO of BestLifeRates.org, LLC. and a multi-state licensed life insurance agent who has helped over a million Americans seek out affordable coverage, compare quotes, or get their family and businesses covered.