Updated May 17, 2019

Best Life Insurance

Read more about Life Insurance

With so many choices, finding the best life insurance company isn't easy. Read our list of the best choices for your coverage needs.

© CreditDonkey

The companies on our list are ranked based on:

Products Available
This includes: types of policies (term, whole, universal, variable) and available options like Additional Riders.

Customer Service Ratings
We used J.D. Power Insurance Rating, which ranks companies based on the opinions of sample consumers who have used or owned a product or service being rated.

Price
Quotes gathered are based on 35-year-old male and female candidates in good health, who are non-smokers, for a $250,000, 20-year term policy. Male was 6'0", 200 lbs. and female was 5'7", 175 lbs.

Financial Strength and Insurance Ratings
We analyzed the financial strength reported by each company as well as scores reported by A.M. Best, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch.

Top 10 Life Insurance Companies

CompanyA.M BestMoody'sS & PFitch
New York LifeA++AAAAA+AAA
Northwestern MutualA++AAAAA+AAA
ProtectiveA+A1AA-A+
Mutual of OmahaA+A1A-N/A
PrudentialA+A1AA-A+
American NationalAN/AAN/A
AssurityA-N/AN/AN/A
TransamericaA+A1A-A+
ForestersAN/AN/AN/A
LincolnA+A1A-A+

New York Life

Male QuoteN/A
Female QuoteN/A
Years in Business170+ Years
Assets$5.8 Billion
Underwriting Time3 weeks
Conversion OptionsTerm to Whole
Customer Service3/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole

Pros

  • Policy offerings include Term and Whole options
  • Variety of add-ons
  • Excellent financial ratings
  • Flexible premium payment options

Cons

  • No universal life policies
  • Does not offer no-exam policy options

New York Life is a mutual insurance company, meaning it's not publicly traded and has no stakeholders. With seven million policyholders and $9.8 billion in paid policies, the company offers insurance, investment, and retirement solutions through a variety of products.

It has excellent financial ratings and flexible premium payment options (annual, semiannual, quarterly, monthly).

New York Life offers:

  • Two Term policies including Yearly Convertible Term and Level Premium Convertible Term. Terms are offered on an annual basis, or for 10, 15, or 20 years.

  • Three Whole policies including Standard Whole, Custom Whole, and Value Whole.

New York Life does not offer universal life policies or no-exam policies.

You can also get standard policy add-ons:

  • Accidental Death Benefit
  • Children's Insurance
  • Chronic Care
  • Disability Waiver of Premium
  • Living Benefits
  • Spouse's Paid-Up Insurance Purchase Option Riders

Northwestern Mutual

Male QuoteN/A
Female QuoteN/A
Years in Business160 Years
Assets$227.4 Billion
Underwriting TimeN/A
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer Service5/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal

Pros

  • Lower premiums than many competitors
  • Highest financial strength ratings
  • 96% retention rate of policyholders
  • 5/5 stars in customer service and policy offerings by J.D. Power

Cons

  • Lacks no-exam policy options
  • No online quotes; must talk to an agent

Founded in 1859, Northwestern Mutual has 4.4 million clients and paid over $4 billion in life, disability, and long-term care claims in 2016. The company boasts a 96% retention rating of their clients year over year.

Northwestern offers term, whole, and universal policy options and flexible premium payment options. They do not offer non-medically underwritten policies.

They have two universal coverage options:

  • Single-Premium allows the policyholder to purchase coverage with one lump-sum payment.

  • Customer Universal Life Accumulator lets the insured party adjust the death benefit and price as needs change.

In addition, their CompLife policy combines elements of whole and term life insurance. You can choose to split your death benefit coverage to be partially for term coverage and partially for permanent coverage.

For example, if you had a $500,000 policy, you could set $400,000 towards the term, and $100,000 in a permanent policy. This can be beneficial if you have both short- and long-term life insurance needs.

Northwestern Mutual was named one of the "World's Most Admired Companies" in the industry in 2018.

Protective

Male Quote$17.86/mo.
Female Quote$15.82/mo.
Years in Business100+ Years
Assets$80 Billion
Underwriting Time2-6 Weeks
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent Without Medical Exam
Customer Service5/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal,Variable Universal, Indexed Universal

Pros

  • Owned by a larger company, so they are more financially stable
  • Variety of options, including medically and non-medically underwritten policies
  • 4/5 stars in overall satisfaction and 5/5 stars in customer service by J.D. Power

Cons

  • Longer underwriting time compared to other top companies

Protective, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc., had more than eight million policyholders and $862 billion life insurance in force in 2017.

They offer a variety of policy options, including the Protective Classic Choice Term policy, which offers rates up to 49% less expensive than other competition. They also offer both medically and no-exam underwritten policies.

Protective Life earns exceptional financial ratings, with 5/5 stars in customer service by J.D. Power.

Mutual of Omaha

Male Quote$14.84/mo.
Female Quote$13.76/mo.
Years in Business100+ Years
Assets$3.5 Billion
Underwriting TimeUp to 30 days but typically around 10 days
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer Service5/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal

Pros

  • Both medically and non-medically underwritten policies
  • Automatically-included riders for many policies
  • Fit Underwriting Credit program gives credits for healthy living, which could mean lower premiums

Cons

  • Limited options within policy type

Mutual of Omaha is a mutual company, which means it's owned by policyholders. For more than 100 years, they have been providing a variety of life insurance, financial, and banking products.

The company offers both medically and non-medically underwritten term and whole policies for customers ages 18-85. They have multiple automatically included riders such as:

  • Terminal illness
  • Chronic illness
  • Residential damage
  • Waiver of premium for unemployment
  • Common carrier death benefit

Mutual of Omaha's Fit Underwriting Credit program allows policyholders to earn extra "fit" credits through healthy living. With credits, you can potentially earn a better rate class with lower premiums.

J.D. Power ranks them higher than average for overall satisfaction and among the best for customer service interactions.

Prudential

Male Quote$34.65/mo.
Female Quote$28.35/mo.
Years in Business140+ Years
Assets$1.4 Trillion
Underwriting TimeAverage 23 Days
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer Service3/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Universal, Variable Universal, Survivorship Universal, Indexed Universal

Pros

  • One of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S.
  • Additional online assistance
  • Variety of coverage options
  • Non-medically underwritten policies

Cons

  • Slightly higher premium rates
  • No Whole Life policies
  • Not all Term policies convert to permanent policies
  • Only 3/5 stars in customer service by J.D. Power

Founded more than 140 years ago, Prudential insures customers in more than 40 countries. They have more than $3.7 trillion of gross life insurance in force.

The company offers online assistance, including fake profiles of policyholders based on family makeup, earnings, debt, and life wants and needs.

They offer a variety of coverage options, including:

  • Term
  • Universal Life
  • Indexed Universal Life
  • Survivorship Universal Life
  • Variable Universal Life
  • Survivorship Universal Life
  • Non-medically underwritten policies

Prudential does not offer Whole policies. The company has a variety of riders to provide enhanced coverage.

American National

Male Quote$19.22/mo.
Female Quote$17.06/mo.
Years in Business100+ Years
Assets$27.3 Billion
Underwriting TimeAverage 48-72 Hours
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer ServiceN/A
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal, Indexed Universal

Pros

  • Large selection of policy offerings
  • Offers medically and non-medically underwritten policies
  • Legacy Whole Life Insurance Plan offers no exam options for ages 50-80
  • Signature Term offers "living benefits"
  • Accelerated underwriting options

Cons

  • No online quotes; you must contact an agent.
  • Not rated by all financial institutions

Founded in 1905, American National Insurance Company offers a variety of life insurance products, such as:

  • Whole life
  • Term life
  • Universal life
  • Indexed Universal life
  • Credit life

The company provides a quote calculator on their website to estimate your life insurance needs. But to get an actual quote, you need to locate an agent through their local directory or by calling their Life and Annuity Contact Center.

American National offers both medically underwritten and no-exam policy options. Their no-exam options include both Term and Whole policies.

American National's Legacy Whole Life Insurance Plan has no exam and no health questions at all. It is available for those aged 50-80.

They also offer a Signature Term product, with "living benefits" for those with terminal, chronic, or critical illness. These benefits can be used while you are still alive.

The company offers an accelerated underwriting option called Xpress Plus, which provides automatic underwriting for individual life policies. To meet these requirements, you must be younger than age 50 wanting coverage up to $1,000,000 or age 51-60 for up to $500,000 of coverage.)

Assurity

Male Quote$21.75/mo.
Female Quote$18.92/mo.
Years in Business125+ Years
Assets$2.6 Billion
Underwriting TimeAverage 30 Days
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer ServiceN/A
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal

Pros

  • Offers both medically and non-medically underwritten policies
  • Lenient with approvals, so you are more likely to be approved

Cons

  • Slower than normal approval times
  • Small range of policy options

Assurity was founded in 1890 as a mutual organization, meaning they have no shareholders or publicly traded stock. In 2017, Assurity Life Insurance Company paid $124.7 million in living benefits to policyholders and $69.3 million in death benefits.

They offer Term Life, Whole Life, and Universal Life policies. The company's underwriting takes longer than most companies, but they are more lenient with approvals.

Assurity has a NonMed Term 350 policy that allows anyone ages 18-65 to get a policy up to $350,000 without taking a medical exam. 50% of applicants are provided instant approval, according to their website.

Transamerica

Male Quote$25.37/mo.
Female Quote$21.29/mo.
Years in Business100+ Years
Assets$1.2 Billion
Underwriting Time7-10 Days
Conversion OptionsTrendsetter Super Term to Permanent
Customer Service3/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal, Indexed Universal, Final Expense

Pros

  • Owned by one of the leading providers of life insurance
  • More than 13 million customers and $1.7 billion of insurance policies in force
  • Access to an exclusive health community and wellness services
  • Medically and non-medically underwritten policies

Cons

  • Limited policy options
  • Ranked 3/5 stars in customer service by J.D. Power

Transamerica is owned by Aegon Group, one of the leading providers of life insurance. They serve more than 13 million customers in the U.S., with more than $1.7 billion of insurance policies in force in 2017.

The company provides coverage, but also aims to increase the health and wellness of their policyholders through education, an exclusive health community, and other wellness services.

Transamerica offers Whole policies up to $3 million of coverage and Term up to $10 million. Term lengths vary from 10-30 years, and coverage is offered to people up to age 64. They also offer both medically and non-medically underwritten Term options.

Foresters

Male Quote$22.32/mo.
Female Quote$19/mo.
Years in Business140+ Years
Assets$17.5 Million
Underwriting Time10 minutes to 1 week
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer Service3/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Universal Variable, Universal

Pros

  • Fast underwriting time
  • Variety of policy options
  • Medically and non-medically underwritten policies

Cons

  • Not rated by all financial institutions

Foresters Financial has more than 3 million customers and invests millions into local communities, according to their website. They have earned solid "A" A.M ratings for the past 17 years.

The company offers a variety of policy options, including three Whole policy options, as well as medically and non-medically underwritten policies.

Lincoln

Male Quote$27.20/mo.
Female Quote$24.83/mo.
Years in Business113 Years
Assets$262 Billion
Underwriting Time2 Days
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer Service3/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole, Variable, Universal

Pros

  • Variety of policy options
  • Accelerated underwriting times for term coverages
  • Medically and non-medically underwritten policies
  • Life/long-term care options
  • High ratings from financial agencies

Cons

  • No Whole policies
  • Additional fees depending on your coverage amount
  • Scored "average" for overall satisfaction, price and customer service by J.D. Power
  • Slightly higher premium rates

Lincoln offers a variety of insurance options, including Term, Universal, and Variable Universal policies. Their Term products, TermAccel and Life Elements, both have fast approval times and no-exam options.

The company also offers is a combination life/long-term care option in which you can use a Universal policy as an alternative to purchasing a long-term care insurance policy.

They do not offer Whole policies, and charge an additional policy fee of either $80 or $90 per year, depending on your coverage amount.

Lincoln earned high marks from the ratings agencies, but they scored only average for overall satisfaction, price, and customer service by J.D. Power (3/5 stars).

A Few More Choices

These companies didn't make our top 10, but remain excellent insurance options thanks to their policy offerings, financial ratings, or estimated quotes.

Haven Life

Male Quote$20.45/mo.
Female Quote$18.08/mo.
Years in Business160 Years
Assets$5 Billion
Underwriting Time10 Days
Conversion OptionsN/A
Customer ServiceN/A
Policy OptionsTerm

Though Haven Life is only four years old, the company is wholly owned by the 160-year-old MassMutual Life Insurance Company. They offer fully medically underwritten term life insurance, as well as non-medically underwritten (no exam).

You can apply online for a term policy and find out immediately if you are approved for coverage.

There are two main process options:

  1. If you qualify for the InstantTerm process (up to age 45 and $1,000,000 in coverage), you do not have to take a medical exam and full coverage can begin immediately.

  2. Based on answers to your application questions, you may be required to take a medical exam. However, the exam can take less than 20 minutes and be conducted at your home or office. Once the results are processed, you will usually receive an offer within 7-10 days of taking the exam.

Haven Life also offers a Quick Estimate tool where you can get a range of rates and see other policy prices for current policyholders.

With Haven Life Plus, you can add additional benefits like Trust & Will (digital solution for creating legal wills), LifeSite (online safe deposit box), and a MinuteClinic 15% discount voucher.

Why it didn't make the list: Haven is a relatively new company that only offers Term policies.

Banner Life

Male Quote$18/mo.
Female Quote$15.91/mo.
Years in Business70+ Years
Assets$5 Billion
Underwriting Time2 Days
Conversion OptionsTerm to Universal
Customer ServiceN/A
Policy OptionsTerm, Universal

Owned and operated by Legal & General America, Banner Life insures over 1.3 million customers in the U.S. and over 10 million customers worldwide.

Legal & General is the ninth-largest insurance company in the world, having provided coverage for more than 70 years. They issued more than $53 billion in new coverage in 2017 alone.

Banner offers:

  • A flexible premium payment option
  • Additional riders for specific needs and term lengths
  • Competitive premium rates.

Why it didn't make the list: Banner offers only one term life policy and only one universal life policy. They do not offer whole policies or non-medically underwritten policies.

AIG

Male Quote$17.87/mo.
Female Quote$15.95/mo.
Years in Business100 Years
Assets$49.5 Billion
Underwriting Time1-3 Months
Conversion OptionsTerm to Permanent
Customer Service2/5
Policy OptionsTerm, Guaranteed Whole, Universal Variable, Accidental Death

Founded in 1919, AIG (American Insurance Group) insures customers in more than 80 countries through commercial, institutional, and individual insurance.

AIG's offers a QoL Flex Term option with built-in, no-cost Quality of Life Accelerated Benefit Riders. This allows you to get an advance on your policy's death benefit to cover costs of care in certain circumstances.

Other policies include:

  • Guaranteed Issue Whole Life
  • Universal
  • Variable
  • Accidental Death coverage.

Why it didn't make the list: J.D. Power rates AIG well below average in customer service and overall satisfaction ratings. They also have slower-than-average underwriting and approval time.

Fidelity Life

Male Quote$61/mo.
Female Quote$50/mo.
Years in Business120+ Years
Assets$406 Million
Underwriting Time24-48 Hours
Conversion OptionsN/A
Customer ServiceN/A
Policy OptionsTerm, Final Expense

Since 1896, Fidelity Life Association has been committed to "helping middle-American families achieve greater financial security by making life insurance more affordable and accessible," according to their website.

In 2017, Fidelity Life reported $31 billion life insurance policies in force, and $61 in million net life insurance premiums.

The company offers a variety of Term policy options, including:

  • RAPIDecision Life: Premium term insurance in amounts up to $1,000,000 available in as little as 24-48 hours.

  • RAPIDecision Express: Level death benefit term life insurance in amounts from $50,000-$250,000 for ages 18-65.

  • RAPIDecision Senior Life Term and Whole: Up to $150,000 of coverage for people ages 50-85.

  • RAPIDecision Final Expense: Up to $35,000 in permanent whole life coverage for individuals
    ages 50-85 to be used for covering final expenses.

  • RAPIDecision Guaranteed Issue: Protection to help pay off final expenses for those ages 50-85, up to $20,000 of coverage. The death benefit is paid in full after a 3-year reduced benefit period.

Why it didn't make the list: Fidelity does not offer any permanent options like Whole, Universal, or Variable. They also have significantly higher estimated monthly premiums.

Sagicor

Male Quote$18.18/mo.
Female Quote$16.05/mo.
Years in Business65 Years
Assets$6.4 Billion
Underwriting Time24-72 Hours
Conversion OptionsTerm to Whole
Customer ServiceN/A
Policy OptionsTerm, Whole

Sagicor Life Insurance Company is licensed in 45 states and in Washington D.C. It's a wholly owned subsidiary of Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited (SFC), one of the oldest insurance groups in America. It operates in a total of 22 countries.

Sagicor Life Insurance Company lets you choose from a variety of options within the permanent life policies, including:

  • No Lapse Universal Life
  • Fixed Indexed Universal Life
  • Fixed Indexed Single Premium Whole Life
  • Interest Sensitive Single Premium Whole Life
  • Sage Whole Life

Sage Term, their only Term option, is available for 10-20 years. It offers a guaranteed level premium during the initial term.

The payout can help provide income due to a terminal condition. And the death benefit, available until age 95, offers can be converted to a permanent life policy.

Sagicor also offers Accelewriting, an automated underwriting system that utilizes an eApplication, giving you a decision within minutes with no medical exam. Policy eDelivery is also available.

Why it didn't make the list: Sagicor is relatively limited in their Term policy options and only has average financial outlook and ratings.

Life Insurance Basics

Finding the right company is a great first step. Now keep reading to learn how to find the right life insurance policy for your needs.

Which Company Is Best for Me?

With more than 800 companies to choose from, how do you even know where to start?

First, find the right agent. There are two main types:

Captive Agents
These agents work for one insurance company. As such, they are required to meet certain policy sales quotas.

Captive agents are not able to quote you with different companies in order to find the best premium options for you. Their company also might not offer the type of policy or specific coverage you need.

Independent Agents
These agents typically own their own business and represent several insurance companies, or carriers. They are able to quote with different carriers and sell products that are best for you and your budget. They often have significant understanding of life insurance, the market, and the products that are available to you.

Independent Agents will likely not try to push a certain product or company just because of the salary they earn from them, so you may find it easier or better suited to work with one of them.

Types of Life Insurance to Consider

There are four primary types of life insurance coverage: Term, Whole, Universal, and Variable. Each one has pros and cons, including coverage, length of coverage, and price.

Term Life insurance
This is the most popular type of policy, largely because it costs less than other types of life insurance. It provides coverage for a certain period of time, or "term."

Traditional Term life insurance is designed to ensure protection for your loved ones should you die prematurely. With this policy, your beneficiary receives the full death benefit if you die within the years of the term.

The most common terms are 10, 20, and 30 years, though some companies also offer 15- and 25-year options.

Whole Life
This insurance provides lifelong coverage and includes an investment component. That means the cash value account will grow over time.

You can normally access the cash value any time through withdrawals or loans, which you can use for:

  • Retirement
  • Emergency funds
  • Other bills

Whole life insurance premiums are typically higher because the policy has a cash value and has guaranteed level premiums for life. This type of policy also has a guaranteed death benefit.

Universal Life
This insurance provides a permanent death benefit and has added cash value. Part of your monthly premiums go into a cash account that is credited with interest. That portion goes towards paying the death benefit.

With Universal Life, your premiums are not fixed, so the amount you pay can change month-to-month. But, you have more control and access to the dollars that go into the cash account.

Variable Life
Similar to Universal Life, part of your premium is contributed to a cash account. But with Variable, the cash value can be invested in a variety of different accounts.

The choice of which accounts to invest in is up to you. Examples include:

  • Stock
  • Bonds
  • Equity funds
  • Money market funds.

Why Do I Need Life Insurance?

Begin by considering who relies on you for financial support. This may include:

  • Children
  • Spouse or partner
  • Co-signors of debt or loans in your name
  • Elderly parents you have to take care of (or will in the future)

If someone does rely on you for financial support but you do not currently have enough savings to provide it, chances are you need life insurance coverage.

Next, think about what that support might entail. When you die, your life insurance payout could go towards:

Funeral expenses
The National Funeral Directors Association reports the average funeral costs between $6,000 and $9,000 (not including the cemetery plot, monument, or marker costs, flowers, obituaries, etc.)

Medical expenses
These are deductible, copay, and/or coinsurance costs that will vary depending on the state of your health before passing and the coverage your health insurance provides.

Paying off remaining debts
These can include:

  • Student loans: The average amount of student loan debt is between $28,000 and $40,000, depending on what year you graduated. In 2017, over 44 million Americans collectively owed nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.

  • Credit card debt: The average American has a credit balance of nearly $6,500, according to Experian's annual study on the state of credit and debit.

  • Mortgages: The price of your house, total of your down payment, your loan program, and loan interest rate affect your monthly mortgage. The average monthly rate is about $1,500.

What remains of your life insurance is used to help your family with additional expenses.

  • Maintaining a current home or purchasing a new home: The median cost of a new house is $322,637.

  • Sending children to college: The average cost of tuition for private colleges is $34,740 per year, for in-state public colleges $9,970 per year, and for out-of-state public colleges $25,620 per year.

  • Purchasing a new family car: The average cost of a new car in 2019 is $34,000.

  • Paying medical bills: The monthly premium for a family health insurance plan averages $1,168.

  • Childcare: If your spouse or partner has to go back to work or continue working, it could cost $10,000 or more per year for just one child.

  • Replacing a parent's income: Salary.com reports that if a stay-at-home parent were compensated, they would earn nearly $115,000 per year. At-home duties include cooking, cleaning, laundry, carpooling, childcare, running errands like grocery shopping, and more.

Think about how much it would cost to pay a third party to do those things—that loss of income can add up quickly.

If you do not have a life insurance policy, payment for expenses will fall on your family. This could total hundreds of thousands of dollars, putting your loved ones in a difficult financial position.

What Type and How Much Coverage Should I Buy?

To calculate your potential coverage amount, follow these simple steps:

  1. Consider how many years you want coverage, then multiply your annual income by that number. For example, if you earn $60,000 per year, you'll want a 10-year policy worth a minimum of $600,000.

  2. Think about other financial obligations your policy will cover, including:
    • Funeral costs
    • Mortgages
    • Student loans
    • Credit card debt
    • Medical bills

    Add these totals to the sum found in Part 1.

  3. Determine what services would need to be replaced. This is particularly important for stay-at-home parents. Your partner may not be able to quit working to provide the services you do.

    Add the replacement cost to Parts 1 and 2.

  4. Do you have any savings or life insurance through a current employer? If so, you'll want to subtract those totals from your determined policy amount.

Many employers offer a life insurance policy when you work full-time. While you should participate in those offerings, the policies usually provide only 1-3 times your current salary.

It's likely that coverage isn't enough for what you'll need. Also, if you leave that job, you lose the policy.

You'll want to choose a term life policy if:

  • You only need life insurance to replace your income over a certain period, such as the years you're raising your children or have an outstanding mortgage.

  • You want a simpler, more affordable policy.

Choose a whole life insurance policy if:

  • You want to provide money to your heirs to pay estate taxes.

  • You have lifelong dependents, such as a child with special needs.

  • You want to spend your retirement savings but still leave an inheritance for your beneficiaries.

If an investment portion and cash value growth is important, you may want to opt for a Universal or Variable policy.

Requesting a Quote

Most companies offer you the ability to either request a quote or get a quote online. You have three basic options.

  1. Request a Quote
    Enter and submit basic contact information. A life insurance agent will follow up with you via phone or email (depending on your preference).

    They will ask questions like:

    • Why do you need life insurance?
    • What kind of coverage are you are looking for?
    • How long do you need coverage?

    Once they get all of the information, they will offer quotes from different companies that best fit your needs.

  2. Get an Online Quote
    You'll answer questions about your
    • Gender
    • Date of birth
    • Height and weight
    • Coverage amount needs
    • Other basic, simple health questions

    You will have to do this for every company. Once you submit the information, you will either be emailed or immediately shown a quote.

  3. Talk to an Agent
    You can also work solely through an insurance agent by providing them with your information. They will then request the quotes for you.

Quotes are subject to change based on the answers to your application questions and/or results of your medical exam.

How to Purchase Coverage

Once you decide which quote and company is right for you, you'll submit an application for the policy. Again, you'll need to answer questions about your age, marital status, occupation, and basic health history.

There are three ways you can purchase life insurance:

  1. Directly from an insurance company. While this route typically ensures buying from a large, reputable insurer, it also may not get you the best price.

  2. Through an independent local insurance agent. These agents generally represent multiple companies, so they are able to compare more prices and often get you a better quote.

  3. Through an independent online broker. Purchasing online may seem faster and easier, but keep in mind life insurance policies and costs can be confusing, so it may be more difficult to do it on your own.

How Does the Application Process Work?

This process can take several weeks because it's quite lengthy—and personal. The application process works differently for different companies, but they general all follow the same process.

First, you'll need to speak with an agent to:

  • Verify information you provided during the quoting process
  • Answer additional questions about your needs
  • Confirm that the quote you selected is best for you

Usually you'll be sent paperwork that you have to fill out and sign to verify your intent.

For medically underwritten policies:
You'll have to fill out the application to answer general questions about you, your health, and your coverage wants and needs.

You'll also have to schedule and participate in a medical exam, and the results will be sent to the insurance company.

Once complete, the information will be sent to the insurer, who will analyze the results and decide whether to insure you or not, as well as what to charge as your monthly premium.

When your policy is approved, you'll be notified and receive a full copy of the policy. Typically, you'll also be asked to make the first premium payment.

For non-medical exam policies:
The process is usually streamlined. You will answer some general questions online about your health and coverage wants and needs.

Based on your answers, the company will decide whether to insure you or not. Underwriting often happens and coverage is obtained within 24-48 hours.

The two types of non-exam policies are Guaranteed Issue and Simplified Issue.

  1. Guaranteed Issue
    With this policy, you avoid a medical exam and underwriters do not see your medical records. This means the insurance company knows little about the risk your policy presents, so you'll likely pay the most.

    A guaranteed issue policy will usually come with a graded death benefit. If you were to pass away within the first 2-3 years of owning the policy, your beneficiary would only receive a refund on the premiums you paid, along with interest.

    If you live beyond three years and continue to pay the premium on the policy, your beneficiary would then qualify for the full death benefit amount.

  2. Simplified Issue
    With this type of policy, you do not take a medical exam, but underwriters will ask more thorough questions and have access to your medical records. Depending on the results, you may not be approved for coverage.

These policies still cost more than medically underwritten policies.


Best Time to Buy Life Insurance

When you apply for coverage, the insurance company must determine the risk they take on by approving your policy purchase.

Higher Risk: Means you are more likely to die before paying the full coverage amount. This means you'll pay more in premiums.

Lower Risk: Means you're more likely to pay off the full coverage. As such, your premium will be lower.

Typically, monthly premiums increase the older and unhealthier you are. A number of factors also play a role, like:


  • Age
  • Sex
  • Health
  • Smoking habits
  • Hobbies

A Few More Tips

To get the best insurance rates, you should:

Buy a policy when you are young and healthy
Because age and health are such important factors, take advantage by getting a policy when you are most likely to get the best rate.

Get quotes from different companies
Each insurer offers different types of policies, benefits and coverage. Getting multiple quotes allows you to see a variety of options so you can choose one that fits your budget.

Talk to or work with an insurance agent
They can assist with your research and the quoting process. Because they are the experts, they likely know what company and/or policy fits your needs best with the best rate.

Get a policy you can afford
Consider what will happen if you lose your job or have to tap into your savings for an emergency.

Try to pay your premium annually or semi-annually instead of monthly. This ensures you don't miss a payment, therefore avoiding late fees or potentially lapsing coverage. You may also be offered a discount by paying upfront.

Before finalizing your purchase, read through the terms of the policy carefully. Make sure you understand:

  • Which type of policy you want: term or whole
  • Renewal details
  • Year-to-year variances
  • Benefits or fine print for policy dollar allocation
  • Interest on the policy

Most importantly, learn what is AND what isn't covered by your policy.

Before deciding, you may also want to learn more about the company with which you plan to do business. Read on to learn how.

Researching a Company's Financial Strength

Four primary ratings provide insight into the company's financial security, profitability, and assets. These are provided by:

A.M. Best
This company, which offer independent analysis of the insurance industry, has been operating since 1899. Ratings are assigned after an extensive analysis that measure performance in areas like:

  • Competency of underwriting
  • Control of expenses
  • Adequacy of reserves
  • Soundness of investments
  • Capital sufficiency

Moody's
Moody's rating systems respond to the global capital market. This system provides clarity around components of credit risk and demands for finer distinctions in rating classifications.

Standard & Poor's
For 150 years, Standard & Poor's has measured a company's credit worthiness. It helps establish the financial stability of insurance companies.

Fitch
Fitch Ratings analyzes credit ratings and financial and operational strength. Their categories are AAA to BBB (investment grade) and BB to D (speculative grade).

Bottom Line

Choosing the best life insurance company will take some research. Find an insurer that offers the policy you want, with the right number of years or coverage length. If you would like a non-exam policy, confirm availability first—not all companies offer that option.

It's also wise to read customer service ratings, reviews, and pros/cons reported about the company.

You can also talk to agents who represent each company. You can also speak with an independent agent to get quotes from several companies.

More from CreditDonkey:


Life Insurance for Young Adults


No Questions Asked Life Insurance


No Exam Life Insurance

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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a life insurance comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.