Updated October 22, 2019

Best Life Insurance


What is the best life insurance policy? Depends if you want term, whole, universal or variable. Read on for our list of top-rated life insurance companies.

Our life insurance company rankings are based on:

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

Customer Service
We used J.D. Power Insurance Rating that ranks companies based on opinions of sample consumers who have used the product.

Price
Quotes are based on 35-year-old male and female non-smoking candidates in good health, for a $250,000, 20-year term policy.

Financial Strength
We analyzed the financial strength of each company with scores from A.M. Best, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch.

Keep reading to learn more about top life insurance companies and how to buy the right policy for you.

Top 10 Life Insurance Companies

© CreditDonkey

Choosing your life insurance company is a big decision. We've gathered the must-know details on insurers to help you pick the best company for your needs.

Best for Product Variety: New York Life

New York Life is a mutual insurance company, meaning it's not publicly traded and has no stakeholders. The company offers insurance, investment, and retirement solutions.

New York Life offers Yearly Convertible Term and Level Premium Convertible Term. For Whole Life policies, they offer Standard Whole, Custom Whole, and Value Whole.

They also provide standard policy add-ons such as Accidental Death Benefit, Children's Insurance, Disability Waiver of Premium, Living Benefits, and more.

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

  • Term and Whole life options
  • Variety of add-ons
  • Good financial stability
  • Flexible premium payment options

Cons

  • No universal life policies
  • Lacks no-exam policy options

Best for Whole Life: Northwestern Mutual

Founded in 1859, Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole, universal policy options with flexible premium payment options.

Their Whole Life policies can be issued up to age 85. Some even combine elements of whole and term life insurance that builds cash value and provides coverage for a specific term.

You can choose to split your death benefit coverage to be partially for term coverage and partially for permanent coverage. This policy is available in adjustable, estate and survivorship coverage.

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
  • Highest financial strength ratings
  • 96% retention of policyholders
  • Highly-rated customer service

Cons

  • Lacks no-exam policy options
  • No online quotes

Best for Term Life: Protective

Protective, a subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc., insures over 8 million people and has $862B in financial strength.

They offer a variety of policy options, including the Protective Classic Choice Term policy, with rates up to 49% less expensive than their competitors.

Their variety of both medically underwritten and no-exam policies, plus their low prices, make Protective a great choice for term life insurance. They're rated 5/5 in customer service by J.D. Power.

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

  • Good financial stability
  • Variety of options
  • Highly-rated customer service

Cons

  • Longer underwriting time

Best for Healthy People: Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha offers both medically and non-medically underwritten term and whole policies for customers ages 18-85, as well as banking products.

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

They also have several automatically-included riders, including Terminal Illness, Chronic Illness, Residential Damage, Waiver of Premium for Unemployment, and Common Carrier Death benefit.

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

  • No-exam policy options
  • Automatically-included riders
  • Credit program for healthy policyholders

Cons

  • Limited options within policy type

Best for Diabetics: Prudential

Founded more than 140 years ago, Prudential has more than $3.7T of gross life insurance in force. Although Prudential does not offer Whole policies, the company has a variety of riders to provide enhanced coverage.

Prudential uses special health class ratings for diabetics. Your rates could be much lower than other companies may offer, depending on when you were diagnosed and how you manage your symptoms.

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

  • Large company
  • Additional online assistance
  • Variety of coverage options
  • No-exam policy options

Cons

  • Slightly higher premium rates
  • No Whole Life policies
  • Not all Term policies convert to permanent policies
  • Customer Service is average

Best for Fast Underwriting: American National

Founded in 1905, American National Insurance Company offers Whole life, Term life, Universal life, Indexed Universal life and Credit life, some of which require no medical exam.

The company offers an accelerated underwriting option called Xpress Plus. This provides automatic underwriting for individual life policies of those younger than 50 and seeking coverage less than $1M, or ages 51-60 seeking coverage less than $500K.

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
  • No-exam policy options, including for ages 50-80
  • Signature Term offers "living benefits"
  • Accelerated underwriting options

Cons

  • No online quotes
  • Not rated by all financial institutions

Best for Disabilities: Assurity

Assurity was founded in 1890 as a mutual organization. The company's underwriting process is fairly lenient, making it a great option for policyholders that are considered "high-risk".

Assurity also offers a variety of policies that assist in replacing income in the event of a debilitating disability.

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

  • No-exam policy options
  • Lenient with approvals

Cons

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

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.

Best for Seniors: Transamerica

Transamerica provides coverage, but also aims to increase the health and wellness of their policyholders through education and wellness services.

They offer Whole policies up to $3M of coverage and Term up to $10M. Their rates are competitive, especially for those over 71.

Another plus, term policyholders can convert to permanent without any additional health info or medical exam.

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

  • Large company
  • Good financial stability
  • Access to health community and wellness services
  • No-exam policy options

Cons

  • Limited policy options
  • Customer service is average

Best for Final Expense: Foresters

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.

Their PlanRight policy includes extra coverage for burial or funeral expenses, as well as level premiums and a variety of options for how the death benefit is paid out.

The company also offers three Whole life products with both medically and non-medically underwritten options.

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
  • No-exam policy options

Cons

  • Not rated by all financial institutions

Best for Universal Life: Lincoln

Lincoln offers a variety of insurance options, including Term, Universal, and Variable Universal policies. Their combination life/long-term care Universal policy is a great option for those who want lifetime coverage and financial assistance in the case of long-term care.

Should you prefer a term policy, you can choose from their TermAccel or Life Elements products - both offering fast approval times and no-exam options.

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
  • No-exam policy options
  • Life/long-term care options
  • Good financial stability

Cons

  • No Whole policies
  • Some additional fees may apply
  • Customer satisfaction is average
  • Slightly higher premium rates

Is the Gerber Life Grow Up Plan Any Good?
While the Gerber GrowUp Plan does provide reasonable coverage for kids and acts as an investment vehicle for their future, parents likely have better options. You can get coverage for kids via a rider on your own policy and mutual funds will provide better returns than what the Gerber Grow Up Plan offers.

Honorable Mentions

These companies didn't make our top 10. But they are excellent options thanks to their policy offerings, financial ratings, or estimated quotes.

Good for No-Exam Coverage: Haven Life
Haven Life is owned and underwritten by MassMutual. They only offer term life policies and their application process takes place online.

Depending on your health info, you may qualify for their InstantTerm process. If so, no medical exam is required and full coverage can begin immediately.

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

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

Read our full Haven Life Insurance review here.

Good for Smokers: Banner Life
Banner Life is owned and operated by Legal & General. They offer a flexible premium payment option, various riders and term lengths, and competitive rates.

Their lenient rating scale for smokers also makes it a good option for those who partake.

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

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.

Good for Policy Flexibility: AIG
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.

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

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 time.

Good for Accelerated Underwriting: Fidelity Life
Founded in 1896, Fidelity Life has leveraged technology to offer a variety of quick-decision policy options in their RAPIDecision product family.

Any RAPIDecision plan can offer coverage in a matter of days or even hours.

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

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

Sagicor: Good for No-Exam Coverage
Sagicor Life Insurance Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited (SFC), one of the oldest insurance groups in America.

Their no-exam policies offer excellent coverage at affordable rates, even for people with specific health conditions like diabetes.

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

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

© CreditDonkey

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

Why Do I Need Life Insurance?

Begin by considering your financial dependents: children, a spouse or partner, co-signors of loans in your name, and/or elderly parents you may care for.

Next, think about what would need to be paid for. This includes expenses directly related to your death, remaining debts, and covering future expenses. You may need to cover:

Funeral Costs
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, obituaries, etc.)

Medical Bills
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.

Student Loans
The average student loan debt is between $28,000 and $40,000, depending on what year you graduated and other factors.

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, down payment, loan program, and loan interest rate affect your monthly mortgage. The average monthly rate is about $1,500.

Home Upkeep
Salary.com reports that if a stay-at-home parent were compensated, they would earn nearly $115,000 per year for duties including cooking, cleaning, laundry, carpooling, childcare, etc.

College
Tuition for private colleges costs roughly $34,740 per year. Tuition will cost about $9,970 and $25,620 per year for in-state and out-of-state public colleges, respectively.

Health Insurance
The monthly premium for a family health insurance plan averages $1,168.

Childcare
If your spouse or partner is unable to care for children full-time, childcare could $10,000 or more per year for just one child.

Replacing income
Consider how much the policyholder was making per year. Multiply that number by the number of years you want coverage.

Types of Life Insurance to Consider

Each type of policy has its pros and cons. Read on to learn more about the main types of life insurance to find the best option for you.

Term Life
Term life provides coverage for a certain period of time, or "term." Because it's usually the most affordable type of policy, it's also the most popular.

The policy is designed to protect your loved ones should you die prematurely. If you do, your beneficiary receives the intended payout.

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

Whole Life
This insurance provides lifelong coverage and an investment component that grows over time. Whole life premiums usually remain level, but are more expensive than other policies.

In most cases, you can access the cash value any time for retirement, emergency funds or other bills. 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.

With Universal Life, your premiums are not fixed. But, you have more control and access to the dollars that go into the cash account.

What is Variable Life Insurance?
Similar to Universal Life, part of your Variable Life premium is contributed to a cash account. However, the cash value can be invested in a variety of different accounts, including stocks, bonds, equity funds, money market funds and more.

Choosing Coverage and Company

© CreditDonkey

With more than 800 companies to choose from and a variety of coverage options to consider, how do you know where to start? Start by following these steps.

How Much Coverage Should I Buy?

To calculate your potential coverage amount, follow these steps:

  1. Consider how many years you want coverage, then multiply your annual income by that number.

  2. To that, add any other financial obligations your policy will cover, including:
    • Funeral costs
    • Mortgages
    • Student loans
    • Credit card debt
    • Medical bills

  3. Then, add the cost of any services would need to be replaced. This is particularly important for stay-at-home parents.

  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 companies offer life insurance for full-time employees. Consider additional coverage, as those policies usually provide only 1-3 times your current salary.

Plus, in most cases, you lose the policy if you leave the job.

Which Company is Right for Me?

Finding the right company starts with finding the right agent. There are two main types of agents in the insurance industry:

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 can provide quotes for different carriers and will help locate the best products 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 are less likely to push a certain policy or company just to meet certain sales quotas or earn a hefty commission salary. You may find it easier to work with them over captive agents.

Requesting a Quote

There are three main ways you can get a rate quote from an insurance provider. Keep reading to learn more.

  1. Get an Immediate Online Quote
    On the company's website, you'll provide info on your:
    • Gender
    • Date of birth
    • Height and weight
    • Coverage amount needs

  2. Request a Quote
    Enter and submit basic contact information on the company's website. A life insurance agent will follow up with you to discuss:
    • Why you need life insurance
    • What kind of coverage you're looking for
    • How long you need coverage for

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

  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. 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.

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

  • Which type of policy you want
  • Renewal details
  • Year-to-year variances
  • Fine print for policy dollar allocation
  • Interest on the policy
  • What is and isn't covered

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 earn a discount by paying upfront.

How Does the Application Process Work?

The application process can take several weeks. The time varies from company to company and based on whether you're required to take a medical exam.

For medically underwritten policies:
You'll have to schedule a medical exam. The insurer will then decide whether to insure you, as well as what your monthly premium will be.

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

For non-medical exam policies:
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.

After underwriting, coverage is obtained within 24-48 hours.

Guaranteed and Simplified Issue are the two main types of non-exam policies:

  1. Guaranteed Issue won't require a medical exam or grant underwriters access to your medical records. You'll likely get a graded death benefit, which issues only a refund of your paid premiums (plus interest) to the beneficiary if you pass away within the first 2-3 years of the policy.

  2. Simplified Issue won't require a medical exam, but underwriters will ask you more thorough questions and have access to your medical records. Depending on the results, you may not be approved for coverage.


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.

Consider talking to both captive and independent agents 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.