Updated August 15, 2019

Best Whole Life Insurance

Read more about Life Insurance

Whole life insurance provides lifetime coverage. Read on for the best companies and how to know if your policy is worth the price (or a bad idea).

Who Is Whole Life Insurance For?

Whole life insurance provides lifelong coverage (as long as you continue paying premiums). It has a guaranteed death benefit payout and fixed premiums.

There is also a cash value component, which can be used as retirement savings or borrowed against in the form of a loan.

The cash value comes from a portion of your premium payments and grows at a guaranteed rate set by the insurer. This rate is often a guaranteed minimum of 2%.

Whole life insurance is good for people who:

  • want to leave an inheritance for beneficiaries.
  • want to provide dollars to pay estate taxes.
  • have lifelong dependents
  • want to spend retirement savings and still have enough for funeral costs or an inheritance.

Many of the companies listed are also mutual companies, which have no shareholders. Instead, policyholders share in ownership of the company and can earn dividends.

Dividends are regularly paid to policyholders from the company's annual profits. They can be distributed in cash or via reduced premiums, paid-up additions, one-year term policies, or reduced loan interest.

Whole life insurance not what you're looking for? Consider a term life policy instead. Offering protection for a specific period of time, term life is usually less expensive. Read more about the best term life insurance companies here.

Top Whole Life Insurance Companies

Our list is based on financial ratings, size and exclusivity of the company, policy options and J.D. Power customer service ratings.

Keep reading to find the right company for you.


MassMutual has consistently offered performance-based dividends to its policyholders since the 19th century. They typically pay 1-2 percentage points higher than other mutual life insurance companies, and their rates have been increasing year after year. In some cases, they'll offer 15% or more over competitors.

They offer a variety of riders, including an automatically included term rider that allows you to add additional coverage for a set number of years.

A.M Best rating: A++

Policy Offerings

  • Simplified Whole Life
    No medical exam

  • Guaranteed Whole Life
    Ages 50-75, up to $20,000


  • 2018 Percentage: 6.4%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $1.6 billion

Guardian Life

In business for nearly 160 years, Guardian Life offers eight different whole life insurance models, giving policyholders the ability to customize a policy that fits their needs and financial goals.

They offer a variety of policy riders, including a 10-year renewable term, accelerated death benefit for long-term care, paid-up additions, guaranteed and simplified insurability options, and waiver of premium.

Guardian Life is also one of the few life insurers that offers coverage for HIV positive individuals.

A.M. Best rating: A++

Policy Offerings

  • L121
    Higher death benefit, cheaper premium.

  • Ten Pay Whole Life
    Pay for coverage in 10 annual payments, creating rapid cash accumulations.


  • 2018 Percentage: 5.85%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $911 million

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual offers a total of 15 riders to customize your policy coverage, such as options for accidental death, critical illness and disability income coverage.

If you choose to buy a policy from Northwestern Mutual, you'll need to speak with an agent. They don't offer an online quote tool and policy details on their website are fairly sparse.

A.M. Best rating: A++

Policy Offerings

  • Whole Life
    Can be issued up to age 85

  • Pay-to-attain
    65 Life and 90 Life-C allow you to pay premiums until you reach those ages.

  • CompLife
    Blends term and whole life coverage; available in Adjustable, Estate, and Survivorship


  • 2018 Percentage: 5%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $5.6 billion

SBLI - Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts

SBLI offers accelerated underwriting and no-medical exam policy options (for ages <60 with coverage amounts up to $500,000). However, their flexible payment options make them a standout.

With their Limited Payment Whole Life policy, you can choose to make limited payments for 10, 15, or 20 years. You also have the ability to buy whole life coverage in one lump-sum payment.

A.M. Best rating: A

Policy Offerings

  • Continuous Payment
    Reduces cost of premiums by spreading them out over time.

  • Limited Payment Whole Life
    Make minimum payments for a designated number of years until age 65.

  • Single Premium Payment Whole Life
    Make a one-time payment for lifelong coverage.


  • 2018 Percentage: NA
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: NA


Foresters Life Insurance Company has more than $45 billion under management, supporting their financial stability. Offering up to $400k in coverage with no medical exam, Foresters is an especially generous option for senior policyholders.

Their final expense policy even provides lifetime coverage up to age 121, with guaranteed level premiums.

However, individuals with diabetes may want to look elsewhere, as they don't offer affordable options for those with the disease.

A.M. Best rating: A

Policy Offerings

  • PlanRight Whole Life
    Coverage up to age 121, guaranteed level premiums, and accidental death rider.

  • Advantage Plus Participating Whole Life
    Potential for dividends; allows for customization with additional term riders.

  • Interest Sensitive Whole Life
    Good option for mortgage protection, estate planning, charitable giving or business safeguards.


  • 2018 Percentage: 6.58%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $24.5 million

New York Life

New York Life has been awarded the highest financial strength ratings by all four major ratings agencies, giving policyholders the best financial security in the industry.

They write whole life policies through age 70 with coverage amounts between $25,000 and $1 million, and offer more over 10 riders.

Currently, New York Life is rated 3/5 by J.D. Power. Additionally, policy shoppers will need to contact an agent or the company directly for a quote, as they do not provide an online quote tool.

A.M. Best rating: A++

Policy Offerings

  • Value Whole Life
    Guaranteed coverage for life with fixed premiums

  • Custom Whole Life
    Higher premiums paid for a specific period of time.

  • Traditional Whole Life
    Guaranteed coverage with payments; balancing cash value accumulation at a guaranteed minimum interest rate.


  • 2018 Percentage: 6%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $1.8 billion

Penn Mutual

With 156 billion of life insurance in force, Penn Mutual is one of the largest life insurers. Their exceptional customer service and online service center that makes getting assistance easy.

Penn Mutual is known for more conservative underwriting, which could lead to higher premiums. However, they do offer some harder-to-find policies, such as Survivorship Insurance.

Additionally, whole policies offer a guaranteed 4% interest rate, which is higher than the 2% minimum that most insurers offer.

A.M. Best rating: A+

Policy Offerings

  • Participating Whole Life
    Offers a large dividend percentage.

  • Guaranteed Choice Whole Life
    Guaranteed coverage with increased payment flexibility.

  • Versatile Choice Whole Life
    Flexible policy payments, over-loan protection benefit, waiver of premium, and chronic illness accelerated death benefit.


  • 2018 Percentage: 6.1%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $1.4 billion

Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha offers a policy for almost everyone, including some that don't require a medical exam. Superior customer service rating from J.D. Power (5/5).

Guaranteed coverage up to age 85, which is older than most other insurers. Mutual also partners with Everest Funeral Concierge to help provide 24/7 funeral planning at no extra cost.

A.M. Best rating: A+

Policy Offerings

  • Guaranteed+ Whole with Funeral Planning
    Guaranteed coverage for ages 45-85, benefits from $2,000 - $25,000

  • Whole Life Living Promise
    Level benefit or a graded benefit plan, issue ages 45-85 (level benefit) and 45-80 (graded) with simplified underwriting.

    Offers benefits from $2,000 - $40,000 plus accelerated benefits for terminal illness or nursing home expenses.


  • 2018 Percentage: 5.85%
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $5.6 billion

AXA Financial

While AXA Financial offers only a few whole life policies, their flexible underwriting for those who are overweight, have a history of tobacco use, or have high cholesterol make it a good option for higher-risk policyholders.

If you need to dip into your death benefit to pay for medical expenses, they also offer policies with a living benefits rider at no additional cost.

A.M. Best rating: A

Policy Offerings

  • Interest Sensitive Whole Life
    Benefits from $50,000 - $1 million up to age 85, lifetime protection, and level premiums. Plus, guaranteed minimum 2% cash value growth year over year.


  • 2018 Percentage: NA
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: NA

State Farm

In our round up of whole life insurance companies, State Farm is one of only two companies that offer the highest possible rating from both A.M. Best and JD Power.

If you're looking for more financial benefits, State Farm may not be the best choice. Cash value growth rate is lower than most other insurers, and they do not pay dividends to policyholders.

A.M. Best rating: A++

Policy Offerings

  • Whole Life
    Premiums paid until age 100.

  • Limited Pay 10
    Pay premiums for 10 years; the best product for cash accumulation.

  • Limited Pay 15
    Pay premiums for 15 years

  • Limited Pay 20
    Pay premiums for 20 years.

  • Single Premium Life
    Usually for estate planning, payment in one lump sum.

  • Final Expense
    $10,000 death benefit whole life policy. (Only available in NY)

None are available.

Choosing a Whole Life Insurance Company

With more than 800 life insurers in the U.S., shoppers have extensive options to choose from. Consider these factors when deciding on the right company for you.

Financial Ratings
Agencies like A.M. Best, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch rate a company's financial strength to determine how likely they are to pay out your death benefit plus any earned dividends.

While you do not have to look at all of the insurer's scores, note that each rating agency has their own standards and variations in ratings.

Dividend Rates
If the insurer is a mutual company, meaning it's owned by policyholders instead of shareholders, they pay dividends to their policyholders each year. Look on the insurer's website to find the dividend rate.

The higher the dividend rate, the higher the payout will be. In 2018, some insurer dividends were barely 4%, while others were 6%.

Customer Service Reviews
Rating agencies like J.D. Power are a good reflection of customer service satisfaction. You can also search on Google, Facebook, or independent ratings agencies for reviews and star ratings.

Be sure to review what people say about responsiveness, ability to answer questions, and timeliness when filing claims and paying out the death benefit.

Policy Options
Review the minimum and maximum coverage amounts and all available riders. Be sure that a policy gives you the coverage and support you need for life insurance, as well as your financial needs and goals.

Before making a decision, consider speaking with an independent life insurance agent to get advice that is less biased than what you might receive from a company's own agents.

You can get a free quote from an insurance company's website or by contacting one of their agents. There are also websites that compare quotes from multiple insurers.

Remember that quotes are only estimates, since there are additional considerations that won't be included (like your health and possible discounts).

Average Cost of Whole Life Policies

In the charts below, you'll find an average monthly cost for different life insurance policy options. Each is sorted by male or female, and is based on a generally healthy non-smoker.

Whole Life Insurance - Male


Whole Life Insurance - Female


Bottom Line

If you're looking for the right coverage for your needs, start with these top 10 life insurance companies. You can do research and, in some cases, get a quote online.

As always, contact a life insurance agent with any questions or concerns.

Write to Caitlyn Callahan at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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