May 24, 2019

Best Whole Life Insurance

Read more about Life Insurance

Shopping for life insurance? Our top 10 list of companies providing whole life coverage is a great place to start.

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What Is Whole Life Insurance?

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

Whole life policies also have 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 the guaranteed minimum of 2%.

Whole life insurance policies are good for people who:

  • Want to leave an inheritance for beneficiaries.

  • Want to provide dollars to pay estate taxes.

  • Have lifelong dependents, such as a child or spouse with special needs.

  • Want to spend their retirement savings but still have financial support for funeral costs or an inheritance.

Whole policies are one of the more expensive life insurance options. But you may find the pros outweigh the cons. Read on to learn more.

Pros and Cons of Whole Life Insurance


  • Level premiums

  • Lifelong coverage

  • Guaranteed death benefit

  • Cash value growth


  • More expensive

  • More complex

  • Often a lifelong commitment (not used for short-term needs)

  • Potentially taxable dividends

To learn more about the pros and cons of whole life insurance, read our article here

Top 10 Whole Life Insurance Companies

We've compiled a list of our top 10 whole life insurance companies based on the following factors:

  • Financial Ratings
    We listed the A.M. Best rating for each company, which is one of the major rating agencies of insurance providers.

  • Size and Exclusivity
    We stayed away from smaller, local companies or ones that have membership requirements or other restrictions.

  • Policy options
    Our top 10 offer a variety of policy options, death benefits, and cost.

  • J.D. Power
    We looked at customer service satisfaction ratings according to J.D. Power rankings.

Many of our companies are mutual companies. As a mutual company, there are no shareholders. Instead, policyholders share in ownership of the company, meaning they can earn dividends in their policies.

Dividends are a sum of money paid regularly by a company to its shareholders (in this case, policyholders) out of its annual profits. They can be distributed to policyholders in cash, via reduced premiums, paid-up additions, one-year term policies, and reduced loan interest.

CompanyA.M BestJ.D. Power
Guardian LifeA++3/5
Northwestern MutualA++5/5
New York LifeA++3/5
Penn MutualA+N/A
Mutual of OmahaA+5/5
AXA FinancialA2/5
State FarmA++5/5



  • In business for more than 160 years.

  • Highest possible A.M. Best financial rating (A++).

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


  • Below average customer service rating of 3/5 (according to JD Power).

  • There's no online quoter who gives you a quote for your personal policy.

  • Most policies require a medical exam.

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

*Their rates have been increasing year after year. In some cases, 15% or more over their competitors.

Guardian Life


  • In business for nearly 160 years.

  • Highest possible A.M. Best financial rating (A++).

  • Ranked Harris Poll's 2017 Life Insurance Brand of the Year.

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


  • Premiums are generally higher than competitors.

  • Less variety in policy offerings other than whole life insurance.

  • Does not offer online quotes. You must request to be contacted by a life insurance agent.

  • Known for their conservative underwriting, meaning they don't take risks or offer competitive rates for individuals who are older or have medical conditions.

Policy Offerings
Guardian has eight different whole life insurance models. The variety of policy options gives policyholders the ability to virtually customize a policy that really fits their needs and financial goals.

  • L121
    Provides a higher death benefit with a cheaper premium.

  • Ten Pay Whole Life
    Allows you to pay for your coverage in 10 annual premium payments, creating rapid cash accumulations.

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


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

Northwestern Mutual


  • In 2018, they earned the highest financial strength ratings of any life insurer from all four major rating agencies.

  • 15 policy riders to help customize your policy.

  • Customer service scored 5/5 "among the best" in customer service according to J.D. Power.

  • Affordable premiums.

  • No-exam options.


  • Fewer policy options and variety when compared to other insurers.

  • Does not have an online quote tool, and their website does not provide a lot of information for shoppers.

Policy Offerings

  • Whole Life
    Can be issued up to age 85.

    Pay-to-attain policy options.
    65 Lifeand 90 Life-C allow you to pay premiums until you reach those specified ages.

  • CompLife
    Blends term and whole life insurance coverage. The whole life component builds cash value, while the coverage lasts for a designated amount of years, or term. Available in Adjustable, Estate, and Survivorship coverage.


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

SBLI - Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts


  • Accelerated underwriting and no-medical exam policy options (for those younger than 60 with coverage amounts up to $500,000).

  • LegacyShield offered; an easy-to-use, cloud-based service that puts everything your family would need in one place.

  • No-medical exam options.


  • Only became a mutual company in 2017, so does not have a long history of paying dividends to policyholders.

  • Slower than average application approval (up to five or more weeks).

Policy Offerings
SBLI offers a variety of whole life insurance options.

  • Continuous Payment
    Helps reduce the cost of your premiums by spreading them out over time.

  • Limited Payment Whole Life
    Allows you to make minimum payments for a designated number of years until you turn 65.

  • Single Premium Payment Whole Life
    Allows you to make a one-time payment for lifelong coverage.


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



  • More than $45 billion in total funds under management, supporting their financial stability and history.

  • An "Excellent" rating from A.M. Best.

  • No-medical exam whole life options up to $400,000 in coverage.

  • Forester policyholder's receive built-in member benefits.


  • Does not offer affordable options for individuals with diabetes.

Policy Offerings
Foresters has three main whole life plans:

  • PlanRight Whole Life
    Final expense, or burial insurance option. It provides lifetime coverage up to age 121, guaranteed level premiums, and an automatically included common carrier accidental death rider.

  • Advantage Plus Participating Whole Life
    This is the option that has the potential for dividends. Advantage Plus provides flexibility to customize a policy to suit your needs. You start by building your base coverage, and then adding additional riders, like a 10- or 20-year term rider.

  • Interest Sensitive Whole Life
    If you need life insurance to last for an indefinite period of time, this might be a good option. Some of its uses are mortgage protection, estate planning, or charitable giving. It can also provide safeguards if you're a business owner.

    The faster growing accumulation value is attractive to many policyholders.


  • 2018 Percentage: 6.58% (one of the highest in the market)
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $24.5 million

New York Life


  • Highest financial strength ratings awarded by all four major ratings agencies.

  • Will write whole policies through age 70 with coverage amounts between $25,000 and $1 million.

  • Flexible payment options.

  • More than 10 optional riders to add to your policy.


  • Rated below average (3/5) by J.D. Power in customer service.

  • Does not offer an online quote.

Policy Offerings

  • Value Whole Life
    For those getting closer to retirement and wanting to maximize their life insurance coverage. It has guaranteed coverage for life and fixed premiums.

  • Custom Whole Life
    Allows you to maximize the cash value growth in your policy and only pay premiums for a specific amount of time, such as five or 10 years.

    While premiums paid over a shorter amount of time may be higher, you can build cash value quicker and use it to pay premiums as well.

  • Traditional Whole Life
    Gives guaranteed coverage as long as you pay premiums, while balancing cash value accumulation at a guaranteed minimum interest rate.


  • 2018 Percentage: 6% (one of the highest in the market)
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $1.8 billion

Penn Mutual


  • $156 billion of life insurance in force, making Penn Mutual one of the largest life insurers.

  • Exceptional customer service and an online service center that makes getting assistance easy.

  • Whole policies offer a guaranteed 4% interest rate, which is higher than the minimum that most insurers offer (2%).


  • Known for having more conservative underwriting, which could lead to higher premiums for those with a less favorable health rating.

Policy Offerings

  • Participating Whole Life
    Offers a large dividend percentage.

  • Guaranteed Choice Whole Life
    Provides the guaranteed coverage of a traditional whole life policy along with increased payment flexibility.

    For example, you can choose to pay in five years, or up to 100 years. Once the policy is paid off, the death benefit and cash value growth are still guaranteed.

  • Versatile Choice Whole Life
    Also gives flexibility with policy payments. It also has default riders that include over-loan protection benefit, waiver of premium, and chronic illness accelerated death benefit.


  • 2018 Percentage: 6.1% (one of the highest in the market)
  • 2018 Payout to Policyholders: $1.4 billion

Mutual of Omaha


  • A+ (excellent) financial rating from A.M. Best.

  • Superior customer service rating from J.D. Power (5/5).

  • Guaranteed coverage up to age 85, which is older than most other insurers.

  • No-medical exam options.


  • Limited variety of policies in comparison to other insurers.

  • You cannot file a claim online, which is a common complaint from policyholders.

  • Does not rate favorably to individuals with history of tobacco use.

Policy Offerings

  • Guaranteed+ Whole with Funeral Planning
    Guaranteed coverage for ages 45-85, which is older than most other insurers. Benefit amounts range from $2,000 - $25,000 to help with funeral and end-of-life expenses.

    As an extra product, Mutual partners with Everest Funeral Concierge to help provide you and your family with 24/7 funeral planning at no extra cost.

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

    Coverage amounts range from $2,000 - $40,000, so if you're looking for a higher death benefit, these policies may not be for you. However, they also offer accelerated benefits for terminal illness or nursing home confinement.

Level benefit means 100% of the death benefit is paid at death. Graded means 100% of premiums paid plus 10% interest is paid if death occurs when policy is only 1 or 2 years old. 100% of the death benefit is paid starting year 3.


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

AXA Financial


  • Policies have a living benefits rider at no additional costs.

  • Flexible underwriting for those who are overweight, have a history of tobacco use, or have high cholesterol.


  • Very few whole policy options.

  • You cannot purchase a policy online.

Policy Offerings

  • Interest Sensitive Whole Life
    Offers a guaranteed 2% cash value growth year over year, with the possibility to accrue more. However, the 2% is the guaranteed minimum and can be higher, resulting in larger cash values.

    With coverage amounts from $50,000 - $1 million and issue ages up to age 85, the policy offers lifetime protection with a fixed premium.

An additional feature, called the Customer Loyalty Credit, begins either at age 65 or the 11th year of the policy that can pay an additional dollar amount into the cash value.


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

State Farm


  • Superior financial ratings.

  • 5/5 customer service rank from J.D. Power.

  • Nearly 20,000 agents in the U.S.


  • Whole life products not as strong as competitors.

  • Does not pay dividends to policyholders.

  • Depending on your age and health status, your premiums may be higher than other insurers for comparable coverage.

  • Cash value growth rate is lower than most other insurers, making them not the best option for whole life.

Policy Offerings

  • Whole Life
    Premiums paid until age 100.

  • Limited Pay 10
    Only pay premiums for 10 years. This is also 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, you pay one lump-sum payment.

  • Final Expense
    Only available in New York, this is a $10,000 death benefit whole life policy used for paying final expenses and funeral costs.

None are available.

Choosing a Whole Life Insurance Company

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

Financial Ratings
There are four primary financial rating agencies: A.M. Best, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch. These independent agencies rate the financial strength of the insurance company to determine the likelihood of the insurer paying out the death benefit and 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.

You should also explore a company's Financial Strength pages on their website to fully understand how they are doing.

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

The higher the dividend rate, the better for you because you will receive a higher payout. In 2018, some insurer dividends were barely 4%, while others were above 6%.

Customer Service Reviews
Professional rating agencies, like J.D. Power, are a good reflection of customer service satisfaction. You can also search on Google or Facebook and read the star ratings and reviews. There are a number of other independent ratings agencies and websites as well.

Pay particular attention to 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 included and optional riders, among other features. Make sure a policy gives you the coverage and support you need for your life insurance and financial needs and goals.

Before making a decision, it may be helpful to talk to a life insurance agent. Understanding your options is key to making the right decision for you.

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 any 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.

Your age, gender, height, weight, and health will all help determine your rate class, which determines your premium.

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.

More from CreditDonkey:

What is Whole Life Insurance?

Term vs Whole Life Insurance

Best Life Insurance

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Life insurance provides financial support in case of a death. But what happens if the policyholder commits suicide? Keep reading to learn more.

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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.

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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.