The best life insurance companies in the United States in 2020

Standout life insurance providers and what they offer potential policyholders.

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You have over 780 life insurance companies across the US to choose from — let us help you narrow down that list. We’ve lined up our top picks in 11 categories to help you start comparing your options.

Who are the best life insurance companies?

Best life insurance company overall: MassMutual

One of the oldest and biggest life insurance companies in the US, MassMutual edges out most of its competitors when it comes to policy options, coverage amounts and customization.

As a mutual company, it has paid out dividends to its permanent policyholders every year since the 1860s. In 2019, it approved an estimated $1.72 billion payout — its highest yet. Given that dividends aren’t guaranteed, MassMutual’s track record is impressive. It’s also a major perk if you have assets to protect, like a home.

Best term life insurance: Prudential

Term life policies offer protection for a set period of time, making them ideal for young families or people who only need coverage while they have major financial obligations.

Prudential has four term life policies to suit a range of needs. All of them have predictable premiums for easy budgeting, and can be customized with a variety of riders. As for reliability, the insurer is backed by decades of financial strength and a positive customer reputation.

Best life insurance riders: Global Atlantic Financial Group

Most insurers allow policyholders to customize their coverage with riders — and Global Atlantic Financial Group has the longest list we’ve seen.

Formerly known as Accordia, this insurer offers 16 riders to help you to bridge any gaps in your coverage. Common riders include a child and terminal illness rider. Plus you can choose unique options like a wellness for life rider, which rewards policyholders who maintain a healthy lifestyle with premium discounts and extra features.

Some insurers shy away from high-risk applicants — but not Legal & General.

Previously called Banner Life, the insurer has a more relaxed approach to underwriting. As a result, it caters to seniors, smokers and those in less-than-perfect health as well as people with preexisting conditions or poor family medical histories working against them. Its rates are competitive, and Legal & General offers both term and permanent policies.

Best customer reputation: State Farm

In 2019, State Farm topped J.D. Power’s life insurance study on customer satisfaction for the fifth consecutive year. The study assesses a sample of insurers each year, and reviews the level of support they offer to customers, as well as how quickly they respond to questions and complaints.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) backs up J.D. Power, awarding the insurer an A+ rating for customer engagement. If you sign up for a policy with State Farm, you can expect to receive stellar customer service.

Best senior life insurance: New York Life

Seniors can face a few challenges when purchasing life insurance policies — including costs and coverage amounts. An industry giant, New York Life breaks down those barriers and offers a strong policy lineup to those aged 60 or above. If you’re looking for an extremely large policy, its death benefits top out at the company’s “retention limits” — which are reportedly in the tens of millions.

Best buying experience: Haven Life

Backed by parent company MassMutual, Haven Life made a splash on the life insurance scene by offering — and issuing — instant term life policies. The fintech company sells affordable policies online — and if you’re approved, your coverage could go into effect immediately.

The application is straightforward and both user- and mobile-friendly. You’ll enter your personal and contact details, and answer a few questions about your health and lifestyle. The system then scans your data using sophisticated algorithms and generates a rate.

Navy Mutual makes life insurance accessible to servicemembers by doing away with the typical military, war or terrorism clauses. It caters to all active duty, reserve and retired military members, as well as honorably discharged veterans in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. It also has an option that doesn’t require a medical exam for those who want to skip the physical or are getting ready to deploy.

Best for high net worth individuals: John Hancock

One way this insurer tailors its offerings to the wealthy is by issuing extremely large policies. John Hancock sells term life insurance with a face value of up to $1 million, along with three different types of permanent policies: universal, variable universal and indexed universal life insurance. Though it doesn’t disclose its maximum coverage amounts, the insurer is known to sell policies in the tens of millions.

Best whole life insurance: Guardian

An insurance giant, Guardian has eight whole life policies to choose from. All of the policies accumulate cash value and have the potential to earn dividends over time, but they offer different payment structures. One example is the 10-Pay Whole Life Plan, which gives you the option to pay off your policy over 10 annual payments. After that, any cash you contribute goes straight towards the cash value of your policy, helping you to build your wealth faster.

Best life insurance with preexisting conditions: Ethos

People with preexisting conditions can face challenges when trying to buy coverage — but not with Ethos. The fintech insurer aims to break down those barriers by selling instant term life policies online. It offers policies that last 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, with face values ranging from $25,000 to $10 million. Most policyholders can qualify for up to $1 million in coverage without taking a medical news, which is great news for those with serious health conditions working against them.

Must read: How we chose the best life insurance

Our writers and editors are committed to objectivity that empowers our readers to make a decision that’s free of bias.

When analyzing life insurance companies, we weigh the insurer’s reputation in the industry, product selection, policy customization and underwriting standards.

To determine industry reputation, our editorial team reviews the company’s financial strength, ratings and accreditations and customer reviews.

We base product selection, policy customization and underwriting standards on an in-depth analysis of the insurer’s services and guidelines available on the provider’s website.

What’s changed in 2020

In January 2020, we added a few insurers to our list, bringing us from seven to 11 providers. We focused on insurers that do an excellent job of catering to specific groups of people, such as high net worth individuals, veterans, and those who want to shop for coverage online.

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Financial ratings of the best life insurance companies

In J.D. Power’s latest study on customer satisfaction, State Farm landed in first place out of 23 insurers surveyed. New York Life ranked sixth, Prudential eighth and MassMutual tenth. Guardian and John Hancock rounded out the list, ranking twelfth and fourteenth respectively.

Agency
MassMutual
Prudential
Global Atlantic Financial Group
Legal & General
State Farm
New York Life
Haven Life
Navy Mutual
John Hancock
Guardian
Ethos
AM Best
A++
A+
A
A+
A++
A++
A++
N/A
A
A++
A-
Moody’s
Aa3
Aa3
A3
N/A
N/A
Aaa
Aa3
N/A
A1
Aa2
N/A
Standard & Poor’s
AA+
AA-
A-
AA-
AA
AA+
AA+
N/A
AA-
AA+
N/A
Fitch
AA+
AA-
A
AA-
N/A
AAA
AA+
A+
AA-
AA+
N/A
J.D. Power
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
N/A
N/A
5 out of 5
4 out of 5
N/A
N/A
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
N/A

Life insurance reviews and reputation for the best companies

To find out how providers treat their policyholders, refer to the Better Business Bureau. Legal & General, State Farm, New York Life, Haven Life, Navy Mutual, John Hancock, Guardian and Ethos earned the highest possible rating with the BBB. The other insurers — MassMutual, Prudential and Global Atlantic — are in the process of resolving complaints.

Provider
BBB rating
BBB customer reviews
MassMutual
B-
1 out of 5 stars
Prudential
C-
1 out of 5 stars
Global Atlantic Financial Group
NR
1 out of 5 stars
Legal & General
A+
None
State Farm
A+
1 out of 5 stars
New York Life
A+
2 out of 5 stars
Haven Life
A+
2 out of 5 stars
Navy Mutual
A+
None
John Hancock
A+
None
Guardian
A+
1 out of 5 stars
Ethos
A+
None

How do I compare life insurance companies?

Finding a policy that works for your situation requires identifying your personal must-haves in advance so you can advocate for yourself while shopping around. Ask yourself:

  • What’s the coverage range? Different providers offer different ranges of coverage. While some policies start at $50,000, others may top out at this same figure. Determine how much coverage you’re interested in and make sure the provider you select can account for your needs.
  • Should I opt for term or permanent insurance? Term life is often more affordable than permanent life but only lasts for a set period of time. It also lacks many of the perks of permanent insurance, such as built in cash value and dividend eligibility.
  • Am I required to take a medical exam? Your provider may ask you to fill out a medical questionnaire or undergo a medical exam during the application process. If you’re concerned about a pre-existing condition, you can find coverage that doesn’t require an exam, but this type of coverage is often more expensive.
  • When are my premiums due? Many policy premiums are paid monthly, but you may be able to opt for annual or semiannual payments to pare down your payment schedule. Some providers offer a discount for paying on an annual or semiannual basis.
  • What policy riders are available? Policy riders can be added to your policy to customize and augment your coverage depending on your personal needs. Ask your provider what riders are available and what the cost is to have a rider added to your policy.

Compare top life insurance companies

Name Product Issue Ages Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Medical Exam Required State Availability
LadderLife™ Life Insurance
20 - 60 years old
$100,000
$8,000,000
No
Not available in New York
Term life insurance with no policy fees and the freedom to cancel anytime. Simple application process that can get you approved for coverage instantly.
Policygenius
18 - 85 years old
$10,000
$10,000,000+
Depends on provider and policy
All 50 states
Compare affordable quotes from 12+ A-rated life insurance companies side-by-side.
Sproutt
18 - 100 years old
$50,000
$3,000,000
No
Nationwide
This life insurance broker combines technology and the human touch to match you with a policy tailored to your needs.
Bestow
21 - 54 years old
$50,000
$1,000,000
No
Not available in New York
Affordable 2-, 10- and 20-year term life insurance policies. Instant quotes and no medical exams.
AIG
AIG
20 - 85 years old
$100,000
$2,000,000
Depends on policy.
Products and product features may not be available in all states.
This well-established life insurance provider could offer you $250,000 worth of coverage for as low as $14 per month.
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Bottom line

With so many options on the market, choosing a life insurance company can be confusing and time-consuming. The insurers on this list stand out for their policy lineups, customizable coverage or catering to specific types of people. They’re also backed by strong financial and customer service ratings.

As always, it pays to do your own research and compare life insurance providers.

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