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Best life insurance companies for 2020

Compare the best life insurance policies from top life insurance brands

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This article was fact-checked and reviewed by Andrew Flueckiger, a licensed insurance agent and Certified Insurance Counselor. Content has been updated for 2020.
You have over 780 life insurance companies to choose from, which could make finding the right company for you difficult. That’s why we’ve chosen top editorial picks in 12 categories to help you narrow down your options.

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, rates and guidelines.

Can I still get life insurance during the coronavirus?
You might expect a longer wait if you’re thinking of signing up for life insurance right now. Insurers can’t schedule medical exams for many people right now, and they’re also postponing applications for some people who are at risk for catching coronavirus, such as those who have returned from a high-risk country. If you need coverage now and can’t wait, consider a policy that waives the medical exam, a guaranteed issue policy or a policy with temporary underwriting coverage.

What are the best life insurance companies?

Best life insurance company overall: MassMutual

MassMutual logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

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$2,000 for guaranteed acceptance policy, $100,000 for term – $10,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 80 years
Issue age
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.

  • Sells term, whole, universal and guaranteed acceptance policies.
  • Offers up to $10 million in coverage.
  • Potentially boost your take-home earnings if you buy a permanent policy.
  • Enhance your policy with riders like an accelerated death benefit, waiver of premium, guaranteed insurability or long-term care rider.
  • Supports online quotes.
Coverage range $2,000 for guaranteed acceptance policy, $100,000 for term – $10,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years
Issue age 18 – 80 years

Best no-exam life policies: Bestow

Bestow logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

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$50,000 – $1,000,000
Coverage range
21 – 55 years
Issue age
Bestow offers no-frills term life policies, which are perfect for people on a budget and those who don't want to customize their policy with riders. You can apply for a policy and buy up to $1 million in coverage online, without speaking to an agent or taking a medical exam — but you will have to answer a few questions about your health and lifestyle.
  • High $1 million coverage without medical exams
  • Easy online quotes
  • Affordable, basic coverage
  • 10 or 20 year term life
  • No annual fees or cancellation fees
Coverage range $50,000 – $1,000,000
Term lengths 10 or 20 years
Issue age 21 – 55 years

Best life insurance riders: Global Atlantic Financial Group

Global Atlantic Financial Group logo
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

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$50,000 – $1,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 75 years
Issue age
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.

The insurer has room for its improvement with its customer service, though.

  • Opt into the wellness rider and cut down your premium if you visit the doctor once every two years and stay in the weight range specified in your policy.
  • Sells indexed universal and funeral policies.
  • Allows eligible applicants to skip the medical exam.
  • Cash value can extend protection for its Lifetime Foundation product.
Coverage range $50,000 – $1,000,000
Term lengths Level term for 10, 20, or 30 years or Annual Renewable Term
Issue age 18 – 75 years

Best for lenient underwriting: Legal & General

Legal & General logo
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

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$100,000 – $10,000,000
Coverage range
20 – 75 years
Issue age
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.

However, the insurer requires a medical exam for most policies and charges policyholders an annual maintenance fee.

  • Offers up to $1 million in coverage.
  • Specializes in term and universal life insurance, and term policies can be converted up to age 70.
  • Sells a final expense policy worth $15,000, with guaranteed acceptance for those aged 50 to 80.
  • Dress up your policy with a conversion, disability, flexible payment or child rider, among others.
Coverage range $100,000 – $10,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 years
Issue age 20 – 75 years

Best customer reputation: State Farm

State Farm logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

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$100,000 – $3,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 75 years
Issue age
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.

  • Sells term, whole, universal and survivorship policies.
  • Offers personalized service through a network of 19,000 local agents across the country.
  • Customize your coverage with a range of common and rare riders, including an accidental death benefit and long-term care rider.
  • Issues policies with a face value of up to $3 million.
Coverage range $100,000 – $3,000,000
Term lengths 10, 20, and 30 years
Issue age 18 – 75 years

Best buying experience: Haven Life

Haven Life logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

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$100,000 – $3,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 64 years
Issue age
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.

  • All policies issued by parent company, MassMutual.
  • Offers term life insurance in 10, 15, 20 and 30 year terms, with up to $3 million in coverage.
  • Stands out among the new wave of fintech companies for allowing policyholders to add an accelerated death benefit and waiver of premium rider to their policy.
  • No medical exam necessary for most policies.
Coverage range $100,000 – $3,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, 20, or 30 years
Issue age 18 – 64 years

Best term life insurance: Prudential

Prudential logo
Finder Rating: 3 / 5

★★★★★

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$100,000 – $10,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 75 years
Issue age
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.

However, it doesn't sell whole life insurance, and applications can take up to 8 weeks to process. These factors influenced its star rating.

  • Policies available in terms of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
  • Offers a return of premium rider and annual renewable term life policy.
  • Online quotes offer a quick and easy way to check your rates.
  • Add-ons include serious illness, disability, accidental death benefit and waiver of premium riders.
Coverage range $100,000 – $10,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, 20, or 30 years
Issue age 18 – 75 years

Best whole life insurance: Guardian

Guardian logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

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$250,000 – $5,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 75 years
Issue age
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.
  • Offers a survivorship policy that insures two people, like spouses.
  • Some whole life policies are linked to the performance of an index, like the S&P 500.
  • Has a long list of riders, including an accidental death benefit, waiver of premium and guaranteed insurability rider.
Coverage range $250,000 – $5,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, 20 or 30 years
Issue age 18 – 75 years

Best life insurance with preexisting conditions: Ethos

Ethos logo
Finder Rating: 2.5 / 5

★★★★★

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$25,000 – $10,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 75 years
Issue age
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 exam, which is great news for those with serious health conditions working against them.

Ethos can issue policies instantly, but on the flipside, this means it doesn't have the capacity to offer a long list of riders — which is reflected in its star rating.

  • All policies are issued by Assurity, a financially strong insurer that's been in the game for decades.
  • Sells term life policies to those aged 18 to 75.
  • The application is quick, and if you're approved, your coverage can go into effect immediately.
  • Unlike many fintech startups, Ethos allows you to add riders to your policy — like a critical illness rider.
Coverage range $25,000 – $10,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, 20, or 30 years
Issue age 18 – 75 years

Best for high net worth individuals: John Hancock

John Hancock logo
Finder Rating: 3 / 5

★★★★★

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$25,000 – $1,000,000
Coverage range
20 – 60 years
Issue age
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.

But it doesn't offer whole life insurance, and its list of riders is limited — which affected its star rating.

  • Sells term life insurance in 10-, 15- or 20-year lengths.
  • Offers a range of universal life policies to match your risk tolerance.
  • Customize your coverage with a long-term care, disability waiver and accelerated death rider, among others.
  • Incentivizes policyholders to live a healthy lifestyle with the John Hancock Vitality Program.
Coverage range $25,000 – $1,000,000
Term lengths 10, 15, or 20 years
Issue age 20 – 60 years

Best senior life insurance: New York Life

New York Life logo
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5

★★★★★

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$100,000 – $25,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 90 years
Issue age
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.
  • Term lengths stretch from five to 20 years, and policies come with the option to convert.
  • Offers guaranteed universal life policies up to age 85 without a medical exam. This suits seniors with preexisting health conditions that might otherwise disqualify them from buying a permanent policy.
  • Policies start at $25,000, which is ideal for seniors on a budget or those who don't need a lot of coverage.
Coverage range $100,000 – $25,000,000
Term lengths Any term length between 10 years and 20 years
Issue age 18 – 90 years

Best military and veteran life insurance: Navy Mutual

Navy Mutual logo
Finder Rating: 3 / 5

★★★★★

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$10,000 – $1,000,000
Coverage range
18 – 85 years
Issue age
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.

While it stands out for its less rigid underwriting standards, Navy Mutual could work on its customer service and add more riders to its lineup.

  • Offers portable protection, which means your coverage will stay in effect if you leave the military.
  • Sells term life policies spanning 5 to 30 years.
  • Issues whole life policies up to $1 million.
  • No restrictions for military service, including hazardous duty, travel and aviation.
Coverage range $10,000 – $1,000,000
Term lengths 5 to 30 years
Issue age 18 – 85 years

How to compare life insurance policies on your own

To find a policy that suits your situation and budget, ask these questions.

  • How much coverage can I buy? Some insurers cap their coverage at $500,000, while others will offer policies worth millions if you meet the criteria.
  • Can I add riders to my policy? If customizing your coverage with add-ons like an accelerated death benefit rider is important to you, look for an insurer that offers robust riders.
  • Do I need to take a medical exam? Most policies are traditionally underwritten, meaning they require a medical exam — which is a basic physical. But if you’d prefer not to take one, you can explore no-exam policies.
  • What term lengths are available? Depending on the insurer, you may be able to get coverage for as little as one year, or as long as 30 years.
  • How flexible is my policy? Life insurance is designed to evolve as your needs change, so check if you can purchase more coverage or convert to a policy later on.
  • What kind of service should I expect? Your life insurance company should have a reputation for being responsive and transparent.

    Financial ratings for 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.

    AgencyMassMutualBestowPrudentialGlobal Atlantic Financial GroupLegal & GeneralState FarmNew York LifeHaven LifeNavy MutualJohn HancockGuardianEthos
    AM BestA++A+A+AA+A++A++A++N/AAA++A-
    Moody’sAa3N/AAa3A3N/AN/AAaaAa3N/AA1Aa2N/A
    Standard & Poor’sAA+A+AA-A-AA-AAAA+AA+N/AAA-AA+N/A
    FitchAA+A+AA-AAA-N/AAAAAA+A+AA-AA+N/A
    J.D. Power3 out of 5N/A3 out of 5N/AN/A5 out of 54 out of 5N/AN/A2 out of 53 out of 5N/A

    Life insurance reviews and reputation

    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.

    ProviderBBB ratingBBB customer reviews
    MassMutualB-1 out of 5 stars
    BestowA+2 out of 5 stars
    PrudentialNR1 out of 5 stars
    Global Atlantic Financial GroupA-1 out of 5 stars
    Legal & GeneralA+None
    State FarmA+1 out of 5 stars
    New York LifeA+2 out of 5 stars
    Haven LifeA+2 out of 5 stars
    Navy MutualA+None
    John HancockA+None
    GuardianA+1 out of 5 stars
    EthosA+None

    Alternatives to the best life insurance companies

    If none of these companies are the right fit, try drilling down to the specific category you fall into:

    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. It pays to do your own research and compare life insurance companies.

    Get quotes from even more life insurance companies

    Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Term Lengths Medical Exam Required
    Sproutt
    18 - 60 years old
    $50,000
    $10,000,000
    5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years
    No
    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
    10 or 20 years
    No
    Affordable 10- and 20-year term life insurance policies with instant quotes and no medical exams.
    Policygenius
    18 - 85 years old
    $50,000
    $10,000,000
    10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years
    Depends on provider and policy
    Compare affordable quotes from 12+ A-rated life insurance companies side-by-side.
    Everyday Life
    20 - 75 years old
    $100,000
    $10,000,000
    10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years
    No
    Build a customized laddering strategy to target specific financial responsibilities and save on term life.
    Fabric
    25 - 60 years old
    $100,000
    $5,000,000
    10, 15, or 20 years
    Depends on policy
    Get affordable term life insurance with accelerated underwriting or no-exam coverage up to $1,000,000. Available in all states except CA, NY and MT.
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