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There are over 780 life insurance companies across the US — and choosing one can be overwhelming. To help you to narrow down your list, these are our top provider picks across eleven key categories.
The 11 best life insurance companies in the US
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Best for rider selection: 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.
- 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.
Best for lenient underwriting: Legal & General
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Best for seniors: 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Best for veterans: Navy Mutual
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Best for 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.
- 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.
Must read: How we chose these life insurance companies
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.
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.
Customer 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.
How to compare life insurance companies on your own
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 other life insurance companies
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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