Life insurance ratings methodology
How we rate the life insurance companies we review.
The US has the largest life insurance market in the world, with 781 companies vying for your business. And, insurance companies aren’t always transparent about its policy options, features, riders, exclusions and coverage amounts online. To help you narrow down which insurers fit your family’s needs best, our insurance experts analyze life insurance companies across the US, from big brands to local insurers.
We consider customer service, customer satisfaction, financial stability and policy customization through riders across insurers’ websites and five reputable rating agencies. We create an overall rank for each insurer to give you an idea of how it stacks up to competitors. But the best way to compare insurers in-depth is to read our life insurance reviews for the top companies on your list.
hours of research
We rate life insurance companies using a system of one to five stars.
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
How we rate customer service
A life insurance policy lasts many years or even your whole life, so you want to make sure your insurer is responsive to questions, complaints and — when the time comes — claims. Customer service is the most heavily weighted factor in our star rating, with four times as much impact on the final score. We weigh customer service ratings across four trusted rating and review agencies.
Each year, J.D. Power conducts its own research through surveys that determine customers’ overall satisfaction with their life insurance price, billing, claims and customer support. J.D. Power uses the results of the survey to award each insurer a score based on a 1,000 point scale. We recorded the most recent J.D. Power ratings for each company, and here’s how we break down those points in our finder rating.
★★★★★ 5/5 — A score of 900 to 1,000 points from J.D. Power
★★★★★ 4/5 — A score of 700 – 899 points from J.D. Power
★★★★★ 3/5 — A score of 500 – 699 points from J.D. Power
★★★★★ 2/5 — A score of 300 – 499 points from J.D. Power
★★★★★ 1/5 — A score of 0 to 299 points from J.D. Power
Better Business Bureau rating
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives insurance companies ratings to identify how a business is likely to interact with its customers, taking into account customer complaints and how the insurer resolves each complaint. While insurers can be accredited with the BBB based on a series of internal criteria like years in business and responsiveness to complaints, accreditation isn’t a prerequisite to getting a BBB rating. The BBB assigns letter ratings from its highest rating of A++ to its lowest rating of an F. Here’s how we weigh BBB ratings in our finder rating:
★★★★★ 5/5 — A BBB rating of A or A+
★★★★★ 4/5 — A BBB rating of A- or B+
★★★★★ 3/5 — A BBB rating of B or B-
★★★★★ 2/5 — A BBB rating of C or C+
★★★★★ 1/5 — A BBB rating of C- or below
Trust pilot awards companies a star rating based on customer satisfaction by weighing customer reviews over time. The final average star rating is based on a five-star scale where older reviews hold less weight, and the more reviews a company has plays into their overall star rating. Our Finder rating weighs trust pilot star ratings as follows:
★★★★★ 5/5 — A trust pilot star rating of 4.5 to 5
★★★★★ 4/5 — A trust pilot star rating of 3.5 to 4.4
★★★★★ 3/5 — A trust pilot star rating of 2.5 to 3.4
★★★★★ 2/5 — A trust pilot star rating of 1.5 to 2.4
★★★★★ 1/5 — A trust pilot star rating of 0 to 1.4
NAIC complaint index
The NAIC complaint index uses a 0 and above point scale to show how a company’s number of complaints compares to other companies of its size and industry. The average number of complaints renders a 1.00, if an insurer’s score is lower than 1.00, it means the company receives less than the average number of complaints. If a company scores higher than 1.00 it means it receives more than the average number of complaints. Here’s how we weigh the NAIC complaint index in our star rating:
★★★★★ 5/5 — A complaint index of 0 to 0.50
★★★★★ 4/5 — A complaint index of 0.60 to 1.50
★★★★★ 3/5 — A complaint index of 1.60 to 3.00
★★★★★ 2/5 — A complaint index of 3.10 to 5.00
★★★★★ 1/5 — A complaint index above 5.00
How we rate customization through riders
Most insurers allow you to bridge gaps in your coverage with riders. Fewer options mean less flexibility in customizing your policy. To find the most customizable policy, lean toward insurers offering a wider variety of riders. We compared insurers across all riders it offers, but here are some of the most common add-ons you may see:
- Accelerated death benefit rider
- Accidental death benefit rider
- Child rider
- Conversion rider
- Guaranteed insurability rider
- Long-term care rider
- Spouse rider
- Waiver-of-premium rider
The average number of riders offered by insurers is 5, though we’ve discovered insurers that offer as many as 13. Here’s how we break down riders offered in our star rating:
★★★★★ 5/5 — 7+ riders offered
★★★★★ 4/5 — 5 to 6 riders offered
★★★★★ 3/5 — 3 to 4 riders offered
★★★★★ 2/5 — 1 to 2 riders offered
★★★★★ 1/5 — 0 riders offered
How we rate financial strength
An insurer’s financial strength is important, because your beneficiaries may not file a claim for years — or even decades — to come. It points to the company’s ability to pay out claims in the foreseeable future. To determine each insurer’s financial stability, we turn to the major financial rating agency: AM Best.
AM Best rates companies’ financial strength based on factors such as their balance sheet, business profile, management style and overall financial performance. AM Best awards insurers a letter rating with A++ being the highest possible rating, and D being the lowest possible rating. Here’s how our star rating weighs AM Best ratings:
★★★★★ 5/5 — A++ and A+
★★★★★ 4/5 — A and A-
★★★★★ 3/5 — B++, B+, B and B-
★★★★★ 2/5 — C++, C+
★★★★★ 1/5 — C, C- and D
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