Nationwide life insurance review

To protect what matters most to you, this top insurer caters to your needs today and in the future.

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  • Minimum amount available.
  • Terms available – 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
  • Payment methods.
  • Medical exam required for most policies.
  • Temporary underwriting coverage.

While the concept of life insurance is simple — pay today to protect your family later — choosing a provider is a big decision.

Nationwide is not only a major player in the US insurance industry, but it’s also a well-rounded one. It offers everything from life to home, vehicle and speciality insurance, and prides itself on its suite of riders, which allow clients to customize their policies.

As a mutual company, it emphasizes customer service, and its sophisticated online portal makes managing your policy easy.

What is Nationwide known for?

Founded in 1925, Nationwide has grown from an auto insurer for Ohio farmers to one of the biggest insurance and financial services companies in the world. A Fortune 100 today, it’s owned by policyholders, steadily paying out dividends since Day One, and it’s financially strong, with more than $158 billion in assets.

Over the years, Nationwide has acquired and partnered with various companies. Today, more than 70 companies fall under the Nationwide banner, including Titan Insurance and Allied Insurance — though not all of these affiliated companies are mutually owned.

Thanks to its high ad spend, Nationwide has excellent brand recognition. But it gives back, too: In 2006 it donated $50 million to Columbus Children’s Hospital, which then changed its name to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The company has insurance agents spread across the country, but is still headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

Pros and cons of Nationwide life insurance


  • Sophisticated online portal.Manage your policy, pay bills, fill out forms, submit claims and get a quote — all online.
  • Comprehensive claims process.Start the process over the phone or online, with help along the way.
  • Large network of agents.Thousands of agents across the US means you can be matched with one who knows the ins and outs of your state.
  • Financially sound.High ratings from A.M Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s provide peace of mind that claims will be paid.


  • Potentially higher rates.Customers say that rates can be higher than other providers.
  • Some health issues require evaluations.If you’ve had a serious health issue in the past 10 years, Nationwide evaluates your case more critically.
  • Above-average emphasis on driving record.A small blip on your record might affect your rate class.
  • No app for managing your policy.Nationwide’s app focuses on auto insurance only.

Among its planning tools, Nationwide’s website offers a life insurance quote calculator to assess your expenses, debts and future financial needs.

Nationwide Life Insurance

What life insurance coverage does Nationwide offer?

Nationwide offers a full roster of life insurance products, including term and permanent policies.

Typically your most affordable policy, term life provides coverage for 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. Nationwide calls its product YourLife Guaranteed Level Term, and it’s predictable in that you’ll pay a fixed premium for the length of the term. The younger and healthier you are, the lower that premium will be. Coverage ranges from $100,000 to $5 million, and there are no yearly fees.

If you die during the term, your beneficiaries receive a guaranteed death benefit. And at the end of the term, you have the option to convert your policy to permanent life insurance without evidence of insurability.

While this is Nationwide’s most basic life insurance product, you can add on a children’s term rider, spouse rider or a premium waiver rider, among others.

Whole life

With Nationwide’s whole life insurance, your premium payment stays the same, but you can choose whether you pay annually, twice a year, quarterly or monthly.

Its flagship policy, YourLife, lasts a lifetime with a cash value that increases over time. When you’ve built up enough value, you can borrow against your own policy for an additional charge, with restrictions. When you die, this means your beneficiaries receive a death benefit as well as an added cash value benefit, making it a popular choice for families.

Nationwide’s whole life policy also pays out dividends that reflect the company’s profits, though they aren’t guaranteed.

To customize your policy, Nationwide offers a range of riders, including accidental death and disability coverage.

Universal life

Universal life provides lifetime protection and death benefits, as well as access to the cash value of your policy.

Nationwide’s suite of universal life insurance products fall into one of two categories: fixed or flexible.

Fixed premium universal life insurance offers long-term coverage, but the provisions can’t be changed after the policy is issued. Nationwide’s YourLife CareMatters policy is open to those ages 40 to 75, and premiums paid go toward the 20% minimum death benefit (guaranteed) or potential long-term care. Unlike other insurers, Nationwide allows you to pay an informal caregiver, such as a friend or neighbor, who helps with health care.

The more common option is flexible universal life insurance. As its name suggests, it allows you to tweak your level of protection and the amount and frequency of your payments.

Nationwide’s many YourLife variations include:

  • YourLife Indexed UL, UL Accumulator and UL Protector. Ties the cash accumulation portion of your policy to an index, like the S&P 500, which could boost its cash value.
  • YourLife SUL II. Protects two people — spouses or business partners, for example — for life as long as you pay the premiums.
  • YourLife Current Assumption UL and No-Lapse Guarantee UL. Ideal for setting yourself up for a cushy retirement while leaving a lasting legacy.

Thanks to Nationwide’s riders, you can optimize your policy to cover spouses and long-term care, among other protections.

Variable universal life

When you go with a variable life insurance policy, a portion of your premiums are invested in the stock market. The investment is professionally managed and may boost your returns, minimizing (though not entirely eliminating) risk.

At Nationwide, this policy is offered by prospectus only and comes with a range of investment options to suit your risk tolerance.

What’s not covered in my policy?

Standard life insurance policies offer financial protection while setting your family up for the future. But for more customized protection, you’ll need to explore Nationwide’s riders.

Depending on your policy and the state of your health, you may be able to add riders that include:

  • Premium waiver rider. If you fall ill or become disabled, this rider credits a monthly premium to your policy.
  • Spouse rider. Offered with some term and permanent policies, provides protection for your spouse and can be converted to its own whole life policy.
  • Long-term care. Allows you to access money from your policy to pay for medical expenses and long-term care.
  • Waiver of monthly deductions rider. Should you become disabled, pays monthly deductions after six months.
  • Accelerated death benefit. Gives you a cash advance on the death benefit if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness. Whatever’s not spent on treatment and care goes to beneficiaries after you die.
  • Accidental death benefit. Allows your beneficiaries to receive more money on top of the death benefit if you die due to an accident.
  • Children’s term insurance rider. Extends your life insurance benefit to biological children, stepchildren and legally adopted children.
  • Overloan lapse protection rider. If you meet this rider’s criteria, you can take out loans and withdrawals without worrying about your policy lapsing.

How can I get a low rate?

In underwriting, the price of your life insurance policy is determined by such factors as your age, health, job and lifestyle.

Nationwide reserves its Preferred rates for those with good health and a clean driving record, considering:

  • Tobacco use. The insurer is more progressive than others, considering you a nonsmoker only 12 months after quitting. It also allows up to 12 celebratory cigars a year to qualify for its lowest rates.
  • Age. Young, healthy applicants are privy to cheaper policies.
  • Driving record. A mere one ticket in the past two years can affect your rate class, which is more strict than most insurers.
  • Occupation. Those with dangerous jobs, such as firefighters and heavy machinery operators, may be subject to higher rates.
  • Health. Catering to the average American, Nationwide is fairly lenient when it comes to build charts, cholesterol and family history (with the exception of early cardiac death). But if you’ve had a serious health issue in the past 10 years, it may evaluate your case before deciding whether to provide a policy. And high blood pressure could result in higher rates.

In some cases, the company is happy to offer a policy without a medical exam — though opting to forgo one can be an expensive route.

Like its competitors, Nationwide also rewards customers with lower rates for bundling home, vehicle and business policies with the company.

How do I file a life insurance claim with Nationwide?

You can start a claim with Nationwide online, by calling the life insurance claims line or by submitting a search form, if you don’t know the policy number.

Nationwide Life Insurance claims

Nationwide doesn’t disclose all documentation you’ll need to submit, but a copy of the death certificate is among them. This insurer also offers to walk you through the process with an insurance professional.

What do customers say about this brand?

In J.D. Power’s 2017 U.S. Life Insurance Study, Nationwide ranked No. 4 of 25 insurers assessed across the country. It was considered “better than most” for overall customer satisfaction, which takes service, billing and policy offerings into account.

Overall, Nationwide earns an A+ from the Better Business Bureau based on its transparency, complaint history and more. But of 97 reviews on the site, an alarming 92 are negative. The wide majority of them relate to auto and home insurance policies.

Of those who praise Nationwide, customers consistently cite dedicated life insurance agents around the US and excellent customer support that’s easily accessible by phone and online.

What other products and services does Nationwide offer?

Nationwide is a full-service insurance and financial company, offering:

  • Vehicle insurance. Auto, classic car, boat, snowmobile, ATV, motorcycle, watercraft and RV.
  • Property insurance. Homeowners, renters, condo and flood.
  • Specialty insurance. Travel, pet, wedding, identity theft, dental, accident medical and small business.
  • Financial planning. Annuities, mutual and exchange traded funds, budgeting and retirement plans.

Bottom line

Nationwide’s online portal and claims process is excellent, though its rates can be higher than those of its A+-rated counterparts. Its policies address clients’ needs both now and in the future, and it’s more forgiving than many of its competitors when it comes to weight, health and smoking habits.

For the best value, shop around to learn which policies and premiums best fit you and your family’s needs.

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