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Northwestern Mutual life insurance review 2020

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Get customizable policies ideal for riskier customers, though you'll need to call for info and signup.'s rating: 4.5 / 5


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18 to 100

Issue Age

Not listed to Not listed



Medical Exam Required


Free quote No, agent quotes only
Monthly cost Not listed
Policies Term, universal, whole
Coverage maximum Not listed
Term lengths 10, 20, 80
Riders Child rider, Disability income benefit rider, Waiver-of-premium rider
Medical exam required Yes
Available states All states
Issue age Not listed

Expert review

Katia Iervasi

Review by

Katia Iervasi is a staff writer who hails from Australia and now calls New York home. Her writing and analysis has been featured on sites like Forbes, Best Company and Financial Advisor around the world. Armed with a BA in Communication and a journalistic eye for detail, she navigates insurance and finance topics for Finder, so you can splash your cash smartly (and be a pro when the subject pops up at dinner parties).

Expert review

Northwestern Mutual makes life insurance accessible by extending coverage to riskier customers, like seniors and smokers. It also offers flexible payment plans — but you’ll most likely need to take a medical exam and contact an agent to get coverage.

Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole, universal and variable life insurance. Permanent life insurance policies build cash value, with select policyholders eligible to receive dividends, if declared by Northwestern’s board of directors. The company also offers options that combine the benefits of term and permanent life insurance plans.

If there are any gaps in Northwestern Mutual’s options or you want an easy signup process, shop around and compare other life insurance providers.

What types of life insurance coverage does Northwestern Mutual offer?

  • Term life

    Northwestern Mutual’s term life insurance policies provide coverage for a stated period, like 10 or 20 years, or to a stated age. Some term policies can be converted to permanent life insurance policies during specific conversion periods. Acceptance is guaranteed, with no underwriting or medical exams required.

  • Whole life

    A whole life insurance policy from Northwestern Mutual comes with a fixed premium, guaranteed payout upon death and benefits you can use while you’re alive. During your lifetime, you can use the cash value that builds in your policy as a down payment on a home, to supplement your retirement income or to help aging family members.

    Dividends on Northwestern Mutual’s whole life insurance are not guaranteed, though the company has paid them out since 1872. Dividends in 2019 are expected to total $5.6 billion, according to the company. And you can reinvest your dividends into your policy to accumulate cash value more quickly.

  • Universal life

    For a more flexible policy, a universal life insurance plan offers the cash value accumulation of whole life along with flexible premiums and payment schedules. As long as your policy reserves contain sufficient cash value, you can control the amount and frequency of your premiums. Or opt to pay a one-time lump sum payment for coverage.

How can I get a low rate?

Northwestern Mutual’s “preferred” class rewards nearly perfect health with the best rates available across its policies. But unlike its competitors, this provider doesn’t advertise how you can qualify for these rates. Speak with a Northwestern Mutual agent to learn more about whether you qualify for preferred rates.

In general, you’ll need to meet eligibility requirements that include:

  • A minimal or no history of tobacco use.
  • No history of alcohol or substance abuse.
  • A personal and family health history free of specified disease or impairments.
  • A clean driving record free of DWIs, DUIs, suspensions and other convictions.
  • Healthy blood pressure and BMI.
  • Low-risk occupation or hobbies.

Compare life insurance rates

Compare quotes for life insurance policies starting at $15/month.

What riders can I add to my life insurance policy?

Northwestern Mutual doesn’t make it easy to nail down the full range of riders it offers online. Instead, you’ll need to speak with an agent to tailor your plan to your specific needs. Available riders depend on your life insurance policy but may include:

  • Child rider. This allows you to add term life insurance for your children.
  • Disability income benefit rider. This benefit supplies supplementary income if you become completely disabled.
  • Waiver-of-premium rider. With this benefit, if you’re disabled or lose income because of an injury or illness, you will no longer have to pay your premiums.

How do I sign up?

Unfortunately, Northwestern Mutual doesn’t provide online quotes or allow you to apply online, but you can get matched up with an agent.

  1. To find an agent, click Let’s Talk on Northwestern Mutual’s main life insurance page.
  2. You’ll then be asked to provide some basic personal information to get matched with an agent. Or if want to search for a specific agent, you can enter the agent’s name and location and click Search. If you don’t have an agent in mind, enter your info and click Get Matched.
  3. After you provide your info, a financial advisor will be in touch within a few days to discuss your life insurance options.

Pros and cons of Northwestern Mutual


  • Eligibility for seniors and smokers. Northwestern offers coverage for riskier customers, though at higher premiums.
  • Flexible payment terms. Depending on your policy, you can choose when and how to pay for your policy.
  • Plans build cash value. Whole life and universal life plans build cash value that you can receive as a payout, apply to your premium or borrow against your policy for life’s needs.


  • No online quotes. While you can forward your info online, you must get a quote from a Northwestern Mutual insurance agent. This is a bit old school even for life insurance.
  • Health exam likely required. Northwestern Mutual doesn’t explicitly say so online, but most policies require a full health work-up.
  • Sold through agents. This could result in slightly higher premiums due to the added cost of commissions.

Northwestern Mutual reviews and complaints

Northwestern Mutual isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau, but it still gets an A+ from BBB based on criteria that includes transparency, competency and complaints.

A.M. Best rates Northwestern Mutual A++ for superior financial strength — a good sign that it can pay out on its claims. Customer reviews on BBB are negative, citing aggressive sales tactics and minimal customer support hours.

If you’re considering Northwestern Mutual, research your needs beforehand so you can go in knowing the type of insurance best for you. Otherwise you risk leaving your financial needs in the hands of an agent who’s paid based on commission.

Northwestern Mutual review: Roslyn’s experience

profile pic

Roslyn McKenna

Insurance Publisher

My husband and I signed up for a whole life policy from a Northwestern Mutual agent. We were skeptical of using financial agents, but the agent was highly recommended by a family member. We both regret this decision now.

There was a medical exam to sign up for the policy. We had to drive to an approved facility to do the blood draw. My husband had a bad experience with the nurse who took several stabs with the wrong size needle to complete the blood draw. I would recommend researching the facility before going to the exam.

The policy was promoted primarily as an investment opportunity. But after signing up, we did more research into the actual withdrawal process and found it would be more complicated and with lower returns than we were led to believe. The agent also pushed disability insurance on every call, even after saying repeatedly we weren’t interested and didn’t want to discuss it anymore.

Overall, the agent made us feel like our actual financial needs weren’t considered, and we’re preparing to cancel our policy even though we will lose money. I would not recommend Northwestern Mutual or whole life insurance in general unless you have a full understanding of the exact financial products you need and how to maximize them.

Compare life insurance companies like Northwestern Mutual

Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Term Lengths Medical Exam Required
18 - 75 years old
10, 15, 20, 30 years
Customize your term life insurance with a long list of life and disability riders. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
18 - 75 years old
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years
Depends on policy
Purchase a policy worth anywhere from $25,000 to $10 million, with the option to skip the medical exam. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
18 - 80 years old
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years
Depends on policy
Purchase term life insurance up to age 80 with Finder's #1 ranked company. Get a free quote from this A+ rated insurer on Policygenius.
20 - 85 years old
10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 years
Buy term life insurance all the way up to age 85, and choose a policy that lasts up to an incredible 35 years. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
John Hancock
18 - 65 years old
10, 15, 20 years
Depends on policy
Score a low rate on term life insurance with discounts and rewards for your healthy habits. Get a free quote on Policygenius.

Compare up to 4 providers

Frequently asked questions about NW Mutual

Life insurance ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our experts analyze life insurance companies to help you to find the strongest possible policy and premium for your family’s needs. We assess their financial strength, customer satisfaction, policy features and riders. We then give each insurer a score between one and five stars that reflects their offering and reputation in the industry.

Learn more about our methodology here.

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