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Northwestern Mutual life insurance review 2020

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A highly rated insurer offering customizable policies and options for riskier customers.'s rating: 4.5 / 5


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18 to 100

Issue Age

Not listed to Not listed



Medical Exam Required


Free quote For a free quote you'll have to chat with an agent
Policy options Term, Universal, Whole
Term lengths Level term 10 years, Level term 20 years, Term 10, Term 80
Monthly cost Not listed
Claim methods Online form, Phone: 1-800-635-8855
Available states All states
Customer support Phone:1-800-635-8855, Online portal
Riders No info available

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.

What types of life insurance coverage does Northwestern Mutual offer?

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. And if you’re diagnosed with a chronic, critical or terminal illness, you may be eligible to tap into your benefits before death, depending on your contract and circumstances.

  • 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.

What riders can I add to my life insurance policy?

As with most standard life insurance policies, you’ll need to purchase a rider to cover such contingencies as disability and long-term care. You can also purchase a rider that allows you to purchase additional coverage without the need for underwriting.

But 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 term. This allows you to add term life insurance for your children.
  • Waiver of premium. 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.
  • Disability income. This benefit supplies supplementary income in the event you are completely disabled.

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.

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.

Speak with a Northwestern Mutual agent to learn more about whether you qualify for preferred rates.

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.
  • 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.

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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. But you’ll find positive reviews elsewhere that report helpful agents that encourage communication.

If you’re considering Northwestern Mutual, research your needs beforehand so you can go in knowing the type of insurance best for you.

How does Northwestern Mutual protect my data?

Northwestern Mutual collects your personal data in order to offer you its services. It does not sell or share this info with outside parties.

To protect your data, Northwestern Mutual uses technical, administrative and physical controls, including encryption, firewalls, system activity monitoring and antivirus.

How do I sign up?

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.

I’ve requested an agent to contact me. What happens next?

After you provide your info, a financial advisor will be in touch within a few days to discuss your life insurance options.

How do I file an insurance claim with Northwestern Mutual?

Northwestern Mutual doesn’t let you make online claims. Instead, you’ll need to start a claim by phone, weekdays during business hours only.

After reporting your claim, Northwestern Mutual mails a claim kit for you to complete, including a checklist of documents — including the policyholder’s death certificate — that you’ll need to provide with your claim.

More about Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual is one of the largest insurance companies in the US. Northwestern Mutual is wholly owned by its policyholders, which makes you eligible for annual dividend payments paid out or applied to your premium when declared by the company.

Northwestern Mutual focuses on accountability and stability, earning a strong financial position in the industry with a solid reputation for paying out policyholder claims.

In addition to permanent and term life insurance products for individuals, businesses and estates in the US, it offers disability insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities and investment options.

If there are any gaps in Northwestern Mutual’s offering, shop around and compare life insurance providers.

Frequently asked questions

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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