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Best Life Insurance for Seniors in 2022

New York Life takes the cake for the best life insurance provider for seniors

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If you’re a senior looking for a life insurance policy, you might have some concerns about the cost. Not only does coverage get more expensive as you age, but it also increases if you’ve developed health issues. But rest assured, you have options, even if you’ve been denied coverage before.

The best life insurance companies for seniors have a stable financial outlook, provide great customer service, include no-cost living benefits with their coverage, and make policies available to applicants over 80 years old. Below are our top picks and why we chose them, so you can make an educated decision about the best life insurance company for you.

Best Life Insurance for Seniors in 2022

Best Overall : New York Life


New York Life

 New York Life

  • AM Best rating: A++
  • Accepts credit cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Superior financial stability

  • Participating policyholders eligible for dividends

  • Chronic care rider available with whole life policies

  • Few customer complaints

  • Maximum issue age is 90

Cons
  • Must speak with an agent for details

  • No online quotes for term coverage

  • No mobile app policy management

Why We Chose It

New York Life is a highly reputable insurance provider that has been around since 1845. Notably, it has a long history of paying dividends to whole life policyholders and has done so for 168 consecutive years. In 2022, the company paid $1.9 billion in dividends. What’s more, New York Life is one of the few life insurance companies to receive the highest possible financial strength rating from AM Best, an A++ (Superior). And New York Life received far fewer complaints than expected over three years, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which is an indicator of overall customer satisfaction. 

The company is a particularly good choice for older seniors as it makes policies available to 90-year-olds. Few companies let 90-year-olds apply for coverage and most limit your age at application to 85 or younger. Plus, you have a suite of riders available with which to customize coverage. These include a terminal illness rider, which lets you receive a portion of the death benefit early if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, and a chronic care rider that lets you access the death benefit if you experience a chronic illness. 

The main drawback of New York Life is that you’ll need to speak with an agent to get more information and a pricing estimate. If you’re more comfortable transacting online and you just need term coverage, you may want to choose another provider.

Best for Financial Stability : Guardian


Guardian

 Guardian

  • AM Best rating: A++
  • Accepts credit cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Superior financial strength

  • Far fewer complaints than expected

  • Maximum issue age is 90

  • Dividend-eligible policies

Cons
  • Must work with an agent to apply

  • No online claims

Why We Chose It

Like New York Life, Guardian is one of the few life insurers to receive an A++, the top financial strength score from AM Best. The company also received very few complaints over the past three years, indicating high levels of customer satisfaction. Furthermore, Guardian is ideal for seniors because it is one of the few companies to offer policies up to issue age 90, or 75 for term coverage. Plus, whole life policyholders are eligible for life insurance dividends and several living benefits are available to customize your policy, including a no-cost terminal illness rider and a no-cost chronic illness rider.

While it’s easy to get an instant quote for term coverage, you’ll need to speak with an agent to apply for a policy. You’ll probably also need to speak to an agent if you want policy specifics, as they’re difficult to locate on the website.

Best for Living Benefits : Nationwide


Nationwide

Nationwide

  • AM Best rating: A+
  • Accepts credit cards: Yes

It's extremely rare for permanent life insurance quotes to be offered online and Nationwide is no exception. Call 866-207-9160 to get a quote for permanent coverage (whole life and universal life) from Nationwide.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Ranked second for customer satisfaction

  • Far fewer complaints than expected

  • Policies are eligible for no-cost living benefits

  • Online quote and application for term life

  • Up to $50,000 of simplified issue whole life

Cons
  • Simplified issue whole life policies only available to current Nationwide auto and homeowners customers


Why We Chose It

Nationwide has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best and ranked second for customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. The company also received far fewer complaints with the NAIC than expected for a company of its size over the past three years. Nationwide offers a wide variety of policy types and riders too. These are among the reasons it’s one of our top picks for best life insurance companies overall. But what impresses us most is that Nationwide includes three living benefit riders at no upfront cost on most of its policies. These let you accelerate a portion of the death benefit if you experience a chronic, critical, or terminal illness. Other companies we reviewed include at most two no-cost living benefits, with many including only one.

If you have an auto or homeowners insurance policy with Nationwide or want to sign up for one, you can apply for a simplified issue policy for up to $50,000 in coverage up to age 80. It’s not a guaranteed acceptance policy, but it doesn’t require an in-person medical exam. It’s important to keep in mind that the policy is only available to existing Nationwide customers and that it will pay out a reduced benefit if you die of natural causes within two years of issue. Also note that there are no riders available with this policy. 

For more information, read our full Nationwide insurance review.

Best for Fewest Complaints : Pacific Life


Pacific Life

Pacific Life

  • AM Best rating: A+
  • Accepts credit cards: Not disclosed
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fewest complaints of our top-rated companies during 2021

  • Highly ranked for customer satisfaction

  • All policies include a terminal illness rider

Cons
  • Must speak with an agent to get a quote or apply

Why We Chose It

Pacific Life was our top pick for fewest complaints because the company has received an extremely low number of complaints over the past three years, relative to its size. In 2021 they had an extremely low complaint index of just 0.04. Pacific Life was also ranked fourth among life insurers by J.D. Power in 2021. Both indicate stellar customer satisfaction. Plus, the company holds an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating with AM Best, so you can feel confident in its financial outlook and ability to pay claims.

The company also offers a range of living benefit riders, including riders for chronic illness and terminal illness. Term policies are convertible to permanent coverage giving you some flexibility. If you want to start with a permanent policy, you’ll have your choice of whole life, universal life, indexed universal life, or variable universal life. You’ll need to speak with an agent to get a quote and apply.

Best Term for Seniors : John Hancock


John Hancock

 John Hancock

  • AM Best rating: A+
  • Accepts credit cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Issues term coverage to applicants up to age 80 and permanent coverage up to age 90

  • Offers a critical illness rider that does not reduce the death benefit

  • Wellness program included with every plan

Cons
  • No online quote or application

  • No final expense or guaranteed issue life insurance policies

  • Minimum $250,000 in term coverage

Why We Chose It

Most companies cap issue ages at 75 or younger for term coverage, but John Hancock offers term coverage up to age 80. You also have options for converting your term policy to any one of John Hancock’s permanent policies up to age 70. John Hancock’s VitalityGO program is offered with all policies and provides discounts on healthy foods, wearable fitness devices, and more. And for as little as $2 per month, you can enroll in Vitality Plus, which allows you to earn points and be rewarded for healthy activities such as exercise or meditation. This program even comes with a free subscription to Headspace and a free Amazon Halo. 

Though it costs extra, John Hancock offers a valuable twist on the critical illness rider—instead of reducing your death benefit, the rider draws from a separate benefit amount, so the death benefit stays intact for your beneficiaries. The company also offers terminal illness and long-term care riders. 

What’s more, all of these benefits come from a company that received high marks for financial strength and customer satisfaction. John Hancock has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best and few customer complaints.

Best for Final Expense : Mutual of Omaha


Mutual_of_Omaha

Mutual_of_Omaha

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Policies available to 85 year olds

  • Some policies include a terminal illness rider

  • A+ financial strength rating

  • Up to $25,000 in guaranteed issue coverage

Cons
  • No regular whole life option, only guaranteed issue

Why We Chose It

Mutual of Omaha is a good choice if you need a small permanent policy and have health problems. The company offers a guaranteed issue whole life policy with coverage up to $25,000. The policy requires no health questions and you can apply for it online without contacting an agent. However, the death benefit is graded for the first two years, which means that if you die of natural causes during that time, your beneficiaries won’t receive the full death benefit. You must be between 45 and 85 years old to apply.

The company is rated A+ (Superior) by AM Best, which means it has a superior ability to honor its insurance obligations, such as paying claims. Mutual of Omaha received fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size in 2021.

For more information, read our full Mutual of Omaha life insurance review.

Final Verdict

New York Life is our top pick for the best life insurance for seniors due to its high financial strength grade, low incidence of complaints, stellar dividend-paying history, range of policy options, and high policy issue age. But given that you must speak to an agent to get details or apply, applicants looking for a quick online quote and coverage may want to consider Nationwide. Nationwide is also the go-to choice for no-cost living benefit riders.

Older seniors seeking term coverage may be best served by John Hancock, while those who value a company with the very few complaints can look to Pacific Life. If you have health issues or only need a small policy, try Mutual of Omaha for a final expense or guaranteed issue policy

Educational Information

What Is Senior Life Insurance?

Senior life insurance may refer to any policy issued to a senior applicant, but it most often refers to a final expense policy or burial insurance, which are small, whole life policies designed to cover end-of-life costs. These include guaranteed issue policies, which don’t require a medical exam or answers to health questions, but are more expensive than policies that ask health questions or require an exam.

Seniors may be eligible for more than just final expense insurance, however. The companies we chose also offer traditional term, whole, and universal life coverage for seniors. With term life insurance, keep in mind that the available terms will get shorter as you get older. If you’re over 75, the maximum term you’ll likely be able to purchase is 10 years. And with any policy, the cost will increase the longer you wait to apply.

What Is Guaranteed Issue Insurance?

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of whole life insurance policy with level premiums that guarantees a small death benefit, typically $35,000 or less, depending on the company. It doesn’t require that you answer any health questions or take a medical exam — anyone is eligible to purchase a policy, provided they meet age requirements (typically, you must be at least 45 years old). For this reason, guaranteed issue life insurance is much more expensive than simplified issue life insurance, which requires that you answer some health questions.

Guaranteed issue life insurance usually comes with a graded benefit period lasting two or three years. If you die of natural causes during that period, your beneficiaries won’t receive the full death benefit, but they will receive the premiums you paid so far, along with an extra percentage above that amount. Unless you have health issues preventing you from qualifying, you’ll save money if you opt for a policy that asks health questions or requires an exam. However, if you experience any of the following, a guaranteed issue policy may be your only option: 

  • Certain types of cancer
  • Terminal illness
  • Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • AIDS or HIV
  • Chronic illness or disease that causes you to be wheelchair-bound
  • Need a transplant
  • Need dialysis
  • Need oxygen (except for sleep apnea)
  • Are confined to a nursing home

How to Choose the Right Life Insurance Policy for You

Narrow down your options to companies that received an A or better grade from AM Best, preferably an A+ or A++. This will help ensure the company you choose is financially stable for years to come.

Next, select the companies that offer the type of life insurance, benefit amount, and customization options you are looking for. 

  • Choose term life insurance if you want the most coverage for the cheapest premium, but you only need temporary coverage during a period of financial obligation. 
  • Choose permanent life insurance if you want to transfer wealth to your family or have a permanent coverage need.
  • Choose a simplified issue or guaranteed issue final expense policy if you want to leave money to cover your burial costs and unpaid bills.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, pay attention to other features that might stand out, such as no-cost living benefit riders and exam requirements. Make sure you can customize the policy to meet your needs. When you’ve selected two to three life insurance providers that seem like a good fit, be sure to compare quotes between the companies so you can get the lowest price or the best benefits.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

​​To determine the best life insurance companies for seniors, we started by considering what consumers want from life insurance companies by researching third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA.3 

Based on those findings, we selected and collected more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, plus information about years in business, online tools, no-exam options, policy types and features, maximum issue age, and available riders.

We prioritized companies with superior financial stability, few customer complaints, and a high maximum issue age for policies. We also considered the availability of living benefit riders and whether they’re included at no cost. Companies were ranked according to the following categories and weights.

  • 30%: Maximum issue age
  • 24.5%: Financial stability 
  • 24.5%: Consumer complaints and customer service features
  • 16%: Policy features and riders
  • 5%: Maximum coverage amount

To differentiate further between companies, we looked at third-party customer satisfaction ratings, and compared product specifics and the application process. We used this research to determine the best life insurance companies for seniors.

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