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Best Life Insurance Companies of 2022

Nationwide is our top pick for the best life insurance company

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Buying life insurance is essential for protecting your family’s financial well-being. But with so many options, it can be difficult to choose the company that best fits you. You might be looking for coverage during your peak earning years, for a policy to cover burial expenses, or for a large permanent policy that builds cash value. No matter what your needs are, you’ll likely find dozens of companies offering the type of policy you want.

We’re here to help you choose which company is best for your needs. Our picks for the best life insurance companies share a few important traits. They’re financially stable, provide great service to customers, and offer a variety of coverage options and useful riders. When making our picks, we also considered the cost of term coverage, and how easy the company makes it to get coverage. Here are our top picks and why we chose them.

Best Life Insurance Companies of 2022

Best Overall : Nationwide


Nationwide

Nationwide

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Ranked second for customer satisfaction

  • Few consumer complaints

  • Up to $5 million in no-medical-exam coverage for qualified applicants

  • Living benefits included with most policies

  • Accepts credit card payments

Cons
  • Only existing customers can apply for simplified whole life

Why We Chose It

Nationwide’s financial health and customer service are among the best. The company has a superior financial strength rating from AM Best, and it ranked second out of 21 companies for customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. Nationwide also received far fewer complaints with the NAIC than expected over the last three years, given the company’s size. Furthermore, you can get virtually any type of life insurance policy with Nationwide, although you’ll need to be an existing customer to get a simplified whole life policy (this is similar to a final expense policy and doesn’t require a medical exam).

Healthy applicants ages 18-50 may qualify for accelerated underwriting and can get up to $5 million in coverage without a medical exam. Nationwide also offers a variety of online tools to make the process more convenient: You can calculate how much life insurance you need, get a quote online, and apply online. Your beneficiaries can start a claim online, too. Furthermore, most policies include three living benefit riders at no additional upfront premium for terminal, chronic, and critical illnesses. These riders let you accelerate a portion of the death benefit to use during life if you experience a qualifying illness. However, term policies aren’t priced particularly well compared to competitors.

For more information, see our full Nationwide Insurance review.

Best for Term : Protective


Protective Life

Protective Life

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Tied with Banner for cheapest term coverage

  • Maximum term length is 40 years

  • Accepts credit card payments

Cons
  • Below average J.D. Power ranking

  • Low limits for no-medical-exam compared to top competitors

Why We Chose It

Protective Life received fewer complaints than expected with the NAIC over the last three years given the company’s share of the market, despite ranking 16th out of 21 companies in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. The company also has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best. Protective offers cheaper coverage than any other provider except Banner, and it offers longer term policies than most other companies. Term policies from Protective also include a terminal illness rider and are renewable or convertible. However, people who want a more extensive selection of riders will be better served by Mutual of Omaha or Nationwide.

Protective has excellent online services, too. Through their website, you can get a quote, apply for coverage, and manage your policy. You can make payments with a credit card, which is not a given among the top companies. Protective also offers coverage without a medical exam to eligible applicants for death benefits up to $1 million. While this is a nice benefit, if you’re in good health and would like to apply for a higher death benefit amount, Nationwide offers no-medical-exam coverage up to $5 million.

Best for Financial Strength : MassMutual


MassMutual

MassMutual 

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • A++ financial strength rating from AM Best

  • Dividends paid to eligible policyholders

  • Far fewer complaints than expected

Cons
  • Fewer no-cost living benefits compared to competitors

  • Credit card payments are not allowed

Why We Chose It

MassMutual is one of the few insurers to get an A++ (Superior) from AM Best. The company was ranked above average for customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, too. Also, it had far fewer complaints than expected with the NAIC over the last three years for its size. Together, its J.D. Power ranking and NAIC complaint file indicate that policyholders are very satisfied with MassMutual’s customer service. 

MassMutual offers term coverage directly, along with whole, universal, and variable universal life. You can convert a MassMutual term policy to any of its permanent policy types. What’s more, MassMutual is one of the few of our top-reviewed companies to pay dividends to eligible policyholders. However, the company offers fewer living benefits at no upfront cost compared to some of its competitors. 

For more information, read our full MassMutual Review. 

Fewest Complaints : Guardian


Guardian
  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fewest consumer complaints with the NAIC of our top companies

  • No-medical-exam coverage available up to $3 million

  • A++ for financial stability

  • Whole-life policyholders are eligible to receive dividends

Cons
  • No online application or online claims service

  • Doesn’t accept credit card payments

Why We Chose It

Consumers had fewer NAIC complaints about Guardian—relative to the company’s size—than any of our other top-rated companies. Like MassMutual, Guardian also receives the highest possible AM Best grade, an A++ (Superior), which indicates superior financial strength. Another standout feature: The company offers dividends to eligible policyholders. In addition to whole and universal life insurance, Guardian offers competitively priced policies that are both renewable and convertible.

You can get a term quote online, but you’ll need to speak to an agent to apply. When you do, you can ask about Guardian’s no-medical-exam application, which offers up to $3 million in coverage for healthy applicants up to age 50. It’s hard to find policy details online, so you’ll need to ask a Guardian agent about coverage details and riders, as well. If you prefer an online application (without contacting an agent), want an online claims filing for your beneficiaries, or are hoping to pay your premiums with a credit card, you’ll need to choose a different company.

Best for Living Benefits : Mutual of Omaha


Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

  • AM Best Rating: A+ 
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Most policies include at least two living benefits

  • A variety of riders available

  • Customer support available via live chat

Cons
  • Above average number of complaints for its size

Why We Chose It

All Mutual of Omaha policies (except for guaranteed whole life insurance policies) include a terminal illness rider and a chronic illness rider. Some policies also include a critical illness rider. Mutual of Omaha is also one of the few companies to offer a disability income rider, and its list of riders for purchase is extensive. Pricing is excellent for term coverage, especially given the included benefits, and Mutual of Omaha offers online quotes for term coverage and guaranteed whole life insurance. You can even apply for a guaranteed whole life policy online. But you’ll need to speak to an agent to apply for a term or permanent policy. 

Mutual of Omaha is highly rated for financial stability—it received an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best. As for customer service, the company received slightly more than the expected number of complaints over the last three years given its market share—but it ranked fifth for customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, beating the industry average. The company also stands out because it’s the only company in our rankings that offers live chat support.

Best for Military : USAA


USAA

USAA

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Benefits for severe injuries

  • Offers no-cost guaranteed insurability

  • Convert your term policy at any time with a rider

  • A++ for financial strength from AM Best

Cons
  • Doesn’t allow credit card payments

  • Limited choices for no-med-exam coverage

Why We Chose It

USAA has been serving the military community with insurance, banking, and investment products for a century. In addition to the company’s longevity, it has an A++ (Superior) financial strength grade from AM Best, indicating superior reliability when it comes to paying claims. USAA also designs insurance products to meet the needs of military members. 

For example, the company’s Level Term V policy provides coverage during war and provides $25,000 to cover the costs associated with a severe injury. The policy comes with fixed, affordable premiums, and you can convert it to a permanent policy after the first year. If you’re deploying, you can even skip the medical exam typically required for Level Term V coverage. Policies also offer guaranteed insurability riders at no cost, which give you the opportunity to purchase additional life insurance coverage when a qualifying life event occurs within 10 years of when your policy is issued or before you turn 45, depending on the rider. This can help you get more coverage when your needs change without having to reapply for coverage. 

However, USAA’s option for no-medical-exam insurance won’t be the best choice for most people. You can only purchase $100,000 in coverage, and premiums increase annually until the policy expires at age 39. It’s often cheaper to buy more coverage with a fully underwritten policy. 

For more information, check out our USAA Review.

Best for Seniors : New York Life


New York Life

 New York Life

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Highest financial strength grade from AM Best

  • Has historically paid dividends to eligible policyholders

  • Policies available up to age 90

  • A variety of riders to customize your policy

Cons
  • Specific policy details are not available online

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

  • Maximum term length of 20 years

Why We Chose It

Seniors up to age 90 can get a policy from New York Life, while most companies have a maximum issue age of 85 or younger. The company has an A++ (Superior) financial strength grade from AM Best and a long history of paying dividends. New York Life also received far fewer complaints over the last three years than expected for the company’s size. The company offers a range of policy types, such as convertible term, whole, universal, and variable universal life insurance, and you can customize each policy with a range of riders. Additionally, New York Life has been around since 1845.

The main drawback is that it’s difficult to get all the information you need online, and there are no online quotes. You’ll need to call an agent to get assistance if you want to purchase a policy. Also, term policies only go up to 20 years. And while seniors have many options from New York Life, the company does not offer a guaranteed issue final expense policy. 

For more details, read our New York Life Review.

Final Verdict

Nationwide stands out for its excellent customer service along with a variety of policy types and living benefit riders. Mutual of Omaha is also an excellent choice for policy customization, especially if you want a disability income rider. Plus, it’s the only company on this list to offer a guaranteed whole life insurance policy that you can apply for online. 

If you want a permanent policy that pays dividends, consider Guardian, MassMutual, or New York Life. But if you just want the cheapest possible term policy, Protective is a good bet. And if you’re looking for benefits designed for military members, get a quote from USAA. 

Because all of these companies are financially strong and most have low rates of customer complaints, the chance of having a good experience with them will likely be higher than if you chose a lower-rated insurance company. That being said, compare pricing from a few different providers and go with the policy that best meets your needs.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Life insurance is designed to provide for your family’s financial needs after your death. When you buy life insurance, you enter into an agreement with an insurance company—you pay premiums to keep the policy in force and the insurance company pays a death benefit (a lump sum of money) to your named beneficiaries if you die while covered under the policy. Some life insurance policies expire after a period of time, while others are permanent. With permanent policies, part of your premium goes towards building cash value, which, generally speaking, is money you have access to while you’re still alive. If you choose to access the cash value via a policy loan, it will reduce your policy’s death benefit and cash surrender value.

Types of Life Insurance

There are two general types of life insurance coverage: temporary and permanent. Temporary coverage refers to term life insurance. Term life insurance typically lasts anywhere from one to 40 years. Permanent life insurance is designed to last your entire lifetime. Some of the most common types of permanent life insurance are universal life, (UL) whole life, variable universal life (VUL), and indexed universal life insurance (IUL).

Term

Term life insurance is life insurance that protects you for a specific period of time, typically ranging from 10 to 30 years. It’s usually the most affordable type of life insurance, but it doesn’t build cash value. And if you die after the term ends, your beneficiaries won’t receive the death benefit (unless you previously converted or renewed the policy). Still, term life insurance is sufficient for many families and provides important protection when you have financial obligations to fulfill.

Whole

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent policy that doesn’t expire as long as you pay your premiums. It features fixed premiums, a guaranteed death benefit that never decreases, and a cash-value component that you can borrow against or withdraw from. Whole life insurance is typically more expensive than term life insurance.

Universal

Universal life (UL) insurance is often designed to last a lifetime and has a cash value component that you can borrow against or withdraw from. You have the flexibility to adjust your death benefit and premium payments as your needs change. Though you have some flexibility in your death benefit and premiums, you’ll need to maintain a positive cash value to prevent the policy from lapsing. You also may need to increase premiums during the policy’s later years if you didn’t make sufficient premium payments earlier one.

Variable Universal

Variable universal life (VUL) insurance is similar to universal life insurance. It’s a permanent policy that builds cash value and has a flexible death benefit and premiums. The only difference is that variable universal life insurance offers investment options. You can choose several subaccounts, which work like mutual funds, to build a portfolio that is directly invested in the stock market. Since VUL policies have direct market exposure, the cash value can lose value and the policy can potentially lapse due to poor market performance.

Indexed Universal

Indexed universal life (IUL) insurance is another type of permanent life insurance with a flexible death benefit and premiums. With this type of policy, the cash value component tracks a stock market index such as the S&P 500. These policies aren’t directly invested in the stock market so are considered less risky than VUL policies. They typically come with a minimum guaranteed interest rate as well as a cap on how much you can earn.

Guaranteed Issue

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of whole life policy with low coverage limits. It’s typically intended for policyholders ages 45 through 80, and acceptance is guaranteed—you don’t have to answer any health questions or take a medical exam. However, guaranteed issue life insurance is expensive and the full death benefit—which is typically smaller than what other types of policies offer—won’t be available for the first one to three years of the policy, depending on the company. If you die from natural causes during that time, your insurer may give your beneficiaries your premiums paid plus a percentage. 

Final Expense

Final expense insurance is another type of small whole-life policy without a medical exam. Unlike guaranteed issue life insurance, acceptance is not guaranteed and premiums are based on your answers to health questions. This type of policy is a more affordable alternative to guaranteed issue life insurance. It may also limit the death benefit during the first one to three years of policy ownership.

How to Choose the Right Life Insurance Company for You

First, narrow down your options to companies with excellent financial strength ratings and a low complaint rate. Look for an AM Best grade in the A-bracket and an NAIC complaint index of less than 1.00. Next, select a few companies that offer the policy type you’re looking for, and consider features of the insurer’s policy, such as whether term coverage is convertible, if the policies pay dividends, and which customization options are available or included.

For example, while one whole life provider may include living benefits at no cost, another may charge extra for the same benefits. And finally, make sure the insurer offers customer support hours and channels (phone, chat, email, etc.) that are convenient for you.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

To help you figure out which life insurance companies are best, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We start our research by using third-party consumer studies such as J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and Life Happens/LIMRA’s 2021 Insurance Barometer Study.

From there, we turn to our in-house database to review more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, as well as information about years in business, cost, online tools, no-exam options, policy types and features, and available riders. 

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