Best Life Insurance Companies

Finding the best life insurance company involves weighing customer service data and the insurer’s financial strength. Hundreds of life insurance companies compete for your business, often selling very similar products, so it’s smart to get life insurance quotes from at least a few before making a decision.

The best life insurance companies

To help you evaluate your options, NerdWallet scores companies that sell life insurance policies to individuals. All of the companies listed below scored at least four out of five stars.

What Are The Best Life Insurance Companies

The highest scoring companies, with five out of five stars, are:

  • Northwestern Mutual.
  • Guardian.
  • Haven Life.
  • MassMutual.

You can learn more about each company by clicking on the NerdWallet reviews.

About Northwestern Mutual Insurance

Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance company in the U.S. The company offers a wide range of products, such as term life, universal life and whole life insurance. Universal life policyholders have flexible payment and coverage options, while term life customers have the opportunity to convert their policy to permanent coverage without taking a medical exam.

Review

  • Ranked high in a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey.
  • Eligible customers can receive dividends.

About Guardian Insurance

Guardian offers both term and permanent life insurance policies, including whole life and universal life. One of the perks of Guardian’s universal coverage is the ability to increase or decrease your premiums to fit your needs.

The company also offers whole life insurance for individuals living with HIV. Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for coverage, such as being between the ages of 20 and 60 and free from AIDS-defining illnesses.

Review

  • Ranks below average for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power study.
  • Offers a full menu of term and permanent life insurance.

About Haven Life Insurance

Haven Life offers term life insurance with accelerated underwriting, a process that uses algorithms and big data to quickly assess your insurability. The entire application process is conducted online and can be completed in about 25 minutes. Coverage amounts can reach as high as $3 million. All of Haven Life’s policies are issued by MassMutual.

Review

  • Offers term life online with quick application process.
  • No medical exam required for some applicants.

About MassMutual Insurance

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., often shortened to MassMutual, is one of the largest life insurers in the country. The company offers a wide range of products, from online term life insurance to variable universal life — a type of permanent policy with flexible premiums and investment opportunities. Other policies include universal life, whole life and standard term life.

Review

  • Offers immediate term life insurance online.
  • Provides a full range of financial products and services.

About AARP Insurance

AARP life insurance policies are available only to the group’s members, but anyone 50 or older can join. One of the company’s biggest draws is its simplified underwriting, which means you don’t have to take a life insurance medical exam to qualify for coverage. Instead, acceptance is based on your application and information about your health. Both term and whole life products are available. All policies are issued by New York Life.

Review

  • Offers small selection of New York Life term and whole life policies to AARP members.
  • No medical exam required to apply.

About Auto-Owners Insurance

Auto-Owners’ 48,000 licensed agents offer a range of insurance products across 26 states. Its life insurance products include term, whole and universal life, as well as long-term care policies. For term policies, you can choose among 10-, 20- or 30-year term lengths. The company’s whole life insurance covers you until you’re 110 and has flexible payment options. Multiple family members can be insured under Auto-Owners’ universal policy, which can then be converted to an individual policy if needed.

Review

  • Has fewer than the expected number of complaints to state regulators for life, home and auto insurance.
  • Has lots of policy and coverage options.
  • Available in 26 states.

About New York Life Insurance

New York Life is a mutual company, which means it’s owned by its policyholders. As such, you may be eligible to vote in board elections if you buy certain policies. The company is one of the largest insurers in the U.S. It offers both term and permanent life insurance policies, such as whole life, universal life and variable universal life. One of its whole life policies includes a flexible payment option, allowing you to pay off your premiums early. You can also convert your term life policy to a permanent one if you want lifelong coverage.

Review

  • Ranks high in J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction study for life insurance.
  • Doesn’t offer life insurance quotes online.

About State Farm Insurance

When you think of State Farm, you probably think of its auto insurance products, but it also offers a wide range of life insurance policies and riders. For example, its instant life insurance policy is available for people ages 16 to 45, includes $50,000 of coverage and doesn’t require a medical exam. Furthermore, you may be able to convert your term policy to a permanent product when it expires. State Farm’s permanent policies include whole life and universal life insurance.

Review

  • Ranked first for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power life insurance study.
  • Drew fewer life insurance complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size.

About USAA Insurance

USAA offers both permanent and term life insurance specifically designed for military members and their families, and its life insurance products are available to nonmilitary customers as well.

USAA policies can be used to supplement the government-provided Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, which is automatically issued to eligible military personnel. USAA’s term life insurance policies typically cover you during wartime, including acts of terrorism. Policyholders between 18 and 35 years old can also increase their coverage amount if they get married, buy a house or have a baby.

Review

  • Some policies not available in New York or Montana.
  • Far fewer life insurance complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size.

About Pacific Life Insurance

Pacific Life was founded in 1868 and offers a wide range of term and permanent products, including term life, universal life, indexed universal life and variable universal life insurance. In fact, Pacific Life is a top seller of indexed universal life insurance, which grows investments based on stock market indexes like the S&P 500. Pacific Life’s policy has a guaranteed floor, which means your life insurance cash value won’t go below a certain value if the stock market dives.

Review

  • Ranked about average in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction study for life insurance.
  • Offers a wide range of life insurance policies.

About Amica Insurance

Chartered in 1969, Amica Life Insurance Company sells term and whole life policies in all U.S. states except Hawaii. Its term life policy comes in 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year terms and can be converted to a whole life policy regardless of changes to your health. In addition, healthy applicants may not need to take a medical exam to qualify for coverage. Amica’s whole life policy ranges from $25,000 to $1 million and includes a terminal illness rider free of charge. This rider allows you to withdraw part of the death benefit early if you become terminally ill.

Review

  • Customer satisfaction ratings for Amica are generally top-notch.
  • Amica has fewer consumer complaints than the industry median relative to its size.
  • Amica’s auto insurance includes several free perks most insurers don’t, such as free lock and air bag replacement.

About Country Financial Insurance

Started by Illinois farmers, Country Financial sells a broad range of insurance products, including term, whole and universal life. Its term life amounts range from $50,000 to more than $1 million and you can add extras to your policy, such as $50,000 of coverage for a child or a return-of-premium rider. This rider means you get back any paid premiums on a 20- or 30-year policy if you’re still around after it expires. The company’s whole life product gives you five payment options, such as paying your premiums in one lump sum or stretching them out over the length of the policy.

Review

  • Overall customer satisfaction is among the best for auto insurance claims.
  • Complaints against Country Financial are fewer than expected for the industry.
  • Available in 19 states.

About Penn Mutual Insurance

Similar to other mutual companies, Penn Mutual is owned by its policyholders, which means customers who purchase whole life insurance can receive dividends when the company performs well. Founded in 1847, Penn Mutual sells both term and permanent life insurance. One of the perks of buying Penn Mutual’s Guaranteed Convertible Term policy is the option to convert it to permanent coverage without needing to provide proof of good health.

Review

  • Broad selection of term and permanent life insurance.
  • Quotes aren’t available online.

About Principal Financial Insurance

Principal Financial offers both term and permanent life insurance, including survivorship insurance, which is a type of life insurance for married couples. The company’s term life policies come in a variety of lengths, ranging from one to 30 years. In addition, you can convert your term life policy to permanent coverage without providing additional proof of good health.

Review

  • Offers term, universal, indexed universal, variable universal and survivorship life insurance.
  • Customer satisfaction ratings are high.

About RiverSource Insurance

RiverSource is an affiliate of Ameriprise Financial and sells both term and permanent life insurance to individuals. Its term life products are available in 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year options, and premiums are guaranteed to stay the same for the length of the policy. RiverSource also offers an extensive range of permanent life insurance policies including universal, indexed universal and variable universal for anyone looking for coverage with an investment component.

Review

  • Life insurance sold through Ameriprise Financial advisors.
  • Preliminary term life quotes available online.

About Banner Insurance

Banner life insurance is sold under the Legal & General brand and is available in Washington, D.C., and all states except New York. If you’re looking for coverage in New York, check out the company’s sister brand, William Penn. Banner’s product list includes term life and universal life, as well as a range of life insurance riders, such as children’s term coverage and a waiver of premium if you become totally disabled. While many insurers cap their term limits at around 30 years, Banner offers 35- and 40-year options.

Review

  • Offers a wide range of term lengths for term life insurance.
  • Fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size.

About Ethos Insurance

Ethos life insurance policies are issued by Banner, under the Legal & General brand, and AAA Life Insurance Company. The company says its speedy online application process for term life policies means you can apply for coverage in about 10 minutes. If you have any questions about your application, you can reach out to representatives by phone or email. Ethos’ whole life policy is issued by AAA Life Insurance and guarantees coverage in minutes if you’re between 65 and 85, regardless of your health. All policies include an accelerated death benefit, which allows you to take part of the death benefit early if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Review

  • Sells term and whole life insurance online.
  • Some policies include accelerated death benefits.

About John Hancock Insurance

John Hancock is the U.S. division of Canada-based Manulife Financial Corp. It offers both term and permanent policies, as well as specific coverage for people with diabetes. One of the benefits of buying a life insurance policy through John Hancock is its Vitality Program. Policyholders get access to fitness and nutritional information through an app, as well as discounts and rewards for adopting healthy habits.

Review

  • Discounts and rewards offered for healthy habits.
  • Offers coverage for people with diabetes who meet certain criteria.

About Lincoln Financial Group Insurance

Lincoln Financial Group offers both term and permanent life insurance, including universal, variable universal and indexed universal policies. If you’re looking for quick coverage, the company’s TermAccel life product might be of interest. Coverage can be purchased after completing a short phone interview, and a medical exam may not be required. Fun fact: In 1905, the company got permission to use the former president’s name and image from Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln.

Review

  • Offers quick application by phone on term life policies.
  • Fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size.

About Nationwide Insurance

Nationwide is typically known for car insurance, so you may be surprised to learn it also offers a full range of life insurance products, such as term life, whole life, variable life and universal life. The company’s term life policies are available in 10-, 15-, 20- or 30-year increments, with the option to convert to a permanent policy if you want lifelong coverage. Nationwide term life products also include level premiums, which means they won’t increase over time. And if you want to extend your term life coverage, renewal options are available.

Review

  • Drew fewer life insurance complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size.
  • Ranked high for customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power life insurance survey.

About Prudential Insurance

Prudential offers both term and universal life insurance products with options to customize coverage to fit your needs. For example, the company allows you to tailor your term policy with riders that cover accidental deaths, terminal illnesses and disabilities. Plus, Prudential offers multiple types of permanent life insurance products, with varying degrees of investment opportunities.

Review

  • Offers several types of term life policies and a wide variety of universal life policies.
  • First major U.S. life insurer to offer coverage to people with HIV.

About Securian Financial Insurance

Securian Financial, previously known as Minnesota Life Insurance Co., sells term and permanent life insurance policies, including whole and universal life. The company’s whole life policy provides a fixed premium and guaranteed death benefit, while its universal life insurance policy allows you to modify your premium and coverage amounts as your needs change. Depending on the type of term policy you buy, you may be able to convert your coverage to permanent insurance even if you have a chronic illness.

Review

  • Broad selection of term and permanent policies offered.
  • Online quotes aren’t available for all products.

How to choose the best life insurance company for you

Look at customer satisfaction scores: Other customers’ experiences can help you decide whether you want to do business with a company. You can get clues about an insurer’s reputation through complaints filed with state regulators, which are visible on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website. All of the companies listed above have drawn fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for insurers of their size, according to three years’ worth of data from the NAIC.

Consider financial strength: It’s especially important to look into life insurance companies’ financial strength because you’ll want a company that can pay claims many years down the road. Financial strength ratings for life insurance companies are available through ratings agencies like A.M. Best. We don’t recommend considering insurers with an A.M. Best rating of B or lower.

Get prices: The cost of coverage varies among companies, so it’s smart to compare prices. You can use NerdWallet’s tool to compare life insurance quotes from multiple insurers.

Evaluate product selections: There are two main types of life insurance, term and permanent.

  • Term life insurance lasts a set number of years and is typically sufficient for most families.
  • Permanent life insurance lasts your entire life and often includes an investment component. Under the umbrella of permanent life insurance, there are several different types of policies, such as whole life and universal life.

Although many companies sell similar policies, some focus on certain products, such as whole life, or on particular customers, such as seniors who need life insurance. You can narrow down your options by focusing on the companies that specialize in the type of insurance you’re looking for.

Methodology: Life insurance ratings

insurance ratings are based on weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims, and complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.

These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you.

Insurer complaints methodology

examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

In 2020, the average national cost for health insurance is $456 for an individual and $1,152 for a family per month. However, costs vary among the wide selection of health plans. Understanding the relationship between health coverage and cost can help you choose the right health insurance for you.

To see personalized quotes for coverage options available in your area, browse health insurance by state. If you already know which health insurance carrier you’d like to purchase from, check out our list of health insurance companies.

What is individual health insurance?

While many people get their health insurance through a group plan sponsored by their employer or union, others buy it themselves. If you are buying your own health insurance, you are purchasing an individual plan, even if you include family members on the plan. If this sounds like what you need, let eHealth show you all of your individual and family health insurance options, and use our free quote comparison tool to find an affordable plan that meets your needs.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), people can purchase individual health insurance through a government exchange or marketplace (commonly referred to as ACA plans), or they can buy health insurance from private insurers. You may be restricted to purchasing health insurance through a government exchange to certain times of the year. Usually you can purchase health coverage from a private insurance company anytime.

ACA plans are a good starting place to understanding individual health insurance options. ACA health plans are categorized by metals. You can learn more about the metallic plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

All ACA plans must cover 10 essential benefits, such as coverage for hospitalizations, outpatient and preventive care, maternity and child services, lab tests, rehabilitation services, mental health treatment, and prescription drugs. Each insurer can decide how it provide these benefits, and perhaps additional benefits. The metallic levels help buyers understand what portion of health care costs the plan will pay on average and what portion the consumer will pay.

How much does individual health insurance cost?

The cost of individual health insurance varies. Personal choices in coverage as well as age, income, location, number of family members (if any) included in your coverage, health care use – factor into your actual health insurance cost.

You can get a reliable estimate of your costs when you know health plan’s premiums, deductibles, cost-sharing expenses and maximum out-of-pocket limits. With this information, you can also compare health insurance plans. Licensed insurance brokers at eHealth offer expert knowledge in available health plans. They can help you compare options to find the affordable health plan that meets your needs.

Premiums

In exchange for healthcare coverage, the insurer charges you a monthly premium.

According to eHealth’s recent study of ACA plans, in 2020 the national average health insurance premium for an ACA plan is $456 for an individual and $1,152 for a family. This average cost does not include people who receive government subsides.

You can learn more about the average premium cost for ACA-compliant plans in your state by visiting our resource center or by contacting an eHealth insurance agents at the toll-free number on this page.

Deductibles and cost-sharing expenses

deductible is the amount you pay for health care services each year before your health insurance pays its portion of the cost of covered services. Our study finds that in 2020, the average annual deductible for single, individual coverage is $4,364 and $8,439 for family coverage. Keep in mind, individual health insurance plans’ deductibles vary considerably: some may be as low as $0.

Copayments and coinsurance are cost-sharing payments you make each time you get a medical service after reaching your annual deductible.

copayment is a fixed amount that you pay for covered health care services. For example, assume your plan has a $30 copayment and your doctor’s visit is $150. If you:

  • Haven’t met your deductible, you’ll pay $150 at the time of your visit
  • Have met your deductible, you’ll pay your $30 copayment

Coinsurance is a percentage of covered health care service that you pay for covered services after you have met your deductible. Assume your plan has a 20% coinsurance and your doctor’s visit is $150. If you:

  • Haven’t met your deductible, you’ll pay $150 for the visit
  • Have met your deductible, you’ll pay 20% of $150 (which is $30)

Maximum out-of-pocket limits

The maximum out-of-pocket limit is a financial safety net. This dollar amount is the most you have to spend for covered services in a year. After you reach this amount, the insurance company pays 100% for covered services for the rest of the benefit year. Your deductible, copayments and coinsurance payments count toward the annual maximum out-of-pocket limit.

For the 2020 plan year, the out-of-pocket limit for an ACA plan can’t be more than $8,150 for an individual and $16,300, as reported on Healthcare.gov. Many plans offer lower out-of-pocket limits.

How do premiums, deductibles, cost-share, and out-of-pocket limits influence health care cost?

Generally, the more benefits your plan pays, the more you pay in premium. But your medical expenses for care are lower.

To illustrate how these costs may influence your choice of plans, consider the ACA plans.

  • The Bronze plan has the lowest premiums of the ACA metallic categories of plans. The national average premium in 2020 for single coverage is $448 per month, for family coverage, $1,041 per month, according to our study. A Bronze plan may be right for you if your primary goal is to protect yourself financially from the high cost of a serious illness or injury and still pay a modest premium. However you will have to pay for much of your routine medical care. The plan pays for preventive care (such as an annual wellness visit, certain screenings and counseling) whether or not the deductible is met.
  • A Silver plan may be a good choice for you if you can afford a slightly higher premium than a Bronze plan premium to get more insurance payment for medical care. The national average Silver plan premium in 2020 for single coverage is $483 per month. Family coverage averages $1,212 per month.
  • A Gold plan may be the right choice for you if you are willing to pay even more each month in premiums to have more of your medical care expenses paid by insurance than a Bronze or Silver plan would pay. A Gold plan may be especially valuable to you if you or your family require frequent or extensive medical care. The national average Gold plan premium in 2020 for single coverage is $569. For family coverage, the average premium is $1,437 per month.
  • If you can afford to pay more in monthly premium costs in exchange for small medical expenses related to extensive, ongoing health care, the Platinum plan may be a good choice. In 2020, the Platinum plan premium averages $732 per month for single coverage and $1,610 per month for family coverage.

In addition to the metallic plan categories, some people are eligible to purchase a plan with catastrophic coverage. Catastrophic plans have very low premiums and very high annual deductibles ($8,150 in 2020). However, they pay for preventive care regardless of the deductible. These plans may be a suitable insurance option for young, healthy people. To qualify for a Catastrophic plan, you must be under age 30 or be of any age with a hardship exemption or affordability exemption (based on job-based or exchange insurance being unaffordable). Learn more about Catastrophic coverage.

How to find an affordable plan that meets your needs?

Among eHealth customers who bought ACA individual health insurance, more than 75% chose Bronze or Silver plans. Your state may host an exchange for comparing and purchasing ACA plans or it may use the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov. Keep in mind, you aren’t limited to the exchange.

The licensed insurance brokers at eHealth can help you find the best health plan to meet your health coverage needs and your budget. They will listen to your priorities in health coverage and use their expertise to match your needs with health insurance options both on and off the exchange.

Can I lower my health insurance costs?

You can’t control when you get sick or injured, but you do have some control on how much you pay. While an eHealth broker can help you identify potential cost controls for your particular situation, here are some ways you may be able to lower your health insurance costs.

  • See if you’re eligible for government subsidies. If you buy your own health insurance, you may get help paying for it from a government assistance program. The Advanced Premium Tax Credit subsidy lowers your monthly premium payment. The Cost-Sharing Reductions program can lower the cost-share amount you pay for medical care. Both of these programs are designed to help people with limited incomes. You can use this Healthcare.gov tool to see if you are eligible for lower costs.
  • See if you’re eligible for Medicaid. Every state has a Medicaid program and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) to provide health coverage to low income individuals and families. Contact your state Department of Insurance or Health Department to learn more about these programs and if you are eligible to enroll.
  • See if you are eligible for Medicare. You may be eligible for Medicare if you are age 65 or older—even if you are still working—or any age and disabled. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) is $144.60 for 2020. Most people who have worked at least 10 years and paid Medicare taxes do not pay a Part A (hospital insurance) premium.
  • Choose a high deductible plan that pairs a health savings account (HSA). If you aren’t eligible for government assistance programs, you may save money with this insurance plan type. The premium is low for high-deductible plans and many plans pay for some preventive care. The HSAs are savings accounts that you use to pay for medical expenses not paid by your insurance. You save on taxes with a health savings account because the money you put in and take out is either tax-free or tax-deductible.
  • Buy a medical supplement plan and a high-deductible plan. You may be able to save money by choosing a high-deductible plan that will help pay your expenses if you are seriously ill or injured and a supplemental insurance plan. Supplemental insurance provides coverage for specific health conditions, such as accidents, types of critical care, disability, or death. Typically, the premiums for these types of plans average $25 – $50 per month and usually don’t have deductibles.

Are you ready to find the right individual health insurance for you?

eHealth is here to help you. We have licensed insurance brokers who understand the various coverage options and can guide you through your individual insurance health insurance choices. Our service is quick and convenient and free of charge. Call us at (855) 396-2521 (TTY 711), Mon–Fri, 9am–7:30pm ET, or email us at sales@ehealth.com.

This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication. Consult your own tax, accounting or legal advisor instead of relying on this article as tax, accounting, or legal advice.