Best life insurance companies for 2021

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Life insurance is about protecting your income and preparing yourself financially. It can be used to provide income for those you will eventually leave behind. It can also be used to save for retirement income, save for college expenses and achieve other financial objectives. Life insurance can help those you leave behind avoid financial hardship by providing a lump sum income-tax-free cash to provide liquidity to one’s estate or replace an income.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, more people are considering life insurance. There’s no better time to apply for a policy than now — some insurers have automated the underwriting process and waived medical exams and blood tests due to social distancing requirements.

Shopping for a life insurance policy can be time-consuming and take up a lot of time, and be challenging with all the life insurance companies and types of life insurance out there today. Options like “term life insurance” and “whole life insurance” can seem complicated if you are not familiar with how life insurance works. While whole life insurance provides coverage for your entire life and can offer a cash value, term life insurance has no cash value and only provides coverage for the specified period. Knowing what you need can help you find the right policy for you.

The best life insurance companies

Based on 2020 J.D. Power ratings, these are the best life insurance companies in 2021.

Life insurance company J.D. Power rating Coverage capacity
MetLife Inc. 773 out of 1,000 $1,000,000
Prudential Financial Inc. 759 out of 1,000 $10,000,0000
New York Life Insurance Group 784 out of 1,000 $2,000,000
Northwestern Mutual 790 out of 1,000 $10,000,000
State Farm 838 out of 1,000 $3,000,000
Guardian 743 out of 1,000 $1,000,000
MassMutual 769 out of 1,000 $10,000,000
Nationwide 803 out of 1,000 $2,000,000
Mutual of Omaha 789 out of 1,000 $1,000,000

To help evaluate the top life insurance companies, we gathered ratings from the J.D. Power, AM Best and BBB websites, which are trusted sources of unbiased information. We combined that information and then analyzed customer reviews from Consumer Affairs to determine which might be the best life insurance companies.

MetLife Inc.

MetLife Inc. owns 6.05% of the life insurance market share, which makes it one of the largest life insurance companies in the nation. MetLife is different from the other companies in our review because it currently only offers life insurance plans through employers.

MetLife’s app lets you can submit claims, view policies, pay bills, track driving and upload photos and videos, which helps manage all of your policies, not just life insurance. If your employer does not offer MetLife, you can get individual life insurance policies through Brighthouse Financial, established by MetLife in 2017.

Pros Cons
Convenient mobile app
One of the largest life insurance companies
Option of Brighthouse Financial
Limited information online
No individual plans
Only available through employers

Learn more: MetLife Insurance review

Prudential Financial Inc.

With 5.8% of the nation’s life insurance market share, Prudential Financial Inc. is another large life insurance provider. Prudential Financial Inc ranks about average from customer satisfaction review sites. Prudential Financial offers a variety of term life policies and universal life insurance policies, offering customers a greater level of flexibility than some of its competitors.

Pros Cons
Live agent support available
Online tools
Several options available
Medical history required for quotes
Limited online quotes
Selective policy options

Learn more: Prudential Insurance review

New York Life Insurance Group

New York Life Insurance Group is owned by its policyholders. It offers a variety of term, whole and convertible life insurance policy options. One option is the flexible payment schedule, which allows customers to pay premiums early to avoid paying them in future years. New York Life Insurance Group holds 6.75% of the market share, ranking it first in market share in the United States.

Pros Cons
Early payments accepted
Flexible payments
Largest life insurance provider by market share
External site for online quotes
No extended products
Limited mobile functionality

Learn more: New York Life Insurance review

Northwestern Mutual

Earning an A++ rating from AM Best, Northwestern Mutual shows it can afford to pay claims. As a mutual company, it is owned by the policyholders. The provider offers a variety of term, whole and universal life insurance policies.

Pros Cons
Dividends on all policies
Flexible options
Nationwide availability
Must buy through agent
Limited information online
Medical exam required for most policies

Learn more: Northwestern Mutual Insurance review

State Farm

State Farm is a name most people recognize for home and auto insurance, but it is also a top contender in the life insurance world. With an A++ rating from AM Best, State Farm is a financially stable company. The company offers a variety of term life insurance options as well as whole, universal and variable universal options.

Pros Cons
Financially stable
Numerous policy options
No exams required for some policies
$10,000 maximum for final expenses
Age-dependent exam plans
Can only purchase from an agent, no online option

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Guardian

Guardian Life Insurance is one of the largest in the United States, with a network of over 3,000 financial representatives across the nation. AM Best ranks Guardian’s Financial Strength Rating as A++ Superior.

Guardian Life offers multiple coverage depending on your life stage, goals, needs, and budget. It also offers life insurance for millennials. Policyholders can choose term life insurance from 10 to 30 years or permanent life. You can also obtain a quote online from Guardian to estimate how much your premium will be. Guardian also offers an online account management system, making it easy for you to manage your policy online at your own time.

Pros Cons
Dividends on some policies
Easy online management
Policies for HIV-positive applicants
Must purchase through an agent
Rider details limited online
Medical exams required on all policies

Learn more: Guardian Insurance review

MassMutual

MassMutual, also known as Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., is a U.S. life insurance company that is owned by policyholders. MassMutual offers some policyholders dividends depending on the products purchased.

MassMutual offers an online application process for term life insurance. Coverage takes effect immediately upon application approval and applicants must complete medical exams within the first three months.

Pros Cons
Live agent support
Free coverage for low-income families
Convenient mobile app
Limited online quotes
Medical exams required
No final expense policies

Learn more: MassMutual Insurance review

Nationwide

Nationwide, known initially as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance, has provided insurance since 1926 across the U.S. The company offers term, whole, universal, and variable life insurance coverage options to meet all customers’ needs. Since they also offer some solid options for auto and homeowners insurance, consumers can potentially save money on all three premiums by bundling their policies.

Although most life insurance carriers do not offer life insurance discounts, Nationwide provides a digital guide to make it easy for you to choose the right life insurance policy based on your needs and budget.

Pros Cons
Waived some medical exam requirements during the COVID pandemic
Flexible coverage options
Easy online claims and bill payment system
Limited online quotes
Policy acceptance not guaranteed
Premiums can be more expensive for some people

Learn more: Nationwide Insurance Review

Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha is one of the top life insurance providers in the U.S. It is based in Nevada and started with health and accident insurance and later expanded to offer life insurance. You can choose from term, whole, and universal life insurance.

You can easily find out how much life insurance will cost you through Mutual of Omaha’s online quote generator.

Pros Cons
Provides mutual fund options
Easy online quote process
Offers digital money management app
Does not provide dividends
Limited account management online
Not all life insurance can be quoted online

Learn more: Mutual of Omaha Insurance Review

How to choose the best life insurance company

Everyone has different wants and needs in a life insurance provider. Here are some things to look for when choosing the best life insurance company for you:

  • Ask for recommendations: Often, the best reference is word of mouth. Ask your friends and family for recommendations on the top life insurance companies they have had positive experiences with.
  • Look at customer satisfaction ratings: You can visit the J.D. Power website to review its customer satisfaction ratings for life insurance companies. Companies will be ranked based on their overall score and then given a rating of up to 1,000.
  • Look at financial stability: We recommend looking at a company’s financial stability. You can do this on the AM Best website. However, some companies, like MetLife, are rated through other agencies like Demotech. A company with a low financial stability score may struggle to pay life insurance death benefits to policyholders if numerous claims are filed at once. It is important to have the assurance of strong financial stability.
  • Look at customer reviews: We used Consumer Affairs, but there are other sites available that will include customer reviews. We recommend ignoring the outlier reviews and focusing on the average. What did the average person say about the company you are considering? Are the things they complained about things that are important to you? For example, if someone made a complaint that the company does not offer a mobile app but a mobile app is not important to you, you may not need to consider that review in your assessment.
  • Get life insurance quotes: It can be beneficial to get quotes from multiple carriers and compare prices so you know if what you have found is the best life insurance policy at a competitive price. We recommend getting at least three quotes from different life insurance companies before making your final choice.
  • Ask questions: When in doubt, talk to a licensed life insurance agent. Do not hesitate to ask detailed questions about the coverage you have been quoted. It will be important to you and to your agent that you thoroughly understand your coverage and obligations.

Frequently asked questions

What are the different types of life insurance?

There are three main types of life insurance. They are term, universal and whole life insurance. Each of these types can offer many variables. It’s a good idea to speak with a licensed insurance agent to determine which types you are eligible for and which companies provide the best coverage to meet your needs.

How do you buy life insurance?

Once you have selected a life insurance company and policy, you can buy your life insurance policy. You will complete an application with the company you select. Many insurance companies offer online quotes. Depending on the company and your situation, you may be asked to have a medical exam or participate in a phone interview. Once approved, you will review and sign the policy and pay the premium. After that, your life insurance will be active.

How much does life insurance cost?

The cost of life insurance depends on a number of factors like age, general health, medical conditions and the type of policy selected. In general, the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper your life insurance rates will be. If you smoke, are overweight or have existing medical conditions, you may be quoted higher premiums. For people who are generally healthy, life insurance premiums are relatively low with a term life insurance policy. If you select a whole life policy you will often pay a higher premium than if you select a term life policy.

Methodology

Choosing the best life insurance policy is not a decision to take lightly. The insurance company’s history, as well as its reputation for customer service, financial stability and pricing, are just a few of the things that can impact both your experience and policy value.

We looked at NAIC ratings based on market share, financial stability ratings from sources like AM Best and Demotech and consumer reviews and satisfaction with J.D. Power and the Better Business Bureau.

Written by
Grace Kim
Insurance Contributor
Grace Kim has two years of experience in writing for finance and insurance domains such as The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in New Jersey at Bankrate and Reviews.com. She has written about auto, homeowners, renters and life insurance. She holds an M.Sc from New York University in Corporate Communications and has spent most of her professional experience writing about finance and tech topics.
Reviewed by
Bankrate Financial Review Board