Best life insurance companies for 2021

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Life insurance is designed to protect the people in your financial care. If you are in the process of shopping for the best cheap life insurance for you, you may be wondering which provider is best. Bankrate’s picks for the best affordable life insurance are State Farm and Nationwide, but other companies may be right for you.

The best life insurance for you will vary based on your preferences. Knowing what you need can help you find the right policy for you. For this reason, we compiled the top eight cheap life insurance providers, and analyzed each company based on characteristics such as customer service, financial strength, discounts and coverage options.

Bankrate Insight
  • How much you pay for life insurance will depend on several factors, such as age and medical conditions. If you’re looking for cheap life insurance, you may want to get quotes from multiple providers before deciding on a policy.
  • State Farm and Nationwide stood out as Bankrate’s picks for the best cheap life insurance companies overall.
  • New York Life Insurance Group and Northwestern Mutual are two other affordable life insurance companies on our list that stand out for exceptional customer service.

The best life insurance companies

When you start your search for life insurance, you’ll be able to choose between a variety of policy types, including universal life insurance, term life insurance and whole life insurance. You may want to discuss with an agent which option is right for you. Based on the most recent J.D. Power ratings and coverage options, these are Bankrate’s selections for the best life insurance companies in 2021.

Life insurance company J.D. Power rating Coverage capacity
Prudential Financial Inc. 759 out of 1,000 $10,000,000
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 affordable life insurance companies, we gathered ratings from J.D. Power and AM Best, 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.

Prudential Financial Inc.

Why we picked this company: Prudential Financial was founded in 1875, making it one of the oldest life insurance providers around. Since then, the company has developed a reputation for top-quality customer service and consistent financial strength.

With 5.8% of the nation’s life insurance market share, Prudential Financial Inc. is another large affordable 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

Why we picked this company: New York Life Insurance Group is owned by its policyholders and centers around them, offering a flexible payment schedule that allows customers to pay early to avoid paying in future years.

The company holds 6.75% of the market share, ranking it first in market share in the United States. It offers a variety of term, whole and convertible life insurance policy options.

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

Why we picked this company: Northwestern mutual received top-tier customer satisfaction and financial ratings.

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

Why we picked this company: State Farm received the highest customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power on our list. It also makes life insurance accessible by offering learning tools, such as calculators that help you determine how much and what type of life insurance might be right for you.

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

Why we picked this company: Guardian serves customers in all 50 states and has been writing insurance policies since 1860. Guardian rates highly in customer satisfaction and financial strength.

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 options, depending on your life stage, goals, needs and budget. It also offers cheap 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 offers online account management, making it easy for you to manage your policy online.

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

Why we picked this company: MassMutual is owned by policyholders, allowing select policyholders to earn dividends when the company does well, depending on the products purchased.

MassMutual, also known as Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., is a U.S. life insurance company founded in 1851. 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

Why we picked this company: 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 best cheap life insurance policy based on your needs and budget. The company also offers solid options for auto and homeowners insurance, meaning consumers can potentially save money on all three premiums by bundling their policies.

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.

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

Why we picked this company: Mutual of Omaha’s online quote generator makes it easy to find out how much life insurance will cost you.

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

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 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 to help you find the best cheap life insurance policy. Many experts recommend getting at least three quotes from different affordable 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: term, universal and whole life insurance. Each of these life insurance 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 affordable life insurance 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?

Like millions of other Americans, you may be looking for cheap life insurance. 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 Consumer Affairs.

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Her favorite part of the job is making home, auto and life insurance digestible for readers so they can prepare for the future.
Edited by
Insurance Editor
Reviewed by
Malik S. Lee
Founder of Felton & Peel Wealth Management