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Best universal life insurance companies

Updated Feb 07, 2024
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Universal life insurance may be a good option for individuals who are looking for robust coverage that lasts a lifetime (as long as premiums are paid) and includes some flexibility. Most policies allow you to increase or decrease your death benefit and premiums, so you can manage your finances appropriately over time, no matter what your circumstances. Bankrate's insurance editorial team chose some of the best universal life insurers by looking at cost, rider options, customer satisfaction and more. Our choices below are worth considering if you are searching for a robust universal life policy.

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This advertising widget is powered by HomeInsurance.com, a licensed insurance producer (NPN: 8781838) and a corporate affiliate of Bankrate. HomeInsurance.com LLC services are only available in states where it is licensed and insurance coverage through HomeInsurance.com may not be available in all states. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy, and all related decisions (such as approval for coverage, premiums, commissions and fees) and policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the underwriting insurer. The information on this site does not modify any insurance policy terms in any way.

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Key takeaways

  • Universal life insurance is a flexible type of life insurance that can be adjusted to meet changing needs.
  • Because of the flexibility, you may be in contact with your carrier more often, and as such, you may want to consider customer satisfaction scores and accessibility.
  • You may also want to consider a company with numerous riders to help you personalize your coverage to your unique situation.

Best universal life insurance companies

Bankrate analyzed universal life insurance companies by looking at the following factors: J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores from the 2023 U.S Individual Life Insurance Study, financial strength scores from AM Best, number of riders and coverage capacity. We also used accessibility as a metric, and researched whether each company had a mobile app, 24/7 customer service, an online portal and local agents. Lastly, we investigated whether each carrier had a no-exam option for universal life policies.

One of the key factors of a universal life policy is its flexibility. We gave preference to companies that made it easier for policyholders to manage their accounts flexibly, either via live agents or online. We also noted the number of riders, or endorsements, that each company offered, since these allow individuals to build a policy that is customized to their needs.

Based on our research, the following life insurance companies offer some of the best universal life insurance coverage:

Life insurance company J.D. Power customer satisfaction score AM Best rating
Guardian 784/1,000 A++
Lincoln financial 788/1,000 A
Mutual of Omaha 805/1,000 A+
Nationwide 840/1,000 A+
Northwestern Mutual 790/1,000 A++
Prudential 779/1,000 A+
State Farm 843/1,000 A++

For those looking for a universal life insurance policy that does not require a medical exam, Guardian may be a great choice. The company is one of few that offers a no-exam UL option.

Guardian also has the highest AM Best financial strength rating possible: A++ (Superior). This means that, historically, Guardian has been financially sound and able to pay out large influxes of claims.

One drawback for Guardian however, is that it does not offer universal life insurance quotes online, possibly because of the complexity of the policies. You’ll need to contact a financial advisor that sells Guardian products in order to get a quote and buy a policy.

PROS

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    Superior AM Best financial strength rating

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    No-medical-exam UL option available

CONS

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    Less accessible than some competitors

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    No online universal life insurance quotes

If you like options and you want the best permanent life insurance policy, Lincoln Financial could be a good choice. The company offers several different types of UL coverage, including indexed universal life and variable universal life. The company also has a user-friendly website with an online portal that allows you to pay bills and manage your policy.

However, Lincoln Financial has a slightly lower-than-average J.D. Power customer satisfaction score, and its financial strength rating, while still high, is lower than some of its competitors. If you like consolidating numerous financial products in one place, however, you might want to consider Lincoln Financial, which also sells annuities and offers long-term care planning services.

PROS

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    Several types of UL coverage available

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    Sells numerous financial products

CONS

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    Lower-than-average J.D. Power score

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    Lower AM Best financial strength rating than some competitors

For those looking for above-average customer service and several universal life insurance options, you might want to consider Mutual of Omaha. Additionally, the company is relatively accessible, with local agents, an automated 24/7 phone line for payments and an online customer portal.

Mutual of Omaha does not have a no-exam option for its universal life policies, however, and doesn’t advertise its riders online. This does not mean that endorsements are not available, but you’ll have to request a quote and talk with a Mutual of Omaha agent to learn what options you have.

PROS

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    Higher-than-average J.D. Power score

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    Several ways to contact the company

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    Several different UL policy types available

CONS

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    All UL policies require a medical exam

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    Riders are not advertised online

Nationwide stands out among universal life insurance companies for its highly customizable policies. Nationwide also offers several ways to interact with your policy, including a mobile app, online portal and local agents. The insurance company could also be a good choice if you like bundling your auto and home insurance with your life policy and keeping all your products in one place.

However, Nationwide’s A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best is high, but not quite as high as some of its competitors. Additionally, in order to get a universal life quote, you must contact an agent.

PROS

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    Higher-than-average J.D. Power score

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    Numerous riders available

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    No-exam UL option available

CONS

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    AM Best financial strength rating is lower than some competitors

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    No online quote option

Northwestern Mutual has high third-party scores combined with a high coverage capacity. The carrier could be a good fit if you are looking for a high death benefit on your policy and an exceptional level of service. You can also contact Northwestern Mutual to discuss or make changes to your policy in a variety of ways, including via the online portal or by talking directly to a financial advisor. Northwestern was the winner of a 2023 Bankrate Award for Best Universal Life Insurance Company.

However, with only three riders available, it may be difficult to customize your policy with Northwestern Mutual. The carrier also doesn’t offer a no-exam option for UL policies, either, which means that potential customers with health issues may not qualify for coverage.

PROS

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    High J.D. Power customer satisfaction score

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    High coverage capacity

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    Several ways to contact the company

CONS

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    Fewer riders than some competitors

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    All UL policies require a medical exam

If you are looking for a highly personalized policy, Prudential could be a good choice. With nine riders, the company has options to build a policy that fits your needs. Prudential might also be a good option if you like to keep numerous types of financial products with one company for easier access. The provider also offers retirement accounts, annuities, health insurance and investment products.

However, Prudential does have a below-average J.D. Power customer satisfaction score, which might mean that customers aren’t always satisfied with the service they receive. Additionally, Prudential’s universal life options all require a medical exam.

PROS

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    Highest number of riders of the companies on our list

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    Several additional product types offered

CONS

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    Below-average J.D. Power customer satisfaction score

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    All UL policies require a medical exam

State Farm was in the top position in J.D. Power's 2023 rankings for Customer Satisfaction, which suggests that the company takes the time and effort to meet its policyholders' needs efficiently and professionally. The company has the highest possible ranking with AM Best, as well. Its A++ score tells policyholders that it manages its financial resources well and will have no trouble paying out on claims. These and other factors led to State Farm earning the 2024 Bankrate Award for Best Universal Life Insurer. State Farm also features a highly interactive website and mobile app if you like to handle your insurance business online, and 19,000+ agents if you prefer to work with a local representative.

However, State Farm doesn’t offer indexed or variable universal life policies, so if you are looking for these options, you might be better served elsewhere. Additionally, those in Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin will not be able to purchase a life policy, as State Farm is not actively writing life insurance in those areas.

PROS

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    Highest J.D. Power score in the study

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    Superior AM Best financial strength rating

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    Highly-accessible agent interactions

CONS

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    No options for indexed or variable universal life

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    Policies are not available in Massachusetts, New York or Wisconsin

How to choose the best universal life insurance company

It can help to understand the different types of universal life insurance when you are considering your policy. Universal life insurance includes variable, guaranteed and indexed universal life insurance. For example, if you’re looking for the best IUL (best indexed universal life insurance) make sure the insurer you’re interested in offers that product. Not all insurance companies offer all types of universal life insurance.

Permanent life insurance such as universal life is designed to remain in force throughout your life, so choosing the right policy is vital. Here are a few tactics you can take to find the best life insurance for your needs:

  • Consider third-party ratings: Ratings from companies like J.D. Power, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), AM Best, Standard &  Poor’s (S&P) and Moody’s can help you get a well-rounded view of a carrier’s customer satisfaction levels and financial strength. This information could be useful when choosing a company that you may interact with for the rest of your life.
  • Shop based on your needs, not rates: While the cost of life insurance might vary a bit between companies, it doesn’t fluctuate as much as auto or home insurance rates do. Rather than shopping to find the lowest rates, you might want to compare life insurance companies based on how they fit your needs. For example, you might want to seek out a few companies that have the specific riders you want and compare how well the riders meet your needs, rather than shopping for cheap life insurance rates.
  • Think about working with a financial advisor: A financial advisor or licensed life insurance agent could help you determine what your specific needs are. Plus, they may have recommendations regarding companies, life insurance policy types or riders.

Frequently asked questions

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 death benefit payouts, are just a few of the things that can impact both your experience and policy value. We assessed NAIC ratings based on market share, financial stability ratings from sources like AM Best and customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power. We also examined the number of riders available, general accessibility, coverage capacity and whether medical exams were required as part of the underwriting process in order to make our picks.

Written by
Mary Van Keuren
Contributor, Insurance

Mary Van Keuren has written for insurance domains such as Bankrate, Coverage.com, and The Simple Dollar for the past five years, specializing in home and auto insurance. She has also written extensively for consumer websites including Reviews.com and Slumber Yard. Prior to that, she worked as a writer in academia for several decades.

Edited by Editor II, Insurance