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Best universal life insurance companies

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Life insurance can be an important purchase. Basic policies are designed to help provide a financial cushion for your loved ones in the event of your passing, but that’s not all life insurance can do. Universal life insurance, also called UL coverage, can be a great choice if you’re looking for a flexible policy with added perks. A universal life policy allows you to increase or decrease your death benefit to suit your needs, allowing you to control your premium. Additionally, universal life is a type of permanent life insurance and comes with a cash value component that you may be able to withdraw or borrow against while you’re still living.

Universal life insurance policies can be complex, though. If you’re in the market for a UL policy, you might want to carefully consider the life insurance company you choose. The flexibility of a universal life policy might mean you’ll have more contact with your carrier than if you had other types of life insurance, so customer satisfaction may be important. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team analyzed UL life insurance providers to help you choose a company that will fit your unique circumstances.

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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.
  • 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, AM Best financial strength scores, 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.

Because owning a universal life policy comes with the perk of flexibility, we weighted accessibility as the most important company feature; companies with greater levels of accessibility ranked higher in our methodology. A company’s number of riders was the second measure that we weighted, because UL customers likely want to create a policy that is tailored to their specific circumstances. Based on our research, the following life insurance companies offer some of the best universal life coverage:

Bankrate’s best universal life insurance companies (listed alphabetically)
Life insurance company J.D. Power customer satisfaction score AM Best rating
Guardian 775/1,000 A++
Lincoln Financial 773/1,000 A+
Mutual of Omaha 795/1,000 A+
Nationwide 813/1,000 A+
Northwestern Mutual 807/1,000 A++
Prudential 753/1,000 A+
State Farm 822/1,000 A++

Guardian

Guardian could be a great choice for those looking for a universal life policy without a medical exam, as the company is one of the few to offer 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.

However, Guardian does have a slightly lower-than-average J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating as well as fewer options for contact than some of its competitors. Because universal life coverage is flexible and you may need to be in contact with your carrier more often, you might want to consider these drawbacks when getting a quote from Guardian.

Perks Drawbacks
Superior AM Best financial strength Slightly-below-average J.D. Power score
No-exam UL option available Less accessible than some competitors

Learn more: Guardian Insurance review

Lincoln Financial

If you like options, 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.

Lincoln Financial does have a lower-than-average J.D. Power customer satisfaction score, though, and its financial strength, while 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.

Perks Drawbacks
Several types of UL coverage available Lower-than-average J.D. Power score
Sells numerous financial products Lower AM Best financial strength than some competitors

Learn more: Lincoln Financial Insurance review

Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha could be a good option for anyone looking for solid customer service combined with several universal life options. Additionally, Mutual of Omaha is a relatively accessible company, 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.

Perks Drawbacks
Higher-than-average J.D. Power score All UL policies require a medical exam
Several ways to contact the company Riders are not advertised online
Several different UL policy types available

Learn more: Mutual of Omaha Insurance review

Nationwide

Nationwide won the Bankrate Award for universal life coverage due to its highly customizable policies. Nationwide also offers several ways to interact with your policy, including a mobile app, online portal and local agents. Nationwide 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, you can’t get a universal life insurance quote online and must contact an agent.

Perks Drawbacks
High J.D. Power customer satisfaction AM Best financial strength is lower than some competitors
Numerous riders available No online quote option
No-exam UL option available

Learn more: Nationwide Insurance review

Northwestern Mutual

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 face value on your policy and value 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.

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.

Perks Drawbacks
High J.D. Power customer satisfaction score Fewer riders than some competitors
High coverage capacity All UL policies require a medical exam
Several ways to contact the company

Learn more: Northwestern Mutual Insurance review

Prudential

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 received the lowest J.D Power score on our list, which means that customers may tend to feel dissatisfied with the service they receive. This could be off-putting to some consumers. Additionally, Prudential’s universal life options all require a medical exam.

Perks Drawbacks
Highest number of riders of the companies on our list Lowest J.D. Power score of the companies on our list
Several additional product types offered. All UL policies require a medical exam

Learn more: Prudential Insurance review

State Farm

State Farm earned the highest J.D. Power score in the 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, indicating that its customers tend to be highly satisfied with their interactions. Paired with Superior financial strength from AM Best, the company’s J.D. Power Score indicates that State Farm may be a good option for those looking for a company with a proven track record. Additionally, State Farm offers several ways to handle your policy needs, including a mobile app, online portal, local agents and a 24/7 payment phone line.

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.

Perks Drawbacks
Highest J.D. Power score in the study No options for indexed or variable universal life
Superior AM Best financial strength Policies are not available in Massachusetts, New York or Wisconsin
Highly accessible agent interactions

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

How to choose the best universal life insurance company

If you’re shopping for a permanent policy like universal life, you may want to consider your life insurance company carefully. Although policies can be canceled or replaced, the point of a permanent policy is to last for your entire life, so it’s important to choose a company that can meet your needs, even as they change. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for the best universal life insurance company:

  • 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 life insurance rates might vary a bit between companies, they don’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, policy types or riders.

Frequently asked questions

Who qualifies for universal life insurance?

Each insurance company sets its own eligibility criteria for universal life insurance. With some companies, you may have to undergo a medical exam as part of the rating and underwriting process, which means that people with underlying health issues may not qualify. However, some companies have no-exam options for universal life, meaning eligibility is determined by your answers to application questions rather than exact health metrics. If you’re not sure if you qualify for universal life insurance, you may want to contact the company you’d like to buy a policy with and discuss your situation.

How much does universal life insurance cost?

The price of a UL policy will vary based on the specific type of policy you purchase (standard, indexed or variable), how much life insurance you need, any riders that you add on, and your individual health metrics like your age, gender and overall health. Generally, universal life will be more expensive than term life insurance since it is designed to last your entire life.

Is term life or universal life insurance better?

There isn’t one single policy type that works best for everyone. The type of life insurance that is best for you depends on your needs. Term life can be a good option if you need coverage for a shorter period of time, like while you pay off a mortgage. Universal life is designed for those who need coverage for longer and also want flexibility in their policy. To determine the right type of life insurance coverage for you, you may want to work with a licensed agent.

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
Cate Deventer
Insurance Writer & Editor
Cate Deventer is a writer, editor and insurance professional with over a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent.
Edited by
Insurance Editor