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Whole life insurance, a permanent policy that stays in effect for the rest of your life as long as premiums are paid, provides a guaranteed payout to your loved ones when you pass away. To find the right whole life insurance policy for your needs, you may want to research the best whole life insurance companies on the market.
Bankrate’s team of insurance experts identified the best whole life insurance companies by analyzing third-party customer satisfaction data, financial strength ratings, policy options, digital accessibility and local availability. The best whole life insurance company for you likely depends on which of these factors matters most to you.
What is whole life insurance?
Whole life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that provides coverage for the entirety of your life, as long as you pay the premiums. Upon your death, your beneficiary or beneficiaries will receive the death benefit on the policy. Death benefits on whole life insurance policies can vary greatly, from as little as $10,000 to over $1 million.
Whole life also offers living benefits. That means when you pay your premium, your insurance company puts a portion of your payment into the company’s portfolio. This money grows with interest and allows you to use this cash value in a number of ways. You could take out a loan against the cash value, making plans to repay it in agreed-upon installments. Although you could withdraw the cash value without paying it back, this will generally lower your total death benefit amount.
Since whole life insurance covers you for a longer period of time than term life insurance, the cost of a policy is generally more expensive. However, you may enjoy the benefits of whole life insurance if you are looking for a simple policy that will likely not need to be renewed and also includes living benefits.
Best whole life insurance companies
The best whole life insurance company for one person may not be the best insurer for another person, because different companies cater best to different types of people and different needs. Some life insurers are focused on serving the military community while others may specialize on serving insureds with specific types of health conditions, such as cancer or heart disease. Depending on your specific situation, you may need to research additional companies to meet your life insurance objectives. However, based on Bankrate’s research, we have determined the following five companies are among the best in the industry for whole life insurance coverage.
These five major insurers were chosen through an objective analysis of J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores, AM Best and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) financial strength ratings, policy offerings and customer service. J.D. Power scores reflect whether or not policyholders are generally satisfied, AM Best and S&P ratings show a company’s strong capital position and historical ability to pay out claims, and a wide range of policy options makes it easier to find the right policy for you with these providers.
|Company||J.D. Power score||AM Best|
|Globe Life||788/1,000||A (Excellent)|
|New York Life||777/1,000||A++ (Superior)|
|Northwestern Mutual||807/1,000||A++ (Superior)|
|State Farm||822/1,000||A++ (Superior)|
Globe Life offers term life and whole life products. If you are concerned about the medical exam that is often required when applying for life insurance, Globe Life may be a good option for you. The company’s whole life insurance product does not require a medical exam as part of its underwriting process, although you will have to provide details about your medical history as part of the application process.
Globe Life can trace its roots back to 1900 and currently has $91 billion in life insurance premium in force. While Globe Life is the smallest life insurer on our list of best whole life insurers, the company earned a sixth-place ranking in the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Life Insurance Study, with a score of 788 out of 1,000 points. This indicates that Globe Life’s 4.4 million policyholders are generally satisfied with its customer service support. The company carries an A (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best.
Learn more: Globe Life Insurance review
If you prefer to have all of your insurance products with one company, Nationwide may be a good choice. Along with various life insurance products, Nationwide is a full-lines insurer which also offers home, auto, umbrella and pet insurance, among other products.
Nationwide offers clients two payment options when it comes to whole life insurance. Its Whole Life 100 policy offers level premiums, like all whole life insurance policies, but payments stop when you turn age 100. The 20-pay Whole Life option locks in your premium rate for 20 consecutive years, at which point the policy is considered paid in full and premiums are no longer assessed. Nationwide earned a strong customer service score from J.D. Power and carries an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best.
Learn more: Nationwide Insurance review
New York Life
Unlike many of its competitors, New York Life is a mutual insurer completely owned by its policyholders. It offers a wide range of life insurance products, including whole life, term and universal and variable universal policies. New York Life accounts for nearly 7% of the overall market share in the life insurance industry, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which makes it the largest life insurer in the U.S.
New York Life offers policyholders the ability to customize their payment schedule with its Custom Whole Life Insurance option. This option may allow you to pay up your policy in a shorter period of time so that you have no premiums due later in life. The company ranks lower in J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores compared to other whole life insurers on Bankrate’s list but carries an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, the highest level possible.
Learn more: New York Life Insurance review
Like New York Life, Northwestern Mutual is owned exclusively by its policyholders and offers a wide range of whole life, term and universal life policies. Northwestern Mutual is the largest direct writer of life insurance in the U.S. with more than $2 trillion of life insurance protection in force and 6.5% market share. The company received an above-industry-average customer service score from J.D. Power and carries an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best.
Northwestern Mutual offers an intuitive tool on its website that will quickly match you with a local financial advisor who can help you with your financial planning. You can input your financial goals, which can include protecting your family, saving for retirement or growing your investments, and the tool will pair you with a financial advisor to discuss product options to help supplement your goals.
Learn more: Northwestern Mutual Insurance review
State Farm stands out in our list of best whole life insurance companies. Not only did State Farm receive the highest ranking from J.D. Power amongst the life insurers Bankrate analyzed, it also boasts an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best. Just like with Nationwide, if you prefer to have all your insurance products in one place, State Farm could be a good option as it is the largest all-lines insurer in the U.S., offering home, auto, health and business coverage, among its numerous product lines.
State Farm offers three policy payment options for its whole life insurance product. You can pay in one lump sum, pay level premiums that will stop at age 100 or choose a limited number of years to pay. State Farm’s 19,000 licensed agents across the U.S. may be appealing if you prefer to do your business locally. You can find an agent in your area using its “Find an Agent” tool accessible via its website.
Learn more: State Farm Insurance review
How to find the best whole life insurance company for you
There are several important factors that you may want to consider as you shop for a whole life insurance policy. One of them is financial strength. What do the financial ratings provided by third-party agencies such as AM Best, Fitch, Moody’s and S&P say about a company’s historical financial stability and its ability to pay claims, especially after a catastrophic event that may impact hundreds of its policyholders simultaneously? You can also go to the Department of Insurance website in the state where you live and find out how many complaints the company has received during the past year or two.
You may also want to consider a company’s quoted premiums. The difference in premium for the same policy type between one carrier and another typically won’t vary greatly, but there are several types of whole life products that offer different features. Beyond the price, it’s helpful to consider how well a policy’s unique features benefit you compared to other types. The Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) explains that it is beneficial to obtain quotes from several life insurance companies to compare coverage options and premiums.
Learn more: Affordable life insurance companies
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between term and whole life?
Term insurance only provides death benefit coverage, and only for a specific timeframe (typically between 10 and 30 years), while whole life insurance provides coverage for your entire life, as long as premiums are paid, and also comes with a savings account component that accumulates cash value over time. Because whole life insurance lasts longer and comes with additional benefits, whole life premiums are generally more expensive than term life policies.
What factors impact my life insurance premium?
There are several underwriting factors that carriers commonly use to determine how much you may pay for your life insurance coverage, according to the Triple-I. Your age, health and the amount of coverage that you need are the primary rating factors, but other factors such as where you live, your hobbies and your occupation may also be considered. The younger and healthier you are, the cheaper your life insurance premium is likely to be.
How much life insurance do I need?
Your life insurance death benefit amount is a very personal calculation. If you are still working and have loved ones who depend on your income, you may want to consider how many years of income your life insurance policy can provide them if you pass away. You may want to consider your debts, funeral costs and if you plan to leave a financial gift to anyone when you pass away. Our life insurance calculator might help you determine how much coverage you need. You can also talk to a licensed life insurance agent or a financial advisor to determine how much life insurance to purchase.
What is the difference between whole and universal life insurance?
Both whole life and universal life insurance are permanent types of coverage, meaning they typically stay in effect until you pass away, as long as you pay your premiums. As permanent policies, whole and universal life both come with cash value accounts that accrue interest and/or returns. However, whole life insurance policies typically have guaranteed returns on their cash value accounts and their premiums remain fixed throughout the policy term. Meanwhile, universal life policies allow policyholders to adjust their premium payments, death benefits and choose how to invest their cash value accounts, earning interest and allowing the policyholder to borrow or withdraw against it in case of emergency.
Will I be able to get whole life insurance coverage if I had COVID-19?
The underwriting standard that most life insurers have engaged during the pandemic is if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or have recently tested positive for coronavirus, you will not be able to purchase coverage until after you recover. If you previously had COVID and are completely recovered, this should not be a barrier to obtaining a new policy. Most likely, the underwriting process will include a questionnaire with several COVID-related questions.