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Best whole life insurance companies

Updated Feb 02, 2023
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Whole life insurance is a permanent policy offering level premiums, a guaranteed death benefit (in most circumstances) and the ability to grow cash value. As a permanent life insurance policy, whole life insurance is designed to last for the life of the insured, unlike term life insurance, which only lasts a certain number of years. To help you find the best whole life insurance, Bankrate has researched and analyzed several life insurance companies to determine our picks for the best whole life insurance to aid in your search. The best life insurance for you will depend on your needs, whether they are temporary or permanent, and your needed coverage amount.

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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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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 insurance living benefits

One way to customize whole life insurance is with living benefits, which are either included in your policy or offered as riders that the insurer may offer that allow you to access a portion of the death benefit while still alive.

For instance, if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness with less than two years to live, you can activate your accelerated death benefit rider to help you deal with the additional costs. Some companies also offer long-term care benefits, which could help cover the cost of assisted living or a nursing home.

Any amount used for living benefits will reduce the death benefit amount your beneficiary will receive.

Whole life insurance cash value

While technically also a living benefit, cash value is a feature that comes standard with whole life insurance. When you pay your premium for whole life insurance, your insurance company puts a portion of your payment into a cash value account that accrues interest over time and is accessible to you while you are still alive for any purpose.

For instance, you could take out an interest-free loan against the cash value, making plans to repay it in agreed-upon installments. You could also withdraw some or all of the cash value without paying it back, although any money not paid back into your cash value account will be deducted from your death benefit. It’s important to note that, even if you don’t borrow against or withdraw money from your cash value account, the cash value is typically not included in your death benefit and will revert to your life insurance company after you die.

Whole life insurance vs term life insurance

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. Term life insurance is also sometimes called pure life insurance because it only offers a death benefit, though some carriers offer riders for term life that allow you to customize your policy. You might prefer the benefits of whole life insurance if you are looking for a policy that will not expire and builds cash value.

Whole life insurance Term life insurance
Lifetime coverage
Builds cash value
Guaranteed death benefit
Level premiums (typically)
Temporary coverage
Doesn’t build cash value
Less expensive
Level premiums

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 scoresAM 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 financial strength 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 812/1,000 A (Excellent)
Nationwide 791/1,000 A+ (Superior)
New York Life 775/1,000 A++ (Superior)
Northwestern Mutual 794/1,000 A++ (Superior)
State Farm 839/1,000 A++ (Superior)

Globe Life

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 almost $220 billion of life insurance premium in force. While Globe Life is the smallest life insurer on our list of best whole life insurers, the company earned the second place spot in the 2022 J.D. Power U.S. Life Insurance Study, with a score of 812 out of 1,000 points, indicating 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

Nationwide

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. While the 20-pay policy is more expensive, it may be a good choice for those who do not want to pay premiums for life. In the J.D Power study, Nationwide ranked in sixth place 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 over 8 percent of the overall market share in the life insurance industry, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which makes it the second 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

Northwestern Mutual

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 almost 9 percent market share. The company received an above-industry-average customer service score from J.D. Power, putting it in fourth place, 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

State Farm stands out in our list of best whole life insurance companies. Not only did State Farm rank number one in the J.D. Power study, 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 19,700 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. The financial ratings provided by third-party agencies such as AM Best, Fitch, Moody’s and S&P show 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.

To learn more about other policyholders’ experiences with a company, you can visit the Department of Insurance website in the state where you live to find out how many complaints the company has received during the past year or two. Similar information is also available through the NAIC. J.D. Power’s annual customer satisfaction surveys may also give you a good measure of each life insurance company’s overall customer experience.

You may also want to consider a company’s quoted premiums, as 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

Learn more: Affordable life insurance companies

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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
Reviewed by Director of corporate communications, Insurance Information Institute