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Life insurance is designed to financially provide for your loved ones if you pass away. As such an important part of many Americans’ financial plans, policyholders typically want to make sure their life insurance provider is financially stable and well-respected. Researching the largest life insurance companies may help you find some of the best life insurance companies on the market. Many life insurance policyholders enjoy the peace of mind from doing business with the largest providers on the market. In fact, the top 10 largest life insurance providers account for nearly 54% of market share.

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List of life insurance companies

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) keeps an updated list of the largest life insurance companies. The list is ordered by market share, calculated based on the value of premiums written per year.

Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance company, according to 2021 NAIC data, holding nearly 9% of market share. Northwestern Mutual is followed closely by New York Life Group and Metropolitan Group, holding 8.3% and 7.18% of market share, respectively. Also on the list are many other life insurance companies you will likely find familiar.

Rank Company Market share Premiums written (billions) J.D. Power rating
(776 industry average)
1 Northwestern Mutual Group 8.93% 14.271 807/1,000
2 New York Life Group 8.30% 13.264 777/1,000
3 Metropolitan Group 7.18% 11.476 756/1,000
4 Prudential of America Group 6.66% 10.644 753/1,000
5 Mass Mutual Life Insurance Group 6.29% 10.042 782/1,000
6 Lincoln National Group 5.20% 8.301 773/1,000
7 State Farm 3.29% 5.254 822/1,000
8 John Hancock Group 3.15% 5.039 781/1,000
9 Guardian Life Group 2.84% 4.533 775/1,000
10 Pacific Life Group 2.84% 4.533 801/1,000

Choosing small vs. large life insurance companies

When choosing the best life insurance company, is it best to stick with an insurer on the list of life insurance companies who write the most premiums? Not necessarily. There are certainly advantages to going with a major insurer, but taking a look at smaller companies is, at the very least, worthy of consideration.

What to look for beyond size

The most obvious reason to go with a large life insurance company is that they typically have more financial assets and, therefore, probably have an easier time achieving financial stability. A company’s financial stability rating is a good indicator of the company’s historic ability to pay out claims. Choosing a company with a high financial strength score may provide peace of mind when buying life insurance, as it is considered a financial product.

AM Best rates the ability of insurance companies to meet their insurance obligations on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor). The financial strength scores of A++ (Superior) and A+ (Excellent) are highly coveted.

There are other factors to consider, as well. Things like a company’s business ethics, customer service, community endeavors and technology development are all things that can help one company to stand out over another.

Choosing a large life insurance company

Large life insurance companies also tend to have more years in the business. Northwestern Mutual, for example, the biggest life insurance company in 2021, was founded in 1857. With more than a century and a half writing policies, this company is a leader in the industry with a strong track record of policyholder satisfaction.

The digital tools offered by large life insurers are often superior to those offered by smaller competitors. For example, you might be able to manage your life insurance policy through a smartphone app or get instant quotes online from a company that has the resources to put into these features. Smaller companies may not have the budget to develop advanced technological tools.

On a similar note, larger life insurance companies can sometimes offer easier access to customer service channels. You may be able to get in touch with a company representative without having to pick up the phone, thanks to mobile apps and live web chat. But if you would rather dial in, larger companies typically extend phone hours or even provide 24/7 support.

Choosing a small life insurance company

On the other hand, small life insurance companies can sometimes have the upper hand by providing more tailored and personalized customer service. If you do business with a small life insurer, you might work with the same representative for years or even decades. This type of relationship may offer better recommendations for your individual needs – not to mention possibly providing friendlier and more personal service overall.

Smaller life insurance companies sometimes provide more specialized coverage. For example, some small life insurers are created specifically for certain groups such as military members or educators. A small specialty life insurer might also be a good choice if you are looking for a very precise type of coverage, such as final expense insurance.

Last but not least, if you have been denied coverage from a major life insurance company, it is worth asking around with smaller competitors. While large life insurers can afford to turn down customers, small companies may be more flexible in order to win business. It is possible that a smaller insurer may be willing to accept greater risk than a larger insurance company.

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