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Best life insurance for women

Updated Dec 05, 2023
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Key takeaways

  • Life insurance can be an important financial tool for women, as it can provide a safety net for their loved ones.
  • Protective Life Insurance, State Farm, Prudential, Northwestern Mutual and MassMutual are among the best life insurance companies for women, offering various policies and riders to meet their unique needs.
  • Term life insurance and permanent life insurance are the two main types of life insurance, each with its own pros and cons, and the best type for a woman will depend on her individual circumstances.
  • Life insurance for children is a personal decision, but it can provide financial protection for unexpected expenses or help secure lower premiums in the future.

Life insurance can provide a financial cushion for your loved ones in the event of your death, and so it can be essential to every woman’s financial plan. Life insurance can be used to replace lost income, but your beneficiaries can also use your death benefit to pay for domestic services such as childcare, cleaning and cooking. Bankrate’s editorial team has assembled a list of some of the best life insurance companies and options for women, including policies with high limits and additional riders.

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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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Life insurance for women

Using life insurance to leave loved ones a financial cushion is a practical form of financial protection, especially since many women fulfill both breadwinner and caregiver roles. But there are other reasons why more women may want to consider prioritizing life insurance. For instance, the right kind of life insurance coverage can level the gender retirement savings gap.

A recent study conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that women make 83 cents to every dollar men earn on average. The wage gap has implications that extend beyond the numbers on your paycheck — it means that women are saving less for retirement, too. This same study reports that women have 70 percent in their Social Security and pensions compared to men. All of this means that when women pass away, their heirs may have a smaller inheritance than they would have  from a male family member. Life insurance may help bridge this gap.

Although women may especially benefit from life insurance, a Haven Life survey highlighted the gender gap in life insurance, finding that men carry almost twice as much life insurance coverage than women. Whether you want life insurance to finance domestic activities such as childcare and cooking, or to compensate for your lost salary after you pass away, a robust life insurance policy could give you peace of mind that your beneficiaries will have some financial security when you’re gone.

Best life insurance companies for women

When it comes to life insurance prices, gender is one of the biggest factors used when determining rates. Since women have a greater life expectancy and studies have shown they have fewer health risks than males, life insurance is generally cheaper for women. Everyone’s life insurance needs are different based on their circumstances, so there isn’t one best life insurance policy for a woman. However, we’ve done a little research to find and compare some companies that may be a good fit for women.

We chose the insurers below by analyzing each company’s policy offerings for term, life and universal life insurance, and factoring in available riders. For our category “Best for fast coverage with no medical check” we looked for the availability of a no-exam life insurance option. These insurers may be best for women based on their unique circumstances, although you will need to speak with an agent and compare policies yourself to determine if this is the case for you.

Company Best for
Protective Life Insurance Best for optional riders
State Farm Best for fast coverage with no medical check
Prudential Best for high limits
Northwestern Mutual Best for overall financial planning
MassMutual Best for digital tools

Protective Life Insurance may be a good option for women who would like more personalized coverage, as the carrier offers numerous riders. Mothers may want to consider adding a child rider to their policy. This rider typically requires only one flat fee, regardless of how many children you add to the policy.

Protective’s child riders are available for infants as young as 15 days old and provide a death benefit should your child pass away. The rider may be convertible to a permanent policy, regardless of your child’s health, which could offer an affordable way to insure your child for life while they are young, healthy and eligible for affordable premiums. A child rider will often expire when the child reaches the age of 25.

State Farm won the 2023 Bankrate Award for best term life insurer (its second win in a row), and it provides quick and easy online quotes for life insurance. Women looking for an instant-approval life insurance policy that does not require a medical exam may want to consider using State Farm’s LifeRate quote service. The quote-generating process takes less than 10 minutes and guides you with tools and calculators, which can help you figure out how much life insurance you need.

If you are a high-income earner, one way to calculate the amount of life insurance you might need is by multiplying your income by five or ten years. If you end up with a large number, Prudential may be a good fit for you, as it offers policies with a high coverage capacity. The company also offers three different types of universal life insurance that provide flexible options to build savings.

As to whether the funds will be there when your beneficiaries need it, Prudential has earned an A+ (Superior) in financial stability from the credit reporting agency AM Best, which is reflective of the insurer’s historical ability to fulfill its claim obligations.

Thanks partly to its financial strength and stellar third-party customer satisfaction ratings, Northwestern Mutual won the 2023 Bankrate Award for best universal life insurer. Women who see life insurance as an essential component of their estate and financial planning may find Northwestern Mutual offers a few advantages in this category.

Northwestern Mutual’s dividend-earning whole and universal life policies offer some great savings options, and since it’s a mutual company, policyholders are eligible for dividends. In addition, you will have access to a certified financial planner that can help you develop a financial plan that evolves as your policy’s cash value grows.

We named MassMutual the best whole life insurance company in the 2023 Bankrate Awards. Along with its extensive list of policy riders and low level of complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), MassMutual has a strong digital presence. Tech-savvy women and women on the go might find MassMutual’s mobile app (rated 4.8 on the App Store and 4.3 on Google Play) a convenient way to view and manage their life insurance policy. The company also has an online policy portal that allows beneficiary changes, recurring payment enrollment and more.

Types of life insurance for women

Life insurance falls into two main categories: term and permanent. The right policy type for you depends on your individual needs, goals and circumstances. Buying life insurance as a woman may bring unique questions, so talking to an agent is often the best way to land on the right policy. However, learning about each type of policy could also help you choose the one that best fits your needs (and your budget).

Term life insurance

Term insurance is active for a specific period (or term). Some popular term options include 10, 20 and 30 years. Your death benefit payout will apply if you pass away during your policy term. That is, of course, barring any other reasons why your company may deny your claim, such as misrepresentation or death by suicide during the contestability period. However, if you outlive your policy term and fail to convert it into a permanent policy, your policy ends, and your beneficiaries are no longer eligible for a death benefit. Keep in mind that the option to convert must be purchased when the policy is purchased and that you must elect to convert within a certain period of time before your policy expires.  

Many women opt to carry term life insurance while their children are young. Doing so could provide peace of mind that your beneficiaries will have financial assistance if you happen to pass prematurely. However, term policies may not be the best choice for every woman, so considering the pros and cons could be essential when shopping for new life insurance.

PROS

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    Typically cheaper than permanent policies

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    Could be converted to permanent insurance, depending on the company and the riders you carry

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    Generally less complex than permanent life insurance

CONS

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    If you don’t pass away during the term, no death benefit applies and premiums are not returned (unless you have a return-of-premium policy)

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    No cash value component

Permanent life insurance

Unlike term life insurance, permanent life insurance is intended to cover you for your entire life (as long as you pay your premiums). Since the insurance company is guaranteed to pay out a death benefit, permanent life insurance is usually more expensive than term.

Along with a death benefit, most permanent life insurance policies come with a cash value benefit. Once the cash value of your policy has had enough time to accrue, you may be able to withdraw a portion of it, borrow against it as a loan or use it to pay your life insurance premium. Although this cash benefit accrues slowly (and some types of policies aren’t guaranteed to accrue at all), this benefit could appeal to women who’d like to use their life insurance policy as a small safety net. Keep in mind, however, that any money that is borrowed and not paid back will be deducted from your death benefit. 

There are a few different kinds of life insurance that fall under the umbrella of permanent life insurance, and the policy you choose can determine how you pay your premium and how the cash value portion of your policy accrues. These types include: 

PROS

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    As long as you pay your premiums, your policy should not expire — this could be beneficial for women since they typically live longer than men

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    Cash value account can accrue interest and may be used as an investment vehicle

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    May be able to borrow from cash value account

CONS

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    Usually more expensive than term life insurance

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    May be hard to understand

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    Although the ability to borrow against permanent life insurance may be convenient, withdrawals can decrease your death benefit payout

Permanent life insurance can be more complicated than term, so you might want to meet with a licensed agent or certified financial planner to get a full view of what type of policy can best meet your needs. 

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Carol Pope
Former Writer, Insurance

Carol Pope is a former insurance writer for Bankrate and prior to joining the team, she spent 12 years as an auto insurance agent. During this time, she sold, serviced and underwrote auto insurance for people across the country. She also has experience selling supplement coverage such as umbrella insurance.

Edited by Editor, Insurance