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Northwestern Mutual Life insurance review 2023

Updated Mar 09, 2023
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At a glance


Best universal life insurance company

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Bottom Line

Policyholders who value high customer satisfaction ratings, policy dividends and need universal life insurance might consider Northwestern Mutual as their company of choice, but customers will have to speak with an agent for a quote.

  • A++ (Superior) financial strength ratings from AM Best

  • Ranks above average for customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power

  • Many life insurance policy types and additional products available

  • Quotes not available online

  • Medical exams may be required

  • No guaranteed life insurance policy offered

What's new with Northwestern Mutual?

Northwestern Mutual has announced that it will distribute an industry record of $6.8 million in dividends to its policyholders in 2023.

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Northwestern Mutual life insurance

Bankrate conducted an in-depth review of carriers to find the best life insurance companies. Based on our research, Northwestern Mutual may be an excellent choice for policyholders looking for a company that has high customer satisfaction and offers a broad range of different types of life insurance policies.

Another big perk for Northwestern Mutual is the potential to earn dividends. As a mutual company, Northwestern Mutual is owned by its policyholders rather than stockholders. Each year, leftover profits are returned to policyholders in the form of dividends. They can be taken as cash, used to increase death benefit amounts or paid towards premiums. Annual dividends aren't guaranteed, but Northwestern Mutual has been paying them out every year for almost 150 years.

Northwestern Mutual offers more life insurance policy types than some of its competitors, including:

  • Term life insurance: Northwestern Mutual offers term life insurance for 10 or 20 years or until you reach 80 years old. Premiums stay the same throughout the set term but may increase based on the age you are at the time of renewal if you wish to keep the policy. Companies like Northwestern Mutual allow you to convert part or all of your term death benefit into a permanent life insurance policy before the term ends. Depending on how much life insurance coverage you need, a term policy may be best for those who need coverage for a certain period of time, such as when their children are young or while they pay off their mortgage.
  • Permanent life insurance: Northwestern Mutual also offers a few different types of permanent life insurance, including whole life, universal life and variable universal life. Unlike term policies, permanent life insurance is intended to cover you for as long as you live, given that you meet the policy's terms and pay your premium. Permanent life insurance also has the potential to grow in cash value over time, whereas term does not. Permanent life insurance could be a good choice for people over 50 years old or those looking to use their life insurance to leave money for their beneficiaries.
    • Whole life insurance: Whole life insurance offers permanent coverage at the same price for your lifetime as long as you pay your premiums. This policy type is typically more expensive than term life insurance but also has a cash value component. You can allow the cash value to grow over time in an interest-bearing account to use tax-deferred.
    • Universal life insurance: This policy type offers permanent coverage but with greater flexibility. You can typically adjust the death benefit and the premium, subject to minimums determined in your policy. Northwestern Mutual also has a survivorship universal life policy option, which covers two lives and pays out upon the second insured's death.
    • Variable universal life: A Northwestern Mutual variable universal life insurance policy has flexible premiums and cash value that you can use to invest in your choice of 40 investment funds. This type of permanent life insurance may be the riskiest, as the policy's invested cash value can fluctuate with the market. You will need to speak with a licensed insurance agent or financial advisor if you're interested in a variable universal life insurance policy.

Bankrate Award winner for best universal life insurance company

Each year, Bankrate's insurance editorial team conducts an exhaustive study of major insurance carriers to bring you the best coverage options in the industry. Based on coverage options, available riders, and third-party customer satisfaction and financial strength ratings, we have chosen Northwestern Mutual as 2023's Bankrate Award winner for best universal life insurance company.

Why Northwestern Mutual won

Northwestern Mutual is Bankrate's 2023 winner for best universal life insurance company. The carrier offers multiple types of life insurance policies, but its universal life offering stood out for its survivorship universal life coverage option.

Northwestern Mutual life insurance endorsements

You must speak directly with an advisor to get a life insurance quote from Northwestern Mutual, so information regarding the company's life insurance endorsements is limited. However, the company does advertise a few options, including:

  • Long-term care benefit: You can combine a long-term care rider with a whole life insurance policy to create a hybrid policy that could provide coverage if you need long-term care, such as a nursing home.
  • Accelerated death benefit rider: This endorsement may allow you to collect a portion of your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Please note that Northwestern Mutual may offer additional life insurance riders, but you will need to ask your advisor during this quoting process what may be available to you. Life insurance and endorsement options can be complex, so a Northwestern Mutual financial advisor may be able to provide guidance on which products and riders might help you best meet your financial goals.

Some common life insurance endorsements you may want to inquire about include child riders, return of premium riders, waiver of premium riders and accidental death benefits.

Northwestern Mutual life tools and benefits

In addition to permanent and term life insurance, Northwestern Mutual offers other perks that life insurance shoppers may want to consider, including estate planning, disability insurance and standalone long-term care insurance.

Those new to life insurance may also be interested in Northwestern Mutual's life insurance guide, which provides resources on topics like the different types of life insurance policies and determining how much life insurance you need.

Northwestern Mutual customer satisfaction

For many, top-notch service may be just as important as affordable premiums or coverage offerings. To evaluate customer satisfaction, Bankrate's insurance editorial team analyzes a variety of third-party scores, including those issued by J.D. Power and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Additionally, we used AM Best ratings to evaluate Northwestern Mutual's financial strength, as this could indicate how reliably a company has historically paid out death benefits to beneficiaries.

In the 2022 J.D Power U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, Northwestern Mutual ranks high in customer satisfaction for individual policies. On a 1,000-point scale, Northwestern Mutual ranks fourth with 794 points, exceeding the industry average of 774 points. Additionally, the NAIC reports that the company has a complaint index of 0.04 for its individual life insurance product, compared to the baseline of 1.00. This indicates that the NAIC receives far fewer complaints about Northwestern Mutual than expected about its life insurance for a company of its size.

Northwestern Mutual has the highest possible financial strength rating from AM Best. An A++ (Superior) rating indicates that the company has a generally positive history of paying out claims and satisfying its financial obligations. It also has a credit rating of Aaa from Moody's and AA+ rating from Standard & Poor's (S&P).

How to file a claim with Northwestern Mutual

Filing a claim with Northwestern Mutual requires you to provide some basic policy information, including the policy number, the policyholder's name, date of birth, date of death and cause of death. Once ready, you can start the process by reporting the claim on Northwestern Mutual's online life insurance claims portal. If you're missing any policy documents or information, you can call the company at 1-800-388-8123.

Additionally, Northwestern Mutual may ask you to provide supporting documentation (such as a death certificate). You can send this information to

Northwestern Mutual availability

According to NAIC data, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company is licensed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Northwestern Mutual is not licensed to sell life insurance in the following territories:

  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

However, just because a company is licensed in a particular state does not mean it offers insurance there. For more information regarding Northwestern Mutual availability, please contact the company directly.

Other Northwestern Mutual perks worth considering

In addition to life insurance products, Northwestern Mutual also offers the following:

  • Annuities: Annuities from Northwestern Mutual may help bolster your retirement savings.
  • Wealth management: High net worth policyholders might find Northwestern Mutual's wealth management services helpful in maintaining their finances.
  • College savings plans: Northwestern Mutual may help parents save for their child's college education through 529 plans and Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts (ESA).
  • Online customer portal: Policyholders can view their policy details, pay bills and more with Northwestern Mutual's online portal.

Northwestern Mutual corporate sustainability

In 2012, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation created the Childhood Cancer Program, which has raised over $40 million in contributions to advance treatments and cures for childhood cancer. These donations have funded over 450,000 hours of research through Northwestern Mutual's partnership with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Northwestern Mutual also funds two scholarships for childhood cancer survivors and affected siblings. So far, the scholarships have awarded more than $1.2 million in funding.

For more local efforts, Northwestern Mutual — headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — and its employees are focused on helping residents improve their lives through education and neighborhood improvements. More than 2,100 employees have volunteered over 33,000 hours to give back to the community.

Based on Bankrate's research, Northwestern Mutual may be one of the best life insurance companies, but its offerings might not be the right fit for everyone. If you're interested in exploring other companies, you may want to start with these:

Northwestern Mutual vs. MassMutual

Like Northwestern Mutual, MassMutual offers many types of life insurance policies and is highly rated for customer service. The company won our 2023 Bankrate Award for best whole life insurer. Unlike Northwestern Mutual, this company lists many of its rider options on its website, which some shoppers may appreciate.

Learn more: MassMutual Insurance review

Northwestern Mutual vs. State Farm

State Farm won a 2023 Bankrate Award for best term life insurance and ranked first for customer satisfaction in the 2022 J.D. Power Life Insurance Study. Tech-savvy policyholders may be especially interested in State Farm's highly-rated mobile app for hands-on policy management.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Northwestern Mutual vs. Prudential

Prudential may be a great alternative for those seeking life insurance without a medical exam. This insurer also offers 13 riders, which may allow you to customize your life insurance policy to your individual and family needs.

Learn more: Prudential Insurance review

Is Northwestern Mutual a good insurance company?

Bankrate's insurance editorial team, which includes a licensed life insurance agent, is committed to helping you pick a company that fits your insurance needs and budget. As 2023's Bankrate Award winner for best universal life insurance company, Northwestern Mutual may be great for those looking for universal life insurance written by a company with reputable financial strength and highly-rated customer service.

However, if you prefer to request your life insurance online without speaking to an agent or need guaranteed life insurance, this company may not be suitable for you. Speaking with a licensed advisor and requesting a quote may be the best way to determine if Northwestern Mutual is the right choice for your needs.

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