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Northwestern Mutual life insurance review 2024

Updated Mar 27, 2024
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At a glance

Bankrate's take

Policyholders who value high financial strength ratings and want to earn policy dividends may consider a Northwestern Mutual life insurance policy.

  • Term, whole and universal life policies available
  • Very low NAIC complaint index
  • Disability insurance available
  • Long-term care coverage available as life insurance policy rider and standalone product
  • No guaranteed-issue life insurance 
  • Highest possible financial strength rating from AM Best


What’s new with Northwestern Mutual?

In late 2023, Northwestern Mutual announced that it anticipates to pay out nearly $7.3 billion in dividends in 2024, a new record for the company.

Northwestern Mutual life insurance review

Bankrate conducted an in-depth review of carriers to find the best life insurance companies to help you find the policy that best fits you and your family’s needs. Based on our research, Northwestern Mutual could be an excellent choice for policyholders looking for a company that has high customer satisfaction and offers a solid range of different types of life insurance policies.

Another draw for Northwestern Mutual l is the potential to earn dividends on its whole life insurance policy. 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 put toward paying 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. Products include:

  • 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 establish a legacy 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 while still living in the form of policy loans.
  • 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.

Pros and cons of Northwestern Mutual life insurance

To round out our Northwestern Mutual life insurance review, we included some pros and cons of the company so you can weigh your options at a glance.

Green circle with a checkmark inside


  • A++ (Superior) financial strength ratings from AM Best
  • May earn dividends on a whole life insurance policy
  • Many life insurance policy types and additional products are available
Red circle with an X inside


  • Quotes not available online
  • Medical exams may be required
  • No guaranteed life insurance policy is offered

Northwestern Mutual life insurance riders

You’ll need to speak directly with an advisor to get a life insurance quote from Northwestern Mutual, so information regarding the company's life insurance riders 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 care, while you are still living.
  • Waiver of premium: If you become completely disabled from an accident or illness, this rider can allow Northwestern Mutual to pay your premiums for you.
  • Additional purchase benefit: Allows the policyholder to raise their death benefit after certain life events like having a child, getting married or at certain ages.

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 rider options can be complex, so a Northwestern Mutual financial advisor may be able to provide guidance on what might help you best meet your financial goals.

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

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 analyzed a variety of third-party scores, including those issued by J.D. Power.

In the 2023 J.D Power U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, Northwestern Mutual ranked average in customer satisfaction for individual policies. On a 1,000-point scale, Northwestern Mutual scored 790, the same as the study average.

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).

Northwestern Mutual insurance customer complaints

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks the number of formal complaints filed against an insurance company and assigns each company an index. An index of 1.00 is average and implies that a company recevied the number of complaints expected for a company its size. A complaint index higher than 1.00 indicates there were more complaints than average, while an index lower than 1.00 indicates there were fewer. The NAIC reported that Northwestern Mutual had a complaint index of 0.07 for its individual life insurance product in 2023, compared to the baseline of 1.00.

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Compare Northwestern Mutual with other insurers

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 2024 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 two 2024 Bankrate Awards for Best Term Life Insurer and Best Universal Life Insurer and ranked first for customer satisfaction in the 2023 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. However, Prudential scored below average in the 2023 J.D. Power Life Insurance Study.

Learn more: Prudential Insurance review

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Why you can trust Bankrate

Our insurance editorial team includes licensed agents with decades of combined experience, and we used our intimate knowledge of the industry to conduct this in-depth Northwestern Mutual insurance review.


years of industry expertise


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quotes analyzed

Is Northwestern Mutual a good insurance company?

Bankrate's insurance editorial team is committed to helping you pick a company that fits your insurance needs and budget. Northwestern Mutual has an impressive financial strength rating from AM Best, which implies it has historically been able to pay out death benefits to beneficiaries. Northwestern Mutual life insurance also has a low NAIC complaint index and a solid offering of coverage types.

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 agent and requesting a quote may be the best way to determine if Northwestern Mutual is the right choice for your needs.

What are real-life customers saying about Northwestern Mutual?

Third-party scores and ratings are helpful when reviewing a life insurance company, but it is also important to take a look at what real-life customers have to say. We sourced Northwestern Mutual reviews from across the web to help you get a better understanding of the company as a whole.

Like any review, the general consensus surrounding Northwestern Mutual is not all positive or all negative. One Quora user praised the company’s strong financial ratings and investing methods.

Quora user
Nov 24, 2020
Initially, one can never go wrong with...
“Initially, one can never go wrong with Northwestern Mutual—it has historically been one of the most financially stable companies of them all. Its return on investments, which is an especially important factor for those with whole life policies (that pay dividends in cash, as paid-up additions, or to reduce premiums) has, from my experience, been great. It uses a safe, conservative investment strategy. I say all of that as a long-time whole life and disability insurance policyholder—I don’t work for NWM and I do not sell its products.”
via Quora

However, some potential policyholders took issue with Northwestern Mutual’s sales tactics. Northwestern Mutual operates through a network of financial advisors, and they tend to ask active policyholders for referrals.

Yelp user
Aug 5, 2015
Beware these fast talking advisors. They...
“Beware these fast talking advisors. They should be used car sales men. They ask for family and friend referrals, actually more like harass you until you give in and give names and numbers. The guy literally said" you have a cell phone don't you,? Just give me some numbers out of you contact list, haha. I literally laughed in his face. Luckily I was a seasoned wealth advisor before I got into venture capital, I saw right through the scam. I won't get into the industry jargon to ensure that everyone understands what I'm talking about. The employees will lie and say what ever is necessary in order to get you to sign up with them. You are throwing money into a hole with this company.”
via Yelp

Northwestern Mutual company details

For those interested in Northwestern Mutual or current policyholders seeking assistance, here are the essential contact details:

  • General questions: 1-866-950-4644, Mon-Fri 7am-6pm CT
  • Website:
  • Mailing address for non-investment materials:
    • NorthWestern Mutual
      P.O. Box 2958
      Milwaukee, WI 53201

State availability

Northwestern Mutual is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but availability of products and services may vary by state.

Northwestern Mutual tools and benefits

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 Education Savings Accounts (ESA).
  • Online customer portal: Policyholders can view their policy details, pay bills and more with Northwestern Mutual's online portal.
  • Estate Planning: Northwestern Mutual offers estate planning services to help customers determine and craft their wills, powers of attorney, living wills and trusts.
  • Life Insurance guide: Northwestern Mutual offers a life insurance guide for customers new to life insurance and those wanting a review.

Frequently asked questions about Northwestern Mutual

Written by
Natalie Todoroff
Writer, Insurance

Natalie Todoroff is an insurance writer for Bankrate, prior to which she wrote for a popular insurance comparison shopping app. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and has written over 800 articles about insurance throughout her career.

Edited by Editor II, Insurance