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The best life insurance companies in 2020

We’ve created a guide to the top life insurance companies to help you find the right one.

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Published August 19, 2020

When you’re shopping for life insurance, you might be concerned about the policy more than the insurer. But choosing the best life insurance company for your needs is just as important as choosing the right policy.

Choosing a life insurance plan to protect your loved ones after you’re gone is a big decision. Part of choosing the right plan is finding the right life insurance company. The choice for you depends on your individual circumstances and coverage needs. To make this decision easier, we’ve laid out the best companies overall, best term and best whole life insurance companies, and the best companies for other specific circumstances. Each of these companies is evaluated based on their consumer satisfaction and financial strength ratings through certified third-party raters and Policygenius’ rating methodology.

Choosing the best life insurance company for you and your loved ones gives you a lot to consider. To better help you determine the best policy for you, we've laid out what to look for — and who offers it. Our guide will help you choose the best company and policy for your needs as easily as possible.

IN THIS ARTICLE

The best life insurance companies overall

When selecting a life insurance policy, you want to make sure you’re getting coverage that is competitively priced and is offered by a life insurance company with a strong financial standing and reputable customer service and claims handling.

To make things easier for you, we’ve ranked the best life insurance companies out there, taking into account each insurer’s financial stability through credit agencies like A.M. Best and Better Business Bureau (BBB), customer service and claims ratings with J.D. Power, and cost of coverage.

The table below looks at the top insurers with respective A.M. Best ratings, J.D. Power ratings, and Policygenius full-scale company ratings.

LIFE INSURANCE COMPANYPOLICYGENIUS RATING (OUT OF 10)J.D. POWER RATINGBBB RATINGA.M. BEST RATING
Principal Financial8.3789A+A+
Banner Life (Legal & General America)8.2n/aA+A++
AIG8722A-A
Pacific Life8765A-A+
Brighthouse7.9729A+A
John Hancock7.7739A+A+
Protective7.7754A+A++
Prudential7.5754AA+
SBLI7.4n/aA+A+
Transamerica7.3732A+A+
State Farm7.2808A+A
Lincoln Financial7750A+A+
Mutual of Omaha7795A+A+
AAA6.7n/aA+A
MassMutual6.7751B-A++
Fidelity Life6.2n/aA+A-
Liberty Mutual6.2788AA
Guardian Life6770A+A++
Gerber5.9n/aA+A
Globe Life5.9n/aA+A+

At Policygenius, we're committed to providing objective and transparent advice through strict editorial standards to help you get insurance right. Read more about our methodology.

Though these rankings are important when choosing a life insurance company to trust with your family's protection, the coverage you'll actually get will vary depending on your individual circumstance. Life insurance companies take a holistic look at every application, evaluating your medical history, family history, career, and more.

Most people choose between term or whole life insurance, though depending on lifestyle, health conditions, and age, you may not be eligible for a traditional life insurance policy and other types of policies, such as final expense or simplified issue life insurance, could be a better fit. Term life insurance is the most cost-effective policy — generally offering the most coverage for the lowest price.

The best term life insurance companies

Term life insurance lasts for a set number of years, known as the term. If you die during the term, your beneficiaries will receive the policy’s death benefit. Term life insurance is usually the best option for most people.

For most people, the best term life insurance company is the one that provides the most affordable coverage. Below are sample quotes for a healthy male applying for a 20-year, $750,000 term life insurance policy at ages 25, 35, and 45 years old. Quotes are from policies offered by Policygenius as of August 2020.

LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY25 YEARS OLD35 YEARS OLD45 YEARS OLD
AIG$35.09$38.11$84.08
Banner Life (Legal & General America)$34.39$37.54$83.19
Brighthouse$16.17$28.58$52.80
Globe Lifen/an/an/a
Lincoln Financial$44.63$38.11$89.51
Mutual of Omaha$39.56$42.14$93.74
Pacific Life$34.61$37.80$83.24
Principal$38.06$38.46$86.36
Protective$34.65$37.80$83.45
Prudential$53.38$59.28$94.06
SBLI$35.18$38.64$85.19
Transamerica$36.12$39.34$85.14

Methodology: Quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in August of 2020.

A denotation of n/a is listed for life insurance companies that do not offer coverage amount.

What makes a good term life insurance company?

A term life insurance company you can rely on is financially stable, positively reviewed by its customers, and offers competitive coverage across the board. When you're shopping around for life insurance, you'll want to choose a term life insurance company with varied policy options — from temporary coverage (so you are insured even during the application process)to riders (which offer supplemental coverage). Some insurance companies even offer an expedient underwriting process so you can get life insurance coverage before the typical four- to six-week timeline.

Ultimately, a good term life insurance company is one you can rely on to protect your loved ones if you're no longer around to do so. Their solvency, reliability, and breadth of offerings is the best way to ensure your family's financial protection.

→ Learn more about term life insurance and how it works.

Your coverage amount & term length

The coverage amount is the size of the death benefit and the term length is how long the policy lasts before it expires.

Generally, the higher the coverage amount and longer the term, the more expensive the policy. But a good life insurance company (and policy) will offer you a competitive price for the coverage you need and has an array of coverage options to choose from.

Life insurance riders

Life insurance riders are optional terms and conditions that you can add to your policy to create more robust coverage. Getting coverage from an insurer that offers these riders can be a fundamental part of ensuring you have adequate protection.

For example, a term conversion rider will automatically turn the policy into a whole life policy at the end of the term, while an accelerated death benefit can be accessed early if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The best life insurance companies offer some sort of additional coverage to give you the most comprehensive life insurance policy.

The best whole life insurance companies

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. It doesn’t expire, and it has an investment-style cash value, which is a tax-deferred savings component that grows over time at a rate specified by your policy and insurer.

Whole life can be a good option for people with complex financial situations, so you should know how to pick the best company and policy.

→ Learn more about whole life insurance and how it works.

Whole life insurance policies are individualized based on circumstance. Each life insurance company will offer you a different premium based on age, health, and your life insurance needs. Check out the graph below to get a sense of your whole life insurance options with Policygenius as of August 2020:

LIFE INSURANCE COMPANYTYPE OF POLICYPOLICYGENIUS RATING (OUT OF 10)J.D. POWER RATINGBBB RATINGA.M. BEST RATING
AIGFinal expense insurance8.0722A-A
Guardian InsuranceTraditional whole life insurance6.0770A+A++
MassMutualTraditional whole life insurance6.7751B-A++
Mutual of OmahaFinal expense insurance7.0795A+A++

Costs for whole life insurance coverage is varied. Whole life insurance policies are highly customizable and are made to cover each individual's specific needs.

What makes a good whole life insurance company?

Term life insurance is a lot more affordable than a whole policy, so most people choose whole life insurance for a specific reason — and you want to ensure those reasons are attended to in the whole life insurance company you get a policy from. Like term life insurance, the best whole life insurance companies are in good financial health and have positive customer ratings. But unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance policies offer investment-like components that can be utilized while you're still alive.

The best whole life insurance companies offer dividends, build cash value over time, and have life insurance riders that offer supplemental protection. They also have policies that are highly customizable — fulfilling your specific needs for life insurance.

The cost

It’s important to note that a whole life policy is five to 15 times as expensive as a comparable term life policy, so be sure to find a company that offers a whole life insurance policy that fits into your budget.

When choosing the best life insurance company, take cost into account, especially if you're considering whole life insurance, which is five to 15 times as expensive as term life.![Term-vs-Whole-Life-Insurance-Cost

Methodology: The above quotes are based on life insurance policies offered by Policygenius in August 2020.

As you can see, whole life insurance costs considerably more for less coverage compared to term life insurance.

A strong cash value component

Be sure to know the terms of the cash value component. Every whole life policy has a guaranteed interest rate; know what it is with the company you’re considering.

Also, take dividends into account. The strongest whole life policies are usually from mutual companies (like MassMutual, Guardian or Northwestern Mutual) that pay dividends, that can then be used to increase the cash value, pay for the policy, or for retirement.

Lapse prevention

Finally, ask how the policy handles lapse prevention. A whole life insurance policy can automatically pay premiums using the cash value. This keeps the policy from expiring, but also lowers the cash value amount available to you, so it’s important to know how a company handles a lapse.

The best life insurance companies for individual circumstances

Depending on the insurer, your age, health, and lifestyle can all have a significant impact on the best insurance company for you. While some insurers may give someone with a history of depression competitive premiums, another may charge you an exceptionally high amount for the same coverage. This is why it's important to shop around and find an insurer that will work with your individual circumstances.

Life insurers will take into account pre-existing conditions and whether or not you’re a marijuana user. These factors can lead to higher premiums, so finding the best life insurance company for you is key. Use our guides below to find which companies offer the cheapest and most accommodating policies for you.

We've put together some of the best insurers to consider depending on your unique situation:

Best life insurance companies by age & life milestones

As you get older, grow a family, and experience major life events, the cost of life insurance tends to increase. But each insurer treats each major milestone differently, and some are better than others for certain situations.

Best life insurance companies for specific health conditions

Life insurance companies see health conditions as an inherent risk — which can mean higher premiums. Every medical diagnosis is treated differently, however, and you can still get coverage at a competitive price by shopping around among different insurers.

Best life insurance companies for your lifestyle

Your lifestyle choices are a part of your risk profile. Hobbies that are deemed too risky by some insurers, such as scuba diving or marijuana use, get some of the best life insurance rates at others.

Best life insurance companies for other situations

Military personnel, visa & green card holders, and high net worth individuals have very specific life insurance needs. Some insurers can cater to this better than others.

How to choose the best life insurance company for you

When selecting a life insurance company, take into account:

  • Types of policies offered
  • Policy cost
  • The company’s financial strength
  • Policy features

Choose the type of policy

What is the right policy for you? Most people will need to decide between term and whole life insurance (and choose term) but there are other options like return of premium, no-medical exam, and variable policies. A licensed agent can help you decipher your options.

Companies also offer different riders. Every insurer won’t offer every rider, and riders aren’t always necessary and may increase the cost of your policy. If you’re just looking to care for your family or cover funeral expenses, a basic policy will work.

Consider life insurance policy costs

Term life insurance is typically very affordable — less than $40 a month for many people. Other types of life insurance, like whole life, cost considerably more.

Be sure to get life insurance quotes for multiple companies. Captive agents work for only one insurance company and have limited options available. An independent agent or broker, like Policygenius, who works with multiple life insurers instead of just one, can help you with this. Comparing insurance policies to find the best price can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the policy.

And remember, your age, health, and hobbies affect your cost, so use our guides above to find the companies that work best for your individual situation.

Understand the company’s financial strength

Your life insurance company's financial strength is an indicator of its future solvency — if your insurer will be around to pay out the death benefit to your beneficiaries years down the line. Taking a look at an insurance company's financial standing is an important part of shopping around for life insurance. After all, what’s the point in having life insurance if the death benefit isn’t available?

However, you likely don't need to worry about your life insurance company going bankrupt or that they won’t be there to pay out the death benefit when it’s needed.

Financial ratings are a good indicator of the likelihood of bankruptcy — and picking a life insurance company in good financial standing the best way to protect your policy — but they don’t tell the whole story. Even if a company does go bankrupt, there are three safety nets like reinsurance, legally required reserve ratios, and guaranty associations in place.

While an insurer doesn't have to pay out in the case of fraud or a suicide during the first two years of the policy, most of the time, life insurance companies usually pay out the death benefit. You should focus on the policies they provide, the cost of coverage, and customer service.

Understand the features of different companies

Not all life insurance companies operate the same way. It’s important to find one that fits your needs so dealing with them isn’t a hassle. Depending on the insurer, some steps in applying for or updating policies are only done via paper mail or on the phone, while some are done online. Be sure to find a life insurance company that works the way you do. This might mean deciding between a more modern, younger company or an established old-school life insurance company.

Besides the paper versus phone versus electronic consideration, shoppers should take into account the insurer's:

  • Average application time— From application to in-force policy, the process can take up to eight weeks, but many carriers often complete the process much quicker. Knowing if a particular company is typically faster or slower than other companies helps set your expectations.
  • Accepted payment methods— Most carriers accept paper checks, while some allow bank drafts (but only if you’re paying monthly), and some allow you to use a credit card only on your first premium payment. Plus, certain forms of payment may not be available in all states.
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The different ways life insurance companies are rated

There are many third-party groups that provide ratings and reviews based on different criteria. Some provide customer service-related ratings, like J.D. Power scores and Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings.

Other groups, like A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Weiss Ratings are based on judgement of financial strength.

Additionally, Policygenius has our own ratings methodology.

Third-party ratings

The most common third-party life insurance ratings come from:

  • J.D. Power: J.D. Power ranks some (but not all) of the top life insurance companies on customer satisfaction on a scale from 1 - 1,000.
  • BBB: Customer satisfaction score ranging from A+ to F based on BBB’s own formula of 17 factors.
  • A.M. Best: Financial health rating, with A++ and A+ being “superior” and A being “excellent”.

Most of the biggest life insurance companies are financially secure, and while you should look at BBB ratings, keep in mind some reviews may be from customers who had particularly positive or negative experiences that aren’t necessarily representative of the company in general. The best-rated life insurance companies have high marks all around to provide peace of mind.

Shoppers can also see how big a company is by looking at its market share and number of policyholders. Size is typically a good indicator of how well a company is doing, but shoppers shouldn’t be afraid to go with a smaller insurer, like a regional carrier or a membership carrier (like USAA), if it fits their needs.

Policygenius ratings

Policygenius takes a comprehensive approach to determining the best life insurance companies out there. We don't get paid for reviews and evaluate an extensive rubric of criteria to come up with robust (and unbiased) reviews to match you with the right life insurance company for you.

Best life insurance companies FAQ

How do I choose the best life insurance company?

For most people, the best life insurance company is the one that offers the coverage they need at the cheapest cost. After you know how long your policy should last and how big the benefit should be, use price as the starting point. You can also look at different factors like third-party financial ratings, customer reviews, and what tasks you're able to do online if you're having trouble deciding between companies.

How do I find the cheapest life insurance company?

Find the cheapest company by comparing policies from multiple companies.

Life insurance cost is based on your age, your health, and the policy's term length and death benefit amount. Some companies are more lenient than others for certain health conditions, and you can save up to 40% by making sure you're going with the right company for your individual circumstances.

What life insurance company ratings should I look at?

Third-party ratings from firms like A.M. Best and Moody's can give you peace of mind that a company is financially stable and will be around for a long time.

You can also look at customer reviews from the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power. These should be taken with a grain of salt, but you can be on the lookout for recurring complaints.

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she has worked in marketing and business development for travel and tech. She has a B.A. in Economics from Ohio State University.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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