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The best life insurance companies in 2021

We’ve reviewed the top life insurance companies and created a guide to help you find the best one for you.

Nupur Gambhir

By

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent in New York.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about our editorial review process.

by

Patrick Hanzel, CFP®

Patrick Hanzel, CFP®

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ & Advanced Planning Team Lead

Patrick Hanzel is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Advanced Planning Team Lead at Policygenius. He has eight years of insurance and financial industry experience and previously worked at Northwestern Mutual as an advisor and associate. His expertise has been featured on Lifehacker, Consumer Affairs, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, and Fatherly.

Updated September 22, 2021|9 min read

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When you’re shopping for life insurance, you might be more concerned about the policy than the insurer. But finding the best life insurance company for your needs is just as important as choosing the right policy.  Our guide to the best life insurance companies makes it easy. Our experts have evaluated each company — its policies and pricing, finances, and other strengths and weaknesses — to rate the best companies overall, the best term and best whole insurance companies, and the best companies for specific customer profiles. 

Not sure which company is the best fit? We’re here to help. Compare quotes with Policygenius to find the best life insurance company for you.

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  • Best overall: Brighthouse Financial

  • Best value: Protective

  • Best no-med exam: Brighthouse Financial 

  • Best for diabetics: AIG

  • Best for seniors: Prudential

  • Best for smokers: Banner 

  • Best term: Brighthouse Financial

  • Best whole: Mass Mutual

Best overall: Brighthouse Financial

Best overall

Brighthouse Financial

4.4

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Brighthouse Financial logo

Brighthouse Financial offers a low-cost no-medical exam term life policy available exclusively through the Policygenius marketplace.

Pros

  • Fast-tracked coverage with SimplySelect

  • Very affordable

  • Convertible options available

Cons

  • Only few term lengths available

  • No rate reconsideration

Read our full Brighthouse Financial review

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Brighthouse's SimplySelect policy is the complete package, offering low rates to customers without having to undergo the medical exam. The instant decision approval means you won't have to trade cost for speed. Not everyone will qualify for SimplySelect — it tends to favor shoppers with no or light health conditions — but those who do qualify can be approved after just a quick phone call.

Runners-up: Lincoln Financial and Transamerica

Lincoln Financial’s TermAccel policy offers competitive and fast coverage for those in good health and those with minor health conditions. Applicants who would otherwise pay high premiums may find that Lincoln Financial offers the best bang for their buck, while also providing coverage alternatives for people who aren’t eligible for their no-medical exam policy.

Most healthy people qualify for Transamerica’s cost-effective no-medical exam option, and the application process comes with minimal hiccups. Applicants eligible for a Preferred Plus or Preferred health classification will pay some of the lowest premiums if they get coverage from Transamerica.

Best value: Protective

Best value

Protective

4.3

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Protective  logo

Competitive rates, ease of use, and up to $50 million in coverage make Protective a top-tier choice for a straightforward life insurance policy.

Pros

  • One of the best values around

  • Many coverage amounts and term lengths

  • Decent amount of online tools

Cons

  • Slow application approval

Read our full Protective review

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When it comes to affordability, Protective takes the cake. For individuals in good health, Protective is one of the best options for cost-effective coverage. Offering generally low premiums for most age groups and the opportunity to lower your rates if your health improves, Protective is one of the most affordable insurers out there.

Runner up: Brighthouse

With Brighthouse’s SimplySelect instant decision term life insurance policy, eligible applicants can end up paying some of the lowest premiums available. The low prices don’t take away from the policy’s offerings: robust coverage of up to $2 million, supplemental riders, and the option to convert your policy into permanent coverage at the end of its term.

Best no-med exam: Brighthouse Financial

Best no-med exam

Brighthouse Financial

4.4

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Brighthouse Financial logo

Brighthouse Financial offers a low-cost no-medical exam term life policy available exclusively through the Policygenius marketplace.

Pros

  • Fast-tracked coverage with SimplySelect

  • Very affordable

  • Convertible options available

Cons

  • Only few term lengths available

  • No rate reconsideration

Read our full Brighthouse Financial review

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Brighthouse ranks the highest amongst the no-medical exam life insurance policies we surveyed. Not only does it have the lowest prices for eligible applicants, but it also offers some of the most robust coverage for a no-med policy. You can get up to $2 million in coverage and you can get supplemental riders to enhance your policy. Another plus: most applicants receive an application decision within 24 hours.

"No-med insurance is the least intrusive way to get coverage. No physical interaction with a medical examiner is required, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic but could also be useful in other situations," says Jake Herskovits, a Senior Sales Associate at Policygenius.

Runner up: SBLI

With generally low rates, SBLI offers comprehensive coverage for people aged 18-60. Unlike many other no-medical life insurance offerings, smokers aren’t totally disqualified from getting insured and individuals with minor health conditions may be able to qualify for coverage.

Best for diabetics: AIG

Best for diabetics

AIG

4

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

AIG logo

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods, AIG is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers, especially people with diabetes.

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Customizable term policies

  • Benefits many different health conditions

  • Strong financial confidence

Cons

  • Below average customer ratings

Read our full AIG review

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A diabetes diagnosis generally means higher-than-usual premiums, but diabetics can still get affordable rates from AIG. The company offers the lowest rates for individuals with moderate diabetes and can save policyholders on their monthly premiums.

"Underwriters will often seek out medical records on diabetic applicants to document continued control over time. Control will typically be defined by A1C levels and consistent use of medication if needed. Also important to note, type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be underwritten differently with some carriers viewing type 2 more favorably)," says Eloise Spinello, Senior Manager of Life Operations at Policygenius.

Runner-up: Prudential

Prudential offers competitive coverage for a range of medical conditions — diabetes included. Individuals with moderate diabetes who may not be able to get coverage elsewhere will likely still be able to get a favorable health classification from a Prudential life insurance policy.

Best for seniors: Prudential

Best for seniors

Prudential

3

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Prudential logo

One of the top life insurance carriers for seniors aged 60 to 65 and people with many different medical conditions.

Pros

  • Low rates for seniors

  • High confidence ratings

  • Benefits a range of medical conditions

Cons

  • High premiums for most age groups

  • Mixed customer ratings

Read our full Prudential review

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Prudential is the top-rated insurer for seniors. It provides the most leniency for health conditions associated with older age — people age 60 and above have the best chance of getting a competitive policy from Prudential's term life insurance plan. Individuals with osteoporosis, for example, can get a Preferred health rating – which provides some of the most competitive premiums. And with comparatively flexible income requirements, people who are retired have a better chance of getting the amount of coverage they actually need.

Runners-up: Mutual of Omaha & Protective

Other options include policies from Protective and Mutual of Omaha. Mutual of Omaha is advantageous for seniors with health conditions such as arthritis, and offers competitive pricing for a range of illnesses associated with age. For seniors in generally good health, Protective offers the lowest rates.

Best for smokers: Banner

Best for smokers

Banner

4.2

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Banner logo

Long term lengths and competitive rates make Banner a top contender for smokers and people with complicated health issues.

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many different health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage qualifications 

  • Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

Read our full Banner review

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Smokers pay higher life insurance prices than non-smokers, but you can still avoid paying more than you have to. Some insurers offer lower rates than others, with Banner ranking at the top for the most competitive pricing for smokers. And if you quit smoking, you have the option to apply for even lower premiums after a year of having the policy.

"It's always best to be fully transparent when it comes to smoking details. If disclosed up-front and even with positive nicotine found in labs, some carriers can still offer non-tobacco rates depending on full details of use," says Pat Hanzel, Advanced Planning Specialist and Certified Financial Planner at Policygenius.

Runners-up: AIG, Lincoln, & Prudential

Celebratory smokers aren’t doomed to typical smoker rates either. Casual cigar smokers can get some of the best life insurance prices from AIG and Prudential. AIG allows the most cigar usage to get a Preferred Plus non-smoker rating, meaning life insurance prices that are reserved for individuals in excellent health.

If you’re smoking more than two cigars a month, you’ll get the most affordable premiums from Prudential — they give a Standard Plus non-smoker health classification for any amount of cigar usage, whereas most other life insurance companies will classify you as a smoker. Prudential also offers non-smoker rates for chewing tobacco, pipe usage, and nicotine gum and patches.

Lincoln Financial is a solid runner-up, offering non-smoker rates for cigar smokers and the most comprehensive coverage for people who smoke marijuana. As one of the only life insurance companies to offer non-smoker rates to regular marijuana users, marijuana smokers can get competitive rates comparable to their non-smoker counterparts and up to $1 million in coverage.

Best term: Brighthouse 

Best term

Brighthouse Financial

4.4

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Brighthouse Financial logo

Brighthouse Financial offers a low-cost no-medical exam term life policy available exclusively through the Policygenius marketplace.

Pros

  • Fast-tracked coverage with SimplySelect

  • Very affordable

  • Convertible options available

Cons

  • Only few term lengths available

  • No rate reconsideration

Read our full Brighthouse Financial review

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The best term policy goes to a repeat winner — Brighthouse. By beating out its competitors in cost, offering robust coverage, and coming to an application decision in under a day, Brighthouse’s SimplySelect product is simply… the full package. What’s more, frequent marijuana smokers can rejoice in a policy that doesn’t upcharge for use, as many others do. 

Runner up: Lincoln Financial

Lincoln Financial’s term policies are an optimal choice for just about everyone. Not only do they offer seriously low rates for coverage, but people with various health conditions may be eligible for competitive pricing, too. Anxiety, depression, heart disease, and asthma are just a few of the health conditions that Lincoln still offers competitive rates to. 

Best whole: MassMutual

Best whole

MassMutual

3.3

|

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

MassMutual logo

MassMutual offers some of the most competitive pricing for whole life insurance, while also providing high dividends and permanent coverage.

Pros

  • High dividends

  • Increasing death benefit and cash value

  • Free policy for COVID-19 workers nationwide

Cons

  • Most policies require an agent to apply

Read our full MassMutual review

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The best whole life insurance policies provide high dividend rates, an increasing death benefit, and are provided by companies in solid financial standing. MassMutual offers all of this, and beats out its competitors with the most affordable pricing for a whole life insurance policy. Some people can even get a policy without undergoing a medical exam, which is just icing on the cake. 

Runner up: Guardian 

Like MassMutual, policyholders can expect high dividends — which means the cash value and death benefit increase faster than they do with other policies. And with high ratings from financial rating firms like A.M. Best, you can get a policy with the confidence that your money is in good hands.

How each life insurance company stacks up

Policygenius ranks each insurer using our own internal data, but every life insurance application is one of a kind — talking to an independent life insurance broker like Policygenius is the best way to find the best life insurance company for you.

If you are curious where a given life insurance company stands in terms of both third-party ratings and our own, take a look at the list below:

Life insurance companyPolicygenius rating (out of 5)J.D. Power ratingBBB ratingA.M. Best rating
Brighthouse4.4717A+A
Lincoln Financial4.3749A-A+
Protective4.3754A+A+
Banner Life (Legal & General America)4.2n/aA+A+
AIG4.0742A-A
Transamerica4.0734A+A
SBLI3.6n/aA+A
MassMutual3.3751B-A++
Prudential3.0759AA+
Guardian Life3.0770A+A++
Mutual of Omaha2.9789A+A+

How we got these ratings: Policygenius composite ratings are established through our rating and review methodology and third-party rating agencies including J.D. Power, A.M. Best, and BBB. Ratings are valid as of September 2021.

How to choose the best life insurance company for you

Most people will decide between traditional term and whole life insurance, but there are other considerations, too,  like opting for a  no-medical exam life insurance. A few things you’ll want to consider: 

  1. Policy costs. Term life insurance is typically more affordable than whole life insurance. Shopping around with an independent broker like Policygenius can get you the most competitive premiums for your age, health, and hobbies.

  2. The company’s financial strength. Financial security is an important indicator of solvency — or if your insurer will be around to pay out the death benefit to your beneficiaries years down the line.

  3. The company’s communication style. Some insurers operate completely online, while others require policy updates via paper mail or by phone. Be sure to find a life insurance company that works the way you do. Also, consider the insurer’s average application time and accepted payment methods.

  4. The company’s size. The biggest life insurance companies are generally the most financially secure. You can take a look at a company’s market share and the number of policyholders to determine how big it is. 

→ Learn more about how to buy life insurance

Because life insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all, the best life insurance company for your personal history may be different. But don’t worry — Policygenius has you covered. Our independent agents will work with you to find the best coverage at the best possible price for your profile.  

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Your age group

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.

Your health profile

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.

Your lifestyle

Your lifestyle choices are a part of your risk profile. Hobbies that are deemed too risky by some insurers can get some of the best life insurance rates with others.

For unique situations

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

Policygenius ranking methodology

At Policygenius, we want affordable and robust coverage to be easy to find, for everyone.

Policygenius takes a comprehensive approach to determining the best life insurance companies out there. We don't get paid for reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria to come up with robust — and unbiased — reviews to match you with the right life insurance company. We compile coverage recommendations from experts in the field and quote data from the 10 life insurance companies we offer in our marketplace. Our life insurance carrier reviews have helped over 30 million people shop for affordable coverage.

An insurance company’s ratings and reviews can point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection. But the best life insurance company for you is dependent on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you’re getting coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price. 

→ Read more about our reviews methodology here 

Frequently asked questions

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 lowest cost. After you decide 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.

*Brighthouse SimplySelect is offered exclusively through Policygenius. We are an online marketplace that offers insurance policies from many of the nation's top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.

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