The size of a life insurance company is measured by how many policyholders it has (its market share) and by the total premiums received from customers (its direct written premiums). Northwestern Mutual is currently the largest life insurance company in the U.S., with more than $13.9 billion in direct written premiums. 
Choosing a larger life insurance company vs. a smaller one is unlikely to affect your policy on a day-to-day basis. But, bigger life insurance companies can offer higher death benefit coverage amounts than smaller companies, while smaller companies might be able to offer more personalized customer service.
Here’s background and some significant details on the nation’s 10 largest life insurers.
Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance company based on written premiums and market share. The company’s main office is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It offers term, whole, universal, and variable universal life insurance.
New York Life
You can find the company’s headquarters in New York City. The company offers an excellent selection of term, whole, universal, and variable life policies. The company also sells policies to 90-year-old applicants, while most providers have an age cap of 85.
MetLife operates its business from its main office in New York City. The insurer offers employer-sponsored, term, variable, and universal life.
Metlife takes a holistic approach to life insurance. Recognizing that purchasing and collecting on policies can be an emotional undertaking, the company provides financial planning and grief support through its MetLife Advantages program.
With Prudential, senior applicants may find affordable rates and friendly underwriting for age-related conditions. Additionally, those in the U.S. on a visa or green card can qualify for a policy without having a Social Security number.
MassMutual is excellent for high-net-worth individuals with complex financial needs. The company offers comprehensive term, universal, and variable life insurance policies. You’ll find Massmutual's main office in Springfield, Massachusetts.
MassMutual is our top pick for whole life insurance and estate planning because it pays higher dividends for its cash value than the industry average.
Lincoln Financial’s company headquarters is in Radnor, Pennsylvania. The insurer offers an à la carte menu of insurance options, including term, indexed universal, and variable universal life insurance.
Lincoln Financial provides affordable rates across various health classifications. The daily marijuana user may also gravitate toward this company, as it has friendly underwriting standards for recreational users.
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Nationwide offers a breadth of life insurance policies, including term, universal, whole, and variable life insurance.
Nationwide offers excellent long-term care products like free accelerated benefits if you become chronically or terminally ill and must use your death benefit early. Additionally, under Nationwide’s CaresMatter program, you can link your universal life insurance policy with long-term care benefits, and get a guaranteed death benefit.
Based in Bloomington, Illinois, State Farm offers superior customer service. The insurance company takes the number one spot in J.D. Power’s life insurance customer satisfaction survey.
State Farm offers a limited selection of life insurance policies (one term, one whole, and one universal life policy). However, you can take advantage of its bundling discount by pairing your life insurance with other insurance products for additional savings.
Minnesota Life Insurance Company is an affiliate of Securian Financial based in Saint Paul. Founded in 1880, it holds an A+ ranking from AM Best.
The company offers term life, whole life, universal life insurance, in addition to group life insurance for organizations with more than 1,000 participants.
John Hancock is a well-rated insurance provider headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The company offers term, universal, variable universal, and indexed universal life insurance policies at an affordable rate for senior shoppers.
Additionally, if you’re younger than 60, you can apply for a no-medical-exam term life policy.
The largest life insurance companies in the U.S.
The table below ranks the top 20 life insurance companies in the United States from largest to smallest based on direct written premiums.
Direct written premiums (billion USD)
New York Life
Minnesota Life (Securian)
Dai-Ichi Life Holdings Inc. Group
American Intl. Group (Corebridge Financial)
Sammons Financial Group
Who should use a large life insurance company?
Everyone’s life insurance needs are different, but a bigger life insurance company is better for people who:
Are concerned about financial stability: Life insurance companies rarely go bankrupt, but larger companies provide more peace of mind if you're concerned. Larger companies have bigger cash reserves to tap to pay out claims if they go out of business.
Need a large death benefit: Larger companies can more easily offer high coverage amounts, which matters if you need an exceptional amount of life insurance (e.g., more than $10 million).
Want customer service flexibility: Bigger insurers can easily offer after-hours or weekend service or digital policy management options that smaller competitors don’t.
Who should use a smaller life insurance company?
State insurance regulations mean small insurers generally offer the same types of life insurance coverage as larger ones. What’s more, premiums can't vary because of a company’s size.
All the same, a smaller life insurance company is a better fit for policyholders if you want:
More personalized service: Larger companies typically cannot offer the same one-on-one customer service as small shops. If knowing your agent or broker is important to you, go with a smaller company.
Potential for underwriting flexibility: It varies by company, but some smaller insurers may be more willing to accept an applicant with health concerns or risky hobbies.
Specialized coverage (e.g., for a specific profession): Some smaller companies specialize in policies for particular jobs or avocations. Firefighters, for example, might be better served by a smaller specialty company.
Make sure to check the company’s credit and customer service ratings if you’re unfamiliar with the insurer.
What to consider besides size
Size is just one factor in choosing the best life insurance company for you. You might also want to consider your insurer’s:
Credit rating: Make sure your insurer is financially stable by checking reliable sources such as A.M. Best, which rates a company’s ability to fulfill its financial obligations.
Customer satisfaction: Use sources like the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power to find out whether customers are happy with an insurer. Take reviews with a grain of salt, especially for larger companies that serve thousands of customers.
Turnaround time: Some companies may offer faster approvals than others, particularly if an insurer has an accelerated underwriting option.
Underwriting guidelines: Every company evaluates your health, hobbies, and other insurance risk factors differently; some insurers may offer you more competitive rates than others.
Even though a life insurance company is large, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best company for you. Unless you need a particularly high death benefit, company size is just one part of choosing a provider that suits your needs.