The biggest life insurance companies in 2022

New York Life and Northwestern Mutual are the largest life insurance companies in the U.S.

Headshot of Policygenius editor Nupur GambhirAmanda Shih author photo

By

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

&Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Updated|1 min read

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The size of a life insurance company can be measured by how many policyholders it has (its market share) and total premiums received from customers (its direct written premiums). New York Life is currently the largest life insurance company in the U.S., with more than $11.6 billion in direct written premiums. [1]  

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 coverage amounts than smaller companies, while smaller companies might be able to offer more personalized customer service.

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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.

Rank

Company

Direct written premiums (billion USD)

Market share

1

New York Life

11.694

6.75%

2

Northwestern Mutual

11.297

6.52%

3

MetLife (Metropolitan Group)

10.493

6.05%

4

Prudential

10.058

5.80%

5

Lincoln Financial

8.370

4.83%

6

MassMutual

7.915

4.57%

7

State Farm

$4.971

2.87%

8

Transamerica (Aegon)

4.860

2.80%

9

John Hancock

4.727

2.73%

10

Minnesota Life (Securian)

4.688

2.70%

11

Guardian Life

4.279

2.47%

12

Pacific Life

3.989

2.30%

13

AIG

3.575

2.06%

14

Nationwide

3.195

1.84%

15

AXA Equitable

2.911

1.68%

16

Sammons Financial Group

2.675

1.54%

17

Mutual of Omaha

2.668

1.54%

18

Globe Life

2.632

1.52%

19

Primerica

2.578

1.49%

20

Voya

2.478

1.43%

→ See how insurers stack up in our company reviews

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 and premiums can't vary because of a company’s size. 

A smaller life insurance company is a better fit 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 like 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, so different insurers may offer you more competitive rates than others. 

→ Learn how we choose the best life insurance companies

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.

Frequently asked questions

What is the largest life insurance company in the U.S.?

New York Life is the biggest life insurance company based on direct premiums written. Direct premiums written is a measure of an insurer’s growth using premiums received from customers.

What are the benefits of choosing a bigger insurance company?

The biggest life insurance companies have more financial stability, offer higher death benefits, and may offer more diverse coverage options than smaller companies.

What are the benefits of choosing a smaller insurance company?

Smaller life insurance companies may provide a more hands-on customer experience or might specialize in serving people with specific jobs or insurance needs.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners

    (NAIC). "

    2020 Top 25 Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium

    ." Accessed January 04, 2022.

Authors

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

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