Best life insurance companies in New York

Everything you need to know about the best life insurance companies in New York state, including average rates and protections for consumers.

Amanda Shih author photoMeredith Hoffman headshot

By

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.

&Meredith Hoffman

Meredith Hoffman

Senior Editor, Life Insurance

Meredith Hoffman is a senior editor at Policygenius, where she covers life insurance. Previously, she was a news and advice reporter for Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and To Her Credit, where she covered personal finance and gender-based financial discrimination.

Edited byAdam Morgan

Adam Morgan

Editorial Director

Adam Morgan is an editorial director at Policygenius who leads the life insurance team. Previously, he led editorial teams matrixed across multiple financial publications at Red Ventures — including Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Million Mile Secrets, and others.

Updated|6 min read

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You need life insurance no matter where you live, but it’s especially important for people who live in the state of New York. The high cost of living in some parts of the state means some families may have trouble making ends meet if they suffer an unexpected loss. 

We’ve broken down the best life insurance companies operating in New York state, the cost of life insurance for New Yorkers, and protections the state provides for shoppers and policyholders.

Best life insurance companies in New York

Methodology: How we chose the best life insurance companies in New York

We don't get paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria covering policy details, price, financial confidence, third-party ratings, and customer experience to assign unbiased ratings out of five stars. Any recommendations we make are based on internal and external expert opinions and data from our Policygenius Price Index, which uses real-time rate data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. Our ratings and reviews can help 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

Best overall life insurance

Banner Life

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.7

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose it

Banner Life has some of the longest term lengths — up to 40 years — and most competitive life insurance rates available, even for people with a history of medical conditions.

Read our full Banner Life review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage eligibility

  • Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

William Penn, also known as Banner Life in other states, is our top pick for life insurance in New York state thanks to long term lengths and affordable rates, even for people with preexisting conditions.

Cheapest life insurance

AIG

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose it

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, AIG is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers, including families.

Read our full AIG review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Customizable term policies

  • Benefits common health conditions

Cons

  • Below average customer ratings

  • Cumbersome quote tool

Best term life insurance: William Penn 

Term life insurance policies provide a death benefit for a set number of years. Unlike permanent life insurance, it has no cash value, which makes it the most cost-effective option for most people.

William Penn’s “OPTerm” is a straightforward term policy, but with one of the largest term length ranges compared to other life insurance carriers (your policy can stay in force anywhere from 10 to 40 years). This product involves full underwriting, which means you can’t skip the medical exam.

Read our full review of William Penn

Best whole life insurance

MassMutual

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange starEmpty gray star

3.8

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A++

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

NR

All 50 states

Why we chose it

MassMutual’s whole life insurance plan provides a lifetime coverage option that builds cash value with the potential to earn dividends.

Read our full MassMutual review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Potential for dividends

  • Offers a variety of permanent life insurance products

Cons

  • No option to skip the medical exam

  • High premiums

Best universal life insurance: AIG

AIG has several universal policies available, which are similar to whole-life policies, except they have flexible death benefits and flexible premiums you can change whenever you want, depending on your financial situation.

Anyone age 18 to 80 can apply for AIG’s universal life policies, which come with coverage amounts of $50,000 to $10 million. If you’re interested in the details of AIG’s universal life policies, keep in mind we don’t generally recommend universal life policies, since — unless you’re particularly wealthy and planning an estate — they’re overly complicated and expensive for most people. 

Read our full review of AIG

Best life insurance for seniors

Prudential

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange starEmpty gray star

3.4

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

All 50 states

Why we chose it

With nearly four million policyholders and 150 years to its name, Prudential offers competitive coverage options for seniors, as well as people with some of the most common medical conditions, including asthma, depression, and fibromyalgia.

Read our full Prudential review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • High financial ratings

  • Competitive underwriting for a range of medical conditions

  • Comprehensive online resources

Cons

  • High premiums

  • Mixed customer ratings

Best life insurance for young adults: William Penn

For young adults, William Penn has highly competitive rates that are more affordable than most carriers. With its OPTerm policy, applicants in their 20s who don’t smoke can pay as little as $23 a month (compared to the industry average of $27).

William Penn stands out for offering some of the longest terms and the most competitive rates in the market. Young families can purchase 35- or 40-year term policies at an affordable cost, which can help protect multiple children until they’re all financially independent.

Read our full review of William Penn

Best life insurance for marijuana users: AIG

AIG is one of few insurers that treat infrequent marijuana users as non-smokers, but what sets them apart is their affordable rates, especially for young people. 

However, make sure to be truthful during the application process, even if you only use marijuana occasionally. If you test positive for THC after saying you don’t use marijuana, your application will be declined.

Read our full review of AIG

Best life insurance for smokers: William Penn 

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

Smokers will always pay more for life insurance than non-smokers for comparable policies, but William Penn offers the most affordable rates for smokers in New York. Customers can also apply for lower premiums after a year if they quit smoking, instead of two years or more like some other insurers.

Read our full review of William Penn

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Comparing the best life insurance companies in New York

Company 

Policygenius rating

Best for

Types of policies 

MassMutual

3.8 / 5

Whole life

Term life, whole life

William Penn

4.7 / 5

Affordability, term life, young adults, smokers

Term life, temporary life, whole life

Prudential

3.4 / 5

Seniors

Term life, temporary life, whole life

AIG

4.6 / 5

Universal life, marijuana users

Term life, temporary life, universal life, whole life

What are the largest insurance companies in New York?

Most major life insurance companies operate in New York state, although some may do so through a subsidiary. Below are the 10 largest life insurance companies that offer policies in New York state, ranked by total industry market share, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). [1]

Company

Direct premiums

Market share

Northwestern Mutual

14.3 billion

7.49%

New York Life

13.3 billion

6.96%

MetLife

11.5 billion

6.02%

Prudential

10.6 billion

5.59%

MassMutual

10.1 billion

5.29%

Lincoln Financial

8.3 billion

4.36%

State Farm

5.2 billion

2.76%

John Hancock

5 billion

2.65%

Aegon (Transamerica)

5 billion

2.61%

Securian

4.8 billion

2.54%

Many of the largest companies operating in New York are also among the largest companies nationwide. However, because of state regulations, certain types of life insurance aren’t available in New York, including several no-medical-exam policies that allow you to get coverage without taking a medical exam. 

What is the average cost of life insurance in New York?

Life insurance rates depend on many individual factors, including your age, health, and the length and benefit amount of your policy.

Based on Policygenius data from 2022, the average monthly premium for a relatively healthy 35-year-old in New York buying a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy is $27.65 for women and $33.27 for men.

What happens if a life insurance company goes bankrupt in New York?

It’s extremely rare for a life insurance company to go bankrupt, but every state has some protections for consumers in a worst-case scenario. If a life insurance company in New York is in financial difficulty, the superintendent — the person who oversees the industry in the state — can take over operations of the insurer, with approval from the New York State Supreme Court.

The superintendent will try to resolve the company’s financial issues or ultimately decide to liquidate the company’s assets to fulfill its debts to creditors and customers, including beneficiaries of a policy. 

The Life Insurance Guaranty Corporation of New York is a non-profit organization that steps in once an insurer goes bankrupt. The fund will pay out up to $500,000 to customers with unpaid claims from a provider that’s gone out of business or can help you transfer your policy to a financially stable insurer.

How to find a lost life insurance policy in New York

Resources like the NAIC’s Life Insurance Policy Locator Service can help you locate a policy in New York State. Someone’s immediate family members or an administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate can file a search request, which is forwarded to insurance companies operating in New York State. If your request matches a policy, the provider will contact you within 60 days. [2]

Ready to shop for life insurance in New York?

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New York life insurance laws

Life insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Every state has similar protections in place, but the specifics vary.

Free look period

You can cancel your life insurance without penalty and be refunded your initial premium payment during this time. States set a minimum and maximum period, but insurance companies can set their own limits within those guidelines.

Guaranty Fund protection

Guaranty Fund protection is a financial lifeline if your insurance provider can’t fulfill the terms of your policy. While this is extremely rare, Guaranty Fund protection allows you to file a complaint with your state’s insurance commissioner. New York’s insurance guaranty association can help transfer your policy to a financially healthy insurer or pay out a policy claim.

Contestable period

A contestable period is the first two years of your life insurance policy. During this time, the insurance company can review your application and deny a claim if they find evidence of fraud.

Time allowable to settle a claim

In New York state, life insurance companies have 30 days after receiving a claim to provide a payout. 

Grace period for missed payments

This period gives you a cushion to pay your premiums late without losing your coverage. New York regulations allow for a grace period of 31 days from the due date and 61 days for policies with variable premiums.

Frequently asked questions

What is the number one life insurance company in New York?

William Penn (also known as Banner Life) is the best life insurance company for most people in New York. If you’re a young adult or don’t have complicated health conditions, William Penn is the most affordable option on the market. Even better, William Penn offers the longest term lengths in the state, with a 40-year term policy available to qualifying customers.

What is the life insurance free look period and grace period in New York?

In New York, you have a 10-to-30-day free look period to cancel your policy and receive a refund of the premiums paid. The late payment grace period is 31 days for most policies.

What types of life insurance are available in New York?

The two most common types of life insurance, term and permanent, are available in New York state. No-medical-exam policies, like accelerated underwriting and final expense insurance, aren’t offered.

Why is life insurance different in New York?

Many of the largest companies operating in New York are also among the largest companies nationwide. However, because of state regulations, certain types of life insurance aren’t available in New York, including several no-medical-exam policies that allow you to get coverage without taking a medical exam.

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

    . "

    Life and fraternal insurance industry 2021: Top 25 groups and companies by countrywide premium

    ." Accessed August 03, 2022.

  2. New York State Department of Financial Services

    . "

    Guaranty Fund Protection in New York State

    ." Accessed February 11, 2022.

Authors

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

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.

Senior Editor, Life Insurance

Meredith Hoffman

Senior Editor, Life Insurance

gray linkedin icon link

Meredith Hoffman is a senior editor at Policygenius, where she covers life insurance. Previously, she was a news and advice reporter for Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and To Her Credit, where she covered personal finance and gender-based financial discrimination.

Editor

Editorial Director

Adam Morgan

Editorial Director

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Adam Morgan is an editorial director at Policygenius who leads the life insurance team. Previously, he led editorial teams matrixed across multiple financial publications at Red Ventures — including Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Million Mile Secrets, and others.

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