Life insurance is a crucial component of any financial plan, and that’s especially true if you have a family to take care of. Far too many people fail to purchase this important coverage — or they don’t buy enough life insurance for their needs.
Why should you buy life insurance? Having life insurance ensures your family can keep up with bills without financially struggling during a time of grief. The best life insurance companies can even help you buy enough coverage to replace your income for all of your working years, which is crucial if you pass away in the prime of your career.
At Good Financial Cents®, we took the time to compare more than 100 of the best life insurance companies based on their financial strength, their average pricing, customer service ratings, and the type of policies they offer. When comparing providers, take the time to get a free life insurance quote. The best life insurance isn’t necessarily the cheapest life insurance, however, as cost depends on the type of insurance product you buy, your health, your age, and other factors.
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GFC Top Picks: 9 Best Life Insurance Companies in 2021
The best life insurance companies below offer superior products and customer service, and they exhibit financial strength and stability. We compared them based on their ranking with J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, which ranks providers based on customer satisfaction.
We also compared companies based on their rankings with A.M. Best, which scores providers based on their financial strength and ability to pay out claims.
Best for Company Size
American International Group is often considered the world’s largest insurance organization with more than 49,000 employees and clients in over 80 countries and jurisdictions. But does the company’s quality match its size?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes, according to third party agencies who rate insurers. For example, A.M. Best has awarded AIG with an ‘A’ rating for financial strength, and the insurer also boasts an A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s, another rating agency.
We’ve also noticed that AIG is great at placing applicants who are on the border of two different rating classes, because of their weight, into the more favorable class. For example, a 37-year-old male who weighed 215 pounds and is six-feet tall rated a “preferred” policy with Banner Life, but AIG rated him “preferred plus”, saving him $3,312 over the life of the policy.
Also note that American International Group is one of the best insurance companies for high-risk applicants, but its underwriting policy is especially strong for those with type 2 diabetes. American International Group also offers an accelerated death benefit rider that enables you to receive at least some of your insurance proceeds while you’re still alive and diagnosed with a terminal illness. This can help provide important living benefits to pay at least some of your medical bills and other expenses.
Like many companies that offer more liberal underwriting guidelines to high-risk applicants, AIG is tougher if your profile involves other risks, like occupations or hobbies.
- Strong ratings for financial strength
- Return of premium policies available
- Some options come with no medical exam
- Term life insurance, universal life insurance, and even guaranteed issue whole life available
- You can buy coverage worth up to $10 million
- You can get a free online quote, but need to wait for an agent to complete the process
- Limited whole life insurance options
Best for Quick Coverage
Haven Life has upended the traditional process of acquiring term life insurance by getting rid of the medical exam for people who qualify. You’ll also love the fact that you can quickly and easily see life insurance pricing using the Haven Life website. You can also get coverage as soon as the next business day if you qualify for life insurance with no medical exam required.
Haven Life policies also tend to be on the affordable side. Using their online quote tool, we found that a 40-year-old woman in excellent health could secure a 20-year term policy worth $500,000 for as little as $30.66 per month.
As you compare providers in this space, you should note that Haven Life only offers term life insurance coverage, so it might not be a good option if you’re looking for life insurance coverage that builds cash value that you can borrow against.
- Quickly and easily get a free quote online
- Various amounts of coverage and terms of coverage available
- Some policies come with no medical exam required
- Haven Life only offers term life insurance coverage
- Medical exam likely required if you’re not in excellent health
- You can’t buy coverage if you’re over the age of 65
- Coverage only available in amounts up to $3 million
Best for Inexpensive Term Coverage
Although Bestow was just founded in 2016, this innovative online insurer has made the process of getting term life insurance easier than ever before. Bestow only offers inexpensive term life insurance coverage, and you can only apply online since it doesn’t have brick and mortar locations. From there, Bestow uses big data and technology to analyze your application, and you can get approved instantly for coverage without having to endure a medical exam.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about Bestow being newer on the scene. All policies offered by Bestow are through an A+ rated carrier and trusted name in the industry. The policies offered by Bestow are provided by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance and Munich RE.
There are limitations to Bestow term life insurance coverage. For starters, it doesn’t offer any riders that you can add to your policy. Coverage is also only available for adults ages 18 to 59, and you can only buy up to $1.5 million in term coverage that lasts 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30-years.
- Inexpensive term coverage with no medical exam, ever
- Backed by insurers with strong ratings for financial strength
- Entire process takes place online
- Monthly premiums as low as $8
- No options to add riders to your policy
- Coverage amounts are limited and cap out at $1.5 million
- You can’t buy coverage if you’re over the age of 59
- This insurer only offers term life insurance
Best for Health-Conscious People
Health IQ promises life insurance that is specifically tailored to individuals who take excellent care of their health. This company offers lower rates for people with healthy lifestyles, and they can also extend additional savings for policies with a higher than average death benefit. Savings can be as high as 41%, but you have to meet some health criteria to qualify.
In fact, Health IQ lists some pretty stiff requirements for policyholders, which include:
- Being able to run an 8-minute mile
- Cycling 50+ miles per week
- Being able to deadlift your bodyweight
- Belonging to a gym for a year or longer
- Belonging to USMS for a year or longer
Another important distinction to note with Health IQ is that they don’t offer policies directly. Instead, this company lets you compare policies with myriad top insurers like John Hancock, Prudential, Pacific Life, and more. Fortunately, Health IQ lets you compare pricing from 30 top insurers in one place and all at once, helping you save time and money.
- Shop around and compare policies with multiple insurers on a single platform
- Large coverage amounts available
- Save up to 41% if you meet health requirements
- Extreme physical fitness is required
- You might have to submit proof of exercise
- Must enter your contact information get a free quote
- Health IQ doesn’t offer policies directly
Best for Variety of Policies
MetLife, another well-known provider in the United States and globally, offers policy options including term life insurance, whole life, universal life, variable life, and survivorship plans.
Unlike others in our ranking, this provider mostly focuses on offering group life insurance plans for employers, which employees can gain access to. Fortunately, MetLife is known for its financial strength and stability, as well as its third-party ratings. Currently, Metropolitan Life Insurance company has an A+ rating with A.M. Best and an AA- rating with Standard & Poor’s. Further, MetLife performed well in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study with 773 out of 1,000 possible points.
- Strong ratings for customer service and financial strength
- Most types of life insurance offered, including term life, whole life insurance, and policies with no medical exam required
- No way to get a free quote online
- Limited policy information online, which means you need to speak with an agent to learn more and apply
Best for Range of Coverage
Banner Life Insurance is a leader in life insurance product diversity and customer service. The company has been around since the 1980’s and currently offers policies in 49 states as well as Washington D.C. At the moment, Banner Life insures more than 1.3 million customers, with more than $5 billion in assets at their disposal.
Banner Life has flexible and comprehensive coverage options, like special rates for younger or health-conscious individuals. Among its life insurance offerings, this provider offers term policies and universal life insurance. You can even enter basic information about yourself and get a free quote online.
Banner Life can also be a good option for smokers since this provider offers both preferred tobacco and standard tobacco classifications. You’ll still pay more as a smoker than a non-smoker, but the rate hike might not be as high as it would be with other companies.
Currently, Banner Life boasts an A+ rating for financial strength from A.M. Best. The company also has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- Easy to get a free quote online
- Term life insurance and universal life insurance coverage available
- Term policies available for individuals ages 20 to 75
- Strong ratings for financial strength
- Not all types of life insurance coverage are offered, including whole life insurance
- No policies offered in the state of New York
Best for Chewing Tobacco Users
Another long-standing, top life insurance company is Prudential, which manages more than $1.5 trillion in assets for clients throughout the world. Prudential offers a number of different policy options, including term and permanent coverage. Permanent coverage from Prudential includes universal, indexed universal, variable universal, and survivorship universal life insurance.
One major benefit of Prudential is the ease at which you can receive a life insurance quote online. Policies are also on the affordable side, with a 20-year term life insurance policy worth $500,000 starting at $39 per month for a 40-year-old woman in excellent health.
As a side note, we’ve noticed that applicants who use chewing tobacco often prefer Prudential because the company doesn’t place chewing tobacco users into its classification for smokers, and this can save a huge amount of money.
Prudential not only tends to be more liberal in underwriting policies for cancer survivors but also for people with diabetes and DUI histories. As you’d expect, premiums will be higher for cancer survivors even with a policy issued by Prudential. The type of cancer, and how long it’s been in remission, are also factors in consideration. But if you’re a cancer survivor looking for the best life insurance premiums, Prudential is the place to start.
Currently, Prudential has an A+ rating for its financial strength from A.M. Best.
- Affordable policies if you’re in good health
- Easily get a free quote online within minutes
- Strong ratings for financial strength
- Available for chewing tobacco users
- Costs can be higher for cancer survivors
- No whole life insurance options
Mutual of Omaha
Best for Claims Process
Mutual of Omaha has been serving customers in the life insurance arena for more than a century. This company provides a wide variety of products including term, whole life, universal life, and accidental death.
Interestingly, Mutual of Omaha even offers life insurance coverage options for individuals up to the age of 85. Some policies are also offered with no medical exam required, and they make getting a free quote online a breeze.
Policies from Mutual of Omaha can also be highly competitive in terms of pricing. A 40-year-old woman in excellent health can even get up to $500,000 in term life insurance coverage for 20 years for less than $32 per month, which is very affordable.
Mutual of Omaha has also received high ratings from third party agencies, including the fifth spot out of more than 20 providers in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study. Mutual of Omaha also has an A+ rating for financial strength from A.M. Best.
- Strong ratings for claims, customer service, and financial strength
- Get a free quote online
- All types of life insurance coverage available
- Limited whole life policy options
- Must speak with a local agent to begin coverage or learn more about policy options
New York Life
Best for Breadth of Coverage
New York Life Insurance Company was founded in 1841, so it is one of the oldest providers in the life insurance space. This company is also the largest mutual insurer in the United States, and they paid out more than $1.9 billion in dividends to their customers in 2019.
New York Life offers term life insurance, whole life, universal life, and variable life, and they make it easy to compare all of their life insurance products on their website. This provider also offers a robust digital platform that lets you view your policies, update beneficiaries, or even file a claim online.
New York Life earned the sixth spot in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study for their customer satisfaction, right behind Mutual of Omaha. New York Life also has an A++ rating from A.M. Best for its financial strength.
- Term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance, and variable universal life insurance available
- More than 175 years of company experience
- Strong ratings for customer service and financial strength
- You can update your beneficiaries, file a claim, or oversee your policies online
- You have to speak with an agent to get a quote
Types of Life Insurance to Consider
Now that you know more about the top providers in this space, you should think long and hard about the type of life insurance coverage you want to shop for. There are many different types of life insurance, including:
- Term Life Insurance
- Whole Life Insurance
- Universal Life Insurance
- Variable Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is purchased to provide coverage for a specific period of time — also called a term — which usually lasts for up to 30 years. Most people buy term life insurance to protect their loved ones and replace their income during their working years. That way, if they died unexpectedly, their families wouldn’t be forced to sell the house or make other financial sacrifices.
Because term life insurance doesn’t include an investment component, it is almost always the most affordable coverage you can buy. Not only that, but the premiums are always the same when you buy term life insurance coverage, meaning the price won’t go up as you age. Learn more about term life insurance.
The ideal customer for term life insurance is:
- Someone who wants to protect his or her family from financial losses during their working years
- An individual who only needs coverage for a specific length of time (i.e. 20 years until their retirement date)
- Someone with dependents to protect and care for
- Anyone with considerable debts to pay off, such as a mortgage and car loans
Who should pass:
- People who want life insurance that will never expire
- People who want to purchase a life insurance policy that will build cash value
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance got its name because this type of coverage protects you for your whole life. Once you buy a policy (or commit to funding one), the coverage lasts until you pass away instead of only for a specific term.
This kind of coverage, which is also called permanent life insurance, adds an investment component as well. The life insurance component is designed to provide for your family when you die, just like term life, whole life insurance is not an investment. However, like other investments, you can generally borrow against the cash value of your policy with favorable terms. Learn more about whole life insurance.
The ideal customer for whole life insurance is:
- Someone who wants to buy life insurance that never expires
- Individuals who want a policy that will build cash value they can borrow against
Who should pass:
- Someone who wants to buy the most affordable life insurance coverage available
- Anyone who only needs life insurance for a specific length of time, such as the final decade of their career
Universal Life Insurance
Like whole life insurance, universal life insurance coverage is permanent. However, universal life combines this coverage with a more complicated investment component.
This kind of coverage also offers flexible premiums — as in, the amount you pay into your policy can fluctuate from year to year. As a result of how universal life insurance is set up, your policy might build more cash value in some years than others. Learn more about universal life insurance.
The ideal customer for universal life insurance is:
- Anyone who wants flexibility in their premiums and death benefit
- Someone who wants a permanent life insurance that will never expire
Who should pass:
- Someone who wants fixed premiums and a fixed death benefit
- Anyone who wants the most affordable life insurance coverage available
Variable Life Insurance
Variable life insurance is another form of permanent life insurance that offers an investment component that builds cash value. Because variable life insurance allows you to allocate a portion of your premiums to a separate investment account, this type of life insurance is generally more expensive than other types of coverage.
Due to the way these policies are set up, consumers can decide when to pay higher premiums for a higher death benefit within certain limits. Since you can generally choose from a variety of investments within the investment component of your coverage, and since returns are never guaranteed, variable life insurance is regulated under federal securities laws. Learn more about variable life insurance.
The ideal customer for variable life is:
- Someone who wants to optimize their investments for tax purposes
- Anyone who wants the potential for higher returns, and doesn’t mind taking on more risk
- Someone who wants life insurance coverage that will never expire
Who should pass:
- Individuals who just want life insurance for a fixed length of time, usually ten, twenty, or thirty years
- People who want to keep their life insurance and their investments separate
- Anyone who wants the most affordable life insurance coverage money can buy
What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance
When you apply for life insurance, you should be prepared to offer up an array of important information about yourself and your health. Details you need to be willing to provide as you fill out an application include:
- Your name and age
- Your address
- Height and weight
- Tobacco status
- Your medical history, including any pre-existing conditions
- Your family’s health history
- Information on your lifestyle, including high-risk hobbies you might have
In addition to the information above, you’ll also need to provide the insurer with more details on the type of life insurance coverage you want, as well as the amount. You might not know exactly how much coverage you want to buy quite yet, but you’ll need to provide a standard answer (i.e. $250,000 or $500,000 in coverage) when you fill out an application.
Keep in mind that, in some cases, you can apply for life insurance coverage online and begin your policy without completing a medical exam. This is more likely with some insurers than others, however, since not all providers offer policies with no medical exam required.
If you do need to take a medical exam, it’s common for insurers to send a nurse to your home. Upon arrival, the nurse will perform a routine health check and gather information such as your height and weight. You’ll also be asked to provide a urine sample and a blood sample.
Generally speaking, the details of your medical exam are handled by the provider. This means that they will set up an appointment based on times and dates that work for you, and the information gathered during the medical exam will be sent directly to the insurer.
Where to Purchase Life Insurance Coverage
Applying for life insurance can feel overwhelming, but the process is actually less stressful and intrusive than it seems. Technology has also made it easier than ever to compare policies online without ever speaking with an agent if you don’t want to do so.
If you’re wondering where to buy life insurance, here are a few places to start.
1. Compare Life Insurance Policies Online
Before you buy life insurance, you should take the time to compare policies and prices with online providers that have free quote tools. For example, Haven Life and Mutual of Omaha make it incredibly easy to compare pricing online and in a matter of minutes. You can move forward and buy your policy from one of these providers for even more convenience, but you can also use them to get some basic pricing for the amount of coverage you plan to buy.
2. Use a Life Insurance Comparison Site
In addition to comparing life insurance pricing with companies that offer online quote tools, you can also shop around for life insurance using a comparison site. The map tool on this page can help you compare pricing with multiple top providers based on your zip code.
3. Contact a Life Insurance Broker or Agent
If you prefer a personalized experience, don’t forget that you can also work with a life insurance agent or broker. If you already have homeowners insurance or auto rental coverage, it’s even possible you could buy life insurance from your regular insurance agent. Just make sure to compare pricing for life insurance policies ahead of time so you know you’re not overpaying for coverage.
“American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization serving customers in more than 100 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional, and individual customers through one of the most extensive worldwide property-casualty networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of life insurance and retirement services in the United States. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Additional information about AIG can be found at aig.com. AIG is the marketing name for the worldwide property-casualty, life and retirement, and general insurance operations of American International Group, Inc. Products or services may not be available in all countries, and coverage is subject to actual policy language. Non-insurance products and services may be provided by a surplus lines insurer. Surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds, and insureds are therefore not protected by such funds.”