Life insurance is an important financial product that can cover your final expenses, protect your loved ones, and provide a safety net for their future. But what are the best life insurance companies, and how do you decide which policy is right for you?
We’ve pulled together this list of top life insurance companies to help you quickly and easily find the best coverage options to suit your needs.
The best life insurance companies of 2023:
- Haven life insurance
- Bestow life insurance
- State Farm
- Northwestern Mutual
- New York Life
- Ethos life insurance
- Fabric by Gerber Life
- Best for an accelerated death benefit: Haven
- Best traditional company for customer service: MassMutual
- Best for low-cost coverage: Bestow
- Best for riders: State Farm
- Best for potential dividends: Northwestern Mutual
- Best for in-person service: New York Life
- Best online option for seniors: Ethos life insurance
- Best online company for high coverage limits: Ladder
- Best for education: Nationwide
- Best for families: Fabric by Gerber Life
- How to choose the best life insurance coverage
- Our methodology
- Life insurance FAQs
1. Best for an accelerated death benefit: Haven
|Some policies don’t require a medical exam to qualify||Only available for those under 55 ½ for Haven Simple, up to age 64 for Haven Term|
|High coverage amounts, up to $3 million for Haven Term Insurance||Only term life policies available — no whole life options|
|Offers accelerated death benefit if you’re diagnosed with a terminal disease|
Haven helps consumers apply for up to $3 million in term life insurance coverage quickly and easily. They offer a simple online application process, and applicants who meet certain criteria may be able to get life insurance coverage without a medical exam. Haven's term life policies are issued by MassMutual or its subsidiary C.M. Life. MassMutual has been in business for over 160 years and has an A++ AM Best rating.
Haven offers an accelerated death benefit with its policies, which sets it apart from competitors. This benefit allows you to use your life insurance coverage to cover medical expenses if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of two years or less.
... Read our Haven review.
2. Best traditional company for customer service: MassMutual
|Offers a wide range of policies including term, universal life, and whole life||Many policies require a medical exam|
|Strong financial rating (A++) from AM Best||You have to go through an agent to complete a quote|
|High customer service ratings|
MassMutual was established in 1851 and offers a range of policy types, including term and whole life insurance. They are the underwriter of the previously mentioned Haven and offer more traditional policy options and a variety of riders, including guaranteed insurability and accelerated death benefit riders. Riders are add-ons to life insurance policies that add benefits. It also offers long-term care and life insurance combined coverage.
They have an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best and above-average customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power and Associates 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, ranking seventh out of 21 life insurance companies with a score of 782 out of 1,000.
3. Best for low-cost coverage: Bestow
|Offers a 30-day trial period||Only available to those under 60|
|Quick quote and approval process||No whole life options|
|Easy online application||No insurance riders available|
Bestow allows consumers to apply for a coverage amount of up to $1.5 million in term life insurance coverage without a medical exam. The application process takes minutes, and premiums can be as low as $11. Bestow partners with the North American Company for Life and Health Insurance® to issue its policies. North American has an A+ rating from A.M. Best and has been a reliable insurance provider for over 130 years. The fact that Bestow offers a simple application process and the option to get coverage without a medical exam sets this insurer apart from its competitors.
... Read our Bestow review.
4. Best for riders: State Farm
|First place customer service ranking according to J.D. Power 2021 survey||Limited no-medical exam policies|
|Offers dividends to eligible policyholders||Not available in Massachusetts or Rhode Island|
|Financially strong||You may have to go through an agent to complete the process or get a quote|
State Farm received a score of 822 out of 1000 in the J.D. Power 2021 Customer Satisfaction survey, earning it first place among its competitors. They also have an A++ rating from AM Best, meaning they are financially strong and able to pay out claims.
In addition to term, whole, and universal life policies offered and some of the standard rider options to help you customize your policy, State Farm also offers Return of Premium Term Life Insurance policies.
With this policy, if you outlive the policy term and don't renew your policy, you can reclaim your entire premium amount after the term expires. Not everyone is eligible, and it may not be available in your state, but it could be a good add-on for those who qualify.
Visit State Farm.
5. Best for potential dividends: Northwestern Mutual
|High customer satisfaction rankings||Have to purchase through an agent|
|Pays dividends to eligible policyholders|
Northwestern Mutual's life insurance market share in the U.S. is 8.93%, which makes it the largest life insurance provider in the country, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It has an A++ rating from AM Best and came in third in J.D. Power’s 2021 customer satisfaction survey, scoring 807 out of 1000.
Like many other life insurance companies, Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole, and universal life insurance policies and disability insurance. Northwestern Mutual offers some policyholders dividend payments and expects to pay out $6.5 billion in 2022, its largest dividend ever. It also sells other financial products such as annuities to help you plan for your retirement needs.
Visit Northwestern Mutual.
6. Best for in-person service: New York Life
|More than 12,000 agents across the country||Quotes aren’t available online — you have to go through an agent|
|Multiple policy options, including term, whole, universal (including variable universal life insurance)||Can be hard to research specific policy information online|
|Term policies may be converted to permanent insurance within a specific time frame|
Founded in 1845, New York Life is one of the oldest insurance companies in the U.S. and currently has an A++ Superior rating with AM Best. New York Life offers term policy options to help customers find a policy to fit their financial goals. Some term life policies can be converted into whole life within a specified time, although your premium price will likely go up if you alter your policy.
Customers may be able to customize their insurance policies by adding a disability waiver of premium rider to their policy, which lets you stop paying your premium without losing the policy while experiencing a qualified disability. A spouse’s paid-up insurance purchase option rider is also available. It allows your spouse to obtain their own life insurance without a medical exam after your death using the proceeds from your insurance policy.
Visit New York Life.
7. Best online option for seniors: Ethos life insurance
|Guaranteed renewable and guaranteed level premiums||Limited rider options|
|Up to $2 million in coverage available without a medical exam||Whole policy coverage only goes up to $30,000|
|Term and whole life insurance policies available, depending on age (whole life is offered to people 66-85)|
Ethos allows consumers to enter some basic information online and receive quick quotes for up to $1.5 million in term life insurance coverage. Ethos term life policies are issued by Legal General America, and they're reinsured by Munich Re and Assurity Life Insurance. Both companies have A+ AM Best ratings and have been in business since the 19th century. Ethos policies come with an accelerated death benefit and a 30-day money-back guarantee. During that period, you can opt to cancel your policy and get a refund.2
... Read our Ethos review.
8. Best online company for high coverage limits: Ladder
|Coverage limits up to $8 million||Only offers term life policies|
|Easy online application||Available to people aged 20 to 60|
|No medical exam required for coverage up to $3 million (just answer some health questions)||No riders available to add to your policy|
If you're looking for flexible life insurance coverage, Ladder 1
may fit your needs nicely. Consumers can apply for up to $8 million in term life coverage through Ladder, and the company uses salaried customer service representatives instead of commissioned salespeople. That probably contributes to its 4.8 star rating on Trustpilot. What makes Ladder unique is that it offers policyholders the opportunity to decrease or apply to increase coverage over time based on their financial situation and needs.
... Read our Ladder review.
9. Best for education: Nationwide
|High customer service ratings and strong financial rating||Can only apply for term insurance online|
|Lots of educational insurance information on their website|
|Multiple policy types and riders available|
You may be most familiar with Nationwide auto insurance, but they also offer life insurance policies and have multiple options to choose from, including term, whole, and universal life. They scored second in J.D. Power’s 2021 Customer Satisfaction Study with a score of 813 out of 1,000 and have an A+ credit rating from AM Best.
Nationwide offers optional riders for long-term care, chronic illness, or even a children’s term rider, which pays a benefit upon the death of a child until they reach the age of 22 or get married, whichever comes first.
10: Best for families: Fabric by Gerber Life
|No-exam policies available||Not available in every state|
|Offers term life and accidental death insurance||Can’t have multiple users on the same account, so your spouse will have to create their own application/account|
|A single place to purchase life insurance and keep track of wills and estate plans using an easy interface||Products are geared toward young families, so may not be best for seniors looking for supplemental insurance policies|
Fabric by Gerber Life offers term life insurance and accidental death policies from an A+ AM Best-rated insurance provider. Fabric by Gerber Life's policies are issued by Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, a Western & Southern company with a heritage dating back to 1888. Unlike other insurers, in addition to its insurance policies, Fabric by Gerber Life also offers an app to help you manage your finances and a free service for creating a last will and testament.
Visit Fabric by Gerber Life.
... Read our Fabric by Gerber Life review.
How to choose the best life insurance coverage
No two circumstances are identical, so the type of life insurance coverage that’s right for you — and the best life insurance companies to buy that coverage from — might not be the same for your brother, best friend, or neighbor. Before deciding on a new policy, there are a few important things to consider first.
What type of life insurance do I need?
Take a good look at your unique situation when determining the type of policy that best serves your needs. This includes:
- Your loved ones’ needs: What is required to care for your dependents, including your spouse, children, aging parents, siblings with long-term needs, etc.? Also, consider how long you expect your life insurance beneficiaries to need financial protection and support.
- Any existing assets: Do you already have significant retirement savings built up? If so, you may decide that you only need life insurance for a few years to cover the remainder of your earning years.
- Life insurance cost: How much does life insurance coverage cost? Keep in mind that permanent life insurance policies will likely come with higher premiums than term life insurance policies.
Your current health also plays a role in what different types of life insurance you have access to and the cost of life insurance premiums. Insurance companies look at your health when they calculate how much risk they’re taking when they issue you a policy. If you have or have had certain health conditions, you may need to apply for a simplified or guaranteed issue policy, which doesn’t have the same health eligibility requirements.
Simplified issue policies typically require you to answer a few health questions, and if you qualify, you may be issued a policy without a medical exam. Guaranteed-issue policies offer you coverage regardless of any health issues, but the policies typically have a reduced benefit for the first two years of the policy. Both of these types of policies are sometimes referred to as no-medical-exam life insurance. These policies also usually have a lower amount of coverage, and the insurance premiums can be relatively high.
The type of life insurance you choose also depends on your income and your lifestyle and hobbies. If you engage in risky hobbies such as sky-diving, insurance companies may not issue you a policy or they may charge you more for the coverage.
Types of life insurance
- Term life insurance
- Whole life insurance
- Universal life insurance
You might find yourself debating term versus whole life insurance. Whole and universal life are types of permanent life insurance, meaning they don't expire as long as you pay your premiums.
In general, both types of life insurance work the same way — they pay a benefit to your loved ones after you die. The inner workings of the policies are different, however.
Whole life insurance has the same premium for the life of the policy, and it builds up cash value on a tax-deferred basis. Universal life insurance policies can also build up cash value, and it has flexible premiums. Variable universal life policies invest a portion of the premiums you pay. This means you could lose money depending on how the investments perform.
With term insurance, your policy expires at the end of a set number of years (ex. 30-year term), but you'll typically see lower premium payments. For many people, term life insurance policies provide exactly what you need: affordable monthly payments in return for a death benefit payout.
If you decide to go the term life insurance route, you’ll need to review your policy options and decide how long you want coverage for and which life insurance riders — if any — are important to you. For example, you may want a rider that provides you with a living benefit, such as being able to receive a portion of funds if you need long-term care.
Many of the best life insurance companies offer a range of term lengths, coverage limits, and optional riders for added protection.
How much life insurance do I need?
Next, you’ll want to determine exactly how much life insurance coverage you need. Calculating this amount involves looking at the following factors:
- Your income: One quick way is to simply multiply your current earnings by the number of years you’d want to replace that income for your family (10 or 15 is common). Be sure to also consider sources of hidden income, such as health insurance benefits provided by your workplace.
- Your debt burden: Whether you have a mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, or owe on personal loans, be sure to account for this in your life insurance calculations.
- Future expenses: Consider any significant future financial obligations when calculating your life insurance coverage. These could include college tuition for your children, charitable donations, money for your kids’ weddings, or a down payment on their first home. It should also cover funeral costs.
It’s important to note that different life insurance companies will offer different levels of coverage. For instance, some insurers offer policies up to $300,000 while others can provide you with millions in coverage.
WarningIf you’re going to pay premiums on your coverage each month for years, it’s important that your life insurance is worth the cost and is something you can afford.
To find the perfect coverage at the perfect price, you should spend some time shopping around. Many of the life insurance providers listed above offer a simple process for obtaining quotes, which makes it easy to compare life insurance plans quickly. And in many cases, it may only take a few minutes to get a quote and apply for coverage. The process is likely simpler than you think.
If you're uncertain, a life insurance agent, broker, or financial planner could also help you determine how much and which types of insurance would be best for you.
In determining our ranking of the best life insurance companies, we looked at 10 popular companies and ranked them according to a series of weighted factors that we consider critical to the consumer. We did not evaluate all companies in the category.
FinanceBuzz ranking criteria include:
- NAIC complaint index score: This score is correlated with customer satisfaction. It measures total complaints to state regulators relative to total policies issued.
- AM Best rating: AM Best is an independent credit rating agency that measures the financial stability of insurance companies. AM Best calculates financial strength ratings for companies based on creditworthiness and ability to pay customer claims and other debts in a timely fashion.
- Ease of use: How simple the process is and how long it takes to apply.
- Types of coverage: The variety of life insurance types offered by the company.
- Customer service options: Whether they offered online access, a mobile app, chat, or other options for getting in touch.
Life insurance FAQs
What is the best life insurance policy?
The best life insurance policy for you may not be the same one that’s best for someone else. You first need to look at your own needs and personal factors before you can choose the type of policy, term length, and coverage limit that suits your needs. Only then can you decide on your best life insurance company and policy.
Which is better, whole or term life insurance?
When it comes to term and whole life insurance policies, each coverage option serves its own purpose. If you need more affordable coverage for a specific period of time, term life insurance is best. If you are looking for a policy that grows a cash value and stays with you for your entire life, whole coverage is the best choice. However, whole life policies are typically much more expensive and may be cost-prohibitive for many. If you have questions about which life insurance products are right for you, consider reaching out to a financial advisor for assistance.
How do I find the best life insurance?
Once you’ve decided what you need, finding the best life insurance rates involves shopping around a bit. Compare life insurance quotes from various companies — you can do this online easily and quickly — so you can decide on the best policy. You could start by getting online quotes for term coverage from the life insurance companies that have made our list.
If you feel as though whole life or universal life insurance coverage would suit your needs better, you can choose to compare life insurance options from traditional insurers like Northwestern Mutual, State Farm, New York Life, Mutual of Omaha, Nationwide, or Prudential. Just keep in mind that permanent coverage tends to come with higher monthly premiums, and many policies require a medical exam as part of the underwriting process.
At what age should you buy life insurance?
There is no specific age when you should buy life insurance. Instead, you should purchase coverage when you need it for the financial security of your loved ones, whether that’s age 25 or 45. As soon as you get married, become a homeowner, or have children, life insurance should be on your radar. Just keep in mind that the longer you wait to buy, the more expensive your premiums are likely to be.
That said, if you're buying a policy when you're older, you could purchase a smaller policy that just covers funeral expenses. Just be sure to get multiple quotes and work with a company with a good reputation.