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Best Term Life Insurance Companies

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance, meaning it’s designed to last for as long as you live. This differs from term life insurance, which lasts for a set number of years, such as 20. Whole life also incorporates a tax-deferred cash value, which is similar to a savings account, and may be accessible via withdrawals and policy loans. Another perk of some whole life policies, called participating policies, are dividend payments.

But when it comes to choosing a whole life policy, the company offering it is arguably more important than policy perks. The best whole life insurance companies are financially stable, provide excellent customer service, and make the life insurance buying process transparent and easy. Ideally, the policy you purchase should also include valuable features, such as living benefits, and perhaps dividends. 

We considered these and other factors amongst 57 companies offering whole life insurance in order to determine the very best whole life insurance companies of 2022.

Best Whole Life Insurance Companies of 2022

Why Trust UsWe collected over 5,000 data points from 91 life insurance companies to measure financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, and the overall buying experience. We then evaluated each company based on 55 metrics to develop unbiased, comprehensive reviews.


Nationwide


Nationwide

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You generally can’t get an online quote for permanent coverage from any life insurance company. Call 1-866-207-9160 to get a quote for permanent coverage (whole life and universal life) from Nationwide.

Dividend-eligible policies: No

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Pros

  • Three living benefit riders included at no upfront cost
  • Ranked No. 2 for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power
  • No-medical-exam life insurance available up to $5 million in coverage
  • Very few complaints
  • Policy-specific information available online

Cons

  • Final expense policies only available to existing customers

Nationwide—which ranks No. 1 in our reviews of best life insurance companies and best life insurance companies for people over 50—is also our top pick for the best company for whole life insurance. Nationwide doesn’t have just one standout feature, but several, including happy customers, solid financials, flexible payment options, generous living benefits, and easy-to-find information about policy features on its website. 

It also has some perks that make its whole life policies in particular pretty great. You can get up to $5 million in coverage without taking a medical exam if you’re 50 or younger (up to $1 million if you’re 51 to 60 years old) on ”Whole Life 100” and “20-Pay Whole Life” policies. Plus, those policies include chronic, critical, and terminal illness accelerated death benefit riders at no extra charge. This means you can access the death benefit early if you’re diagnosed with a chronic, critical, or terminal illness.

Note that if you’re looking for a final expense policy, meaning a low-coverage, easy-to-apply-for policy, Nationwide offers one. But it only makes the policy available to existing Nationwide customers.

For more information, check out Investopedia’s full Nationwide review.

Read the Full Nationwide Life Insurance Review 2022

BEST FOR SENIORSNew York Life

Investopedia’s Rating

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4.6


New York Life
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No

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Dividend-eligible policies: Yes

Pros

  • Broad selection of riders
  • Long history of paying dividends
  • Top-tier financial stability
  • 90-year-olds eligible for whole life

Con

  • Policy information unavailable online
  • Customer service won’t discuss policy options

New York Life makes policies available to 90-year olds, which can make it a great choice for older seniors looking for a whole life policy. In fact, it’s our top pick for best life insurance companies for seniors.

Plus, it offers a number of ways to customize your policy with riders, which are extra benefits that extend your coverage or the ways you can use it. The company offers multiple living benefits (also called accelerated death benefit riders), which let you receive some of the death benefit prior to death in the event of a chronic, critical, or terminal illness, or long-term care need. Also available is a disability income rider which is an uncommon offering among insurers. 

New York Life has an A++ (Superior) AM Best rating and is the oldest insurer on this list.1 It’s paid dividends to eligible policyholders for the past 168 years, which is the second-longest dividend-paying history of the 91 life insurance companies we reviewed (Penn Mutual beats it with 174 years). It also is one of only six insurers that issues policies to 90-year-old applicants. 

But New York Life is a traditional insurance company—if you want policy information, you won’t find it online or with customer service. You’ll need to provide your name and phone number to be put in contact with an agent.

 Want more information? Read Investopedia’s New York Life review.

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Read the Full New York Life Insurance Review

BEST FOR HIGH ISSUE AGEGuardian

Investopedia’s Rating

4.4


Guardian Life Insurance
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No

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Dividend-eligible policies: Yes

Pros

  • 90-year-olds eligible for whole life
  • Potential to earn dividends
  • Highest financial stability rating from AM Best
  • Very few complaints

Cons

  • Policy features are difficult to find online
  • (Just) below average for customer satisfaction

Guardian is one of only six insurers of the 91 we reviewed to issue policies to 90-year-old applicants. Most cap eligibility at age 85 or 80. Plus, the company makes term policies available to applicants as old as 75. These are some reasons it’s a top pick in our review of the best life insurance companies for seniors.

Guardian impresses with an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, the highest rating available, and dividend-paying whole life policies.2 On top of this, Guardian has received very few customer complaints for a company of its size, as measured by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).3 We researched how many complaints 91 life insurance companies received over three years—only six other companies did better than Guardian and one of them (Northwestern Mutual) is on this list.

The main drawback is that you won’t find specific policy information online. You’ll need to reach out to an agent. Perhaps this lack of transparency is one reason Guardian didn’t score higher in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.4 Of all the companies in this list, it ranked the lowest for customer satisfaction, falling just short of the industry average. 

For more information, read our full review of Guardian life insurance.

Read the Full Guardian Life Insurance Review

BEST TRADITIONAL INSURERMassMutual

Investopedia’s Rating

4.3


MassMutual
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No

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Dividend-eligible policies: Yes

Pros

  • Highest financial strength rating from AM Best
  • Potential to earn dividends
  • Very few complaints
  • 90-year-olds eligible for whole life

Cons

  • Policy specifics unavailable

MassMutual is an all-around great insurance company. Only nine out of the 91 companies we reviewed received AM Best’s highest rating, an A++ (Superior), and MassMutual is one of them.5 Of those A++ companies, only one has stood the test of time for as long. MassMutual got its start in 1851, just a few years after New York Life (1845). But MassMutual tips the scales by ranking higher than New York Life on J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction survey, making it our top pick in this category.4

Like some other A++ heavyweights, MassMutual pays dividends, and has done so every year since 1869. It also makes its whole life policies available to 90-year-old applicants and has received very few customer complaints relative to its size. 

But like most of its competitors, you won’t find policy details online and will need to reach out to an agent (or have one contact you) to do so.

Get more details in Investopedia’s MassMutual company review.

Read the Full MassMutual Life Insurance Review

BEST FOR BURIAL INSURANCEMutual of Omaha

Investopedia’s Rating

4.3


Mutual of Omaha
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes

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Dividend-eligible policies: No

Pros

  • Guaranteed issue policies available
  • A+ financial strength rating
  • Policies available to 85 year olds
  • Some policies include a terminal illness rider

Cons

  • More complaints than top competitors

For those interested in a smaller whole life insurance policy, Mutual of Omaha offers a couple of options that are relatively easy to qualify for and don’t require a medical exam. Its guaranteed issue policy allows applicants that face serious health issues to qualify for up to $25,000 in coverage via an online application and secure same-day coverage.

Its simplified issue policy requires that you reach out to an agent, but this policy includes a terminal illness rider and you could qualify for coverage up to $40,000 (also without an exam). You must be at least 45 years old to apply for either policy. These types of policies are often referred to as final expense life insurance or burial insurance; in fact, Mutual of Omaha is our top pick for best burial insurance companies of 2022.

Mutual of Omaha is rated A+ (Superior) by AM Best, which means it has a superior ability to honor its insurance obligations, such as paying claims. It also fared above average in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.4

One negative is that the company received slightly more complaints than expected for its size, according to the NAIC. All other companies in this list received fewer.

For more information, read the full Mutual of Omaha life insurance review.

Read the Full Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance Review

BEST FOR DIVIDENDSPenn Mutual

Investopedia’s Rating

4.3


Penn Mutual
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes

GET A QUOTE

Dividend-eligible policies: Yes

Pros

  • Long history of dividend payments
  • No-medical-exam coverage available up to $7.5 million
  • Two living benefits included
  • Very few complaints
  • A+ (Superior) AM Best rating

Cons

  • Policy types and details unavailable on website

With a dividend-paying history of 174 consecutive years, Penn Mutual is our top pick for dividend-paying whole life policies. But the company also impresses with its A+ (Superior) financial strength rating and efforts to ease the whole life application process, especially for applicants in need of a substantial death benefit.

Penn Mutual offers a very high amount of no-med-exam life insurance—up to $7.5 million for qualified applicants—and its whole life policies include both terminal and chronic illness riders free of charge. For these reasons, it’s a top pick in our review of best no-medical-exam life insurance companies. The company also receives very few customer complaints relative to its size.

But like many of its competitors, Penn Mutual fails to disclose policy specifics on its consumer-facing website. It doesn’t even clarify that it offers whole life insurance. To get that intel plus policy features, you’ll have to talk to a financial professional.

Get more details in Investopedia’s Penn Mutual life insurance review.

Read the Full Penn Mutual Life Insurance Review

BEST FOR CUSTOMER SATISFACTIONState Farm Life Insurance

Investopedia’s Rating

4.2


State Farm
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes

GET A QUOTE

Dividend-eligible policies: Yes

Pros

  • Ranked No. 1 by J.D. Power for customer satisfaction
  • Highest  financial strength rating from AM Best
  • Few customer complaints
  • Discount for bundling life insurance
  • Potential to earn dividends

Cons

  • No free living benefits

State Farm is the No. 1 life insurance company in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.4 The study ranked customer satisfaction according to how well each insurer performed in the areas of communication, customer interaction, price, available products, and policy statements. 

As you might expect, State Farm has also received few customer complaints for a company its size, according to the NAIC. In addition, the company earned an A++ (Superior) AM Best rating, meaning it has a superior ability to honor its ongoing insurance obligations.67 One unique perk among the carriers on this list is that you can bundle a State Farm life insurance policy and auto policy to receive a multiline discount.

However, State Farm doesn’t offer any free living benefits with its policies, which is uncommon among carriers, especially the competitors on this list. Living benefits generally refer to chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders that allow you to receive some of the death benefit early if you’re diagnosed with an eligible condition.

For more information, read our full State Farm life insurance review.

Read the Full State Farm Life Insurance Review

BEST FOR FINANCIAL STABILITYNorthwestern Mutual

Investopedia’s Rating

4.1


Northwestern Mutual
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No

GET A QUOTE

Dividend-eligible policies: Yes

Pros

  • Highest financial stability rankings
  • Long history of paying dividends
  • Ranked No. 3 for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power
  • Exceptionally few customer complaints

Cons

  • No free accelerated death benefit riders
  • Policy details unavailable online

Financial stability is one of the most important factors when choosing a whole life company and informs all of the selections on this list. In fact, only nine out of the 91 companies we reviewed received AM Best’s highest rating, an A++ (Superior), and six of those companies make this list.5 But one company stands out in this regard, and that’s Northwestern Mutual.

The company has an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, and holds the highest rankings from Fitch (AAA) and Moody’s (Aaa) as well. It also received the fewest complaints (relative to its size) of all the companies on this list, and the fourth-fewest complaints of all 91 insurance companies we reviewed.8 So it’s no surprise that the company came in third for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2021 customer satisfaction survey.4 Plus, Northwestern Mutual has paid dividends to eligible policyholders for the past 150 years. 

What’s not to like? Well, the company falls short when it comes to living benefits. Most of the companies on this list offer at least one living benefit rider for chronic, critical, or terminal illness at no extra charge with their policies. But, according to the company, Northwestern Mutual does not. And if you’re looking for specifics about Northwestern Mutual whole life policies, you’ll need to speak with an agent.

For more information, read our full review of Northwestern Mutual life insurance.

Read the Full Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Review

Compare the Best Whole Life Insurance Companies of 2022

Overall RatingBest ForAM Best RatingAM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.Term Life Sample CostPolicy TypesAccepts Credit CardsReset All
Nationwide4.7Best OverallA+$26.25/monthFinal Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), WholeYesGet A QuoteHide, not for me
New York Life4.6Best for SeniorsA++N/ATerm, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), WholeNoGet A QuoteHide, not for me
Guardian4.4Best for High Issue AgeA++$27.47/monthTerm, Universal (UL), WholeNoGet A QuoteHide, not for me
MassMutual4.3Best Traditional InsurerA++$26.97/monthTerm, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), WholeNoGet A QuoteHide, not for me
Mutual of Omaha4.3Best for Burial InsuranceA+$28.38/monthFinal Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL)YesGet A QuoteHide, not for me
Penn Mutual4.3Best for DividendsA+$23.92/monthTerm, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), WholeYesGet A QuoteHide, not for me
State Farm Life Insurance4.2Best for Customer SatisfactionA++$35.24/monthFinal Expense, Term, Universal (UL), WholeYesGet A QuoteHide, not for me
Northwestern Mutual4.1Best for Financial StabilityA++N/ATerm, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), WholeNoGet A QuoteHide, not for me

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for dividends, Penn Mutual, New York Life, MassMutual, and Northwestern Mutual are all solid options. But you’ll need to rely on an agent (and reviews like ours) to discern policy-specific information. If you want transparency (meaning readily available information online) and a host of free living benefits, go for Nationwide. The company also is a great pick along with Penn Mutual for high-coverage no-med-exam life insurance. If you’re an older applicant, north of 85, you’ll need to consider MassMutual, Guardian, and New York Life, as those are the only insurers on this list that consider applicants your age. If you’re a younger applicant, check out our review of the best life insurance companies for young adults in addition to the providers on this list.

Is Whole Life Insurance Worth It?

If you absolutely need a life insurance policy to last into old age, whole life is your best bet. But if you only need coverage for a certain number of years, term life insurance is a better option. Whole life insurance is permanent life insurance coverage and has a cash value account, which is the element that enables these policies to last into old age when life insurance costs skyrocket. Universal life insurance is another type of permanent life insurance, but has fewer guarantees than whole life insurance. It’s also more flexible and affordable.

What Is the Average Cost of Whole Life Insurance?

Many factors impact the cost of whole life insurance. These factors include your age, gender, location of residence, health, whether you smoke, the number of payments, the death benefit, and more. If you are in average health, expect to have slightly higher premiums than someone of your same age, gender, and location who is in good or excellent health. Most importantly, compare life insurance quotes to find your best rate.

What Is Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage that’s designed to last your entire life. Participating policies may pay dividends and all whole life insurance policies have a cash value. The cash value is necessary to keep premiums level throughout the life of the policy, so they don’t become unaffordable as you age and the cost of insurance increases. The cash value can be accessed during the policyholder’s lifetime, though doing so can threaten or reduce your death benefit. When you die, your beneficiaries receive the death benefit on a tax-free basis.

What Is the #1 Life Insurance Company?

Northwestern Mutual Group is the largest life insurance company as measured by the dollar-value of direct premiums it receives. In 2021 its market share was 7.49%, followed by New York Life Group with a market share of 6.96%. The NAIC annually announces the largest life insurance companies in the U.S.9

What Are Dividends?

Dividends are payments made to policy holders of “participating” life insurance policies. Mutual life insurance companies (ones in which the company is owned by policyholders) may offer “participating” whole life policies which means that policyholders share in company gains and may be credited dividends when the company has a good year. The best dividend-paying companies are those that have a long history of consecutively paying dividends. Since dividends are considered a return of premium, they generally aren’t taxed.

How To Choose the Right Life Insurance Company for You

When choosing any life insurance company, make sure it has the type of coverage and benefits you need and that it’s financially sound and its customers are reasonably happy with it. Also consider whether the application process works for you and how you feel about interfacing with the company—meaning how an agent or customer service representative treats you, and how easy it is for you to navigate the site.

  1. Does the company have what you need? If you know the type of coverage you need, start with companies that offer it. But if you’re not sure yet, focus on finding a few standout life insurance companies with agents you can talk to.
  2. How reputable is the life insurance company? AM Best is the most well-known credit rating agency for life insurance companies and one way to gauge a company’s financial strength. It grades companies on a scale of A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).7 Look for a company with at least an A- (Excellent) rating, which indicates an “excellent” ability to honor its insurance obligations. (In other words, its ability to pay claims.)
  3. How many complaints does it have? The NAIC publishes a complaint index that indicates how many complaints an insurance company receives relative to its size. You can search for the company you’re interested in, then select the “complaint trend” report option to get to that company’s complaint index. You can further drill down by selecting complaints for different types of policies. A complaint index less than 1.0 means the company received fewer complaints than expected—the closer to zero, the better. 
  4. How easy is it to apply for coverage? In addition to filling out an application, do you need to undergo a paramedical exam? Sometimes it can be a good idea, since life insurance that requires an exam may offer lower premiums to healthy individuals. But if an exam is an impediment for you, consider companies that offer no-medical-exam life insurance, especially those with an accelerated issue underwriting process (which requires you to fill out detailed health questions and may have pricing as low as policies that require medical exams).
  5. How does the company treat you? At this point, you may have already talked with a few agents and navigated a few company websites. What do you think? In addition to the criteria above, it’s important to choose a company that you feel good about.
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