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Published: May 05, 2023 34 min read
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Company Highlight
Our Partner
  • Offering term life policies from $100,000 to $5 million. Get a quote and apply online today
  • Trusted by customers: rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot (over 2,000 reviews)
  • Ability to take advantage of discounts on auto insurance when you secure life insurance with Amica
Our Partner
  • No medical exams for policies under $2 Million. Just answer a few health questions online.
  • A policy of up to $2 million in coverage starts around $32/month
  • Get a quote in seconds with no obligation. Apply in minutes (most instantly approved)
  • No need to talk to an agent unless you want to
  • Rated “Excellent" by customers on Trustpilot
  • Limited-time offer for new policyholders- access to estate planning tools at no extra cost ($449 value)
Our Partner
  • Offers a suite of life insurance products from reliable carriers
  • Term Coverage: Customizable increments from 10 to 30 years
  • Death benefit from $100,000 to $2 million
  • Policies Offered: Term, Universal, Guaranteed Issue Whole
  • AM Best Rating: Partner Issuers hold ratings of A (American General Life Insurance) and A+ (Transamerica)
Our Partner
  • Buy a term life insurance policy entirely online with no agents
  • Available nationwide to adults ages 20 - 64.
  • Apply for a 20-year, $250,000 policy that costs less than $15 a month
  • Coverage issued by C.M. Life Insurance Company, a MassMutual subsidiary
Our Partner
  • 100% online process from start to finish for coverage up to $3M.
  • Instant coverage available for ages 20 to 60 if approved
  • Policies available with 10- to 30-year terms
  • Save money on premiums over time with Ladder’s flexible coverage feature
  • No policy fees, 30-day money-back guarantee, cancel anytime
  • Licensed and experienced customer service reps available to answer questions
Our Partner
  • Plans for every budget - cash value available
  • Easy online application - no medical exams
  • 4.8 Google rating and A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • Quickly pre-qualify for lifelong coverage with personalized recommendation out of many insurers and products

Life insurance can help your loved ones cover final expenses, funeral costs, education fees, loss of income, or any other financial need in the event of your death. For many, this kind of financial security is a critical part of financial planning.

Below, you’ll find our selection of the best life insurance companies in America for May 2023. We've called out their distinctions, along with the various policies and premiums provided. Read on to find the best insurance plan for your needs.

Our Top Picks for Best Life Insurance Companies

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Best Life Insurance Companies Reviews

Company Term Female Male
Bestow 20-year $30.85/month* $41.47/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 term-life policy of 20 years. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • High coverage (up to $1.5 million) without a medical exam
  • Online application and quick processing
  • Terms range from 10 to 30 years
  • Long (30-day) free look period
  • No riders available
  • Sells only one type of life insurance, term insurance
  • Must be less than 60 to qualify for coverage
  • Policies not available to residents of New York

Why we chose it: Bestow issues term life insurance more quickly and easily than most companies, and it offers an unusually high death benefit for policies that do not require a medical examination.

Bestow is our choice for individuals who want to get life insurance coverage but don’t want to go through the hassle of a medical exam. The life insurance agency sells term insurance policies (and only those), so you can apply online and purchase a policy without visiting a doctor or having tests such as blood work done. You can get up to $1.5 million in coverage, a higher maximum than other no-exam policies.

The company uses your personal information and medical history, hobbies and lifestyle to determine your eligibility and life insurance rates. In addition, Bestow claims you can get a quote and purchase a policy within minutes, all online.

Bestow policies are issued by top-rated insurer North American Company for Life and Health Insurance or by Bestow Life Insurance Company. Additionally, life insurance from Bestow is now embedded into Lemonade’s app and website. Bestow also offers a comprehensive library of helpful information.

A+ (superior) - North American Company for Life and Health Insurance
No-exam term life insurance

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
Ethos 20-year $21-$38/month* $26-$49/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 term-life policy of 20 years. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Same-day coverage for most approved applicants
  • No exams, process is entirely online
  • Accelerated death benefit rider included on most policies
  • Free will and estate planning tools with policy
  • Little information publicly available about optional riders
  • No policies for ages 18-19: term life eligibility starts at 20
  • Guaranteed issue policy age range starts at 66, higher than some companies
  • Not available in New York

Why we chose it: Ethos stands out as a life insurance provider for accommodating a wide range of potential applicants, including people who may have struggled to qualify for insurance in the past – such as older individuals. Prospective customers can also receive a quote within minutes without needing to talk to a life insurance agent.

With help from proprietary technology, Ethos has simplified its application and underwriting processes so that most applicants can get life insurance coverage the same day they apply. That’s a big reduction in waiting: many traditional insurance brokers and carriers can take weeks to complete underwriting.

Ethos offers term life policies for people 20 to 65 years old at lengths of 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. Coverage ranges from $20,000 up to $2 million; the amount you qualify for will depend on your specific situation. Medical exams aren’t required for most applicants.

Those aged 66 to 85 automatically qualify for guaranteed issue policies — with no medical exam, and regardless of their medical history — with coverage ranging from $1,000 to $30,000. The no-waiting-period feature is especially unique for guaranteed issues. Depending on eligibility, death benefits may be effective at first premium payment or within two to three years. The accidental death benefit is effective immediately.

Policies sold by Ethos are issued by the following carriers:

  • Legal & General America - Term, fully underwritten and term simplified issue
  • TrueStage via CMFG Life Group - No-exam term and whole
  • Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. - Term, simplified issue
  • Mutual of Omaha - Accidental death insurance with guaranteed coverage
a (excellent) - A+ (superior)
Term - simplified issue and fully underwritten, guaranteed issue (ages 66 to 85)
Accidental Death Benefit

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
Policygenius 20-year $20-$37/month* $24-$46/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 term-life policy of 20 years. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Quickly and easily compare quotes from multiple insurers
  • Agents don't work on commission, the company says
  • Multiple types of insurance available
  • Online quotes are not available for all providers
  • Takes more time than some other options to get a final price

Why we chose it: As a comprehensive online marketplace of life insurance vendors, Policygenius offers one-stop access policies from a wide range of partners, including some of the best life insurance brands mentioned on our list. Unlike some other comparison sites, this one pledges not to sell your information to third parties.

Policygenius is an online life insurance broker that offers life insurance, home insurance, auto insurance and disability insurance. On the life insurance side, Policygenius works with 12 carriers to offer term and permanent policy options.

You can easily get a policy estimate based on basic personal information. When you’re ready to explore policies in detail, enter personal information to compare rates from various insurers.

Policygenius’s partner carriers include:

  • Lincoln Financial Group
  • Corebridge Financial
  • Pacific Life
  • Transamerica
  • Principal
  • Protective
  • BannerLife
  • Brighthouse Financial
  • Prudential
  • SBLI
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Guardian

The range of term life insurance policies is extensive, ranging from 10 to 40 years in 5-year increments. Policygenius also offers whole, universal and no-exam policies.

On the Policygenius site, there’s an extensive library of educational resources for those new to life insurance. If you need additional help choosing a policy or coverage amount, PolicyGenius’ licensed insurance agents can give you personalized assistance by phone.

A (excellent) - A++ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal, No-exam
Varies by carrier

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
Haven Life 20-year $18.82/month* $22.26/month*
Haven Simple 20-year $27.45/month* $36.20/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 term-life policy of 20 years. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Offers two types of term policies: Haven Term and Haven Simple
  • Haven Simple Issue doesn't require a medical exam
  • Up to $3 million in term coverage
  • Haven Term includes Haven Plus with perks and discounts
  • Medical exams required for over $500,000 of coverage
  • Simplified issue policy not available in CA, DE, SD, ND or NY
  • Haven Plus not available in FL, NY, ND, SD, and WA
  • Policies cannot replace another life insurance policy

Why we chose it: Haven Life offers up to $3 million in coverage, which is higher than the standard for term life insurance. Additional perks such as online services to create a will are also available.

Haven Life gets our nod for the best term insurance coverage because of its expansive coverage amounts. Policies with terms of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years can range from $25,000 to $3 million. Coverage is issued by the longstanding life insurance company MassMutual, or by C.M. Life (a subsidiary of MassMutual).

Haven Life offers two types of term life insurance policies: Haven Term and Haven Simple. Haven Term includes Haven Life Plus, a rider that provides access to an online service to create a will or trust, fitness and sleep tracking apps and an online storage vault for important documents. Additional riders available vary by carrier. Applicants up to 64 years old can get up to $3 million of coverage through Haven Term.

Haven Simple, which does not require a medical exam, is only available for applicants aged 20 to 55 and includes the Accelerated Death Benefit rider. Terms for coverage from $25,000 to $1 million are five, 10, 15 and 20 years.

A+ (superior) - A++ (superior)
Term Life, No-Exam
Haven Life Plus (with Haven Term), Accelerated Death Benefit (Haven Simple). Additional riders vary by carrier.

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
Ladder 20-year $22.37/month* $25.47/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 term-life policy of 20 years. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Term coverage can be adjusted over time
  • $100,000 to $8 million in term coverage available
  • 30-day free look period, rather than the 10-day norm
  • No medical exams for up to $3 million in coverage
  • Plans limited to people aged 20 to 60
  • Only term coverage is available
  • No optional riders

Why we chose it: True to its name, Ladder's appeal is its adjustability. As your needs change, you can increase or decrease your coverage. Also, its premiums start at only $5 a month, so you can purchase a life insurance plan even if you’re on a tight budget.

Despite writing only term policies for relatively young applicants, Ladder is the best life insurance company with a flexible option we’ve found. It uses a simple 3-step online application and offers affordable policies that start at $5 per month. The company also doesn’t charge any cancellation fees, which means you can cancel your coverage at any time, with no strings attached.

Another appealing feature for Ladder is that, unlike other insurers, it allows policyholders to change their coverage amount online at any time — with corresponding changes in premiums, of course. This perk can help policyholders maintain an affordable policy at all times, and might be especially attractive to those worried about possible changes in their financial circumstances down the road.

A (excellent) - A+ (superior)
Term Life, No-Exam

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
State Farm 20-year $24.34/month* $30.44/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 term-life policy of 20 years. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Top-ranked company for customer satisfaction
  • Low number of customer complaints
  • Multiple policy options
  • Simplified-issue (no exam) policies available
  • Online quotes not available for all policy options
  • Most policies require medical exams
  • No discounts if bundled with homeowners or auto insurance

Why we chose it: If a satisfying consumer experience is paramount for you, State Farm should be a leading option. It has an excellent reputation for customer service, along with an outstanding record for financial stability.

State Farm is a leading insurance company and our pick for the best insurer for customer satisfaction and reliability. In 2022, for the third year in a row, J.D. Power named State Farm as the top company in its U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, which measures overall satisfaction based on responses from almost 6,000 customers.

The company has an A++ (superior) rating from AM Best — the highest rating possible — indicating that it’s very financially stable. And, State Farm received fewer complaints than is expected for a company of its size.

State Farm sells term policies (10, 20 or 30 years), plus whole and universal life insurance policies. Although most of its plans require medical exams, it does have some simplified-issue options.

A++ (superior)
Term, No-exam, Whole, Universal
Flexible Care Benefit, Level Term Rider, Children's Term Rider, Guaranteed Insurability Option, Waiver of Premium for Disability

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
New York Life Whole Life $244.58/month* $244.58/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $250,000 permanent life insurance policy. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Multiple term, whole and universal life policies available
  • Several optional riders can be added to policies
  • Highly rated company
  • Potential to earn dividends
  • Must work with an agent
  • No online quotes available

Why we chose it: New York Life insurance options include both term and permanent life insurance policies. Its term policies include a conversion option if you decide you want permanent coverage later on. It also underwrites AARP’s life insurance program.

While it also sells term life insurance, New York Life is the best company for people seeking a permanent life insurance policy, including whole life. (Permanent life insurance is more costly but accumulates a cash value in addition to its death benefit.) The company offers multiple types of other insurance-for-life options, including universal and variable universal life plans. It also has several optional riders you can add to plans to customize your coverage.

New York Life has a strong reputation, and, because it’s a mutual insurance company, its policyholders own part of the company's shares. Depending on the type of policy you have, you may be eligible to receive dividends.

However, New York Life doesn’t allow customers to get quotes online. For details on its policies and rates, you have to work with an agent.

A++ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal, Variable Universal
Spouse's Paid-Up Insurance, Option to Purchase Paid-Up Additions, Disability Waiver of Premium, Living Benefits, Chronic Care, Accidental Death Benefit

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
Nationwide 20-pay Whole Life $288.41/month* $266.66/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $250,000 permanent life insurance policy. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Discounts available when bundled with homeowners or auto insurance
  • Multiple insurance plans and optional riders
  • Most policies require medical exams
  • Most policies must be purchased through agents

Why we chose it: It’s relatively rare to get a break on your life insurance rates by bundling it with other types of coverage a company offers, but Nationwide offers such discounts. It writes term, whole life and universal policies, and has strong ratings for customer satisfaction and financial stability.

Nationwide is a leading insurance company in America; it’s well-regarded by third parties like AM Best, which rates financial stability, and J.D. Power, which scores customer satisfaction. It offers multiple life insurance options, including term, whole and universal life coverage. It also has several optional riders you can use to adjust your policy to your needs.

Although Nationwide’s policies usually have to be purchased through an agent, the company does have a major perk over other companies: it offers a multi-policy discount when you bundle life insurance with homeowners and auto insurance, making your premiums more affordable.

A+ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal
Long-term Care, Chronic Illness, Critical Illness, Terminal Illness, Children's Term Insurance, Premium Waiver, Waiver of Monthly Deductions Rider, Accidental Death Benefit, Extended No-Lapse Guarantee, Estate Protection, Guaranteed Insurability, Overloan Lapse Protection

Read full review>>>

Company Term Female Male
Northwestern Mutual N/A N/A N/A

*Northwestern Mutual does not provide quotes online. You must consult an advisor to get an estimate.

  • Lengthy list of optional riders
  • Multiple policy and coverage options
  • Potential to earn dividends
  • Highly rated by third parties
  • Policies must be purchased through agents
  • Medical exams required for most
  • Limited online quote tools

Why we chose it: Insurance riders allow you to get coverage for loved ones, access your benefits under special circumstances or even waive your premiums if you become ill. Northwestern Mutual has more optional riders available than most insurers, allowing you to customize your policy as you like.

Like most insurers, Northwestern Mutual offers a broad range of life insurance types, including term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance. Its distinction in its long list of riders that, when added to your policy, allow you to extend and customize your coverage to meet your unique needs.

As a mutual company, Northwestern Mutual also pays dividends to policyholders. If you purchase insurance through the company, you could be eligible for annual dividend payments.

Northwestern Mutual is a reputable company that is usually listed at the top of the life insurance industry rankings. It was third out of 21 companies in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, and it’s historically received fewer complaints than is typical for a company of its size.

A++ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal, Variable
Accelerated Death Benefit, Accidental Death, Waiver of Premium, Indexed Protection, Additional Purchase, Long-term Care Benefit

Read full review>>>

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Other life insurance companies we considered

We evaluated life insurance vendors and companies based on customer service, product offering, simplicity of underwriting, ability to pay claims on time and high ratings.

The following companies have competitive offerings but are not part of our top picks because they did not excel in any of our requirements.


  • Premiums start from $9 per month
  • Completely online application
  • Full refund if you cancel within the first 30 days
  • Only people aged 18-60 can apply
  • Term life is not available in NY
  • If you have heart disease or cancer it's unlikely that you'll be approved by this insurer

Lemonade offers term life insurance with no medical exam. Customers can complete the full online application in around five minutes and purchase 10- to 30- year term policies with up to 1.5 million in coverage. Policyholders must download Lemonade’s mobile app to manage their policy, submit claims and access customer service.

Why Lemonade didn’t make the cut: The company is not part of our top insurers because of its limited insurance offerings and lack of information about riders and policies on its website.


  • SmartRouting uses data and tech to make policy recommendations
  • Wide variety of carriers to ensure almost anyone can find coverage
  • No phone assistance over the weekend
  • No quotes available without entering personal information

Sproutt is a life insurance broker that connects customers with companies offering no-exam, guaranteed issue, universal and whole life policies.

The company, which has been in operation for about five years, works with a slew of carriers, including Legal & General, SBLI, TruStage, AIG, American Amicable, Gerber and Mutual of Omaha. Agents are aided by proprietary SmartRouting technology in helping find the best policy matches for applicants.

Why Sproutt didn’t make the cut: The website requires users to enter contact information to get estimates on coverage amounts and premiums.

Health IQ

  • Compare rates from 30 different carriers
  • Licensed agents guide you through the process
  • Offers membership rewards program
  • Online quotes require that users agree to calls from agents
  • Must have a healthy lifestyle or pass a quiz to qualify for better rates

Health IQ partners with over 25 national insurers to offer term life insurance for individuals with a healthy lifestyle. Insurance carriers include Prudential, Principal, Pacific Life, Ameritas and John Hancock. Customers can obtain online quotes but have to purchase coverage through an agent. Terms, policies and riders vary by insurance provider.

Why Health IQ didn’t make the cut: This company is not part of our main list because of its limited online service and lack of information on its website.


  • Young and/or healthy applicants may not need a medical exam
  • Offer two whole life policies with long term care riders
  • Direct Term life insurance can be purchased immediately online
  • No conversion options for some policies
  • You can only earn dividends with a whole life insurance policy
  • Few or no policy riders

MassMutual’s insurance portfolio includes term and permanent life insurance, including a term life policy that can be purchased online. Customers can also convert their term life insurance to a permanent policy without a medical exam. MassMutual features a life insurance calculator to help prospective clients assess their insurance needs.

Why MassMutual didn’t make the cut: This company is not part of our main list because its policies have few or no optional riders.

Guardian Life

  • Online quotes and account management
  • Policies available for people with HIV
  • Must apply (and cancel) through an agent
  • Doesn't offer no-exam (guaranteed issue) policies

Guardian Life's insurance portfolio includes term, whole and universal life policies. Those interested in a term life policy can get an online quote on Guardian Life’s website but they must contact an agent or provider to purchase any policy or get quotes for permanent life insurance.

Why Guardian Life didn’t make the cut: Guardian’s limited policy information and riders offerings kept it from our top list.


  • Coverage during wartime for active duty military
  • High cap on the value of their policies
  • Available only to current and former military, their spouses and children
  • Medical exam required for all policies
  • Some policies unavailable in New York

USAA offers several financial and insurance products for current and former military members, as well as their spouses and children. Term life policies starting at $12 a month and, depending on the policy type, USAA may offer up to $10 million in coverage. Customers can access online quotes for both term and permanent life insurance policies. Additionally, USAA policyholders get access to discounts at participating businesses, including car rental services, theme parks, hotels, cruises, meal delivery, prescription medication delivery services.

Why USAA didn’t make the cut: The company provides few details, such as available riders or cash value components, on its website. To learn more, you must speak to a USAA representative by phone.

Mutual of Omaha

  • Offers online quotes
  • Affordable underwriting for health conditions, including cancer
  • Offers a whole life insurance policy for children
  • Policies for individuals in good health are pricier than average
  • Must apply to discover whether a medical exam is required
  • Sparse website resources
  • New York residents have limited options

Mutual of Omaha stands out for being one of the few companies on this list that offers online quotes for both term and whole life insurance policies. On A.M. Best, Mutual of Omaha has a financial strength rating of A+ superior.

Why Mutual of Omaha didn’t make the cut: Its premiums are higher than the life insurance industry average for applicants who are healthy and/or older. Application and processing times are also slower than other insurance providers.

Liberty Mutual

  • Immediate online approval for Passport Term (simplified issue insurance)
  • Continuing coverage once the term ends
  • Monthly premiums are higher than average
  • No detailed information about policies on the website

Liberty Mutual’s insurance offerings include term and whole life policies. Customers can file claims over the phone, online or through Liberty Mutual’s mobile app.

Why Liberty Mutual didn’t make the cut: It lacks detailed information about policies and doesn’t offer a variety of term insurance options.

Life Insurance Guide

We created this life insurance guide to answer questions related to life insurance, its different policy types and policy options to help you select the best life insurance policy.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between a policyholder and an insurer, in which the latter guarantees to pay a sum of money to the life insurance beneficiary upon his or her death. This sum of money, known as the death benefit, is funded by premium payments made by the insured throughout their lifetime.

People of all ages buy life insurance. Some healthy people in their 20s opt for permanent life insurance to lock in coverage at significantly lower costs than what they’d be offered at an older age.

How does life insurance work?

At its most basic, life insurance has two main components, a death benefit and a premium.

  • The death benefit, also called the face value, refers to the lump sum of money the insurer agrees to pay out to named beneficiaries upon the policyholder's death.
  • Premiums are payments made by the policyholder to the insurer in exchange for the policy. Life insurance premiums are determined by the insured’s projected life expectancy. High-risk individuals, or those who purchase larger death benefit amounts or a permanent life insurance policy, generally pay higher premiums.

Permanent and whole life insurance policies offer insurance-for-life coverage. The best whole life insurance companies also include a cash value component that can serve two functions:

  • As a savings account in which cash accumulates on a tax-deferred basis, and which the insured can usually access during their lifetime. Some policies may restrict withdrawals, depending on how the withdrawn money will be used.
  • The cash value can also be used to cover premiums or purchase additional coverage.

It’s important to note that the cash value is a living benefit that stays with the insurance company when the policyholder dies. If you borrow against life insurance, any outstanding loans will reduce the policy’s death benefit.

How to choose the best life insurance company for you

Consider these factors when searching for the best life insurance policy for your needs.

  • Policy types - Not every company offers both term and permanent life insurance plans. Some offer one or the other.
  • Application process - Certain life insurance companies offer a fully online process. Others require you to work with an agent during the underwriting process.
  • Medical exam requirements - Depending on the type of policy and carrier, a medical exam may be required. However, many companies offer no-exam life insurance.
  • Riders - Some policies include additional, specific insurance benefits in the cost of a premium called riders. Others offer add-on riders, while some companies do not sell any.
  • Coverage - Minimum and maximum amounts vary by life insurance company or life insurance agency.
  • Pricing - Compare rates from various companies before committing to a policy.
  • Company quality - Look to AM Best for info on the financial strength of virtually any life insurance company in the United States. For customer reviews (complaints included), look to The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the J.D. Power 2022 Individual Life Insurance Study.

What are the different types of life insurance?

  • Term life insurance - This kind of life insurance plan lasts for a predetermined period (commonly 10, 15 or 20 years), and then it expires. You can renew for longer or, depending on the life insurance company, switch to a permanent policy that lasts your entire life.
  • Whole life insurance - This is a type of permanent life insurance that covers the insured for the duration of their life as long as the premiums are paid. It includes a guaranteed cash value component, and fixed monthly premiums.
  • Universal life insurance - Similar to whole life, this permanent policy protects the insured for the duration and their life as long as premiums are paid, and it includes a cash value component. The cash value component in this policy is not guaranteed and it will fluctuate with the market.
  • No-exam life insurance - This policy doesn’t require a medical exam for approval. However, filling out a medical questionnaire may be required. No-exam life insurance may be term or permanent policies.
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What is the difference between term, whole and universal life insurance policies?

Term Life Whole Life Universal Life
There are two main types: level term and convertible term There are four main types of whole life insurance: traditional or non-guaranteed, indexed, and variable life There are four main types: traditional or non-guaranteed, indexed and variable life
The death benefit is paid to your designated beneficiaries as a lump sum, in installments or as an annuity Policyholders can access the savings component during their lifetime and receive annual dividend payments on the policy Premium payments and cash value influence the value of the policy. It doesn't receive annual dividend payments
A lump sum payout means that your beneficiary receives the whole benefit at once. To annuitize, the payment is spread out into fixed installments Policyholders can make payments over the premium and accumulate more Allows policyholders to increase or decrease the death benefit amount, within limits

How much life insurance do I need?

There's no such thing as a hard and fast rule for figuring out a price tag on your life insurance needs and peace of mind. Still, a basic starting point is to determine your financial obligations and future and end-of-life expenses (such as funeral expenses) and subtract any liquid assets you may have.

Below are some common uses for life insurance. Consider whether or not they are relevant to you.

For beneficiaries, from death benefit:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Replace income of policyholder
  • College tuition for children
  • Debts, e.g. mortgage, loans
  • Estate taxes

For living policyholders, from policies with cash value:

  • Supplemental income during retirement
  • Prepay funeral expenses
  • Pay off debts, e.g. credit card, mortgage, loans, healthcare
  • College tuition savings for children

In any case, it's a good idea to consider life insurance within a larger financial context. If you can, talk with a financial advisor to find out how much life insurance you really need, what you can afford, and what policy types are best for you.

How much does life insurance cost?

Below you’ll find sample rates from multiple insurance companies in America. Some information was provided by representatives while additional data was sourced from company and agency rate calculators.

Disclaimer: The following are sample rates for a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

Term Life Insurance - $500,000 policy

Company Term Female Male
Haven Life - Term 20-year $18.82/month $22.26/month
Bestow 20-year $22.97/month $31.54/month
AIG Direct 20-year $19.46/month $22.32/month
USAA 20-year $19.99/month $22.90/month
Mutual of Omaha 20-year $22.15/month $26.02/month
Ladder Life 20-year $19.84/month $22.59/month
State Farm 20-year $24.34/month $30.44/month
Nationwide 20-year $20.56/month $22.75/month
MassMutual 20-year $20.42/month $23.33/month
Amica 20-year $18.25/month $21.65/month
Sproutt 20-year $17.27/month $20.22/month
Policygenius (life insurance broker) 20-year $20 - $37/month $24 - $46/month

Permanent Life Insurance - $250,000 policy

Company Term Female Male
New York Life Whole Life $244.58/month $285.42/month
USAA** Whole Life - Pay for Life $166.65/month $185.40/month
Nationwide 20-pay Whole Life $288.41/month $266.66/month
MassMutual Whole Life $232.50/month $275.42/month
Amica Whole Life - Pay to 100 $179.31/month $205.42/month
Policygenius (life insurance broker) Whole Life $219 - $226/month $261 - $279/month

What’s the best place to get life insurance quotes?

The best place to get life insurance quotes is at an insurance marketplace company like Policygenius because it allows you to compare life insurance costs and products from different companies in one place. Also, most companies that are part of our top picks offer online life insurance quotes.

If you have questions about policies, our top picks of life insurance companies have some of the best insurance agents available to help by phone. For example, if you are a transgender or non-binary person, an agent can help you navigate the application process. An agent can also help you identify relevant riders, such as the accidental death benefit, which can provide beneficiaries with a larger payout if you die in a covered accident.

Life Insurance Glossary

Common Life Insurance Terms
Beneficiary The person, organization or charity that receives the life insurance payout (death benefit)
Cash value Permanent life insurance policies (e.g. whole or universal life insurance) accrue cash value as you pay premiums. You can borrow against your policy’s cash value, typically up to 90% and at a low interest rate. Failure to repay could result in the cancelation of your policy. If not paid in full by your death, the loan is extracted from the death benefit.
Contestability Period The first two years of your policy. The life insurance company can review your policy during this period of time and refuse to pay a claim if they find out the insured has committed fraud.
Cost of Insurance (COI) Part of Universal Life Insurance policies, COI is the minimum premium amount that must be paid to keep the policy active and includes mortality costs, administrative fees, and other expenses.
Death Benefit The amount the beneficiaries receive from a life insurance policy, as long as the insured died when the policy was in effect.
Disclaimer When a beneficiary declines to receive or fails to claim the proceeds of a policy. In such cases, the death benefit goes to the remaining beneficiaries. If there are no other beneficiaries, the death benefit goes to the insured's estate.
Policyholder The person who purchased the life insurance policy. For individual life insurance, this usually is the same as the insured person. If you have a group policy through your employer, you are the insured person and your employer is the policyholder.
Rider Coverage add-ons to your policy at an increased price, such as an accelerated death benefit, accidental death benefit, chronic illness, long-term care, or return of premium.
Survivorship life insurance Insures two people. Death benefit is paid out to beneficiaries only when both of the insured have died.
Underwriting Insurance companies use underwriting guidelines to determine how much your policy will cost based on your health issues and family history, among other factors. They do so by classifying policyholders into risk pools. The higher the risk, the higher the premium.

Latest Life Insurance News

Between beneficiaries and annuity holders, United States life insurance companies paid out a record $200 billion in 2021, according to the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). The ACLI also reported that, in the same year, close to 46 million life insurance policies were purchased. That’s a 6% increase from 2020, with coverage overall exceeding $21 trillion.

While term life insurance and permanent life insurance are the most well-known types of policies, life insurance is not a monolith.

Some customers may benefit from specialized products, such as disability insurance, which offers financial protection if you cannot work due to a severe illness or injury. Another is Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance, often offered as a rider (supplemental coverage) with existing life insurance coverage.

There are also burial insurance policies created specifically to cover final expenses, such as funeral and memorial services.

If you’re unsure about navigating life insurance plans, be sure to read through our life insurance guide. You might also consider starting your life insurance search by estimating how much life insurance you really need.

Best Life Insurance FAQs

What is the difference between term and whole life insurance?

The main difference between term and whole life insurance is that the former type of policy only lasts for a set number of years (its term). In contrast, a whole life insurance policy, also known as a permanent policy, provides policyholders with insurance for life (so long as premiums are paid).

What is the best life insurance?

There's no one best life insurance policy or company for everybody. Your choices regarding life insurance will depend on your needs and how you plan to use the policy. Before making a selection, check the reviews for Money's best life insurance vendors.

How much is life insurance per month?

The cost of a life insurance policy will depend on various factors including the type of policy and amount of coverage. The monthly premium will also depend on the applicant's age, sex, lifestyle, and overall health. According to Haven Life, a 35-year-old non-smoking male, living in New York, in excellent health, will pay around a $20.72 monthly premium for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit.

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

Yes. Depending on your specific situation, you may be eligible for term or whole life insurance. Another option is a no-exam, guaranteed issue policy. This kind of permanent policy does not require a medical exam and, with most carriers, you're guaranteed approval. However, the premium will be higher and coverage amounts are often limited to $50,000 to $100,000. Some policies have a waiting period before coverage goes into effect, while others, like the Guaranteed Issue policy from Ethos, do not.

How do life insurance companies check medical background?


To get a life insurance quote, you'll first provide basic information, such as your height, weight, current physical health and prescription use, and tobacco and/or nicotine usage. When you formally apply for a policy, you'll likely be asked for contact information for your medical providers. The life insurance company will get your medical records directly from your doctors.

Depending on the life insurance company, policy type and your specific situation, you may be required to take a medical exam. This can include a pulse and blood pressure check, blood work and urinalysis collection, X-rays, and a treadmill stress test. For older applicants, an electrocardiogram and a cognitive ability test may also be required. Some medical exams are conducted in your home or workplace. Others may be conducted in the office of an exam company.

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How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

Our methodology for creating our Best Life Insurance Companies list includes the following factors:

  • The ability to pay claims on time
  • Customer experience and product offerings
  • Customer satisfaction and the life insurance company ratings reported by rating agencies, including J.D. Power's latest U.S. Life Insurance Satisfaction Study and the A.M. Best financial strength ratings
  • The number of complaints regarding their individual life insurance policies, based on National Association of Insurance (NAIC) data
  • The selection of insurance plans and related products
  • Simplicity of underwriting

We also interviewed representatives from companies as part of our research process. Still, though we always try to include accurate and up-to-date information on regulatory and legal actions, we don’t claim this information is complete or fully up to date. Rates are subject to change. As always, we recommend you do your own research as well.

Summary of Money’s Best Life Insurance Companies of May 2023