Life insurance can help your family cover final expenses, funeral costs, education fees, loss of income or any other financial need. 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 for January 2023. We've called out their distinctions, along with the various policies and premiums provided.
Our Top Picks for Best Life Insurance Companies
- Bestow - Best No-Exam Life Insurance
- Ethos - Best for Guaranteed Coverage
- Policygenius - Best Online Broker
- Haven Life - Best Term Life Insurance
- Ladder - Best for Flexible Coverage
- State Farm - Best for Customer Satisfaction and Stability
- New York Life - Best Whole Life Insurance
- Nationwide - Best for Bundling Discounts
- Northwestern Mutual - Best for Policy Customization
Best Life Insurance Companies Reviews
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.
- 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
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 company 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 your answers about your medical history, hobbies and lifestyle to determine your eligibility for life insurance and your rates. 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. Additionally, life insurance from Bestow is now embedded into Lemonade’s app and website. Bestow also offers a comprehensive library of helpful information.
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.
- Sells term and permanent coverage
- Access to a free legal will and estate plan
- Guaranteed issue policies available
- Quotes and application process entirely online
- Accelerated death benefit rider included on most policies
- Little information publicly available about optional riders
- Limited permanent life insurance options
Ethos offers three types of underwriting:
- Simplified issue: Simplified issue policies require you to answer questions about your health and medical history, but medical exams are not necessary.
- Guaranteed issue: With guaranteed issue policies, you cannot be denied based on your medical history or health.
- Fully underwritten: Fully underwritten policies require medical exams and bloodwork.
Ethos uses either simplified issue and fully underwritten methodology for its term policies, and guaranteed issue underwriting for its whole life insurance policies (no company we know of offers term policies with guaranteed coverage).
The guaranteed issue whole life policy is available to individuals between 65 and 85. Applicants can obtain instant approval for up to $25,000 of coverage, regardless of their medical history.
Most policies include an accelerated death benefit rider that allows policyholders to tap into a portion of their benefits if diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Why we chose it: As a comprehensive online life insurance marketplace, Policygenius offers one-stop access to life insurance products 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.
- 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
Policygenius takes the top spot as the best online life insurance comparison tool and broker for its satisfying provision of one-stop shopping from a range of insurers. Policygenius’s partners include such names as AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, John Hancock, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI and Transamerica.
This online marketplace also offers an extensive library of educational resources for those new to life insurance, including recommendations for life insurance for people who suffer from depression and diabetes. Coupled with its broad range of coverage options such as term or permanent coverage policies, these resources make Policygenius a standout option for comparing life insurance quotes.
If you need help choosing the right policy or coverage amount, PolicyGenius’ agents can give you personalized assistance. They are paid by salary rather than commission, the company says, so they aren’t incentivized to oversell or to direct you to certain products that may earn them a higher commission.
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.
- 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
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.
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 develop a will or trust, fitness and sleep tracking apps and an online storage vault for important documents.
Applicants who are younger than 64 can get up to $3 million of coverage through Haven Term. Haven Simple is only available for applicants aged 20-55 and includes the Accelerated Death Benefit rider.
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.
- Term coverage can be adjusted over time
- $100,000 to $3 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 between 20 and 60
- Only term coverage is available
- No optional riders
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 three-step online application and offers affordable policies that start at $5/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.
*Based on a 20-year-old female rated Preferred-Plus for a $100k policy with a 10-year term.
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.
- 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
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, whole and universal life insurance policies. Although most of its plans require medical exams, it does have some simplified-issue options.
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.
- 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
While it also sells term life insurance, New York Life is the best company for people seeking a permanent life insurance policy, including those of the whole life type. (Permanent life insurance is more costly but accumulates a cash value in addition to its death benefit.) The company offers multiple types of permanent life insurance 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.
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.
- 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
Nationwide is a leading insurance company that is 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.
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.
- Lengthy list of optional riders
- Multiple policy 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
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 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.
Other life insurance companies we considered
We evaluated life insurance 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.
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.
- Premiums start from $9/mo
- 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
Sproutt is a life insurance broker that connects customers with companies offering no-exam, guaranteed issue, universal and whole life policies. The company uses “five pillars for better living” — movement, sleep, nutrition, balance and emotional health — to provide personalized policies and match customers with an insurance broker.
Sproutt didn’t make it to our top list because its Quality of Life underwriting tends to benefit a healthy, younger population (30 to 45-year-olds). Also, the company’s website lacks information about insurance coverage, riders and term options.
- Options available for those who identify as non-binary
- Uses technology to match people with the right policy coverage
- Uses Quality of Life Index to underwrite policies
- No phone assistance over the weekend
- Coverage may be denied if you're in poor health or have a high BMI
- No-exam policies may be denied if you've filed for bankruptcy
Health IQ partners with over 25 national insurers to offer term life insurance for individuals with a healthy lifestyle. 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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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 below-average rating by JD Power and limited policy information and riders offerings kept it from our top list.
- 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
- Term life options are basic
USAA offers term life policies starting at $12 a month. Customers can access online quotes for term and permanent policies. Though it wasn’t included in JD Power’s latest study or rated by rating agencies, it has a low complaint ratio of 0.11 — and a strong reputation in the insurance industry.
Why USAA didn’t make the cut: It isn’t part of our main list because other insurers with more attractive features bumped it out.
- Military members can get coverage during war
- Offer survivor support
- High cap on the value of their policies
- Medical exam required for all policies
- Some policies unavailable in New York
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.
Why Mutual of Omaha didn’t make the cut: This company didn’t make it to our main list because its premiums are higher than the industry average for applicants who are healthy and/or older. Application and processing times are also slower than other insurance providers.
- 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
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: This company is not part of our top life insurance companies in part because it lacks detailed information about policies and doesn’t offer a variety of term insurance options.
- 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
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.
How does life insurance work?
Life insurance is meant to provide financial protection for dependents and loved ones upon the death of a primary breadwinner. Yet, life insurance is not exclusively available for adults and the elderly. Many companies also offer life insurance for children, which can cover any expenses in the case of death, help with future insurability and provide economic support through the cash value component of the policy. The life insurance experts at Money have also prepared a list of the best life insurance for seniors and best life insurance for young adults.
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 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. Any outstanding loans against it 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.
- Financial strength - Look to AM Best life insurance ratings for financial evaluations.
- Customer complaints - The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are both great sources.
- Customer satisfaction - Check the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the J.D. Power 2022 Individual Life Insurance Study to see where companies rank.
- Policy types - Not every company offers both term and permanent life insurance policies. 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 agency.
- Pricing - Compare rates from various companies before committing to a policy.
What are the different types of life insurance?
- What is term life insurance? This lasts for a predetermined period (commonly 10, 15 or 20 years), and then it expires
- What is whole life insurance? A policy 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
- What is universal life insurance? Similar to whole life, this 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
- What is no-exam life insurance? A policy that doesn’t require a medical exam for approval. It is a good option for those with pre-existing medical conditions who will have a hard time getting approved for a policy with traditional underwriting.
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.
In any case, it's a good idea to consider life insurance within a larger financial context. If you can, it's a good idea to discuss your life insurance needs with a financial advisor.
How much does life insurance cost?
Below you’ll find sample rates from multiple insurance companies and agencies. 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
|Mutual of Omaha||20-year||$22.15/month||$26.02/month|
Permanent Life Insurance - $250,000 policy
|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|
|Amica||Whole Life - Pay to 100||$179.31/month||$205.42/month|
Life Insurance Glossary
|Common Life Insurance Terms|
|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.|
|Beneficiary||The person, organization or charity that receives the life insurance payout (death benefit)|
|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.|
|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.|
|Death Benefit||The amount the beneficiaries receive from a life insurance policy, as long as the insured died when the policy was in effect.|
|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.|
Latest news on Life Insurance
Life insurance news of late is all about payouts hitting a record high in 2021. Between beneficiaries and annuity holders, United States life insurance companies paid out a record $200 billion, 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.
Life insurance isn’t just for older Americans; policyholders span generations. Healthy people in their 20s choose life insurance because of lower-cost premiums, for example.
The reasons for purchasing life insurance vary, too: Some people look to whole life companies with the eventual goal of borrowing against their life insurance policy. Cash value earnings in a whole life insurance policy can be used to pay for college tuition, supplement retirement income, or for a down mortgage payment.
Life insurance is a vital part of financial planning for many people. Thankfully, the variety of life insurance products is vast: Beyond the traditional individual term and permanent policies, there are options for no-exam policies, family life insurance, long-term care insurance, life insurance for children and more.
Best Life Insurance FAQs
What's the best place to get life insurance quotes?
What is the difference between term and whole life insurance?
How much is life insurance per month?
What is the best life insurance?
How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies
As part of our methodology to come up with our list of top life insurance products and companies, we looked at:
- The ability to pay claims on time
- Customer experience and product offerings
- Customer satisfaction and the life insurance company ratings reported in 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. As always, we recommend you do your own research as well.
Summary of Money’s Best Life Insurance Companies of January 2023
- Bestow - Best no-exam life insurance
- Ethos - Best for guaranteed coverage
- Policygenius - Best online broker
- Haven Life - Best term life insurance
- Ladder - Best for flexible coverage
- State Farm - Best for customer satisfaction and stability
- New York Life - Best for whole life insurance
- Nationwide - Best for bundling discounts
- Northwestern Mutual - Best for policy customization