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Published: Feb 09, 2022 14 min read
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Best for Permanent Life Insurance Policies

While term life insurance can be appealing due to its low cost, the hallmark of term coverage is that it's temporary. If you’re more risk-averse and want lifelong protection, permanent life insurance may be a better choice.

New York Life is our choice for the best provider of permanent life insurance. It offers many permanent-life options – whole, universal and variable universal life policies, along with ample insurance riders to customize your coverage. The company also earns praise in customer reviews and high scores for financial stability, handling complaints and customer service from agencies that gather that data.

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New York Life Insurance Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Potential for dividends
  • Multiple permanent life insurance options
  • Several optional riders available
Cons
  • No online quotes or pricing
  • Policies must be purchased through an agent
  • Limited details about policies

Pros explained

Potential for dividends

New York Life is a mutual company, and policyholders may qualify for dividend payments. In fact, the company announced that it declared a dividend of $1.9 billion to eligible policyowners in 2022.

Multiple permanent life insurance options

Rather than offering just one type of permanent coverage, New York Life sells whole, universal and variable universal policies. Within those categories, New York Life has eight different plans available.

Several optional riders available

There are some life insurance companies that don’t allow you to add riders to your policy. However, New York Life has a lengthy list of optional riders, including accidental death benefits, chronic care riders and disability waiver of premium.

Cons explained

No online quotes or pricing

With most life insurance companies, you can usually get a quote for coverage online for at least one policy option. Unfortunately, New York Life doesn’t have an online quote tool, nor does it give any indication of its rates on its site. Instead, you must contact an agent to get details on premiums.

Policies must be purchased through an agent

Some insurers allow you to apply for coverage online. If approved, you could be covered within minutes. With New York Life, that isn’t possible. You can only purchase policies through one of the company’s agents, which are paid on commission.

Limited details about policies

New York Life provides minimal information about its policies online. To get details on age limitations, death benefit maximums or cost, you have to consult with an agent. While doing your research, that drawback can make it difficult to compare New York Life to other companies.

New York Life Insurance Products

New York Life sells term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance products. All of its policies are fully underwritten, meaning applicants have to get medical exams and bloodwork.

Available life insurance plans

New York Life issues eight policies:

Term

The least expensive form of life insurance, term life insurance gives you temporary coverage, so your beneficiaries only receive a death benefit if you die within the policy’s term.

New York Life has three term life options:

  • Level Premium Convertible Term: This option allows you to lock in a rate for 10 or 20 years. After the level premium period ends, premiums increase every year.
  • Million Plus Level Term 10: If you need $1 million or more of coverage, this plan gives you 10 years of level premiums. After that, premiums increase annually.
  • Yearly Convertible: This policy is for those who want a lower initial premium and may want to convert to permanent coverage later on. Under this plan, your premiums increase every year.

Whole

Unlike term life insurance, whole life coverage is permanent. Some people prefer it — despite its significantly higher cost — because it gives them peace of mind and lifelong protection. Along with a death benefit, whole life policies can also build cash value.

Policyholders that have whole life coverage through New York Life are eligible to receive dividends. There are two options available:

  • Whole Life: This policy combines a guaranteed death benefit with cash value accumulation.
  • Custom Whole Life: The Custom Whole Life plan allows you to decide how long you want to make premiums. You can decide to pay premiums for as little as five years, but your policy will remain active for your lifetime.

Universal

Although universal life insurance is permanent, it’s more flexible than whole life insurance. It doesn’t have a guaranteed death benefit. Instead, the death benefit and premiums are adjustable, so you can increase or decrease them as your needs change.

There are three universal life Policies from New York Life:

  • Basic Universal Life: For those that want long-term protection — but are less concerned with growing cash value — the Basic Universal Life option may be a good choice. You can customize the death benefit amount, length of coverage and your premiums.
  • Custom Guarantee: This plan provides a guaranteed death benefit, but you can pay a set premium for only as long as you need the policy.
    Protection Up to Age 90: If you need a significant amount of coverage for a specific length of time, this option gives $1 million of coverage — or more — up to age 90.
  • Variable Universal: Variable universal life insurance is permanent, and it combines life insurance with tax-deferred investments to potentially grow your cash value. Some people opt for these policies to supplement their retirement savings or to aid their estate planning. New York Life has just one variable universal life policy available in all states: the Variable Universal Life Accumulator II. With this plan, you can choose your own investments, or you can use a model-based portfolio to invest in combinations selected by investing experts.

Insurance riders

New York Life, like other major life insurance companies, allows policyholders to customize their coverage through optional riders. Available at an additional cost, riders can provide extra coverage for you or your family members.

New York Life has several available riders, but what options you have is dependent on your selected policy type and location. For details about possible options, contact an agent.

  • Accidental Death: If you are killed in a qualifying accident, your beneficiaries will receive an additional death benefit. This rider expires when you turn 70.
  • Disability Waiver of Premium: If you become totally disabled as defined by your policy, New York Life will waive your premiums and your policy will remain in force.
  • Chronic Care: If you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, you can use a portion of your base policy benefit while you’re living.
  • Living Benefit: Policyholders that are diagnosed with a terminal illness can use this benefit to use some of their death benefit to pay for their care and treatments. This benefit does have an additional charge if used.
  • Spouse’s Paid-Up Insurance: If you have term life coverage and pass away, your spouse can use the proceeds from your policy to purchase paid-up coverage without a medical exam.

Limitations

All of New York Life’s policies are fully underwritten; the company does not sell guaranteed or simplified issue plans. To apply for coverage, you must undergo an interview, a review of your prescription history, a medical exam and bloodwork.

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New York Life Credentials

New York Life is the second-largest life insurance company in the U.S., based on direct premiums written. In 2020, its premiums totaled over $8 billion and made up 6.0% of the total market.

New York Life is licensed to issue life insurance policies in all 50 states, and it stands at # 67 on Fortune’s ranking of Fortune 500 companies.

Financial stability

If you’re buying life insurance — particularly if you plan on purchasing permanent coverage — you need to know that the company issuing your policy will be around for the long haul. To research a company’s financial stability, it’s smart to look up its ratings with the major credit rating agencies: AM Best, Moody’s and S&P Global.

New York Life has outstanding ratings for financial strength. It has AM Best’s highest rating, A++ (Superior). It was the fourth-highest rated company in the S&P Global ranking of North American life and health insurance companies.

Credit Rating Agency Rating Rating Range
Moody's AAA C to AAA
AM Best A++ D to A++
S&P Global AA+ D to AAA

Third-party ratings

New York Life is a well-regarded company. It was ranked 9th out of 21 companies in the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, which evaluates insurers on life insurance policy options, communication and pricing. New York Life had a score of 777, slightly higher than the industry average of 776.

Regulatory actions

New York Life is the target of a class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated the terms of certain policies by challenging their validity before rescinding the policies. It’s not unusual, however, for a large insurance company to deal with lawsuits or regulatory actions.

Cost of New York Life Insurance

Although other life insurance companies have detailed online quote tools, New York Life doesn’t have a rate tool or pricing information on its site. The only way to find out about premiums and cost is to work with a New York Life agent.

How much your policy will cost is dependent on a range of factors, including your age, location, gender, medical history and the coverage amount you desire. It’s a good idea to compare insurance quotes from multiple companies before making a decision. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our selections for the best life insurance companies.

New York Life Insurance Accessibility

For most inquiries — such as details about available policies or support for an existing life insurance policy — you’ll need to contact your insurance agent. If you don’t have an agent yet, you can submit a request and New York Life will connect you with one.

Contact information

For questions about claims or your application status, you can contact New York Life’s customer support team by calling 800-225-5695. It’s available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. ET.

User experience

If you have a New York Life policy, you can use its online account center to manage your policy, make payments or download forms. If you also have an annuity, disability or long-term care insurance or use New York Life for retirement planning or investing, all of your accounts will show up on your platform.

To help you navigate the customer portal, New York Life has multiple video tutorials that provide step-by-step assistance.

New York Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction

New York Life has a good reputation for providing quality customer service. It has a better-than-expected complaint ratio with independent agencies that track such data, and garners generally positive customer reviews.

Customer reviews

There are just a handful of reviews of New York Life on TrustPilot. It had a “great” rating and a TrustScore of 4.0 out of five based on only five reviews. New York Life insurance reviews highlight specific agents and the company’s advisory services.

Complaint index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) can be an invaluable resource. Every year, the NAIC releases complaint ratios based on the number of complaints it received about specific companies relative to the companies’ shares of the insurance market. The higher the ratio, the more complaints that were submitted.

In 2020, New York Life’s complaint ratio for its individual life insurance segment was 0.24, significantly better than the industry standard of 1.0. Such a low ratio indicates that New York Life was the subject of fewer complaints than is expected for a company of its size.

What term lengths does New York Life offer?
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While some companies offer terms as long as 30 years, New York Life term life policies only have terms of 10 or 20 years.
Does New York Life sell other types of insurance?
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Besides life insurance, New York Life sells individual disability insurance and long-term care insurance. It also offers annuities, estate planning and wealth management services.
How long has New York Life been in business?
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New York Life has a long history in the U.S. It was founded in 1845 and has been in its current headquarters in New York City since 1928. Today, the company has over $572 billion in total assets under management and a workforce of over 23,000 financial specialists and employees.
Who is eligible for dividends from New York Life?
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At New York Life, individuals that have whole life policies or mutual income annuities are eligible for dividends. Other policyholders — such as those with term life coverage — aren't eligible.

How We Evaluated New York Life Insurance

In our evaluation of New York Life and other life insurance companies, we looked at the following factors:

  • Available plans and terms
  • Insurance riders
  • Policy exclusions
  • Underwriting process
  • Cost
  • Financial stability
  • Customer service
  • Customer reviews
  • Third-party ratings

Summary of Money’s Bestow Life Insurance Review

Although term life coverage is typically recommended due it’s low cost, some people simply find term life insurance to be too risky. For those individuals that want the security that permanent life insurance offers, New York Life could be an excellent choice. New York Life is a highly-regarded insurer that sells multiple forms of permanent life insurance, including whole and universal life policies.

However, New York Life doesn’t sell life insurance directly to consumers, and there is limited information about its policies and pricing online. If you don’t want to have to work with a commission-based insurance agent, you’ll need to get quotes from life insurance companies that sell policies online.

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