The life insurance market in the United States is both massive and highly competitive. Though bigger may not mean better, either for consumers or for investors, it does imply a degree of longevity and financial stability in the life insurance business. Remember that the precise ranking order of our group is based on the total volume of premiums written and may change frequently.

Key Takeaways

  • MetLife/Brighthouse Financial, Northwestern Mutual, New York Life, and Prudential are the four largest life insurance companies in the United States, all holding at least 5% of the market.
  • The next biggest life insurance companies are Lincoln National, MassMutual, John Hancock, and Transamerica—all of which hold more than 3% of the market.

Brighthouse Financial (MetLife)

In 2017, MetLife spun off U.S. retail business as an independent company called Brighthouse Financial Inc.

MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) was the biggest life insurance company in the U.S. as of 2019. It boasted 90 million customers around the world in 2019, with a major market share in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. 

MetLife ranks among the world's largest companies in any industry. It reported net income of 4.98 billion in 2018, up from almost 3.91 billion in 2017.

The company offers a variety of insurance products, annuities, employee benefits programs, and asset management services. It has operations in nearly 50 countries. 

Nearly 60% of Americans carry some form of life insurance, according to the latest figures for 2018. 

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company covers more than 6% of the American market. In addition to its life insurance and other insurance products, the company offers annuities, investment products, and financial planning services. The company reported revenue of $28.5 billion in 2018, up from $28.1 billion the previous year. 

As a mutual insurance company, Northwestern Mutual is managed for the benefit of policyholders rather than stockholders. Policyholder benefits amounted to$11.4 billion in 2018, up from $10.3 billion in 2017. The company is privately-owned.

New York Life

New York Life Insurance Company has more than 5% of the U.S. life insurance market. Apart from its life insurance business, New York Life also sells long-term care insurance, annuities, and mutual funds, and operates a growing investment management business.

New York Life is a mutual insurance company and is not publicly traded. It reported $2.3 billion in operating earnings for 2018, a record high. The company also announced a dividend payout of $1.78 billion for 2018, a 36% increase since 2012. 

Prudential

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) is a publicly-traded financial services conglomerate offering insurance products, annuities, mutual funds, investment management services, and other products. The company operates in 43 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

Prudential's life insurance business has a market share of about 5%. The company's worldwide consolidated revenue was more than $63 billion in 2018, up from $59 billion in 2017. 

Lincoln National

Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE: LNC) is a financial services company offering life insurance products, long-term care insurance products, annuities, and retirement plan services. It does not operate outside the U.S. The company and its subsidiaries are marketed to consumers under the Lincoln Financial Group brand.

Lincoln National reported $764 million in written life insurance premiums versus $798 million in the previous year. That gives the company about a 4% share of the total.

Lincoln's net income for 2018 amounted to $1.64 billion, down 21% from $2.1 billion the year before. 

MassMutual

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, known as MassMutual, is the sixth-biggest life insurer in the U.S. and the third mutual company on his list. In 2018, the company posted a net loss, instead of net income, of $716 million, versus income of $137 million in the previous year. MassMutual's market share is a bit under 4%.

John Hancock

John Hancock Financial has operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian insurance giant, Manulife Financial Corp. (NYSE: MFC) since 2004. In addition to life insurance policies, the company offers long-term care insurance policies, mutual funds, retirement plans, and college savings plans. It has been headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, for 150 years.

John Hancock holds about 3% of the U.S. market for life insurance. 

Transamerica

While Transamerica Corporation was established in San Francisco in 1930, it has operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dutch life insurance company, Aegon N.V, since 1999. In addition to life insurance products, Transamerica offers long-term care insurance, annuities, mutual funds, and pension plans.

Transamerica has a U.S. life insurance market share of about 3%.