A:

There are several measures of what makes a life insurance company the best. The financial strength of an insurer is the most important indicator of whether a company is able to fulfil its obligations to policyholders. Other important factors include types of insurance offered, other financial products offered, the level of customer support provided and the availability of online tools.

Some rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor's, accept payments from insurers. Insurance rating company Weis does not accept payments from insurers and has a much lower ratio of companies with top ratings than Standard & Poor's.

There are five insurance companies or groups that carry Weis' top A+ rating and have assets of at least $1 billion.

American Family Life Insurance Co.

American Family is a mutual company founded in 1927 and owned by its policyholders. It provides auto, home, life, health and commercial insurance and had $6.8 billion in revenues in 2013. The company owns several subsidiaries involved in insurance and other financial services, including American Standard Insurance Company and American Family Securities, LLC.

Country Life Insurance Co.

Country Life is an insurance company founded in 1925 by a group of Illinois farmers seeking to insure their own and other farms from fire and lightning. Country Life has over 2,500 employees and had $3.4 billion in revenues in 2013. In addition to offering home, crop, auto and life insurance, the company also offers a range of financial services, including investment management and annuities. Country Life insures more than 1 million households and businesses in the U.S.

Physicians Mutual Insurance Co.

Physicians Mutual was founded in 1902 to offer health insurance to medical professionals. Today, the company offers life and health insurance as well as annuities, funeral preplanning and other financial services. Physicians Mutual has over 1,000 employees and over $3 billion in assets.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

State Farm is a widely recognized brand which offers a multitude of insurance and financial products, including life insurance, through a long list of subsidiaries. The company employs 65,000 people and had revenues of $68.291 billion in 2013. State Farm has over 80 million policies in place in the U.S. and Canada.

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America College Retirement Equities Fund

TIAA was mandated by the state of New York in 1918 to provide fixed premium guaranteed deferred annuities as an instrument to provide income to retired college professors. CREF was created in 1952 to allow educators' annuities exposure to the stock market. The company employs over 8,500 people and reported approximately $1 billion in revenue for 2013. TIAA-CREF continues to focus its business on retirement planning and annuity products, but it offers life insurance as well.

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