Best Life Insurance for Seniors

New York Life offers financial stability and dividends to older applicants

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Shopping for life insurance as a senior can be daunting. To make the best choice, there are a number of things you should pay attention to. Is the life insurance company financially stable? Does it have good customer service? How easy or difficult is it to apply for a policy? Do policies waive medical examination? Does it have the type of policy and the features you need?

To make your task easier, we researched 91 companies and ranked them according to these and other features, including maximum issue age, availability of living benefits, and how many complaints each company received. 

Read on to discover the best life insurance companies for seniors and why each made our list. 

Best Life Insurance for Seniors in 2022

We considered NAIC complaint index scores and AM Best ratings when comparing top life insurance companies. The NAIC complaint index is a measure of how many complaints a company receives relative to the size of the company. AM Best assesses a company's ability to pay its claims on a graded scale, with A++ being the highest. The companies we chose as having the best life insurance for seniors have at least an A+ rating.

Best Overall : New York Life

Investopedia's Rating
4.8

New York Life Insurance

New York Life Insurance

  • AM Best Rating:  A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • Policies available to 90-year-old applicants

  • A++ AM Best rating

  • Long history of dividend payments

  • Few customer complaints

  • Broad selection of riders

Cons
  • Must talk to an agent to get a quote and apply

  • Limited policy information online

Why We Chose It


New York life ranks as having the overall best life insurance for seniors for a number of reasons. It’s one of very few companies we reviewed that issues policies to applicants up to age 90 (most companies cap applicant age at 85). And considering that it’s 177 years old itself, the company has weathered many financial storms, including multiple recessions and the Great Depression. Its strong financial position has earned it an A++ rating (the highest available) from AM Best. An A++ rating means AM Best believes the company has a superior ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

The company receives few complaints, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Plus, whole life policyholders are eligible for life insurance dividend payments, and have been receiving them every year since 1854. This is the longest record for consistent dividend payments of all companies we reviewed.

New York Life also offers an array of riders with which to customize your policy, including a disability income rider, which only one of our other top senior companies offer. The downside is that you’ll need to provide your phone number and other personal information to get detailed policy information and a quote. Not surprisingly, there’s no online application option either.  

Check out our New York Life insurance review to learn more.

Best for Financial Stability : Guardian Life

Investopedia's Rating
4.7

Guardian Life

Guardian Life

  • AM Best Rating:  A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • A++ AM Best rating

  • Very few customer complaints

  • Policies available to 90-year-old applicants

  • Pays dividends on whole life policies

Cons
  • You can’t apply without an agent

  • Hard to find policy-specific information online

Why We Chose It


In business since 1860, Guardian Life received an A++ rating from AM Best for financial stability. Fewer than 10% of the companies we reviewed received this rating; New York Life is the only other one on this list. Also like New York Life, 90-year-old applicants to Guardian are eligible to apply for coverage, and whole life insurance policyholders are eligible for dividends.  

Guardian also has a very low incidence of customer complaints, according to the NAIC. Based on three years of complaints, Guardian received an exceptionally low number for a company of its size. In fact, it had the 6th-lowest number of complaints (based on its size) out of the 91 companies we reviewed.

And while you can find copious educational material on the company’s website, finding policy-specific information is difficult to impossible. You’ll need to reach out to an agent for that. You’ll also need to contact an agent to apply.

Learn more in our complete Guardian life insurance review.

Best for Living Benefits : Nationwide

Investopedia's Rating
4.7

Nationwide

Nationwide

  • AM Best Rating:  A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros
  • No-exam coverage available to some seniors

  • High customer satisfaction rating

  • Three living benefits included

  • Online term applications are available

  • Accepts credit card payments

Cons
  • Doesn’t offer dividend-paying whole life

  • Simplified whole life policies are only available to existing policyholders

Why We Chose It

Nationwide stands out as the only company on this list that includes chronic, critical, and terminal illness accelerated death benefit riders at no additional cost on most of its policies. Also known as living benefits, these riders let you access the death benefit early, before death, to help pay for expenses (or anything you want) if you experience a qualifying condition.

Besides that, the company ranked #2 out of 21 companies in J.D. Power’s 2021 customer satisfaction survey, and received fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size, according to the NAIC. To boot, it’s easy to find policy-specific information online without having to contact an agent, and Nationwide is one of the few life insurers that accepts credit cards and the only one in this list to let you apply online without an agent (for term coverage).

The company is also the only one on our list to offer final expense insurance, or burial insurance. These are small whole life policies that don’t require an exam and ask few health questions. However, they're only available to existing Nationwide customers (auto or homeowners policyholders).   

Learn more in our full Nationwide life insurance review.

Best for Fewest Complaints : Pacific Life

Investopedia's Rating
4.6

Pacific Life

Pacific Life

  • AM Best Rating:  A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • Extremely few customer complaints

  • Policies available to 90-year-old applicants

  • Term coverage available to 75-year-old applicants

  • Many accelerated death benefits and riders available

Cons
  • No online quote or application on the website

Why We Chose It


Pacific Life had the second-fewest number of complaints relative to its size of all 91 insurance companies we reviewed. The company is especially good for seniors because it offers term coverage for applicants up to 75 years of age and permanent coverage for those up to 90 years old. Only six other companies of the 91 we considered offer coverage to 90-year-old applicants.

Additionally, Pacific Life offers a whole suite of accelerated death benefits, many at no additional cost, including riders for chronic and terminal illnesses and long-term care. (Many insurance companies charge extra for some or all of these riders.) Like some other insurance companies on this list, the online offerings at Pacific Life are limited. You can’t get a quote or apply without calling the company or applying through a third party agent or broker.

Find out more in our complete Pacific Life insurance review.

Best Term for Seniors : John Hancock

Investopedia's Rating
4.4

John Hancock

John Hancock

  • AM Best Rating:  A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • High maximum age for term insurance applicants

  • Offers insurance for diabetics

  • Optional critical illness rider doesn’t reduce the policy’s death benefit

  • Wellness program

Cons
  • Most accelerated benefit riders cost extra

  • No online quote, application, or live chat for applicants

Why We Chose it


John Hancock offers the most compelling term life insurance offerings of our top-ranked companies for seniors. It issues term policies to applicants up to age 80, while many competitors have cutoffs at age 75 or younger. Its maximum issue age for other types of insurance is also high, at 90. 

In addition, we like that John Hancock offers a critical illness rider that isn’t an accelerated benefit, so the death benefit doesn’t get reduced if the rider is used. That’s uncommon. The company also caught our eye for its insurance for diabetics as well as its Vitality rewards. Vitality provides incentives for policyholders to live a healthy lifestyle, including potential discounts on life insurance premiums. 

John Hancock’s main weaknesses are that accelerated death benefit riders cost extra, and, like others on this list, it doesn’t allow you to get a quote or apply online without an agent. 

Read our full John Hancock life insurance review for more details.

Final Verdict

The best life insurance company for you will be determined by what type of coverage you’re looking for and your personal preferences. If you want a rock-solid company with a long history of financial stability, look to New York Life and Guardian. They have the added benefit of being the only two companies on this list that pay dividends. 

And while both of those companies have a low incidence of customer complaints, the very best for seniors in that category is Pacific Life, which also offers coverage to 90-year-old applicants (as do Guardian and New York Life).

For term policies, consider John Hancock and Nationwide. With Nationwide you can get life insurance quotes online and can apply online without an agent’s assistance. You’ll need to talk to an agent at John Hancock, but can apply for a term policy if you’re north of 75 years old. Not so with Nationwide (or other carriers on this list).

For living benefits, consider Nationwide: most policies include three living benefit riders free of charge that allow you to access your death benefit early in the event of a chronic, critical, or terminal illness.

Educational Information

What Is Senior Life Insurance?

Senior life insurance simply refers to regular life insurance policies that seniors are eligible for, such as some term insurance policies, final expense insurance (also called burial insurance or funeral insurance), guaranteed-issue policies, and traditional forms of permanent coverage like whole life and universal life insurance. 

Final expense insurance may be most commonly considered senior life insurance because it frequently has a minimum age requirement of 45 or 50. Some final expense policies may qualify as guaranteed issue life insurance as well. The main differences between these types of policies and regular life insurance are the application process, the cost, and the death benefit. Most burial insurance policies have a death benefit of $50,000 or less, require no medical exam and few health questions (if any), and cost more per dollar of death benefit than coverage that requires a medical exam.

Life insurance gets progressively more expensive as you get older, so if you’re a senior and you’re shopping for life insurance, it’s important to understand that you’ll pay more for coverage relative to someone younger than you.

How Does a Graded Death Benefit Work?

A policy with a graded death benefit has a waiting period, usually two or three years. If the policyholder dies within the waiting period, the beneficiaries don’t get the full death benefit. Instead, the insurance company typically provides a return of premium plus a specified percent for death from natural causes. For example, if the insured person dies during the first two years of coverage, the policy might pay a return of premiums plus 10%. At three years of coverage, or for accidental death at any time, the policy would pay the full death benefit. 

A graded death benefit is a feature of certain types of no-medical-exam life insurance, such as guaranteed issue, simplified issue whole life, final expense, and funeral or burial insurance policies. 

The reason insurance companies have graded death benefits is so they can afford to offer coverage to high-risk applicants at affordable premiums. Otherwise, insurers would need to charge much larger premiums to cover their costs or they’d simply deny coverage. This is because life insurance premiums are based on when the insured person is most likely to die—and the highest risk applicants (the type that guaranteed issue policies are designed for) are most likely to die sooner rather than later.  A graded death benefit helps the company soften this risk so that it can offer affordable coverage.

It’s important to compare graded death benefit periods and payouts between companies if you’re buying a permanent life insurance policy that doesn’t ask health questions or require a medical exam.

How To Choose the Right Life Insurance Company for You

The best life insurance company will be one that provides the policy you need at a price you can afford and meets the following criteria: An A or above rating from AM Best, few customer complaints, the policy features you want, and a manageable application process.

  1. An A or above rating from AM Best: AM Best gives A ratings and above to companies it considers to have an “excellent” (A-, A) or “superior” (A+, A++) ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations. All companies in our best life insurance for seniors list have at least an A+ rating.
  2. Few customer complaints: You can see how many complaints a life insurance company has received using the NAIC’s Consumer Insurance Search tool. Look at the insurance company’s “complaint index” for life insurance. An index greater than 1.0 means the company received more complaints than expected for its size, an index less than 1.0 means it received fewer. Avoid companies with indexes much higher than 1.0. All companies in our best seniors life insurance list have NAIC complaint indexes better than 0.50.
  3. The policy features you want: Some companies automatically include value-added benefits or riders in their coverage, while other companies charge extra for you to add them. This is particularly the case with accelerated death benefit riders like chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders. Make a note of which companies and policies offer the best living benefits.
  4. A manageable application process: Once you’ve determined which companies you like, it’s time to get life insurance quotes and apply for coverage. It’s likely you’ll talk to an agent, which can give insight into how transparent or accessible service may be in the future, so pay attention to the agent’s behavior in your communications with them.

Low-coverage no-exam policies, like guaranteed issue and final expense, are best suited for people dealing with health issues. If you’re in good health, you could pay a much smaller premium or get a higher death benefit amount by undergoing a medical exam during the application.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

In order to compile our list of the best life insurance companies for seniors, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We started off by researching what consumers want from life insurance companies, and for that, we looked to third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA. 

With those findings in mind, we gathered more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, as well as information about years in business, online tools, no-exam options, policy types and features, maximum issue age, and available riders.

Our review process gave preference to companies with superior financial stability, few customer complaints, and a high maximum issue age for policies. In particular, we valued the availability of accelerated death benefit riders and whether they’re included in policies free of charge. Companies received ratings boosts if they provide educational materials, accept credit cards, and make large coverage amounts available. We ranked each company according to the following categories and weights.

  • 30%: Maximum issue age
  • 24.5%: Financial stability 
  • 24.5%: Consumer complaints and customer service features
  • 16%: Policy features and riders
  • 5%: Maximum coverage amount

To finalize our list, we considered third-party customer satisfaction ratings, and compared individual offerings between top companies by delving deeper into product specifics and the application process. We used this research to determine the best life insurance for seniors.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. J.D. Power. "Pandemic and Tax Code Change Spur Interest in Life Insurance, J.D. Power Finds."

  2. AM Best. “Guide to Best’s Financial Strength Ratings (FSR).”

  3. Life Happens. "Life Insurance Is on People's Minds."