It may be difficult to imagine but you may not always be around. This emotionally trying time could be exceptionally tough for your family if they rely on you for financial support. Four in 10 households would struggle to pay the bills if the primary earner passed away, according to a 2019 report from Life Happens, a non-profit dedicated to educating Americans about insurance.
Term life insurance is financial protection for a set number of years—and it may be the affordable option you need. While there may be a lot of companies to choose from, we narrowed down the list by looking at 20 of the top options before finding the seven best. These are the best term life insurance companies based on policy options, price, financial strength, and more.
The 7 Best Term Life Insurance Companies of 2021
- Haven Life Insurance Agency: Best Overall
- State Farm: Best for Return of Premium
- Protective Life Insurance: Best for Decreasing Term
- New York Life: Best for Company Longevity
- Northwestern Mutual: Best for Customer Satisfaction
- John Hancock: Best for Wellness Discounts
- Guardian Life: Best One-Stop-Shop for Insurance
Best Overall: Haven Life Insurance Agency
We chose Haven Life as the overall top pick because of its long-term financial strength (through issuing company Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company), notable customer service, and simplified applications—all of which complement its competitively priced term life insurance.
Fast online quote and application
No medical exams for some applicants
Term life insurance only
No option for in-person meeting
Haven Life has been offering term life insurance online since 2014. Its parent company, MassMutual, has been in business since 1851 and has an A++ rating from AM Best as of September 20, 2020. MassMutual had 24 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2019.
Haven Term life insurance has a minimum coverage amount of $100,000 with level term policies for 10, 15, 20, or 30 year coverage durations. A Waiver of Premium rider is available for an additional monthly fee for applicants under the age of 50 in limited states. The included accelerated death benefits rider allows up to 75% of the death benefit to be withdrawn early in the event the policyholder is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The withdrawn amount plus interest and an acceleration fee of no more than $250 is subtracted from the final death benefit.
You can get a quote online or call to speak with Haven Life's customer service team via phone to answer any outstanding questions. The company maintains a robust FAQ section to help consumers; this system is backed up by phone or chat support that is responsive to inquiries.
Best for Return of Premium: State Farm
We like State Farm's return of premium (ROP) options best of all the carriers in this review that offer these policies. State Farm has 20- and 30-year ROP plans where policyholders get back 100% of their premiums if they outlive their coverage.
Multiple term insurance options
Meet an agent in person
Less-competitive monthly premiums
Not available in all states
State Farm is a nationwide insurer founded in 1922. As a comprehensive insurance company with an A++ rating from AM Best, State Farm's products include auto, home, life, and health insurance. It had 41 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019.
The minimum coverage amount is $100,000 with 10-, 20-, and 30-year terms. You can buy a return of premium policy for 20 or 30 years. State Farm maintains that you will get 100% of your premiums back with these policies. So, if you buy the 20-year ROP policy and pay $100 a month for the entire policy duration, you would get back $24,000 at the end of the term. This isn’t an option with the other companies on our list.
Policyholders can pay extra for a spousal rider, living benefits, a waiver of premiums for disability, or a flexible care benefit rider to pay for long-term care. State Farm no longer has a decreasing term policy.
You can get a life insurance quote online or by calling a local agent. If you prefer a meeting in person, there are more than 19,000 agents located throughout the country.
State Farm offers above-average monthly premiums. For example, a 35-year-old, healthy, non-smoking woman in Tennessee may pay $37.39 for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 45-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $83.94 per month.
Read the full review: State Farm Life Insurance
Best for Decreasing Term: Protective Life Insurance
We chose this provider because Protective Life Insurance's mortgage protection insurance is a perfect solution for those concerned about beneficiaries affording the family home. Decreasing term policies are not widely underwritten anymore, and Protective Life is our top pick for this type of coverage.
Competitive monthly premiums
Decreasing term policy option
Quote through website
No return of premium policy
Mixed online reviews
Founded in 1907, Protective Life Insurance is a company with over 100 years of life insurance experience. The Birmingham, Alabama-based insurer has an A+ rating with AM Best. Protective Life Insurance had 41 complaints with the NAIC in 2019.
The minimum coverage amount is $100,000. Protective Life Insurance gives consumers the choice of both level term and decreasing term life insurance, with options for 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years. Decreasing term life insurance is coverage that declines over the life of the policy. It may serve a single purpose—like covering what’s left of your mortgage—and it’s often less expensive than regular term life insurance. You won’t find a decreasing term option from the other companies on our list.
Here are three common rider options available for an additional fee:
- Child term: Offering up to $25,000 protection per child
- Accidental death benefit: Adds death benefits if you die in an accident rather than an illness
- Waiver of premium: For disability or terminal illness
You can get a life insurance quote through the company’s website or call to speak with a licensed agent.
Protective Life Insurance offers competitive monthly premiums. For example, a 35-year-old, healthy, non-smoking woman in Tennessee may pay $29.48 per month for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 55-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $176.29 for the same term.
Read the full review: Protective Life Insurance Review
Best for Company Longevity: New York Life
We chose 175-year-old New York Life as best for longevity because it is one of the country’s oldest life insurance companies with the highest possible rating from AM Best.
Long company history
Several rider options
No online quotes
Must call local agent
No return of premium policy
New York Life is the oldest company on our list, serving consumers since 1845. The New York City-based insurer has an A++ rating with AM Best and 71 complaints in 2019 on the NAIC database.
The minimum coverage amount is $100,000 for any of New York Life's four types of term insurance. You can buy level convertible term, yearly renewable term, family protection term, and a one-year nonrenewable term. There is no decreasing term or a return of premium policy.
New York Life has an array of rider options for an added fee, which vary by your policy and location. According to a representative, some of these may include but aren’t limited to:
- Waiver of premium for disability
- Accidental death benefit
- Child term
- Spousal term
- Conversion to a permanent life insurance policy
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get a life insurance quote online. After filling out a brief form, New York Life connects you with a financial specialist to discuss your family’s life insurance needs.
Read the full review: New York Life Insurance
Best for Customer Satisfaction: Northwestern Mutual
Northwestern Mutual is fourth in overall customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, down from first a year ago. Northwestern Mutual also is tied for the fewest complaints in 2019 of all the companies on our list.
High levels of customer satisfaction
Unique term to age 80 policy
No online quotes
Must call local agent
No return of premium policy
Northwestern Mutual is another large and widely respected insurance company, which was founded in 1857 and has headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company has an A++ rating with AM Best with only 10 complaints reported with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019.
Northwestern Mutual is a well-established company with a strong reputation for keeping their customers happy. According to the company’s website, 96% of customers stay with the company year over year.
Northwestern Mutual's term life insurance includes both 10- and 20-year terms, each with a minimum coverage amount of $100,000. There's also a unique option to have a term that extends to a specified age, such as age 80. There are a couple of rider options for an additional fee including the ability to convert term insurance to a permanent policy. Another popular rider option is the waiver of premiums for disability, which costs only pennies more per day.
You will need to contact a local agent to get access to monthly premiums and more specific policy details, based on where you live.
Read the full review: Northwestern Life Insurance
Best for Wellness Discounts: John Hancock
John Hancock was selected as best for wellness discounts because it rewards policyholders’ healthy lifestyle choices through the company’s Vitality Program. You may save up to 15% on premiums by eating a healthy diet, exercising, improving your sleep habits, and other healthy activities.
Long company history
No return of premium policy
John Hancock, founded in 1862, is a Boston-based company that has an A+ rating from AM Best. It had 10 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019.
The minimum coverage amount is $25,000—with level premium term options including 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. There is one rider for accelerated death benefits that pays you if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
The Vitality Program is unique to John Hancock, giving policyholders the chance to decrease premiums. You may get up to 15% off your monthly premiums through physical activity or other healthy lifestyle choices.
Quotes are obtained online through a simple form or you can call to get connected with an agent in your state.
John Hancock's premiums are competitively priced. For example, a 35-year-old, healthy, non-smoking woman in Tennessee may pay $33.65 per month for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 55-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $132.65 for a $500,000, 20-year policy.
Read the full review: John Hancock Life Insurance
Best One-Stop-Shop for Insurance: Guardian Life
We chose Guardian Life as the best one-stop-shop for insurance because it offers more than just life insurance. The company also provides disability, health, dental, and vision coverage, and you may consider Guardian’s other products, like annuities, IRAs, investments, or business solutions, to complete your comprehensive financial package.
Range of financial products
Whole life options for less healthy applicants
High number of complaints
Lack of transparency on website
Guardian Life is a long-standing insurance company that started serving life insurance clients in 1860. The New York-based company has an A++ rating with AM Best. We noted 215 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019. This provider offers investment products on top of its insurance line.
The minimum coverage amount is $250,000 in Guardian Life's level term policies, with durations of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. A conversion rider is available for an extra fee, which allows you to convert the term policy into a permanent policy. You can also add a waiver of premium for disability.
You can use Guardian Life’s online calculator to estimate your monthly premiums. Otherwise, you will have to contact an insurance agent for more details.
Guardian's premiums are priced above average when compared to other insurance carriers. For example, a 35-year-old, healthy, non-smoking woman in Tennessee may pay $51 per month for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 55-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $136 per month for a $500,000, 20-year policy.
Read the full review: Guardian Life Review
What Is Term Life Insurance?
Term life insurance is an affordable policy for a set number of years. Some of the most common term life insurance policies are for 5, 10, 20, or 30 years. Once the policy expires, you may have the opportunity to renew, convert to a permanent policy, or allow it to lapse. Different companies have different twists on term life insurance including decreasing term for mortgage debt and return of premium that refunds premiums paid.
Most insurance companies require new applicants to chose either "male" or "female" when applying for insurance; and don't always offer an option for those who identify as nonbinary or transgendered. While being nonbinary doesn't disqualify you from getting insurance, you should be aware that most insurance companies haven't updated their underwriting processes to reflect an awareness of gender issues.
Is Term Life Insurance Better Than Whole Life Insurance?
Term life insurance and whole life insurance serve different purposes. Term policies are affordable protection for a set period of time. This may be a good fit for many people, especially families on a limited budget. Whole life insurance gives you lifelong protection with cash value, but these policies are a lot more expensive.
What Happens If I Outlive My Insurance?
During an interview with Andrew Mais, commissioner of the Connecticut Insurance Department, he said that "Term life insurance is for a specified number of years. Now you can be renewed. It can be for 20 years. It can be for 10 years. It could be the length of your mortgage, for instance. But it's for a specific number of years. And what it says is you've got that coverage for that time. You're going to be paying for that time. There's no accumulation of value within. There's no living benefit."
Generally, when you outlive your term life insurance policy, the coverage ends. But some companies may offer the ability to renew for a higher premium. You may also have the option of converting to a permanent policy. If you have a return of premium policy, you may recoup your expenses. Not all companies give you this option, though.
What Are the Expected Costs of Term Life Insurance?
Monthly term life insurance premiums vary depending on the product, where you live, your age, health, and whether you smoke or not. In this article, we compared the premiums for a 35-year-old, healthy, non-smoking woman in Tennessee. The monthly premiums ranged from about $30 to $50.
How We Chose Term Life Insurance Companies
Many companies offer term life insurance policies and it can be confusing to comb through the finer details. To create our list, we looked at company history, reputation, and the number of complaints they receive. We also considered the types of term policies, riders, customer service, monthly premiums, exclusions, and any special features.
Life Happens. "2019 Insurance Barometer Study: Nearly Half of Americans More Likely to Buy Simplified Underwritten Life Insurance." Accessed December 23, 2020.
Life Happens. "Term Insurance." Accessed December 23, 2020.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA. Our Agency license number in California is 71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.
MassMutual and its subsidiaries C.M. Life Insurance Company and MML Bay State Life Insurance Company are rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of December 15, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Issuing the policy or paying its benefits depends on the applicant’s insurability, based on their answers to the health questions in the application and their truthfulness.
AM Best. "AM Best Comments on Sale of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s Retirement Services Business to Empower Retirement." Accessed December 23, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Massachusetts Mut Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed December 23, 2020.
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and Most of Its Subsidiaries." Accessed December 28, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "State Farm Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed December 23, 2020.
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Protective Life Corporation and Its Key Life Subsidiaries." Accessed December 23, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Protective Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed December 23, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "New York Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed December 23, 2020.
AM Best. "New York Life Insurance Company." Accessed December 23, 2020.
J.D. Power. "Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric but Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed December 23, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Northwestern Mut Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed December 23, 2020.
Northwestern Mutual. "AM Best, Fitch Ratings Affirm Northwestern Mutual's Highest Possible Strength Rating." Accessed December 28, 2020.
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Manulife Financial Corporation and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed December 23, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "John Hancock Life & Hlth Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed December 23, 2020.
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed December 23, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Guardian Life Ins Co Of Amer Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed December 23, 2020.