Best Term Life Insurance Companies

Get your term policy at Haven Life Insurance Agency

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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. That’s why it’s so important to choose a term life insurance policy to provide for your loved ones. It’s financial protection for a set number of years. 

The best term life insurance companies are reputable, have long-standing histories in the industry, and strong financial ratings. They also offer multiple policies to choose from, provide discounts to their customers, and make it easy to get a quote.

Best Term Life Insurance Companies of 2021

Best Overall : Haven Life Insurance Agency


Haven Life

Haven Life

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 2
  • Issue Ages: 18-64
Why We Chose It

We chose Haven Life as the overall top pick because of its long-term financial strength, notable customer service, and simplified applications—all of which complement its competitively priced term life insurance.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fast online quote and application

  • No medical exams for some applicants

Cons
  • Term life insurance only

  • No option for in-person meeting

Overview

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. MassMutual had 24 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2020.

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The included accelerated death benefits rider allows up to 75% of the death benefit to be withdrawn early if the policyholder is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The withdrawn amount plus interest and an acceleration fee of no more than $250 is subtracted from the final death benefit.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 responsive to inquiries.

Read the full Haven Life Insurance Agency review.

Best for Return of Premium : State Farm


State Farm

State Farm

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 5
  • Issue Ages: 18-75
Why We Chose It

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.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple term insurance options

  • Meet an agent in person

Cons
  • Less-competitive monthly premiums

  • Not available in all states

Overview

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 20 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2020.

The minimum coverage amount is $100,000 with 10-, 20-, and 30-year terms, and 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.

Monthly premiums will vary. 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 State Farm review.

Best for Decreasing Term : Protective Life Insurance


Protective Life

Protective Life

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Plans: 5
  • Issue Ages: Up to 80
Why We Chose It

We chose Protective Life Insurance because its 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.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Competitive monthly premiums

  • Decreasing term policy option

  • Quote through website

Cons
  • Mixed online reviews

Overview

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 28 complaints with the NAIC in 2020. 

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:

  • 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 Protective Life Insurance Review.

Best for Company Longevity : New York Life


New York Life

New York Life

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 4
  • Issue Ages: Up to 90
Why We Chose It

We chose 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.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long company history

  • Several rider options

Cons
  • No online quotes

  • Must call local agent

  • No return of premium policy

Overview

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 34 complaints in 2020 on the NAIC database.

The minimum coverage amount is $100,000 for any of New York Life's four types of term insurance: 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 New York Life Insurance review.

Best for Customer Satisfaction : Northwestern Mutual


Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 4
  • Issue Ages: Up to 80
Why We Chose It

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 received only 14 complaints in 2020, the 2ed fewest on this list. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High levels of customer satisfaction

  • Unique term to age 80 policy

Cons
  • No online quotes

  • Must call local agent

  • No return of premium policy

Overview

Northwestern Mutual is another large and widely respected insurance company. It was founded in 1857 and is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company has an A++ rating with AM Best, with only 14 complaints reported with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2020.

Northwestern Mutual is a well-established company with a strong reputation for keeping its 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 Northwestern Life Insurance review.

Best for Wellness Discounts : John Hancock


John Hancock

John Hancock

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Plans: 5
  • Issue Ages: Up to 80
Why We Chose It

John Hancock was selected as best for wellness discounts because it rewards policyholders’ healthy lifestyle choices through its Vitality Program. You may save up to 25% on premiums by eating a healthy diet, exercising, improving your sleep habits, and other healthy activities.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long company history

  • Online quotes

  • Wellness discounts

Cons
  • Limited customization

  • No return of premium policy

Overview

John Hancock, founded in 1862, is a Boston-based company that has an A+ rating from AM Best. It had six complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019.

The minimum coverage amount is $850,000—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 25% off your monthly premiums through physical activity or other healthy lifestyle choices.

Quotes are obtained by contacting an advisor: you can either fill out a simple form requesting that an agent contact you, or you can call to get connected with an agent in your state.

Read the full John Hancock review.

Best One-Stop Shop for Insurance : Guardian Life


Guardian Life

Guardian Life

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 4
  • Issue Ages: 18-75
Why We Chose It

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.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Range of financial products

  • Whole life options for less healthy applicants

Cons
  • High number of complaints

  • Lack of transparency on website

Overview

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 112 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2020. 

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 Guardian Life Insurance review.

Final Verdict

All of the best term life insurance companies have positive attributes and strong financial ratings. Some companies have outstanding customer service, and others offer wellness discounts to their customers. Overall, we recommend checking out Haven Life Insurance Agency. It offers competitively priced term life insurance and has a fast online application process.

Compare the Best Term Life Insurance Companies

Company  AM Best Rating Coverage Capacity Issue Ages Premiums
Haven Life Insurance Agency
Best Overall
A++ $3 million 18-64 Contact for quote
State Farm
Best for Return of Premium
A++ Over $500,000 18-75 $37.39+/month
Protective Life Insurance
Best for Decreasing Term
A+ $50 million Up to 80 $29.48+/month
New York Life
Best for Company Longevity
A++ Contact for details Up to 90 Contact for quote
Northwestern Mutual
Best for Customer Satisfaction
A++ Contact for details Up to 80 Contact for quote
John Hancock
Best for Wellness Discounts
A+ $65 million Up to 70 $33.65+/month
Guardian Life
Best One-Stop Shop for Insurance
A++ $5 million 18-75 $51+/month

Guide to Choosing the Best Term Life Insurance

What Is Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is a temporary life insurance coverage that offers a guaranteed death benefit to the covered individual if they die while the policy is in force. Term life insurance is also known as “pure life insurance,” as it typically only offers a death benefit but no additional coverage or savings component found in permanent life insurance products.

Term life insurance is offered for specific lengths, typically from five to 30 years, and premiums stay the same throughout the policy. After the term policy expires, individuals can renew the policy, convert it to a permanent policy, or allow the coverage to end.

Key Term Life Insurance Definitions 

When researching term life insurance policies, you’ll want to know a few phrases to understand exactly what is included in the policy.

  • Face value: The face value of an insurance policy is the payment amount that the beneficiaries will receive should the insured die while the policy is in force.
  • Death benefit: The death benefit is similar to the face value of the policy, referring to the payment amount that will be sent to beneficiaries upon death. Policy death benefits can be reduced by exercising an accelerated benefit on the policy, allowing the insured to withdrawal a percentage of the death benefit early.
  • Instant-Issue: While many term policies require a medical exam to qualify, instant-issue policies allow the applicant to instantly acquire coverage, typically through an online application. These policies are for younger, healthy individuals and offer limited coverage (typically under $1 million).
  • Beneficiary: The beneficiary is the person (or persons) who will receive the death benefit of an issued life insurance policy. Life insurance policies require at least one beneficiary be designated.
  • Premium: The premium is the cost of a life insurance policy. This is typically paid in monthly installments for the life of the policy but can also be fully paid up by a certain age or after a certain number of years. Some policies offer a single pay option, allowing policy premiums to be fully paid in a single lump sum.
  • Riders: A rider is a life insurance policy enhancement that offers additional benefits or custom coverage options to the insurance policy. This may include coverage for a spouse or children, additional payouts for accidental death, or the ability to access policy funds early. Rider fees are typically billed as a small percentage of the policy premium or a flat annual fee.

Who Needs Term Life Insurance? 

Term life insurance coverage is ideal for anyone, particularly married couples, parents, and those with a mortgage, who want to replace their income and protect their assets should they pass away prematurely. Younger individuals will benefit from the lower cost of term life insurance for a large amount of coverage and the ability to “stack” additional policies as their needs increase. 

How Much Term Life Insurance Should I Get?

The amount of term life insurance coverage you should carry depends on a variety of factors:

  • Age
  • Debts
  • Income
  • Years until retirement
  • Family status

Financial experts recommend getting enough term life insurance to equal at least 10 times your annual salary as income replacement. In addition, covering enough to take care of any current debt obligations will ensure that your beneficiaries do not need to carry that burden. Your coverage amount may change during your lifetime as well. For instance, a young couple with a mortgage and two kids living at home may need more than 10x their annual salary in term coverage, while an older couple with no mortgage and no children at home may need far less.

Here’s a quick example of how to determine how much term life insurance coverage you may need:

Bob has a wife and two kids. He makes $80,000 per year, as does his wife, and they carry $300,000 in debt. Since his wife also makes $80,000 per year, instead of the recommended 10x of his salary in coverage, he chooses to opt for a coverage amount of 5x his salary, along with an additional $300,000 to cover their debts gets similar coverage.

Bottom Line

Life insurance coverage should cover your debts and replace your income, so your beneficiaries do not have to worry about finances when you pass.

How to Lower Your Life Insurance Premiums

Life insurance premiums are based on several factors, including age, location, health status, smoking status, coverage amount, and term length. There are some ways to lower your monthly premiums while ensuring you still have the right amount of coverage:

  • Perform healthy activities: Since your health status will affect your rate, getting daily exercise and avoiding high-risk activities may lower your premiums. Some insurers even reward those who exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can cause life insurance rates to be much higher, and quitting can lower your rates. Some insurers will even offer lower premiums to smokers who are on a program to quit.
  • Shorter term length: The longer your term life insurance policy length, the higher your premiums will be. If you only need coverage for a short time (ex., five years), your policy premiums will be lower.
  • Less total coverage: Less overall coverage will lower your premiums. You can get a smaller amount of coverage when you have fewer obligations, but make sure you have enough to cover your needs. Don’t try to save a few dollars per month at the risk of being underinsured.

How to Choose the Best Term Life Insurance

The best term life insurance policy is one that fits your family, your needs, and your budget. Understanding how much coverage you need and what you would use it for are essential steps in choosing the best policy.

To get the best life insurance policy for your situation, and one that fits your budget, we recommend the following steps: 

  • Step 1: Figure out how much coverage you need and how long you want to be covered. This number may fluctuate over your lifetime, so you may want to talk to a financial planner about what makes sense for you and your family.
  • Step 2: Talk to a life insurance broker and ask them to pull quotes for term policies. You may also be able to get rate quotes online as well.
  • Step 3: Compare quotes from different providers and choose one that meets your requirements, offers the best coverage, and fits your budget.
  • Step 4: Schedule a medical exam if necessary. If not, apply for and wait to be approved for the policy.

To find a quality term life insurance provider, you will want to compare prices and make sure they are a reputable company with a strong financial backing, as this indicates its ability to pay claims. Rating agencies such as J.D. Power and AM Best help evaluate insurance companies' customer satisfaction and financial strength. 

Remember that it's OK to get multiple different quotes to find the best policy. Do your research, ask questions, and speak with a financial or insurance professional if necessary. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Differences Between Term and Whole Life Insurance? 

Term life insurance is a type of temporary life insurance coverage that offers a death benefit. This coverage is typically a lower-cost option as the coverage is only temporary, and policies do not have a cash value or savings component. 

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that covers the insured for a lifetime. Policies offer a death benefit, but also have a savings component that uses premiums to build cash value in an interest-bearing account. The cash value of a whole life policy can be borrowed against on a tax-free basis but will lower the death benefit until fully repaid. Whole life insurance premiums are much higher than term life policies due to the length of coverage and cash value savings.

What Happens If I Outlive My Term Life Insurance Policy? 

For most term policies, there are a few options available for those that outlive their term life insurance policies:

  1. Renew (or extend) the policy: If you still need term life insurance coverage, you may be able to renew the policy or pay for coverage on a year-to-year basis. Some life insurance providers allow individuals to extend term policy, but prices usually increase, and another medical exam may be necessary.
  2. Convert to a permanent policy: Many term policies allow the insured to convert the term policy into a permanent life insurance policy. This usually needs to be done while the term policy is in force, but there may be a period for conversion after expiration.
  3. Allow the coverage to end: When a term policy expires, the coverage is no longer in force. Individuals who do nothing will no longer be covered and will no longer need to make premium payments for the policy. This is a good option if you feel that you no longer need the life insurance policy.

Can I Have More Than One Term Life Insurance Policy?

Yes. Sometimes having multiple policies gives you more flexibility in your coverage, adding more coverage or dropping policies as your life insurance needs change over time. This is known as “laddering” term policies and may be a good option if you expect your life insurance needs to increase or decrease.

When applying for an additional policy, you typically must disclose if you are covered by another policy. If you are applying for more life insurance coverage, and the total of your policies cover more than 20x or 30x your salary, you may be asked to give justification for this coverage amount.

Methodology

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 received. We also considered the types of term policies, riders, customer service, monthly premiums, exclusions, and any special features.

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.
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  7. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "New York Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2020 Life." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

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  9. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric but Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  10. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Northwestern Mut Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  11. Northwestern Mutual. "AM Best, Fitch Ratings Affirm Northwestern Mutual's Highest Possible Strength Rating." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021. 

  12. AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Manulife Financial Corporation and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  13. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "John Hancock Life & Hlth Ins Co Company Overview for Life." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  14. AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  15. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Guardian Life Ins Co Of Amer Company Overview for Life." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.