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 2020
- Haven Life (Mass Mutual): 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
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.
Fast online quote and application
No medical exams for some applicants
Term life insurance only
No option for in-person meeting
Haven Life Insurance, owned by MassMutual, has been offering term life insurance online since 2013, maintaining an A++ rating from AM Best. It has been in business since 1851. The parent company, MassMutual, had 21 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2019.
Haven Life has a minimum coverage amount of $100,000 for term life with level term policies for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Two rider options exist: a disability waiver of premium rider in some states as well as an accelerated death benefits rider for those with a terminal illness. The accelerated death benefits rider allows you to collect 75% of the death benefit or $250,000, whichever is less.
You can get a quote online or call to speak with Haven’s customer service team via phone. 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.
Haven Life has competitive monthly insurance premiums. For example, a 35-year-old, healthy, non-smoking woman in Tennessee may pay $35.40 per month for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 55-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $98.27 for a $500,000, 20-year policy.
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 35 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019.
The minimum coverage amount is $50,000 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 $46.99 for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 45-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $91.79 per month.
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 36 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.
There are three 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 $30.27 per month for a $500,000, 30-year policy. A 55-year-old woman with the same health status can expect to pay $167.34 for the same term.
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 55 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.
Northwestern Mutual’s customer satisfaction shines above the others on our list by ranking highest for overall customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study. Northwestern Mutual also had 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 eight 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. The company does advertise that you can get life insurance for as little as "$1 a day."
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 12 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.
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 201 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.
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.
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?
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 June 4, 2020.
Life Happens. "Term Insurance." Accessed June 4, 2020.
BusinessWire. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed June 4, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Massachusetts Mut Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed June 4, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "State Farm Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed June 4, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Protective Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed May 14, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "New York Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed June 4, 2020.
AM Best. "New York Life Insurance Company." Accessed June 4, 2020.
J.D. Power. "Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric but Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed June 4, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Northwestern Mut Life Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed June 4, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "John Hancock Life & Hlth Ins Co Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed June 4, 2020.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Guardian Life Ins Co Of Amer Company Overview for 2019 Life." Accessed May 14, 2020.