Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

Northwestern Mutual offers the best whole life insurance

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Whole life insurance offers permanent protection for the balance of your life, however long that may be. This is different from term insurance that covers you for a defined period of time. One of the other big differences between term life insurance and whole life insurance is that whole life has the ability to accumulate cash over time. You may also receive dividends from your provider. 

The best whole life insurance providers will offer policies with lifelong coverage and savings benefits, along with positive reviews, and various types of coverage. You might choose whole life insurance because your family needs cash to pay for your estate taxes at death, you want coverage for your final expenses, or you'd like to fund a trust for the next generation.

The 5 Best Whole Life Insurance Companies of 2021

Best Whole Life Insurance Companies
Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

Best Overall : Northwestern Mutual


Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

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

Northwestern Mutual has excellent customer satisfaction reports and high marks among the four major insurance rating agencies. It offers a special blended whole and term life policy called Whole Life Plus as well as traditional whole life policies.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High customer satisfaction ranking

  • Blended term and whole life policy

Cons
  • No quotes online for whole life insurance

  • Lack of transparency on website

  • Must call local agent

Overview

Northwestern Mutual is a well-known insurance company founded in 1859. The company has an A++ rating with AM Best and only had 14 complaints in 2020 with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), an incredibly low number for such a large company. Northwestern Mutual also earned a strong fourth place ranking out of 23 companies in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study and received a score well above the industry average.

Northwestern Mutual offers three main types of whole life insurance policies:

  • Traditional whole life insurance: Company invests the money, but the policy builds cash value over time that never goes down
  • Variable whole life insurance: Policy's value is tied to the performance of stock market funds
  • Blended whole life: Combines features of whole and term life insurance

Traditional whole life insurance builds cash value over time that never goes down. It has a guaranteed minimum value. While the company invests the money, you don't have to worry about the investments losing money. You can borrow from this cash value as well. The variable whole life policy uses mutual funds to build cash value growth; these rates are not guaranteed and can fluctuate based on the investment selection. Lastly, the blended whole and term life policy, called Whole Life Plus, acts like a low-cost term life policy at first, but gives you whole life features in the long run.

The company offers some popular rider options, including a disability waiver of premium and a long-term care benefits rider. The minimum death benefit is $25,000 for many of their whole life options. However, it can differ depending on the policy.

Northwestern Mutual doesn’t offer the ability to check life insurance quotes through their website. There is a basic intake form on the company’s website to match you with a local financial advisor.    

Read the full review: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

Best Customization : MassMutual


MassMutual

MassMutual

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

MassMutual has a long-standing positive industry reputation and offers policies and riders that can be customized to your needs, including a renewable term rider.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long company history

  • Generous customization options

  • Opportunity for dividends

Cons
  • No online quotes for whole life insurance

  • Must call local agent

  • Confusing policy and feature options

Overview

MassMutual is another well-established life insurance company, having been founded in 1851. It has a reputation for stability with an A++ rating from AM Best. MassMutual is better than average in NAIC complaints—only 25 in 2020 with a low index of 0.07.

Some of the whole life insurance policies offered by MassMutual are:

  • Whole life 100: Pay premiums until age 100
  • Whole life 65: Pay premiums until age 65
  • Whole life 20: Pay premiums for 20 years
  • Whole life 15: Pay premiums for 15 years
  • Whole life 10: Pay premiums for 10 years
  • High Early Cash Value: Payable til age 85

All of these policies offer the ability to receive dividends. You may also access a portion of the death benefit with the accelerated death benefit rider in the event of a terminal illness diagnosis. The renewable term rider allows you to earn a significantly higher death benefit than you would with a single whole life policy while paying a comparable premium. This rider is a powerful customization tool for whole life insurance buyers who want to cover big debts such as a mortgage without buying permanent insurance for all of it. You can buy the renewable term rider for what you need and even convert it to permanent insurance later if you want.

MassMutual also offers the following riders for an additional fee:

  • Waiver of premium for disability
  • Long-term care rider
  • Guaranteed insurability rider
  • Transfer of insured rider
  • And many more

MassMutual offers the ability to get a quote online for term life insurance. However, you will need to speak with a financial professional for a whole life insurance quote. You can find someone in your area by plugging your information into the company’s website.    

Read the full review: MassMutual Life Insurance

Best for Company Longevity : New York Life


New York Life

New York Life

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 8Issue Ages: Doesn't specify
  • Issue Ages: Up to 90
Why We Chose It

New York Life is the largest and most well-established mutual insurer in the United States and has been in business longer than any company on our list, making it our top pick for longevity.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Company longevity

  • Some policy details on the website

  • Opportunity for dividends

Con
  • No online quotes for whole life insurance

  • Must call a local agent

Overview

New York Life is the oldest company on our list. Founded in 1845, it has a more than 175-year history of financial success and currently holds an A++ rating with AM Best. The company had 34 complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2020, which was well below an average amount for its size. 

New York Life offers two types of whole life insurance policies:

  • Whole life insurance: Combine cash value accumulation with guaranteed coverage
  • Custom whole life insurance: Maximize the cash value and pay premiums for as few as five years

Each policy gives you the opportunity to receive dividends.

The company also offers several rider options:

  • Accidental death benefit rider
  • Chronic care rider 
  • Disability waiver of premium 
  • Living benefits rider
  • Paid-up additions

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to get a quote for New York Life's whole life insurance online. There’s a brief form on New York Life’s website to connect you with a local agent.   

Read the full review: New York Life Insurance

Best for Local Agents : State Farm


State Farm

State Farm

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Plans: 7
  • Issue Ages: As high as 80
Why We Chose It

State Farm has over 18,000 agents in the U.S., making them readily available for those wanting in-person assistance.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Company history

  • Opportunity for dividends

Cons
  • Not available in all states

  • Options may be overwhelming

Overview

State Farm was founded in 1922 by a retired farmer and insurance salesman. The company has a solid reputation with an A++ rating with AM Best and 19 complaints in 2020 with the NAIC, well below average for a company of its size.

State Farm offers these whole life insurance options:

  • Whole life: Guaranteed lifetime coverage and level premiums
  • Single premium life insurance: Pay for the policy upfront with one premium
  • Limited pay life insurance: Pay off your policy in 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Final expense: Typically lower face value policies for older customers to cover end of life expenses (ages 50 to 80) 

These policies offer the opportunity to receive dividends.

State Farm offers several rider options:

  • Waiver of premium for disability: Waives premiums if insured becomes disabled
  • Guaranteed insurability option: Buy more coverage without a medical exam
  • Children's term insurance: Allows purchase of term insurance on spouse or children
  • Payor insurance benefit rider
  • Level term to age 95

Read the full review: State Farm Life Insurance

Best for Healthy Applicants With HIV : Guardian


Guardian

Guardian

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

Guardian has a long-standing history in the industry and offers whole life insurance coverage for 20- to 60-year-old healthy applicants living with HIV.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long company history

  • Opportunity for dividends

  • Coverage for healthy people with HIV

Cons
  • No online quotes for whole life insurance

  • Must call local agent

  • Lack of details and specifics on website

Overview

Founded in 1860, Guardian is an established company with more than 160 years in the life insurance industry. The company has an A++ rating with AM Best. Guardian had 113 complaints with the NAIC in 2020. While this may seem high, it still translated to a below-average complaint index of 0.73, meaning the company received fewer complaints than the average company of its size.

According to a representative, Guardian offers a whole life insurance policy with level premiums or limited pay options (which means you can pay for your entire whole life policy within a short period). You may also have the opportunity to receive dividends. The minimum death benefit for Guardian whole life insurance is $25,000.

One of the most intriguing provisions of this company is that, if you’re a healthy applicant living with HIV, you may qualify for a policy with Guardian. Depending on the policy you choose and where you live, you may have access to riders to customize and bolster coverage. These include guaranteed insurability, index participation, long-term care, and a waiver of premium for disability.

Guardian doesn’t offer the opportunity to get a quote for whole life insurance online. You can type your zip code into the company’s website for a list of local insurance agents.

Read the full review: Guardian Life Insurance

Final Verdict

The best whole life insurance providers have overall positive reviews and offer multiple life insurance policies with varying coverage amounts, premiums, and issue requirements. Some companies boast excellent customer service reviews, and others offer quick online quotes.

Overall, we recommend checking out Northwestern Mutual for your whole life insurance policy. The company has a long history in the industry, is reputable, and has various customization options.

Compare the Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

 Company AM Best Rating  Coverage Capacity Issue Ages 
Northwestern Mutual Best Overall A++ $25,000+ Up to 80
MassMutual Best Customization A++ $25,000+ Up to 90
New York Life Best for Company Longevity A++ $25,000+ Up to 90
State Farm Best for Local Agents A++ $10,000+ As high as 80
Guardian Best for Healthy Applicants With HIV A++ $25,000+ Up to 90
John Hancock Best for Final Expenses A+ $50,000 to $65,000,000 Up to 90

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole life insurance is protection for life. The policy includes a death benefit and cash value; the cash value can increase over time. Depending on the plan, you may have access to the policy’s cash value while you are still alive. Some policies may offer the ability to borrow money with a loan or the option to make a cash-out withdrawal. You may also tap the policy’s cash value under certain circumstances with a living benefits rider.  

What Are the Benefits of Whole Life Insurance?

The greatest benefit of whole life insurance is protection for your entire life. This is different from term life insurance, which only covers you for a set number of years. Other benefits include the policy’s cash value and the ability to access the money while you are still alive. As the cash value grows, it becomes like an ancillary savings account you can access in emergencies or if you no longer need the full death benefit.

Most insurance companies require new applicants to choose either male or female when applying for insurance and don't always offer an option for those who identify differently. 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.

Which Is Better: Term Life or Whole Life Insurance?

If you’re passing on a large inheritance, whole life insurance may cover the cost of estate taxes. It may also be a good fit if you’re looking for lifelong protection or you want to provide money for your final expenses. But whole life insurance can be expensive. If you’re looking for affordable premiums for a set number of years, term life insurance may be a better choice.   

Is Whole Life Insurance a Bad Investment?

When it comes to investing or any financial planning, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Around 54 percent of Americans have life insurance. Some people think it serves them well, and others don't. If your family struggles to afford the monthly whole life insurance premiums, you may be better off buying less expensive term insurance and investing the difference. 

What Are the Expected Costs of Whole Life Insurance?

Many factors impact the cost of whole life insurance. These factors may include your age, gender, location of residence, health, whether you smoke, the number of payments, the death benefit, and more. If you are in average health, expect to have slightly higher premiums than someone of your same age, gender, and location who is in good or excellent health.

How Do I Protect Myself Against Bad Insurance Companies?

All states follow guidelines that insurance rates should be adequate (i.e., able to pay out in the event of large or numerous claims), not excessive (i.e., companies shouldn't earn exorbitant profits), and not discriminatory (i.e., they must reflect differences in expected claims and expenses). However, each state legislature still sets its own policy for the regulation of insurance.

That said, state laws generally require insurers and insurance-related businesses to be licensed before selling their products or services. State regulators are also responsible for ensuring that an insurance policy complies with state law, is reasonable and fair, and does not contain coverage gaps that consumers might misunderstand and leave them unprotected.

Despite these protections, life insurance scams are still relatively commonplace. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to thoroughly research any company you're considering purchasing an insurance policy from and compare its offerings with those available to you from other companies.

During a recent interview with Andrew Mais, commissioner of the Connecticut Insurance Department, he advised people searching for a good insurance company: "There are two things that I would argue are important: solvency and customer conduct."

Methodology

There are many whole life insurance options to choose from. To narrow down the list, we looked for companies with a long history and good ratings. We compared insurance coverage and riders. We didn’t consider the cost of premiums because it can be difficult to get a whole life insurance quote online, and prices vary dramatically depending on sex, age, and medical history.

You should do some research before picking up the phone, though. An insurance agent earns a commission from selling you a whole life insurance policy, which may influence their financial advice. 

Article Sources

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