MetLife is the largest and one of the oldest life insurance companies in the United States today. Though you can no longer purchase individual coverage, this insurer offers a variety of plan options and riders, including the ability to take your coverage with you even if you change jobs or retire.
- Pros and Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Term-to-universal conversion available as late as age 70
Many riders to choose from
No medical exam required
Very good consumer and financial strength ratings
Group term policies can be converted to individual
Only group life insurance is offered
No term-to-whole conversion credits
Coverage options may be limited
- MetLife is the largest insurer in North America in terms of life insurance in-force.
- Individual life insurance is no longer sold by MetLife; policies are now only available in the form of group plans.
- Through employer group plans, MetLife offers 10 different life insurance options including term, whole, and universal life coverage.
As one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (or MetLife) offers a range of products including life insurance, long- and short-term disability, auto and home coverage, health insurance, and even pet protection, to name a few. While some of MetLife’s products can still be purchased directly, most are now only available through the workplace; for instance, after splitting off and forming Brighthouse Financial, MetLife no longer offers individual life insurance coverage.
In addition to being one of the largest insurers in North America, MetLife is also one of the oldest. The company was founded in 1868 (before the telephone was even around) and has since expanded to more than 40 countries all over the world.
In the U.S., MetLife’s headquarters is located in New York, NY. They are licensed to provide coverage in all 50 states, though the products and features available to you may vary depending on your location and your employer.
- Year Founded 1868
- Kinds of Plans Term life, whole life, universal life, AD&D-only
- Number of Plans 10
- Payment Plan Options Check with your employer; most will allow for paycheck withholding
- Customer Service (800) 638-5433 or via online contact form
- Official Website www.metlife.com
MetLife is not one of our top-rated life insurance companies. You can review our list of the best life insurance companies for providers we think are better options.
- Term-to-universal conversion available as late as age 70: You can convert your MetLife term life insurance coverage into a whole life policy all the way up to age 70 in some instances. If you purchase your coverage before age 65, conversion can happen before the end of your policy term or up to your 70th birthday, whichever comes first.
- Many riders to choose from: Depending on what your employer’s group plan offers, you may be able to choose from a healthy list of policy riders. These include options like accelerated death benefits, accidental death and dismemberment (even for your spouse and children), and disability waiver of premiums.
- No medical exam required: Because MetLife only offers group life insurance now, you won’t need to worry about submitting to a paramedical exam. This could make buying coverage more accessible for smokers, those in poor health, or anyone with a past adverse medical history.
- Very good consumer and financial strength ratings: MetLife holds an A+ rating from AM Best and a well-below-average complaint index through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
- Group term policies can be converted to individual: One of the downsides to buying life insurance through an employer is that, when you leave that job or retire, you often lose your coverage. With MetLife, however, you can transfer your group term life insurance to an individual life insurance policy (if it’s not already portable) if and when you leave your job.
- Only group life insurance is offered: MetLife formerly offered individual life insurance policies but that ended when the company launched its retail brand, Brighthouse Financial, in 2017. Now, life insurance through MetLife is only available as part of a group plan, so you’ll need to buy through your employer.
- No term-to-whole conversion credits: You are able to convert a MetLife term policy into whole life coverage up to age 70. However, this insurer doesn’t offer any term conversion credits if you do, so prepare for the sticker shock of higher premiums on permanent insurance.
- Coverage options may be limited: When you purchase a group life insurance policy through your employer, you always run the risk of being limited in terms of coverage and flexibility. Your employer has the ability to limit the amount of coverage you can purchase (often as a multiple of your salary), the riders available, and whether you can take your policy with you if you change jobs or retire.
Here’s a look at the available life insurance plans from MetLife. Of course, the exact life insurance coverage options available to you will depend on what your employer chooses to offer. Additionally, you’ll find that some of these policies are not available in all 50 states.
Basic Term Life
As traditional term life insurance, this policy offers between 10 and 30 years of life insurance coverage, with level premiums for the entire term. When you reach the end of your chosen term, your coverage will end unless you purchase a new policy or convert this policy into a whole life version. Prior to the end of your policy’s term or age 70, whichever comes first, you are able to convert your Basic Term Life coverage into a whole life policy.
Though your workplace is able to set its own coverage limits, Basic Term through MetLife is usually available in increments of $10,000, with benefits starting as low as $10,000 and going up to $2 million in some instances.
Supplemental Term Life
With Supplemental Term Life, you are able to add extra life insurance coverage onto an existing term policy at your own expense (meaning, outside of what your employer offers). This coverage is available up to an additional $500,000.
Dependent Term Life
Dependent Term Life insurance coverage offers term life insurance protection for your spouse, eligible domestic partner, and/or children, usually at your own expense. Depending on your workplace, you may or may not be able to take this coverage with you if you leave your job.
With coverage that can be paid through age 65, MetLife Whole Life insurance coverage offers lifelong protection that can follow employees even after they change jobs or retire. As with most whole life insurance policies, MetLife Whole Life builds up a cash value over time, which you can pull from as needed. If you choose to convert your term life coverage prior to its expiration, it would be converted into a MetLife Whole Life policy.
MetLife Promise Whole Life Select 10℠
As with all other whole life policies, MetLife Promise Whole Life Select 10℠ provides you with lifelong coverage and peace of mind. The difference is that payment for this policy is front-loaded; after paying premiums for 10 years, your coverage will continue without the need for any additional payments.
MetLife Promise Whole Life Select 20℠
With MetLife Promise Whole Life Select 20℠, you will enjoy lifelong protection without having to worry about lifelong payments. After paying premiums for 20 years, this whole life insurance coverage will continue without you needing to make any further payments.
MetLife Promise Whole Life Select 65℠
As with the other Promise Whole Life Select policies, this whole life coverage can stay in effect for the rest of your life but without the need to make regular payments forever. After paying scheduled premiums through age 65, this policy will continue without the need for any further payments.
Group Variable Universal Life (GVUL)
MetLife’s Group Variable Universal Life (GVUL) policy provides you with permanent life insurance coverage that doesn’t expire. GVUL coverage allows you to choose how your cash value is invested, too, offering you both the protection of a death benefit and the ability to grow your savings over time.
Group Universal Life (GUL)
As another permanent life insurance option, MetLife Group Universal Life (GUL) protects you for the rest of your life without the worry of expiring terms. It gives you life insurance protection along with tax-advantaged savings options.
While accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage is usually considered a rider or policy benefit, MetLife’s Voluntary AD&D coverage falls into the “plan” category. That’s because this coverage—which protects the employee, their spouse/domestic partner, and/or children in case of serious injuries or accidental death—is available as a standalone product even if a general policy isn’t purchased through the employer’s group plan.
Available Riders and Benefits
In order to customize your coverage or provide yourself with added peace of mind, you are often able to add optional riders to your policy. The availability of these riders, and their terms, will vary by location as well as your specific group plan.
Acceleration of Death Benefit
If you become terminally ill, this rider will allow you to access a portion of your death benefits while still living.
Disability Waiver of Premiums Benefit
If you are found to be disabled for a continuous period of six months or more, this rider will waive your premiums while keeping your policy benefits intact.
With this rider, you can pay additional premiums if and when desired, which not only builds up your policy’s death benefit but also its cash value.
Accidental Death Benefit Rider
Available for purchase between ages 17 and 59, this rider doubles your policy’s death benefit if you were to die from accidental bodily injury before age 65.
Accelerated Death Benefit for Chronic Illness Rider
This rider (not available in California or New York) gives the insured access to up to 92% of the policy’s death benefit if they were to become permanently chronically ill, like with an illness such as Alzheimer’s. This benefit can be accessed if the insured is unable to independently perform two of the six Activities of Daily Living.
Offers protection for your dependents, if they are seriously injured or die due to an accidental cause.
If you need to get in touch with MetLife about your life insurance policy, you can contact them easily by phone or through the company’s online contact form. Depending on the type of coverage you have, there are a few different numbers to call.
|General customer service||800-638-5433|
|Individual life insurance||800-638-5000|
|Group universal life insurance, purchased through employer||800-523-2894|
|Group term insurance, purchased through employer||866-492-6983|
|Group variable universal life insurance, purchased through employer||800-756-0124|
In some cases, though, it may be easier to just contact your insurance liaison through your workplace, whether that be HR or another department. Since they are familiar with the terms of your employer’s specific group plan, they may be the best first resource if you have questions or need to make a change to your policy, payment schedule, etc.
In many cases, it can be easier (and faster) to make changes to your group policy or get questions answered by going through your workplace insurance representative, rather than contacting MetLife directly.
Every year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners receives and tracks the number of complaints lodged against insurers. The number of complaints received (adjusted for market share) is used to create what’s called a complaint index, with the average always being 1.00. From that, you can tell whether an insurance company is receiving more or fewer complaints than expected for their size.
MetLife seems to perform above average in the eyes of consumers, as the company had a complaint index of 0.7366 in 2019.
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company holds an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best, as well as AA- ratings from both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. The ratings indicate that these third-party platforms believe MetLife is (and will continue to be) financially secure enough to pay out on a death benefits claim if and when one is submitted.
MetLife ranked number 15 in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study, earning only three out of five possible stars. This rating was based on a number of different factors including price, customer satisfaction, availability, product offerings, and communication.
Generally, you can cancel a life insurance policy at any time, either by stopping premium payments or contacting the insurer. So if you have a term policy with MetLife, your coverage will simply stop when you stop paying. It will also be canceled if your group’s terms do not allow for policy transfers or if you do not choose to transfer/convert coverage when you leave your job or retire.
If you have a permanent life policy that has accumulated cash value, however, things are a bit more complex. There are typically surrender penalties when canceling one of these policies, which would eat into the value that’s accrued thus far.
Before signing on the dotted line—and especially before canceling an existing MetLife group policy—you’ll want to read the fine print for the coverage offered to you by your specific employer’s group plan.
The price you will pay for life insurance coverage through MetLife depends on so many factors, the greatest of which is your employer.
First off, group plans will vary in cost depending on the number of participants and even the employees’ demographics. Additionally, many employers will choose to provide coverage for their employees, or will at least subsidize a portion of the premiums. This makes buying life insurance more affordable than if you tried to purchase an individual policy on your own.
Though you can generally expect your policy’s overall cost to depend on personal factors such as your age, gender, medical history, height and weight, history of tobacco use, and location, this isn’t the case with buying into a group plan. However, the more coverage you want, including optional benefits and riders, the more you can expect to pay.
If you are a non-binary individual, you can expect that most insurers will want to know the gender you were assigned at birth when offering you group plan coverage. Being non-binary will not prevent you from purchasing insurance, however, or impact your policy options.
Competition: MetLife vs. Nationwide
Though your employer will likely already have one or more group life insurance policies for you to choose from, it can be helpful to compare the options out there. This is especially helpful for determining whether the coverage you purchase through your workplace group plan is sufficient.
To help you sift through the competition, we took a look at MetLife versus Nationwide insurance. While MetLife is only offered in the form of group plans now (to buy your own coverage, you’ll need to go through their spin-off company, Brighthouse Financial), Nationwide is available both in the workplace and as individual coverage.
MetLife stopped offering retail life insurance products in 2017, when the company spun off to create Brighthouse Financial. Today, the two companies are completely independent of one another.
There are a few other key differences (such as market share), but both companies are comparable in terms of third-party ratings and plans available. Each insurer offers term, whole, and universal life coverage, and each gives you the ability to carry your coverage with you whether you leave your job or retire.
|Market Share||Second-largest in the U.S., 7.9%||13th-largest in the U.S., 1.9%|
|Number of Plans||10||11|
|Dividends for 2020||Not announced||Not announced|
|Wellness Program Discounts/ Quit Smoking Incentives||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Service Method||Employer-based||Employer-based or individual|
|AM Best Rating||A+||A+|
|Price Rank||Above Average||Above Average|
|Complaints Trend||0.7366 Great||0.40 Excellent|
*SP Global ranks MetLife number two in terms of premiums; however, when gauging by policies in-force, MetLife actually comes in first place.
Both companies have A+ ratings from AM Best, though MetLife is the larger and older of the two companies. They may offer the longevity and peace of mind you want from a life insurance company. With that said, though, Nationwide scored higher than MetLife in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study (ranking sixth place to MetLife’s fifteenth), and Nationwide’s NAIC complaint index is about half that of MetLife’s, indicating that they received fewer complaints (adjusted for size) from consumers last year.
If you’re looking to buy an individual policy, Nationwide easily has the upper hand here. Between the two insurers, they’re the only one that provides life insurance outside of an employer’s group plan.
As one of the oldest insurance companies, MetLife provides a range of insurance products to consumers in more than 40 countries around the world. They operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and offer a host of coverage options to choose from.
Since forming Brighthouse Financial in 2017, MetLife no longer sells individual life insurance policies; instead, you’ll only be able to purchase coverage through a participating employer’s group plan. However, this can be a good way to purchase coverage at an often-discounted rate, and without the need for a medical exam.
MetLife did receive a lower J.D. Power ranking than many of its competitors, and the company’s NAIC complaint index was slightly better than average. However, MetLife boasts an A+ rating from AM Best and is technically the largest life insurer in North America, which makes them worth a look if your employer offers coverage.
Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers
In our review of life insurance providers, we look at many aspects of the insurer, their coverage options, and even the company’s reputation. We compare consumer satisfaction ratings, third-party financial strength ratings, and customer complaint records. We also look at things like pricing, coverage options, policy availability, and whether these plans are the right choice for older applicants or those with medical conditions. Lastly, we evaluate how simple it is to both buy and manage coverage with that carrier.
Learn more: Read our full Life Insurance Review Methodology.