Life Insurance Companies F-O

National Life Insurance Review

Living benefits and highly customizable policies, but poor term pricing

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Our Take

National Life is a financially sound life insurance provider that offers a variety of policies and riders, including some unique options, and pays dividends on participating policies.
Plus, it offers no-medical-exam life insurance for up to $3 million in coverage. However, we found National Life’s term prices to be expensive, and it doesn’t offer much in the way of policy information or quotes without the help of an agent.

Pros & Cons

  • No-medical-exam policies

  • Dividend-paying whole life insurance

  • Variety of riders

  • Very few complaints

  • No quotes on the website, so you must apply through an agent

  • High term premiums

Company Overview

National Life Insurance was founded in 1848, which makes it one of the oldest life insurance companies we reviewed. It’s also the 22nd-largest life insurance company in the country. The company has two headquarters, one in Montpelier, Vermont, and another in Dallas, Texas. and is committed to corporate social responsibility through the National Life Group Foundation. You can purchase a life insurance policy from National Life Insurance in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Pros Explained

  • No-medical-exam policies: You may qualify to purchase life insurance without a medical exam for up to $3 million in coverage if you’re 50 or younger and in reasonably good health. Coverage without a medical exam is up to $1 million if you're between 51 and 60, and up to $250,000 up to age 65. All of National Life’s products are eligible for no-medical-exam underwriting.
  • Dividend-paying whole life insurance: Whole life insurance policies from National Life are eligible to receive dividends based on company performance. 
  • Variety of riders: National Life offers a wide variety of life insurance riders, which is ideal if you want to customize your policy and get coverage for certain circumstances like if you develop a critical, chronic, or terminal illness.
  • Very few complaints: The company receives fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Cons Explained

  • No quotes on the website: You can’t get a quote for a National Life policy on its website. You must contact the company or go through a life insurance broker. And you must apply for a policy through an agent.
  • High term premiums: Based on term quotes from 32 life insurance providers, National Life Insurance has poor pricing, so it may not be the best option if you are looking for affordable term coverage.

Complaint Index

National Life has fewer complaints than expected, according to the NAIC Complaint Index. This indicates that policyholders and beneficiaries are generally satisfied with the customer experience and have no major issues with the company.

The NAIC Complaint Index is based on the number of complaints a company receives and its size. An index of 1.0 means the insurance company received an expected number of complaints for its size. Companies with more complaints than expected receive an index greater than 1.0, and companies with fewer complaints than expected receive an index below 1.0. The lower the complaint index, the better.

We considered National Life’s complaint indexes over a three-year period. Its three-year average complaint score is 0.47, which means National Life has far fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size. Most of the best life insurance companies we reviewed, including some of our top picks, have complaint indexes below 1.0.

Third-Party Ratings

National Life has an A+ rating from AM Best, a credit ratings agency that scores companies based on their financial strength. An A+ indicates that National Life has a superior ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations. Some of the factors that contribute to AM Best letter grades include a company’s balance sheet strength, operating performance, and outstanding debt. 

Policies Available 

There are several types of life insurance you can purchase from National Life. If you meet the company’s “EZ” accelerated underwriting guidelines, you can skip a medical exam and any lab requirements. 

Choosing the right amount of life insurance for your needs is important. National Life offers an online coverage calculator to help you figure out how much coverage you should get for sufficient financial protection.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a temporary life insurance policy that provides coverage over a fixed period of time. Over the course of the policy, the premiums stay level, and your beneficiaries receive a death benefit if you pass away during the term. Unlike permanent life insurance, most term life insurance policies do not have cash value.

National Life’s term life insurance policies are convertible. When the term ends, you have the option to convert your coverage into a permanent life insurance policy, without taking a medical exam. 

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that has fixed premiums, a guaranteed death benefit, and cash value. You have the option to borrow or withdraw money from your cash value while you are still living. In addition, National Life’s whole life insurance policies can receive dividends at the end of the year based on the company’s performance. 

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life (UL) insurance is another type of permanent coverage that builds cash value. The cash value accumulates with each premium payment and grows based on current interest rates. Unlike a whole life policy, UL insurance has adjustable premiums and a flexible death benefit. But if the cash value doesn’t grow as expected, you may need to increase premium payments in later years to keep the policy active. 

Indexed Universal Life Insurance

Indexed universal life (IUL) insurance is a UL policy, however, the cash value grows based on the performance of a stock market index, such as the S&P 500. The cash value has the potential to make gains based on market performance to a limited extent, and it won’t lose value based on market downswings.  

Available Riders

National Life Insurance has a broad selection of riders. Life insurance riders are endorsements that can provide additional coverage or extend your existing coverage. 

Child’s Term Rider

A child’s term rider provides a small amount of term life insurance for your children. You generally have the option to convert the child’s term rider to permanent coverage for a larger amount when your child becomes an adult. Adding this rider to your policy will raise your premium.

Waiver of Premium Rider 

With a waiver of premium rider, National Life will waive your life insurance premiums if you become disabled. This rider costs extra to add to your term life or permanent life insurance policy. 

Accelerated Benefit Riders

National Life’s living benefit riders are no-cost riders that let you receive a portion of the death benefit if you experience certain conditions, specified below: 

  • Terminal illness rider: If you're diagnosed with a terminal illness and are given a life expectancy of 24 months or less, this rider allows you to receive a portion of your death benefit while you are still living.
  • Chronic illness rider: A chronic illness rider allows you to access a portion of your death benefit early if you get diagnosed with a chronic illness. To use this rider, a doctor must certify that, within the past year, you have been unable to perform two out of the six activities of daily living (ADLs) for at least 90 days, or that you have a cognitive impairment. 
  • Critical illness or injury rider: With this rider, you can access the death benefit if you get diagnosed with a qualifying critical illness or experience a critical injury. Some examples of covered conditions include cancer, heart attack, stroke, cystic fibrosis, blindness, paralysis, coma, and severe burns. 

Lifetime Income Benefit Rider

The lifetime income benefit rider is an uncommon offering among life insurance carriers and is designed to supplement retirement income. It guarantees lifetime payments to the policyholder based on the policy’s value, and uses policy loans to make those payments. But payments will continue if you’ve exhausted the cash value and remain alive. It also guarantees a death benefit of at least $15,000 to your heirs or the remainder of your cash value, once loans have been accounted for, whichever is greater.

Charitable Matching Gift Death Benefit Rider

If you elect this rider and name a charity as a beneficiary on your policy, National Life will match the donation up to a certain amount. 

Additional Protection Benefit Rider 

An additional protection benefit rider allows you to purchase additional term coverage to supplement your existing permanent policy. This rider will increase your total death benefit without significantly increasing your premium.

Overloan Protection Rider

If you take a loan from your cash value and your life insurance policy lapses, the overloan protection rider will restructure your policy so it remains in force. 

Customer Service

If you have questions about getting a policy from National Life, you can reach a representative by calling (800) 732-8939. You can also fill out the online contact form if you prefer to reach out via email. In addition, National Life has a free mobile app where you can access your policy details, make payments, change your beneficiary, and more.

Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

We designed a comprehensive ranking methodology based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost.

In order to do this, we collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics. We grouped metrics by category to see how insurers performed in each; we then weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.

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We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.