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Nationwide is an all-around great company that tops our list of the best life insurance companies for a number of reasons: generous no-cost benefits, outstanding customer service, solid financial footing, and a streamlined no-exam application process for coverage up to $5 million. Coverage is available nationwide and the company offers one of the largest portfolios of life insurance products we’ve seen. You probably won't go wrong in choosing Nationwide for your life insurance needs.
- Pros & Cons
- Company Overview
Outstanding customer satisfaction
A wide range of policy types
Three living benefits included in most policies
No-medical-exam life insurance for up to $5 million
Allows credit card payments
No live chat
Simplified whole life policies only available to existing policyholders
Founded in 1925, Nationwide is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and is the 14th largest insurance company in the country. It started out as a small, mutually owned auto insurance company, and now offers a range of insurance products, including life, auto, home, pet, and travel. As the name suggests, policies are available nationwide and in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
You can purchase term life insurance from Nationwide directly online or through an agent; other policies must be purchased through an agent.
- Outstanding customer satisfaction: Nationwide’s ability to please customers is one of the top reasons we named it the best life insurance company of 2022. Of the 21 companies surveyed in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, Nationwide ranks #2 for customer satisfaction. It also received far fewer consumer complaints than expected for a company of its size—putting it in the top 25% of the 91 companies we reviewed.
- A wide range of policy types: It might be true that Nationwide offers a policy type for everyone. We checked the availability of six common policy types—term, whole life, universal life (UL), indexed UL, variable UL, final expense—and Nationwide offers all of them. This is important because if you like the company but aren’t sure what type of policy you need, you’ll have plenty of choices.
- Three living benefits included: Most Nationwide policies include chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders automatically at no additional cost. These riders let you access your death benefit early if you experience one of the aforementioned illnesses. By comparison, only 10 other companies of the 91 we reviewed offer all three living benefits at no cost on some policies. And Nationwide is our highest-rated company to include all three on most policies.
- No-medical-exam coverage for up to $5 million: Nationwide makes an extremely high death benefit available on policies without a medical exam. While you do need to be in good health to qualify for no-med-exam life insurance, many companies limit the maximum available death benefit to less than $1 million.
- Allows credit card payments: A lot of insurers do not let you pay your premium by credit card, but Nationwide does. Since your policy might lapse if you miss one or more payments, this feature can be crucial if you have an inconsistent income.
- No live chat: Nationwide doesn’t offer a live chat feature on its website, which means you’ll need to call or email if you have a question. While this is a strike against the company, live chat is not yet a common feature on life insurance websites.
- Simplified whole life policies only available to existing policyholders: You’ll need to have an auto or homeowners policy with Nationwide to qualify for its simplified issue whole life policy. This type of policy is best suited for applicants who face health issues, need a death benefit under $50,000 and prefer to answer only a few health questions and skip the medical exam.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) uses consumer complaints against insurance companies to calculate a useful metric called the NAIC complaint index. This index indicates how many complaints a company has received relative to the number expected for a company of its size.
The complaint index uses the number 1 as a baseline: If a company’s index is less than 1.0, it received fewer complaints than expected. If it’s greater than 1.0, the company received more complaints than expected. For example, an index of 2.0 means that the company received twice the number of expected complaints.
Nationwide’s 2021 NAIC complaint index is a low 0.05. This means it received far fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size.
To evaluate how financially stable a company is, we looked to AM Best’s Financial Strength Ratings. AM Best is an independent credit rating agency that reviews over 16,000 insurance companies worldwide to determine how likely they are to be able to meet their ongoing insurance obligations. AM Best uses a rating scale from A++ to D.
Since an insurance policy is a long-term and often high-value contract between you and an insurance company, it’s crucial to make sure the company can honor its promise to pay your beneficiaries when you die. Nationwide’s AM Best rating is an A+. This is the second-highest rating AM Best bestows and indicates that Nationwide has a “superior” ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations (i.e., pay claims).
When it comes to customer satisfaction, Nationwide also fared very well in a study by J.D. Power. It came in #2 out of 21 companies in the 2021 J.D. Power Individual Life Insurance Study, scoring 813 points on a 1,000 point scale—well above the average company score of 776 points.
|Types of Coverage||Term, whole life, UL, IUL, VUL, final expense||Term, whole life, UL, IUL, VUL||Term, whole life, UL, VUL|
|Dividends for 2022||Not applicable||Not applicable||Nearly $1.85 billion|
|Online Application||Available||Not Available||Available|
|AM Best Rating||A+||A+||A++|
|Price for Term Policies||Average||Excellent||Better than average|
|NAIC Complaint Index (3-year average)||0.067||0.056||0.133|
|J.D. Power Ranking||#2||#4||#7|
Chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders are included free of charge on all policies below except for simplified whole life. And all policies below except for simplified whole life are eligible for Nationwide’s Intelligent Underwriting process, which makes up to $5 million in coverage available without an exam to healthy applicants up to 50 years of age. Healthy applicants up to 60 may be eligible for up to $1 million in coverage without an exam.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance guarantees payment of a stated death benefit to the insured's beneficiaries if the insured person dies during a specified term—for example, 20 years. Unlike permanent life insurance policies, term policies typically have no savings component and no value other than the death benefit.
Guaranteed Level Term
This is what Nationwide calls its term life policies. “Level term” simply means that the premium won’t change throughout the policy’s term, which is a standard feature of most term policies, as is a guaranteed death benefit.
Nationwide offers term policies for 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year periods. Policies are convertible, which means you can convert them into permanent coverage until the end of the term or until you turn 65, whichever happens sooner, without having to requalify for coverage.
This is a generous conversion feature, as some other companies limit the conversion period to a certain number of years, such as the first 10 years of the policy. Nationwide’s term policies come with three living benefits included at no additional cost for chronic, critical, and terminal illnesses.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage (it’s designed to last for the rest of your life after you buy it) that builds a cash value. Premiums are the same amount throughout the life of the policy, and the policy’s cash values (year after year) are determined ahead of time and guaranteed as long as premiums are paid.
Nationwide has a traditional whole life product plus a simplified issue whole life policy, which is described in the “Final Expense or Burial Insurance” section of this review.
Whole Life 100 and 20-Pay Whole Life
You can choose two different premium payment options for Nationwide’s traditional whole life product: a 20-year payment period or payment until you turn 100. Nationwide’s traditional whole life policies are available to applicants 80 years old or younger, and automatically include chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders at no extra cost.
Universal Life Insurance
Universal life insurance is also a form of permanent coverage that builds a cash value. However, the cash value accumulates according to current interest rates, and premiums are flexible.
No-Lapse Guarantee UL II
Nationwide’s UL product includes a no-lapse guarantee, which means that your coverage is guaranteed not to lapse as long as you pay the specified no-lapse premium. Unlike a whole life policy, the cash value in a UL policy may be credited different amounts each year depending on the current interest rate environment. If the cash value doesn’t grow as anticipated, you may need to increase the premium to pay ongoing insurance costs. Otherwise, the policy could potentially lapse. A no-lapse feature guarantees that the premium you pay will support the policy even if cash value gains aren’t sufficient to do so.
Policies are available to applicants 85 years or younger and automatically include chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders. Plus, you can add a long-term care rider (not available with the whole life policy) as well.
Like many other permanent life insurance policies, some Nationwide policies have a surrender period, during which time you’ll face a surrender charge if you want to cancel the contract or withdraw from the cash value. The surrender period may last up to 20 years.
Variable Life Insurance
Variable life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance in which policies have sub-accounts, similar to mutual funds, into which you can invest the cash value. Since the sub-accounts are invested in stocks, you can lose and gain cash value according to their performance. Variable life is considered the riskiest type of life insurance.
Nationwide offers three VUL products:
- VUL Accumulator: This product is designed for people who need death benefit protection but want to utilize the cash value for tax-advantaged growth and supplemental retirement income.
- VUL Protector: While also a VUL product, this policy is more conservative than the Accumulator version. It provides a death benefit guarantee while still allowing you to participate directly in market growth.
- Advisory VUL: This product is available exclusively through registered investment advisors (RIAs) and fee-based financial advisors, who can manage the investments for you.
The cash value in a variable universal life insurance policy (VUL policy) can lose value because it’s directly invested in the stock market. These are investment products that must be sold with a prospectus and are not guaranteed.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance
Indexed policies are a type of universal life insurance that participate, to a limited extent, in stock market gains, but without direct market exposure. Cash value growth is tied to a stock market index, such as the S&P 500, but with floors and ceilings on earnings. Though not as risky as variable life insurance, these policies are complex and can still lose value when market gains aren’t enough to offset policy expenses—this, in turn, can threaten the death benefit or even cause the policy to lapse.
Nationwide offers these indexed policies; both accounts employ strategies using the S&P 500, NASDAQ-100 and Dow Jones Industrial Average:
- IUL Accumulator II 2020: Offers higher potential return on the cash value relative to IUL Protector II 2020.
- IUL Protector II 2020: Favors cost-effective death benefit protection with some cash value growth potential (but less potential than IUL Accumulator II 2020).
- Survivorship IUL 2020: This is a second-to-die policy (it pays on the death of the second insured person, such as a spouse) that offers death benefit protection with some potential for cash value growth.
Final Expense or Burial Insurance
Final expense policies (also called burial insurance or funeral insurance), are a types of permanent life insurance that don’t require an exam and ask few to no medical questions. These policies typically have low death benefit amounts and relatively high premiums.
Simplified Whole Life
Nationwide’s simplified whole life insurance offers up to $50,000 in death benefit protection to existing and new Nationwide auto or homeowners policyholders and certain family members. To apply for this policy you don’t need to take a medical exam and only need to answer a handful of health questions. The death benefit is “graded” for two years; if you die of natural causes during this time, your beneficiaries will receive the premiums you paid into the policy plus an additional 7% of those premiums instead of the death benefit.
Nationwide offers an extensive list of riders. The following are examples of some of the most common, but the list is not all-inclusive.
- Chronic illness benefit: You can request up to 20% of your death benefit early if you become unable to perform at least two activities of daily living (ADLs).
- Critical illness benefit: If you experience a critical illness, such as cancer or a heart attack, you can receive a portion of your death benefit early.
- Terminal illness benefit: If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and have 12 months or less to live, you can access a portion of your death benefit early.
- Long term care rider: Available on Nationwide’s UL and VUL products, this rider lets you use a portion of your death benefit to pay for long-term care.
- Accidental death benefit rider: This rider will pay an additional amount on top of your policy’s death benefit if you die as the result of an accident.
- Children's term insurance rider: Available for children at least 15 days old, this rider provides a death benefit should any of your children, (including stepchildren and adopted children) die before you.
- Guaranteed insurability benefit rider: This rider allows you to increase your death benefit if you get married or have (or adopt) a child up until your 40th birthday.
- Waiver of premium rider: If you become disabled, your premiums will be waived after a six-month waiting period.
To get in touch with Nationwide customer service, you’ll need to call 1-800-848-6331 between 8am and 8pm ET weekdays or 9am and 6pm ET on Saturdays. You can also search for a local Nationwide agent to contact, or send an email via the company’s online form. Online chat with an agent is not available, but the company does have a chatbot that occasionally pops up and may be able to assist in finding what you need. (Live chat is not yet a common feature among insurance companies.)
For the most personalized quote experience, call Nationwide directly at 844-457-7984.
We gathered quotes for 30-year $250,000 term policies for males and females in excellent health aged 25, 40, and 55 years old. Nationwide’s term policy prices were about average across all companies we collected data for. (The company does not offer 30-year term policies to males older than 50.)
While not priced particularly well or poorly, it’s important to remember that Nationwide’s term policies automatically include chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders free of charge—which is not a common feature of term policies in general. If these benefits are important to you, Nationwide’s average-priced term policies represent a good value.
Is Nationwide Life Insurance Right for Me?
Nationwide is a standout company for a number of reasons, including its generous living benefits, high coverage no-exam policy options, excellent record of customer satisfaction, and wide array of product offerings. If you’re looking for a permanent or term policy that automatically includes chronic, critical, and terminal illness accelerated death benefit riders, look no further. And if customer service is a top priority, Nationwide should be at the top of your list.
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.
To learn more, read our full Life Insurance Methodology.