New York Life Insurance Review

Offering a more personalized approach to life insurance

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New York Life Insurance

 New York Life Insurance

overall rating

New York Life is a well-known life insurance company that offers a range of products including term, whole, variable, and universal life insurance coverage. Unlike other companies that only have independent insurance agents, New York Life connects customers with trained financial professionals to provide personalized advice to help you select the best insurance policy for your needs. It’s a more individualized approach that clients with more complex insurance needs will appreciate.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
  • Your spouse can use your policy’s proceeds after your death to get insurance without a medical exam

  • Accelerated death benefits available, including disability coverage and living benefits

  • Term policies can be converted into permanent coverage

  • No online quotes available

  • Final expense-only policies are not available

  • There isn’t a no-exam coverage option

Key Takeaways
  • New York Life has been in operation since 1845 and insures residents in all 50 states 
  • As of 2019, it is the fourth-largest life insurance and annuity company in terms of direct premiums written
  • Beyond typical whole and term life insurance policies, New York Life offers variable universal life insurance, which combines permanent coverage with a cash value option you can invest in
  • Rather than purchasing a policy online, New York Life allows you to consult with a financial service professional to discuss your insurance needs and investment strategy
Company Overview

New York Life was founded in 1845 and is headquartered in New York, New York. It is a mutual company, meaning that it’s a private firm owned by its policyholders rather than shareholders. 

Mutual companies like New York Life share their success with their policyholders, distributing their profits in the form of dividends. Since 1854, New York Life has paid its customers dividends every year, highlighting its financial strength. 

New York Life is the largest mutual insurer in the United States based on revenue and has over 12,000 agents and financial professionals nationwide.

  • Year Founded 1845
  • Kinds of Plans Whole, term, universal, variable universal
  • Number of Plans 10
  • Payment Plan Options One-time, monthly, quarterly
  • Customer Service Agent, email, phone
  • Phone 800-225-5695
  • Official Website

Pros Explained

  • Spouse’s Paid-Up Option: With New York Life’s term life insurance, your spouse can use the proceeds from your life insurance policy upon your death to get insurance without a medical exam by adding the Spouse’s Paid-Up Option. This is an exclusive option only available through New York Life. 
  • Accelerated death benefits: By customizing your policy with riders, you can use a portion of your death benefits to pay for treatment or care with living benefits or chronic care options. 
  • Term policies can be converted into permanent coverage: If you decide later that you want additional coverage without undergoing another medical exam, you can convert your existing term life policy into permanent coverage through the policy purchase option. 

Cons Explained

  • No online quotes available: While other insurance companies post pricing guidelines on their websites or allow you to get online quotes, New York Life does not. To get a quote, you must contact a New York Life financial professional. 
  • Final expense-only policies aren’t available: For people on a limited budget, a final expense-only policy can be an affordable way to ensure your family can pay for your burial expenses. However, New York Life doesn’t offer final expense-only policies. 
  • There isn’t a no-exam coverage option: Some insurers offer no-exam policies, meaning you can get basic coverage without a medical exam. Unfortunately, New York Life doesn’t have this option. All New York Life policies require medical exams.
Fast Fact

New York Life wrote over $8 billion in individual direct life insurance premiums in 2019.

Available Plans

Whether you want to provide your family with protection when you’re gone or build wealth with a flexible policy that allows you to leverage market opportunities, New York Life has several life insurance options to choose from. New York Life has 10 different life insurance policies with various customizations available. 

Term Life

With term life insurance, you select how long you want to be covered. Terms are usually between 10 and 20 years. You pay premiums only for as long as the coverage lasts, and your beneficiaries only receive the benefits if you pass away within that term. Term life insurance policies are typically cheaper than other life insurance options. New York Life has two term life insurance options: 

  • Yearly Convertible: With Yearly Convertible coverage, you renew your policy every year. Your premiums start low but increase annually. This option makes sense if you may want to convert to a permanent policy later on. 
  • Level Premium Convertible: Level Premium Convertible gives you predictable payments for the length of your term. Once the level premium period expires, your premiums will increase annually.  

Whole Life

If you have a whole life insurance policy, you have lifetime protection and some added benefits. You get a guaranteed life insurance benefit, and the cash value of your policy grows tax-deferred. Dividends are not guaranteed, but you can earn dividends on your policy over time, giving you a chance for the cash value of your policy to grow even more. 

New York Life has three whole life insurance options: 

  • Value Whole Life Insurance: If you’re nearing retirement age, consider Value Whole Life Insurance. Your premiums will never increase, but your coverage is guaranteed. 
  • Whole Life Insurance: Whole Life Insurance balances guaranteed life insurance coverage with cash value accumulation. As your account grows, the policy cash value may even supplement your retirement income. 
  • Custom Whole Life Insurance: If you only want to pay premiums for a specific period, you can customize your policy with Custom Whole Life Insurance. You can schedule your payments, decide how long you want to pay premiums, and maximize your policy’s cash value. 

Universal Life

For people who are more concerned with long-term protection than cash value, universal life insurance is a good choice. It gives you protection for a longer period and is more flexible than whole life insurance policies. 

There are three different options with New York Life: 

  • Universal Life (basic): The Universal Life (basic) policy is a budget-friendly option that offers long-term protection. You can customize your protection, including your coverage amount, length of coverage, and your premiums. 
  • Custom Guarantee: With Custom Guarantee, you pay a set premium to maintain the coverage you want for as long as you need it. 
  • Protection Up to Age 90: If you need a significant amount of coverage for a specific length of time—up to age 90—this is a cost-effective option. The minimum amount of coverage for Protection Up to Age 90 plans is $1 million. 

Variable Universal Life

Variable Universal life insurance is a combination of permanent coverage and a cash value option you can invest in. There is some risk associated with these policies since you are investing, but some people are comfortable taking that risk to potentially capture stock market gains. 

Available Riders

A rider, also known as an insurance endorsement, is a modification to your insurance policy. You can use riders to enhance your coverage or add individuals to your policy. 

New York Life has multiple riders you can add to your life insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage you need. 

Accidental Death Benefit

Available with whole life insurance, you can purchase an accidental death benefit rider if you want your loved ones to have coverage in case you die as a result of an accident. 

Chronic Care

Chronic care can be added to your whole life policy. You can use a chronic care rider to accelerate your death benefits if you become chronically ill. 

Disability Waiver of Premium

If you add the disability waiver of premium to your whole life or term life insurance policy, New York Life will cover your premiums if you become disabled. 

Living Benefits

Available with term life insurance and whole life, you can use a portion of your death benefit to pay for your treatment if you become terminally ill with the living benefits rider. 

The living benefits rider isn’t available in all states, so talk to an agent about your options.

Option to Purchase Paid-Up Additions

When it’s convenient for you, you can increase your death benefit with your whole life policy and build more cash value through the option to purchase paid-up additions rider. 

Policy Purchase

The policy purchase rider is available for term life policies. You can purchase additional coverage later on without having to undergo an additional medical exam. 

Spouse’s Paid-Up

With term life insurance, your spouse can use your death benefit if you pass away to purchase insurance without a medical exam if you have the spouse’s paid-up rider. 

Customer Service

To get a quote or to make a claim, you should contact a New York Life agent or financial professional directly. For quotes, you’ll get a response within 48 hours. 

If you have general questions about life insurance and New York Life, you can call New York Life’s customer service department Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST. 

While New York Life doesn’t have a mobile app or online chat feature, it does allow you to manage your account and start a claim online

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) operates a database of consumer complaints about insurance companies. The NAIC publishes companies’ complaint ratios each year, meaning the ratio of complaints it received about a company relative to the insurer’s market share. 

Scores above 1.0 are considered to be worse-than-average, while scores below 1.0 are better-than-average. 

New York Life has historically performed well according to the NAIC complaint index. The New York Life Insurance Company had a 0.21 complaint ratio in 2019, far better than average. 

Fast Fact

Over the past three years, New York Life has had better-than-average complaint ratios.

Third-Party Ratings

AM Best is a credit rating agency that is primarily focused on insurance carriers. Founded in 1899, AM Best issues its opinions on insurers’ abilities to meet their ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations. A strong AM Best rating indicates that a company is likely to stay in operation and be able to pay out its claims when needed. AM Best gave New York Life a Financial Strength Rating of A++ (Superior), its highest rating. 

In J.D. Power’s 2019 Life Insurance Study, New York Life was ranked eighth out of 25 life insurance companies in terms of customer satisfaction, with a score in the “better than most” category. J.D. Power ranked companies based on their pricing, communications, interactions, product offerings, and statements. 

The A++ rating from AM Best is its highest possible rating.

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your life insurance policy from New York Life, contact your insurance agent. 

Before agreeing to any policy, ask your insurance agent about cancellation policies. With term life insurance, your coverage will typically lapse, and you will forfeit the premiums you paid. With permanent life insurance policies, there may be a surrender value where you pay a penalty to take out the cash savings and cancel the policy. 


The price of your life insurance premiums with New York Life is dependent on several factors:

  • The age you are when you purchase a policy
  • Your overall health
  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • Health habits, such as smoking 
  • Engaging in risky hobbies, like skydiving or rock climbing
  • Your driving record
  • Your location

Premium costs can vary widely from person to person, and online quotes are not available with New York Life. Talk to a New York Life financial professional about your budget, coverage needs, and whether you want a term, whole, universal, or universal variable policy. 

Most life insurance companies require you to apply for life insurance as a male or female based on your birth biology. If you are nonbinary, you are not disqualified for getting life insurance, and you won’t necessarily pay higher rates. However, you may find companies’ underwriting processes restrictive since they haven’t adapted to a broader awareness of nonbinary gender issues. 


Before taking out a life insurance policy, it’s wise to shop around and get quotes from multiple insurance companies. 

While New York Life has an excellent reputation, you can’t get online quotes and you need to undergo a medical exam to get a policy through the insurer. 

If you’re looking for another option, Transamerica Life Insurance is the eighth-largest life insurance company in the United States. While it has fewer plan options than New York Life, it allows you to get online quotes for some life insurance products, such as term life insurance. With Transamerica’s final expense policy, you can get up to $50,000 in coverage without a medical exam.

  New York Life Transamerica Life Insurance
Market Share Third-largest in the U.S., 6.0% Eighth-largest in the U.S., 3.4%
Number of Plans 10 8
Dividends for 2020 $1.9 billion Not applicable
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives Not applicable Not applicable
Service Method Agents Agents
AM Best Rating A++ (Superior) A (Excellent)
J.D. Power's Price Rank Better than most Fair - the rest
Complaints Trend 0.21 Excellent 1.31 Worse-than-average

However, New York Life surpasses Transamerica as the better choice for life insurance if you need a more robust policy beyond final expenses. You can consult with financial professionals to get personalized advice about your insurance needs versus speaking only with an agent, and New York Life was granted an A++ rating from AM Best. By contrast, AM Best recently downgraded Transamerica from A+ to A, a significant change in the insurance industry.


If you are looking for comprehensive protection for your family and your finances, life insurance from New York Life is an excellent choice. You can work with a trained financial professional to design an insurance policy that works best for your needs, whether that’s permanent coverage or a cash value you can invest to supplement your retirement fund. New York Life has a stellar reputation for customer service and has AM Best’s highest Financial Strength Rating, so you can feel secure that you’re backed by one of the best names in the insurance industry.

How We Review Life Insurance Companies

Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative approach that analyzes each insurer on their stability and reliability, customer service, claims experience, diversity of product lines, and cost. We compare the terms of each type of policy offered—including available coverage amounts, optional riders, and premium payment options—with that of other major life insurance companies. Lastly, we look at how the company is rated by third-party organizations to determine its reliability and overall reputation.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts and Statistics: Insurance Company Rankings." Accessed August 10, 2020.

  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts and Statistics: Life Insurance." Accessed August 10, 2020.

  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Complaint Index." Accessed August 11, 2020. 

  4. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric But Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed August 11, 2020.

  5. Insurance Information Institute. "If I Can't Pay My Premium, What Should I Do?" Accessed August 11, 2020. 

  6. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Life Insurance: Considerations for All Life Situations." Accessed August 11, 2020. 

  7. Transamerica. "The Power of Preparation," Page 5. Accessed August 11, 2020.