2 December 2020

Best Life Insurance Companies of 2020

The Top Life Insurance Companies of 2020

Life insurance is essential if you have anyone in your life who depends on your income. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the right type of coverage or the right amount. About half of all U.S. households have less life insurance than they should, according to the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association. A separate study by employee benefits provider Unum finds that about a third of all households will be financially strained within the first month of losing a breadwinner.

The good news is that life insurance doesn’t cost as much as you might think it does. Some people even estimate that life insurance costs up to five times as much as it actually does, reports the Insurance Information Institute (III).

We make the process of shopping for life insurance as easy as possible by doing the research for you and rating the top life insurance companies. To create our rating, we evaluated dozens of companies, scoring each on elements such as financial strength, customer service and cost. Read on to see which companies made our Best Life Insurance Companies of 2020.

How to Choose the Best Life Insurance Company

Buying a life insurance policy is similar to buying a home, in that you are paying for something that will be part of your life for many years to come. Just as you inspect a home before you buy it, you should evaluate any insurance company before buying a policy. Follow these tips to make sure the life insurance company you are considering is a sound business that will flourish decades into the future.

  • Financial strength: Get a financial strength rating from at least one of the five independent agencies: A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. This rating is based on an assessment of a life insurance company’s financial health. We base a portion of our Best Life Insurance Companies ratings on the A.M. Best financial strength rating, and every company on our list earned A.M. Best’s highest rating of Superior.
  • Customer service: Working with your life insurance company shouldn’t be a hassle. The best companies have easy-to-use websites, short hold times when you call, and agents who give you advice based on your needs and not their commission. Reading professional and consumer reviews can shed some light on what to expect when it comes to a life insurance company’s customer service.
  • Policy types: Not all life insurance companies offer every type of policy. Rather than choosing the wrong type of policy because you like the company, start out with a company that sells the kind that best fits your needs. We break down the differences between the types of life insurance and give a brief definition of other terms in our section below on Types of Life Insurance Policies.
  • Policy options and add-ons: Other important considerations when buying a policy include the amount of the premium, choices of premium payment arrangements, selections for term periods (for a term life policy), and the rate of return on the cash value (for a universal or whole life policy). Start off on the right foot by getting a firm understanding of what each of these terms means. See our Types of Life Insurance Policies section below for more information.
  • Company size: All else being equal, companies that hold the most assets are likely to be the most solvent, and therefore are less likely to run into financial trouble and possibly leave you or your loved ones holding a worthless policy. In addition, if you need a jumbo policy with a high payout, a large insurance company will probably be more willing to back it. Potential advantages of using a smaller life insurance company include more personalized customer service and a more congenial atmosphere.

See how we found the best life insurance companies by reading our methodology.

The Best Life Insurance Companies of 2020

Haven Life Company

4.5 out of 5

Score

$10.93 Sample Monthly Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
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Northwestern Mutual Company

4.2 out of 5

Score

N/A Sample Monthly Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
Banner Life Company

4.2 out of 5

Score

$8.53 Sample Monthly Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
Compare Quotes Learn More
State Farm Company

4.1 out of 5

Score

$15.02 Sample Monthly Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
Nationwide Company

4.1 out of 5

Score

$17.58 Sample Monthly Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
MassMutual Company

4.1 out of 5

Score

$10.23 Sample Monthly Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
Haven Life

4.5 out of 5

$10.93 A++ Compare Quotes
Northwestern Mutual

4.2 out of 5

N/A A++ Learn More
Banner Life

4.2 out of 5

$8.53 A+ Compare Quotes
State Farm

4.1 out of 5

$15.02 A++ Learn More
Nationwide

4.1 out of 5

$17.58 A+ Learn More
MassMutual

4.1 out of 5

$10.23 A++ Learn More
Haven Life Company

4.5 out of 5

Score

$10.93 Sample Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Compare Quotes Learn More
Northwestern Mutual Company

4.2 out of 5

Score

N/A Sample Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
Banner Life Company

4.2 out of 5

Score

$8.53 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
Compare Quotes Learn More
State Farm Company

4.1 out of 5

Score

$15.02 Sample Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
Nationwide Company

4.1 out of 5

Score

$17.58 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
MassMutual Company

4.1 out of 5

Score

$10.23 Sample Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
Learn More Learn More
New York Life Company

3.9 out of 5

Score

$10.75 Sample Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
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Protective Company

3.8 out of 5

Score

$8.92 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Guardian Life Company

3.8 out of 5

Score

$14.00 Sample Cost
A++ A.M. Best Rating
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Mutual of Omaha Company

3.8 out of 5

Score

$9.89 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Amica Life Company

3.7 out of 5

Score

$11.00 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Lincoln Financial Company

3.7 out of 5

Score

$8.69 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Prudential Company

3.7 out of 5

Score

$15.53 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Principal Company

3.7 out of 5

Score

$10.00 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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John Hancock Company

3.5 out of 5

Score

$10.76 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Transamerica Company

3.3 out of 5

Score

$10.11 Sample Cost
A+ A.M. Best Rating
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Haven Life

4.5 out of 5

$10.93 A++ Compare Quotes
Northwestern Mutual

4.2 out of 5

N/A A++ Learn More
Banner Life

4.2 out of 5

$8.53 A+ Compare Quotes
State Farm

4.1 out of 5

$15.02 A++ Learn More
Nationwide

4.1 out of 5

$17.58 A+ Learn More
MassMutual

4.1 out of 5

$10.23 A++ Learn More
New York Life

3.9 out of 5

$10.75 A++ Learn More
Protective

3.8 out of 5

$8.92 A+ Compare Quotes
Guardian Life

3.8 out of 5

$14.00 A++ Learn More
Mutual of Omaha

3.8 out of 5

$9.89 A+ Compare Quotes
Amica Life

3.7 out of 5

$11.00 A+ Learn More
Lincoln Financial

3.7 out of 5

$8.69 A+ Compare Quotes
Prudential

3.7 out of 5

$15.53 A+ Compare Quotes
Principal

3.7 out of 5

$10.00 A+ Compare Quotes
John Hancock

3.5 out of 5

$10.76 A+ Compare Quotes
Transamerica

3.3 out of 5

$10.11 A+ Compare Quotes

Any rates listed are for illustrative purposes only. You should contact the insurance company or insurance agent directly for applicable quotes.

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Haven Life

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360 Overall Rating

4.5 out of 5

Online Tools Available for all policies

Any rates listed are for illustrative purposes only. You should contact the insurance company or insurance agent directly for applicable quotes.

1. Haven Life: The top-rated life insurance company in our ratings is Haven Life. This insurance company offers only term life insurance policies and utilizes an online application process without personal interaction with a traditional agent. While a relatively new player in the insurance business, it’s backed by the well-established MassMutual. Haven Life aims to offer affordable, easy-to-manage term life insurance policies online, without the usual hassles of insurance shopping. Read More»

Northwestern Mutual

Learn More

360 Overall Rating

4.2 out of 5

Online Tools Not Available

Any rates listed are for illustrative purposes only. You should contact the insurance company or insurance agent directly for applicable quotes.

2. Northwestern Mutual: Northwestern Mutual has more than 160 years of experience in the financial services industry and offers a traditional approach to life insurance. Northwestern Mutual offers a variety of coverage options and a low-tech but personalized method of determining coverage needs, and its financial advisers are available to help customers through the process. Read More»

Banner Life

Compare Quotes

360 Overall Rating

4.2 out of 5

Online Tools Available for some policies

Any rates listed are for illustrative purposes only. You should contact the insurance company or insurance agent directly for applicable quotes.

3. Banner Life: Owned by Legal & General America, Banner Life offers three basic life insurance products – term, whole life and universal life – with relatively few options for customization. Product offerings are straightforward, which may appeal to people who want to keep the process of buying life insurance as simple as possible Read More»

Types of Life Insurance Policies

Part of the reason life insurance seems so complicated is because of all the jargon. Take the sting out of shopping for life insurance by first learning some of the topic’s unique words and phrases. We go into more depth on these in our How Does Life Insurance Work? and How to Buy Life Insurance guides.

  • Permanent life insurance: a category of long-term coverage that includes whole life and universal life policy types. These are more expensive than term but offer more benefits. This category is sometimes called cash value life insurance because of the savingslike cash value account that’s built into the policy.
  • Whole life insurance: a type of permanent policy that has consistent premiums and guaranteed accumulation of cash value. This policy type may be eligible for dividends from a mutual company and typically is expensive. See our Whole Life Insurance guide for more information.
  • Universal life insurance: a type of permanent coverage that builds cash value. It’s frequently offered with flexible premiums, although those premiums affect the cash value and death benefit. Find out more in our Universal Life Insurance guide.
  • Indexed universal life insurance: a universal life policy that accumulates cash value based on the performance of a specific market index such as the S&P 500. This type of policy is typically less expensive and less risky than a variable policy because there is no actual investment in an index.
  • Variable life insurance: a type of permanent policy that ties cash value to a number of investment options. These options may be based on whole life or universal life coverage.
  • Term life insurance: a life insurance policy that covers the policyholder for a predetermined length of time, typically ranging from five to 30 years. When the term ends, there is no benefit to the policy. Though no cash value accumulates, the premiums for term life policies are usually substantially lower than premiums for permanent life policies. Learn more in our Term Life Insurance guide.
  • No-Exam life insurance: a life insurance policy that doesn’t require a medical exam, thus speeding up the approval process. We explain this specialized policy further in our guide on Life Insurance With No Exam.
  • Death benefit: the money that the life insurance company pays your beneficiaries after your death. This is often a tax-free payment that can be paid as a lump sum or in installments, depending on your policy. You typically select the amount of the death benefit, also called your coverage level, when you apply for a policy, though some policies allow you to later change this amount.
  • Cash value: a portion of your premium that the life insurance company sets aside in a separate account after paying administrative fees and other expenses. In general, this money grows tax-deferred based on a fixed rate, a market index or other investments. Only permanent life policies have a cash value component.

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Determining the right amount of life insurance coverage requires balancing how much money your beneficiaries may need with a premium payment you can afford. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself first:

  • Who is currently depending on your income? In addition to your spouse and children, does this list include aging parents or a business partner?
  • How long will your family rely on your income? The answer to this question often dictates if a term or permanent policy is best for you. Keep in mind that in general, children become self-sufficient after college, and a spouse may no longer need supplemental income after they begin using funds in retirement accounts.
  • What large expenses do you want to pay for with life insurance proceeds? Common expenditures include paying off the mortgage on the family home, sending a child to college or helping with a child’s wedding.
  • What other debts do you want to cover? Some debts held in your name may disappear after your death, but you may want to pay off debts jointly held with your spouse or estate taxes that your heirs may owe.
  • What end-of-life costs do you want to pay for? This may include funeral expenses or medical bills for an extended illness.
  • What assets do you currently have? Cash accounts, real estate, investment accounts, other life insurance policies and retirement accounts are all assets that can help support your beneficiaries. You may want to raise or lower your coverage level after assessing your net worth.

We walk you through the steps of assessing the right level of coverage in our How Does Life Insurance Work? guide. If you are crunched for time, a quick way to estimate the amount of life insurance you need is to multiply your annual salary by a number between five and 10.

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360 Methodology for Life Insurance

The following describes our 360 approach to researching and analyzing life insurance companies to provide guidance to prospective consumers.

1. We researched the companies and products people care most about.

U.S. News analyzed and compared a variety of publicly available data, including internet search data, to determine which life insurance brands Americans are most interested in. We found 22 companies that stand out in terms of volume of searches and research among consumers, as well as across the different rating sources. Once we identified these companies, we reviewed insurance companies’ data to determine every available life insurance product offered by each company at the time of publication. We focused on companies with policies that are widely available, so we excluded a certain number of policies that are only available through employers and not available for individuals.

We compared available coverages and packages from top life insurance companies across several criteria, including cost, coverage limits, policy features and availability. Research shows that these criteria are among the most important considerations to people shopping for life insurance. We compared cost across companies using two types of estimated cost information per company: a summary cost relative to the company in our main review page, as well as more detail about costs by specific policy in our company profiles. At the company level, we offer what we call a “base cost”: a cost representing a 25-year-old Virginia woman in excellent health getting a typical 10-year term, $250,000 life insurance policy from a given company. By keeping certain criteria consistent, such as state of residence, we make it easier for readers to compare costs by company. In our company profiles, we show cost estimates regarding every specific policy for which online quote information was available at the time of publication. Where available, quote information has been provided from each company. We provided the same information to each company, and got the quote either using publicly available online quoting tools, direct conversations with the companies, or both. In addition, we show the costs for a range of typical individuals, including 25-, 35- and 45-year-old males and females residing in Virginia and in excellent health. All prices shown are for $250,000 policies, with a 10-year-term for term life insurance and no term for permanent life and whole life insurance policies. This range of choices allows readers to understand insurance costs, although the best way to get an accurate estimate is to use a company’s online tools as well as speak to company agents.

2. We created objective 360 Overall Ratings based on an analysis of third-party reviews.
U.S. News’ 360 Reviews team applied an unbiased methodology that includes opinions from independent life insurance experts and third-party reviews.

Our scoring methodology is based on a composite analysis of the ratings and reviews published by credible third-party professional and consumer review sources. The ratings are not based on personal opinions or experiences of U.S. News. To calculate the ratings:

(a) We compiled two types of third-party ratings and reviews:

  • Professional Ratings and Reviews. Many independent life insurance evaluating sources have published their assessments of life insurance companies and products online. We consider several of these third-party reviews to be reputable and well-researched. However, professional reviewers often make recommendations that contradict one another. Rather than relying on a single source, U.S. News believes consumers benefit most when these opinions and recommendations are considered and analyzed collectively with an objective, consensus-based methodology.
  • Consumer Ratings and Reviews. U.S. News also reviewed published consumer ratings and reviews of life insurance providers. Sources with a sufficient number of quality consumer ratings and reviews were included in our scoring model.

Please note that not all professional and consumer rating sources met our criteria for objectivity. Therefore, some sources were excluded from our model.

(b) We standardized the inputs to create a common scale.

The third-party review source data were collected in a variety of forms, including ratings, recommendations and accolades. Before including each third-party data point into our scoring equation, we had to standardize it so that it could be compared accurately with data points from other review sources. We used the scoring methodology described below to convert these systems to a comparable scale.

The 360 scoring process first converted each third-party rating into a common 0 to 5 scale. To balance the distribution of scores within each source’s scale, we used a standard deviation (or Z-Score) calculation to determine how each company that a source rated was scored in comparison to the source’s mean score. We then used the Z-Score to create a standardized U.S. News score using the method outlined below:

  • Calculating the Z-Score: The Z-Score represents a data point’s relation to the mean measurement of the data set. The Z-Score is negative when the data point is below the mean and positive when it’s above the mean; a Z-Score of 0 means it’s equal to the mean. To determine the Z-Score for each third-party rating of a company, we calculated the mean of the ratings across all companies evaluated by that third-party source. We then subtracted the company’s rating from the mean and divided it by the standard deviation to produce the Z-Score.
  • Calculating the T-Score: We used a T-Score calculation to convert the Z-Score to a 0-100 scale by multiplying the Z-Score by 10. To ensure that the mean was equal across all data points, we added our desired scoring mean (between 0 and 10) to the T-Score to create an adjusted T-Score.
  • Calculating the common-scale rating: We divided the adjusted T-Score, which is on a 100-point scale, by 20 to convert the third-party rating to a common 0-5 point system.

(c) We calculated the 360 Overall Score based on a weighted-average model.
We assigned “source weights” to each source used in the consensus scoring model based on our assessment of how much the source is trusted and recognized by consumers and how much its published review process indicates that it is both comprehensive and editorially independent. The source weights are assigned on a 1-5 scale. Any source with an assigned weight less than two was excluded from the consensus scoring model.

Finally, we combined the converted third-party data points using a weighted average formula based on source weight. This formula calculated the consensus score for each product, which we call the 360 Overall Rating.

All life insurance data displayed on this page was collected between June 1, 2019 and October 1, 2019.

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

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