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Published: Sep 01, 2023 41 min read
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Life insurance can provide your loved ones financial security upon your death by replacing your income, covering funeral expenses, paying your children's education costs and more. If you have dependents, life insurance can be a critical part of your financial plan.

Below, you’ll find our selection of the best life insurance companies in the industry. We review their policy options and features and provide estimated premiums so you can make better-informed decisions. Read on to find the best life insurance plan for your needs.

Our Top Picks for Best Life Insurance Companies

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Best Life Insurance Companies Reviews

To pare down our list of the best life insurance companies, we evaluated 23 life insurance carriers and brokers based on factors such as coverage options and riders, price, application process, customer satisfaction and financial strength. Our analysis determined the best company overall is State Farm, which excels in several of our criteria.

Company Term Female Male
State Farm 20-year $24.34/month* $30.44/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Top-rated for customer satisfaction
  • Low number of customer complaints
  • Multiple policy options
  • Simplified-issue (no exam) policies available
  • Online quotes are not available for all policy options
  • Most policies require medical exams
  • No discounts for bundling life with homeowners or auto insurance

Why we chose it: State farm is our choice for the best life insurance company overall because of its excellent reputation for customer service and outstanding record for financial stability.

State Farm is a leading insurance company and one that holds excellent financial strength and customer satisfaction ratings. In 2022, for the third year in a row, J.D. Power named State Farm the top company in its U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, which measures overall satisfaction based on responses from almost 6,000 customers.

Additionally, State Farm has an A++ (superior) rating from AM Best — the highest rating possible — indicating that it’s very financially stable. It's also received fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size.

State Farm sells term policies (10, 20 or 30 years), plus whole and universal life insurance policies. Although most of its plans require medical exams, it does have some simplified-issue options.

A++ (superior)
Term, No-exam, Whole, Universal
Flexible Care Benefit, Level Term Rider, Children's Term Rider, Guaranteed Insurability Option, Waiver of Premium for Disability

Read our full State Farm Life Insurance review

Company Term Female Male
Bestow 20-year $30.85/month* $22.97/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • High coverage amounts (up to $1.5M) without a medical exam
  • Online application and quick processing
  • Terms range from 10 to 30 years
  • Long (30-day) free look period
  • No riders available
  • Sells only one type of life insurance: term life
  • Must be younger than 60 to qualify for coverage
  • Policies not available to residents of New York

Why we chose it: We chose Bestow as the best life insurance company for no-exam life insurance coverage because it issues term life policies more quickly and easily than any other company on our list. It also offers an unusually high death benefit for policies that do not require a medical examination.

Bestow is our choice for individuals who want to get life insurance coverage but don’t want to go through the hassle of a medical exam. The company sells term insurance policies (and no other type of coverage) for which you can apply online. You can purchase up to $1.5 million in coverage — a higher maximum than other no-exam policies — without the need to visit a doctor or have your blood drawn.

Bestow uses your personal information and medical history, hobbies and lifestyle to determine your eligibility for coverage and life insurance rates. And it claims you can get a quote and purchase a policy within minutes, all online.

Bestow policies are issued by top-rated insurer North American Company for Life and Health Insurance or by Bestow Life Insurance Company. Additionally, life insurance from Bestow is now sold through Lemonade’s app and website.

A+ (superior) - North American Company for Life and Health Insurance
No-exam term life insurance

Read our full Bestow Life Insurance review

Company Term Female Male
Ethos 20-year $21-$38/month* $26-$49/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Same-day coverage for most approved applicants
  • No exams — the process is entirely online
  • Accelerated death benefit rider included with most policies
  • Policy purchase includes free will and estate planning tools
  • Little information publicly available about optional riders
  • No policies for ages 18-19 — term life eligibility starts at 20
  • Higher minimum age range for guaranteed issue policies (66)
  • Not available in New York

Why we chose it: Ethos is our pick as the best life insurance company for same-day coverage because it accommodates a wide range of potential applicants. Even people who struggled to qualify for insurance in the past have success. Prospective customers can also receive a quote in minutes without speaking to a life insurance agent.

With the use of proprietary technology, Ethos has simplified its application and underwriting processes so that most applicants can get life insurance coverage the same day they apply. This is a substantial improvement compared to traditional insurance brokers and carriers, which often take weeks to complete the underwriting process.

Ethos offers 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year term life policies to applicants between the ages of 20 and 65. Coverage amounts range from $20,000 to $2 million, yet the amount you qualify for will vary. Most applicants don't have to undergo a medical exam.

Those between the ages of 65 and 85 automatically qualify for guaranteed issue whole life policies — with no medical exam required, regardless of their medical history. Coverage amounts range from $1,000 to $30,000. While these policies don’t have a waiting period, they offer graded benefits for the first two years of coverage. This means that if you died within two years of your policy's effective date, your beneficiaries would receive only a percentage of the coverage amount you purchased. This does not apply to accidental deaths.

Policies sold by Ethos are issued by the following carriers:

  • Legal & General America: Term, fully underwritten and simplified issue term life
  • TrueStage via CMFG Life Group: No-exam term life and whole life
  • Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.: Term and simplified issue term life
  • Mutual of Omaha: Accidental death insurance with guaranteed coverage
A (excellent)
Term - simplified issue and fully underwritten, guaranteed issue (ages 65 to 85)
Accidental Death Benefit

Read our full Ethos Life Insurance full review

Company Term Female Male
Policygenius 20-year $20-$37/month* $24-$46/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Quickly and easily compare quotes from multiple insurers
  • Agents don't work on commission, according to the company
  • Various types of insurance policies available
  • Online quotes aren't available for all providers
  • Takes longer to provide a final price than other options

Why we chose it: We chose Policygenius as the best online life insurance broker because it offers one-stop access to policies from a wide range of partners, including some of the best life insurance brands mentioned on our list. Unlike some other comparison sites, this one pledges not to sell your information to third parties.

Policygenius is an online insurance broker that offers life, home, auto and disability insurance. On the life insurance side, it works with 12 carriers to offer term and permanent policies.

Quickly obtain a premium estimate by entering basic personal information. When you’re ready to explore policies in-depth, provide additional details to compare rates from various insurers.

The range of term life insurance policies is extensive, ranging from 10 to 40 years in 5-year increments. Policygenius also offers whole, universal and no-exam policies.

Policygenius maintains an extensive library of educational resources for those new to life insurance. If you need additional help choosing a policy or coverage amount, PolicyGenius’ licensed insurance agents can give you personalized assistance over the phone.

Policygenius is an insurance broker, so it doesn't receive an AM Best rating
Term, Whole, Universal, No-exam
Varies by carrier

Read our full Policygenius review

Company Term Female Male
Haven Life 20-year $17.50/month* $20.72/month*
Haven Simple 20-year $22.72/month* $30.17/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Offers both term and simplified issue policies
  • Up to $3 million in coverage
  • Term policies include access/discounts for health and estate planning tools
  • All policies feature a no obligation free-look period
  • Medical exams required for over $500,000 in coverage
  • Simplified issue policies not available in DE, SD, ND or NY
  • Haven Plus rider not available in FL, NY, ND, SD or WA

Why we chose it: Haven Life is our choice as the best life insurance company for term life policies because it offers up to $3 million in coverage — higher than the average. It also offers additional perks such as online will and estate planning services.

Haven Life offers 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year term policies with coverage amounts ranging from $25,000 to $3 million. These policies are underwritten by MassMutual or C.M. Life (a subsidiary of MassMutual), which have superior financial strength ratings.

Haven Life offers two types of term life insurance policies: Haven Term and Haven Simple. Haven Term includes Haven Life Plus, a rider that provides access to an online service to create a will or trust, fitness and sleep tracking apps and an online storage vault for important documents. The availability of additional riders varies.

Applicants up to 64 years old can get up to $3 million of coverage through Haven Term. Haven Simple, a simplified issue policy that doesn't require a medical exam, is available only to applicants aged 20 to 55. These policies, available in 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms with coverage from $25,000 to $1 million, include an accelerated death benefit rider.

AM Best doesn't provide a rating to Haven Life because it doesn't issue its own policies. However, it offers MassMutual, the company that issues the life insurance policies an A++ (superior) rating.
Term Life, No-Exam
Waiver of Premium, Accelerated Death Benefit (Haven Simple).

Read our full Haven Life Insurance review

Company Term Female Male
Ladder 20-year $22.37/month* $25.47/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Term coverage can be adjusted over time
  • $100,000 to $8 million in term coverage available
  • 30-day free look period, rather than the 10-day norm
  • No medical exams for up to $3 million in coverage
  • Plans are limited to people aged 20 to 60
  • Only offers term coverage
  • No optional riders

Why we chose it: We picked Ladder as the best life insurance company for flexible coverage because it allows you to increase or decrease your coverage as your needs change. Additionally, premiums start at just $5 per month, so you can purchase a life insurance policy even if you’re on a tight budget.

While Ladder exclusively offers term life insurance for relatively young applicants, we’ve found it to be the best insurer for those seeking flexible, affordable coverage. By completing a simple 3-step online application, policyholders can access up to $3 million in coverage. Ladder doesn't charge cancellation fees, so you can cancel your coverage at any time, with no strings attached.

But its most appealing feature, and what sets it apart from other companies, is that it allows policyholders to increase or decrease their coverage amount at any time.

A (excellent) - A+ (superior)
Term Life, No-Exam

Read our full Ladder Life Insurance review

Company Term Female Male
New York Life Whole Life $244.58/month* $244.58/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Multiple term, whole and universal life policies available
  • Offers several optional riders
  • Highly rated company
  • Potential to earn dividends
  • Must work with an agent
  • Can't get an online quote

Why we chose it: We picked New York Life as the best life insurance company for whole life coverage because it offers various permanent policies. Its term life policy also includes the option to convert to permanent coverage down the road.

New York Life is one of the best companies for those seeking permanent coverage. Besides a term-to-permanent conversion option, it also sells several types of permanent policies: whole, universal and variable universal life. While more costly, these policies build cash value in addition to providing a death benefit. You can also customize your coverage through several add-ons, including an accidental death benefit rider, a chronic care rider and a living benefits rider.

New York Life has a solid reputation and underwrites AARP’s life insurance program. Plus, since it’s a mutual insurance company, its policyholders own part of the company's shares. Depending on the type of policy you have, you may be eligible to receive dividends.

One potential drawback, however, is that New York Life doesn’t provide quotes online. For details on its policies and rates, you have to work with an agent.

A++ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal, Variable Universal
Spouse's Paid-Up Insurance, Option to Purchase Paid-Up Additions, Disability Waiver of Premium, Living Benefits, Chronic Care, Accidental Death Benefit

Read our full New York Life Insurance review

Company Term Female Male
Nationwide 20-pay Whole Life $288.41/month* $266.66/month*

*Sample pricing based on a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health for a $500,000 20-year term-life policy. Your rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

  • Discounts for bundling life with homeowners or auto insurance
  • Multiple insurance plans and optional riders
  • Most policies require medical exams
  • Most policies must be purchased through agents

Why we chose it: We chose Nationwide as the best life insurance company for bundling discounts because it’s relatively rare to get a break on your life insurance rates by bundling it with policies, but Nationwide offers such discounts. It writes term, whole life and universal policies, and has several optional riders you can use to adjust your policy to your needs.

Nationwide is a leading insurance company in the U.S. It has high ratings from third parties like AM Best, which rates financial stability, and J.D. Power, which scores customer satisfaction.

A+ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal
Long-term Care, Chronic Illness, Critical Illness, Terminal Illness, Children's Term Insurance, Premium Waiver, Waiver of Monthly Deductions Rider, Accidental Death Benefit, Extended No-Lapse Guarantee, Estate Protection, Guaranteed Insurability, Overloan Lapse Protection

Read our full Nationwide Life Insurance review

Company Term Female Male
Northwestern Mutual N/A N/A N/A

*Northwestern Mutual does not provide quotes online. You must consult an advisor to get an estimate.

  • Many optional riders
  • Multiple policy and coverage options
  • Potential to earn dividends
  • Highly rated by third parties
  • Policies must be purchased through agents
  • Medical exams required for most policies
  • Limited online quote tools

Why we chose it: Northwestern Mutual is our pick for the best life insurance company for policy customization because it offers more riders than most insurers, allowing you to customize your policy as much as you like. Insurance riders allow you to get coverage for loved ones, access your benefits under special circumstances or even waive your premiums if you become ill.

Like most national insurers, Northwestern Mutual offers a variety of life insurance products, including term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance.

As a mutual company, it also pays dividends to policyholders. If you purchase insurance through the company, you could be eligible for annual dividend payments.

Northwestern Mutual is a reputable company that is usually listed at the top of the life insurance industry rankings. It ranks 8th out of 21 companies in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study and, according to NAIC data, has received fewer complaints than other companies of its size.

A++ (superior)
Term, Whole, Universal, Variable
Accelerated Death Benefit, Accidental Death, Waiver of Premium, Indexed Protection, Additional Purchase, Long-term Care Benefit

Read our full Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance review

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Other life insurance companies we considered

We evaluated life insurance vendors and companies based on customer service, product offering, simplicity of underwriting, ability to pay claims on time and high ratings.

The following companies have competitive offerings but aren't among our top picks because they didn't excel in one of several of our criteria.


  • Premiums start from $9 per month
  • Completely online application
  • Full refund if you cancel within the first 30 days
  • Only people aged 18-60 can apply
  • Term life is not available in NY
  • Approval is unlikely if you have heart disease or cancer

Lemonade offers term life insurance with no medical exam. Customers can complete the full online application in around five minutes and purchase 10- to 30-year term policies with up to 1.5 million in coverage. Policyholders must download Lemonade’s mobile app to manage their policy, submit claims and access customer service.

Why Lemonade didn’t make the cut: The company is not among our top picks because it has limited insurance offerings and its website lacks information about riders and policies.


  • SmartRouting uses data and tech to make policy recommendations
  • Wide variety of carriers to ensure almost anyone can find coverage
  • No phone assistance over the weekend
  • No quotes available without entering personal information

Sproutt is a life insurance broker that connects customers with companies offering no-exam, guaranteed issue, universal and whole life policies.

The company, which has been in operation for about five years, works with a slew of carriers, including Legal & General, SBLI, TruStage, AIG, American Amicable, Gerber and Mutual of Omaha. Agents are aided by proprietary SmartRouting technology when identifying the best policy matches for applicants.

Why Sproutt didn’t make the cut: While other insurance brokers provide online tools to help you get an estimate without having to enter contact information, Sprout requires such details before showing you coverage amounts and premium estimates.

Health IQ

  • Compare rates from 30 different carriers
  • Licensed agents guide you through the process
  • Has a membership rewards program
  • Online quotes require users to agree to calls from agents
  • Must have a healthy lifestyle to qualify for better rates

Health IQ partners with over 25 national insurers to offer term life insurance for individuals with a healthy lifestyle. Insurance carriers include Prudential, Principal, Pacific Life, Ameritas and John Hancock. Customers can obtain online quotes but have to purchase coverage through an agent. Terms, policies and riders vary by insurance provider.

Why Health IQ didn’t make the cut: The company didn't make our top list because of its restricted customer base, absence of a fully-online application and purchase process and limited information on its website.


  • Young and/or healthy applicants may not need a medical exam
  • Offer two whole life policies with long-term care riders
  • Direct Term life insurance can be purchased immediately online
  • No conversion options for some policies
  • You can only earn dividends with a whole life insurance policy
  • Few or no policy riders

MassMutual’s insurance portfolio includes term and permanent life insurance, including a term life policy that can be purchased online. Customers can also convert their term life insurance to a permanent policy without a medical exam. MassMutual features a life insurance calculator to help prospective clients assess their insurance needs.

Why MassMutual didn’t make the cut: Unlike other insurers in our top picks, this company provides limited optional riders to enhance or modify coverage.

Guardian Life

  • Online quotes and account management
  • Policies available for people with HIV
  • Must apply (and cancel) through an agent
  • Doesn't offer no-exam (guaranteed issue) policies

Guardian Life's insurance portfolio includes term, whole and universal life policies. Those interested in a term life policy can get an online quote on Guardian Life’s website, but they must contact an agent or provider to purchase a policy or get quotes for permanent life insurance.

Why Guardian Life didn’t make the cut: Unlike our top life insurance companies, Guardian offers few optional riders, and its website provides very little information about policies.


  • Coverage during wartime for active duty military
  • High cap on the value of their policies
  • Available only to current and former military, their spouses and children
  • Medical exam required for all policies
  • Some policies unavailable in New York

USAA offers several financial and insurance products for current and former military members, as well as their spouses and children.

Term life policies start at $12 a month and, depending on the policy type, USAA may offer up to $10 million in coverage. Additionally, USAA policyholders get access to discounts at participating businesses, including car rental services, theme parks, hotels, cruises, meal delivery and prescription medication delivery services.

Why USAA didn’t make the cut: The company provides few details about available riders and cash value policies on its website. To learn more, you must speak to a USAA representative over the phone.

Mutual of Omaha

  • Offers online quotes
  • Affordable underwriting for health conditions, including cancer
  • Offers a whole life insurance policy for children
  • Policies for individuals in good health are pricier than average
  • Must apply to discover whether a medical exam is required
  • Sparse website resources
  • New York residents have limited options

Mutual of Omaha stands out for being one of the few companies on this list that offers online quotes for both term and whole life insurance policies. On A.M. Best, Mutual of Omaha has a financial strength rating of A+ superior.

Why Mutual of Omaha didn’t make the cut: Mutual of Omaha's premiums are higher than the industry average for applicants who are healthy and/or older. Application and processing times are also slower than other insurance providers.

Liberty Mutual

  • Immediate online approval for Passport Term (simplified issue policy)
  • Option to renew coverage once the original term ends
  • Monthly premiums are higher than average
  • No detailed information about policies on its website

Why Liberty Mutual didn’t make the cut: Liberty doesn't provide detailed information about policies on its website. Additionally, and unlike most other insurers on our list, it doesn’t offer a variety of term life options.

Life Insurance Guide

To compare life insurance policies efficiently and make better-informed decisions, it's important to understand how life insurance works and know the difference between types of life insurance policies.

How to compare life insurance policies

Here are some steps to follow when shopping around for life insurance and comparing policies:

1. Understand how different types of life insurance policies work: Your first step should be to learn about the differences between term versus whole life insurance. Term life could be a good option if you fit the following profile. You're relatively young and healthy and looking to replace your income for a specified period, such as the duration of your mortgage or your children's school years. If you need lifetime coverage, want your investment to grow over time and can afford higher premiums, a permanent life insurance policy could be right for you.

2. Choose a policy term: If you're sold on term life insurance, your next step should be to choose a life insurance term length. To do that, consider how long you need to provide for your dependents and the duration of other financial obligations like student loans and mortgage payments. The longer the term, the higher your premium, so account for that as well.

3. Determine how much coverage you need: Calculate how much life insurance you really need to replace your income for your dependents. Factor in your final expenses, potential lifestyle changes (like moving) and hidden income (like benefits). Then, subtract other potential sources of income for your loved ones (like Social Security benefits) and account for inflation.

4. Shop for quotes: Once you've decided on a type of policy and coverage amount, get life insurance quotes from several different companies. Insurers price risk differently, so you could get widely different estimates based on your age, gender, health and lifestyle.

5. Make an apples-to-apples comparison: Ensure you're evaluating policies on equal grounds by getting quotes for the same type of policy, term length (if applicable) and coverage amount. You should also account for unique policy features or benefits, optional riders and discounts. Lastly, consider the insurers' reputation for customer service and financial stability.

How much life insurance do I need?

There's no such thing as a hard and fast rule for figuring out a price tag on your life insurance needs and peace of mind. Still, a basic starting point is to determine your financial obligations and future and end-of-life expenses (such as funeral expenses) and subtract any liquid assets you may have.

Below are some common uses for life insurance. Consider whether or not they are relevant to you.

For beneficiaries, from death benefit:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Replace income of policyholder for dependents
  • College tuition for children
  • Debts, e.g. mortgage, loans
  • Estate taxes

For living policyholders, from policies with cash value:

  • Supplemental income during retirement
  • Prepay funeral expenses
  • Pay off debts, e.g. credit card, mortgage, loans, healthcare
  • College tuition savings for children

In any case, it's a good idea to consider life insurance within a larger financial context. If you can, talk with a financial advisor to find out how much life insurance you really need, what you can afford, and what policy types are best for you.

What Is Life Insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between a policyholder and an insurer, in which the insurer guarantees to pay a sum of money to the life insurance beneficiary upon the policyholder's death. This sum of money, known as the death benefit, is funded by premium payments made by the policyholder throughout their lifetime.

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How Does Life Insurance Work?

A basic life insurance policy has two main components: a death benefit and a premium. The death benefit, also called the face value, refers to the lump sum of money the insurer agrees to pay out to named beneficiaries upon the policyholder's death.

Premiums, on the other hand, are what the policyholder pays for the policy. Life insurance premiums are determined by the insured’s projected life expectancy. That means high-risk individuals (such as smokers or those in poor health) generally pay higher premiums. Other factors that affect the cost of life insurance include the applicant's sex and the type of policy, term length (if applicable) and coverage amount they select.

Permanent life insurance policies have yet another component: cash value. The cash value works as a type of savings account that grows on a tax-deferred basis. Once there is enough cash value accumulation, the policyholder may borrow against the policy, use the funds to cover premium payments or purchase a higher coverage amount.

It's important to note that the cash value is a living benefit that stays with the insurance company when the policyholder dies. If you borrow against life insurance, any outstanding loans will reduce the policy’s death benefit.

Types of Life Insurance

The following are common types of life insurance policies. Please note that some life insurance categories, such as universal life insurance, may include additional subtypes not listed here.

What is term life insurance?

Term life insurance lasts for a predetermined period (commonly 10, 15 or 20 years). If the policyholder dies before the end of the term, the policy's beneficiaries receive a death benefit. But if the policyholder outlives the policy term, the coverage simply expires.

Depending on your policy and insurance company, you may have the option to renew coverage for an additional term or switch to a permanent policy that lasts your entire life.

What is whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance covers the insured for the duration of their life, as long as they pay their premiums. It features a guaranteed cash value component and fixed monthly premiums.

If you're interested in this type of policy, read our guide to the best whole life insurance companies.

What is universal life insurance?

Similar to whole life, universal life insurance provides lifelong coverage as long as premiums are paid. It also includes a cash value component that, unlike that of whole life, is not guaranteed and will fluctuate with the market.

No-exam life insurance

No-exam life insurance policies don't require a medical exam for approval, but they may require completing a medical questionnaire. Both term and whole life insurance policies may fall under the no-exam umbrella.

How to Purchase Life Insurance

Once you've chosen a policy and shopped for quotes, consider how you want to purchase life insurance. You can buy some types of policies online — particularly term, no-exam and guaranteed-issue ones — but applying for certain types of permanent coverage may require speaking with an insurance agent.

Alternatively, doing business with an insurance broker could save you some legwork, as they can help you compare options from multiple insurers.

Before going through with the purchase, however, thoroughly evaluate the insurance company to ensure it aligns with your specific requirements.

How to choose the best life insurance company for you

When searching for the best life insurer, consider the following factors.

Policy types

Not every company offers both term and permanent life insurance plans. Newer insurers offering coverage you purchase entirely online may offer only term life and guaranteed-issue policies.

Application process

Some life insurance companies offer a fully online process. Others require you to work with an agent during the underwriting process.

Medical exam requirements

Depending on the type of policy and carrier you choose, you may need to undergo a medical exam. Some, but not all, companies offer no-exam life insurance.


Insurance policies can be modified with additional benefits known as riders. Some companies include riders in the cost of the policy, while others sell them separately. However, the availability of riders varies by company, and some don't offer any.


Minimum and maximum coverage amounts can vary significantly from one insurance company to another.


Again, since insurance companies price risk differently, you could get widely different premiums depending on the insurance you choose to do business with. With that in mind, it's always best to compare rates from various companies before committing to a policy.

Company reputation

Make sure you're doing business with a reputable company that's on strong financial footing and is known for its excellent customer service.

For insights into the financial strength of most U.S. life insurance companies, consult AM Best. For customer reviews (complaints included), look to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the latest J.D. Power Individual Life Insurance Study.

Cost of Life Insurance

According to LIMRA's 2022 Life Insurance Barometer Study, more than half of Americans believe the cost of life insurance is three times higher than it actually is. This common misconception can leave families in financial hardship upon the death of their primary breadwinner.

In reality, life insurance costs vary widely depending on a number of variables. Besides the type of policy, coverage amount and term length you select, factors such as your sex, age, health history, occupation and even your lifestyle and hobbies can influence your premiums.

People who drink, smoke or participate in high risk activities like skydiving or rock climbing will cost more to insure. The same applies to applicants with chronic health conditions or dangerous jobs such as fishers, roofers or and construction workers.

Below you’ll find sample rates from multiple insurance companies in the U.S. We obtained some of this information directly from company representatives and/or rate calculators featured on the carriers' websites.

Disclaimer: The following are sample rates for a 35-year-old female or male in excellent health. Your own rate will depend on your age, health and sex, among other factors.

Term life insurance - $500,000 policy

Company Term Female Male
Haven Life - Term 20-year $18.82/month $22.26/month
Bestow 20-year $22.97/month $31.54/month
AIG Direct 20-year $19.46/month $22.32/month
USAA 20-year $19.99/month $22.90/month
Mutual of Omaha 20-year $22.15/month $26.02/month
Ladder Life 20-year $19.84/month $22.59/month
State Farm 20-year $24.34/month $30.44/month
Nationwide 20-year $20.56/month $22.75/month
MassMutual 20-year $20.42/month $23.33/month
Amica 20-year $18.25/month $21.65/month
Sproutt 20-year $17.27/month $20.22/month
Policygenius (life insurance broker) 20-year $20 - $37/month $24 - $46/month

Permanent Life Insurance - $250,000 policy

Company Term Female Male
New York Life Whole Life $244.58/month $285.42/month
USAA** Whole Life - Pay for Life $166.65/month $185.40/month
Nationwide 20-pay Whole Life $288.41/month $266.66/month
MassMutual Whole Life $232.50/month $275.42/month
Amica Whole Life - Pay to 100 $179.31/month $205.42/month
Policygenius (life insurance broker) Whole Life $219 - $226/month $261 - $279/month

Most common reasons life insurance won’t pay out

Life insurance carriers may withhold the death benefit from your beneficiaries in the following circumstances:

  • You withheld information or lied in your insurance application regarding your health, family history, hobbies or upcoming travel plans.
  • You die by suicide within one to three years of getting the policy and there’s a suicide clause in place.
  • You die participating in a risky hobby for which there’s an exclusion clause.
  • You’re murdered by someone who is a designated beneficiary in the policy.
  • Your death took place during the policy’s contestability period.

What’s the best place to get life insurance quotes?

You can get life insurance quotes directly from insurance companies. In fact, most of the companies in our top picks offer online life insurance quotes. However, that will entail doing the legwork yourself if you plan to compare quotes from multiple insurers (which we highly recommend).

Alternatively, you can look for an independent life insurance agent or broker who can help you compare policies from different carriers. An insurance marketplace like Policygenius could also be a great alternative if you'd rather explore products and compare premiums yourself.

If you have questions, our picks for the best life insurance companies have insurance agents available to help by phone. For example, if you are a transgender or non-binary person, an agent can better help you navigate the application process. They can also help you choose riders and identify discounts for which you may qualify.

What Is the Difference Between Term, Whole and Universal Life Insurance Policies?

Term Life Whole Life Universal Life
The most affordable and simplest form of life insurance: you pay a premium in exchange for a death benefit Can be the most expensive out of these three options, as it provides a cash value and a guaranteed death benefit that doesn't expire if you pay your premiums Also includes a cash value, but the death benefit is not guaranteed
Coverage lasts a predetermined period or term (typically 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, but there may be other term options available) Premiums fixed but guaranteed never to increase Provides more flexibility, as you can adjust your coverage amount and premiums (within limits)
If you die within the policy term, your designated beneficiaries receive a death benefit as either as a lump sum or in installments Cash value growth is guaranteed Cash value can be invested in different ways and may fluctuate over time based on market conditions (but you're generally guaranteed a minimum rate)

Life Insurance Glossary

What is a policyholder?

The policyholder is the person who purchased the life insurance policy. For individual life insurance, the policyholder and the insured are one and the same. If you have a group policy through your employer, you are the insured and your employer is the policyholder.

What is a beneficiary?

The beneficiary is the person, organization or charity that receives the life insurance payout or death benefit.

What is a primary beneficiary?

The primary beneficiary is the person, persons or entity with the first claim over the death benefit. You can designate more than one primary beneficiary and choose what percentage of the total payout each will receive.

What is a contingent beneficiary?

The contingent beneficiary is a backup beneficiary who will receive the death benefit if the primary beneficiary dies before the insured or cannot be found. You can also select more than one contingent beneficiary or choose an entity or organization.

What is a death benefit?

The death benefit is the amount the beneficiaries receive from a life insurance policy if the insured died when the policy was in effect.

What is an accelerated death benefit?

The term accelerated death benefit refers to a policy provision or rider that allows the policyholder to access a portion of the death benefit while they are still living. While specific requirements and qualifying conditions vary by insurer, you must generally be diagnosed with a terminal illness or serious chronic condition to trigger this benefit.

What is survivorship life insurance?

Survivorship policies insure two people. The death benefit is paid out to the beneficiaries only when both of the insured have died.

What is insurance underwriting?

Insurance companies use underwriting guidelines to determine how much your policy will cost based on your health issues and family history, among other factors. They do so by classifying policyholders into risk pools. The higher the risk, the higher the premium.

What is the cash value of a life insurance policy?

Permanent life insurance policies (e.g. whole or universal life insurance) accrue cash value as you pay premiums. Once you have built enough cash value, you can borrow against your policy or use the funds to cover premium payments or purchase additional coverage. If you borrow against your policy and fail to repay the loan in full before your death, the amount you owe will be deducted from the death benefit.

What is the cost of insurance (COI)?

The COI is a charge or rate that applies to certain types of life insurance, particularly universal life. It's the minimum premium amount that must be paid to fund the death benefit and keep the policy active, and generally includes mortality costs, administrative fees and other expenses.

What is a rider in insurance?

Riders, also called endorsements or add-ons, are provisions that can be added to a policy to augment or modify coverage. Riders generally increase the cost of a policy and, in most cases, must be opted into. Examples of common life insurance riders include accelerated death benefit, accidental death benefit, chronic illness, long-term care and return of premium.

What is a disclaimer?

In life insurance, a disclaimer refers to the act of disclaiming the proceeds of a policy. This happens when a beneficiary declines to receive or fails to claim the death benefit. In such cases, the death benefit goes to the remaining beneficiaries. If there are no other beneficiaries, the death benefit goes to the insured's estate.

What is a contestability period?

The first two years of your policy. The life insurance company can review your policy during this period of time and refuse to pay a claim if they find out the insured has committed fraud.

Latest Life Insurance News

Between beneficiaries and annuity holders, United States life insurance companies paid out a record $200 billion in 2021, according to the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). The ACLI also reported that, in the same year, close to 46 million life insurance policies were purchased. That’s a 6% increase from 2020, with coverage overall exceeding $21 trillion.

While term life insurance and permanent life insurance are the most well-known types of policies, life insurance is not a monolith.

Some customers may benefit from specialized products, such as disability insurance, which offers financial protection if you cannot work due to a severe illness or injury. Another is Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance, often offered as a rider (supplemental coverage) with existing life insurance coverage.

(LTC) insurance is another specialized insurance product worth looking into. It provides coverage for extended care services not typically covered by health insurance or Medicare. In light of the rising costs of care, and given that most of us will require long-term care in our lifetime, LTC insurance can be a good investment for those looking to afford long-term care services later in life.

Best Life Insurance FAQs

What is the best life insurance?


There's no one best life insurance policy or company for everybody. The right choice for you will depend on your needs and how you plan to use the policy. Before making a selection, read our reviews of the best life insurance companies.

That said, our top pick for the best life insurance company is State Farm. It stands out due to its consistently high customer satisfaction ratings and outstanding financial strength. The company also excels in several other key factors we used to evaluate insurers, including a low number of complaints registered with the NAIC, a simple underwriting process and a great selection of insurance policies and related products.

What is the difference between term and whole life insurance?

The main difference between term and whole life insurance is that the former only lasts for a set number of years (its term). In contrast, a whole life insurance policy, also known as a permanent policy, provides policyholders with insurance for life (so long as premiums are paid).

How much is life insurance per month?

The cost of a life insurance policy will depend on various factors, including the type of policy and amount of coverage you select. The monthly premium will also depend on the applicant's age, sex, lifestyle and overall health. According to Haven Life, a healthy 35-year-old male non-smoker living in New York will pay around $20.72 per month for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit.

Does life insurance pay for suicidal death?


Whole and term life insurance generally pay for death by suicide, unless the policy contains a suicide clause. According to this clause, the policy won't pay out if the policyholder dies by suicide within one to three years after the policy went into effect.

Group life insurance policies typically don't have suicide clauses, but you should contact your company's benefit manager for more information.

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?


Yes. Depending on your specific situation, you may be eligible for term or whole life insurance. Another option is a no-exam, guaranteed issue policy. This is a type of permanent life insurance that doesn't require a medical exam and, with most carriers, you're guaranteed approval.

However, no-exam life insurance premiums are higher and coverage amounts are often limited to $50,000 to $100,000. Some policies have a waiting period before coverage goes into effect, while others, like the Guaranteed Issue policy from Ethos, don't.

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How We Chose The Best Life Insurance Companies

Our methodology for creating our Best Life Insurance Companies list includes the following factors:

  • The ability to pay claims on time
  • Customer experience and product offerings
  • Financial strength ratings as reported by credit rating agencies like AM Best
  • Customer satisfaction ratings as reported by J.D. Power in the latest U.S. Life Insurance Satisfaction Study
  • The number of complaints regarding their individual life insurance policies, based on National Association of Insurance (NAIC) data
  • Their selection of insurance plans and related products
  • The simplicity of the underwriting process

We also interviewed representatives from companies as part of our research process. However, while we always try to include accurate and up-to-date information on regulatory and legal actions, we don’t claim this information is complete or fully up to date. Rates are subject to change. As always, we recommend you do your own research as well.

Summary of Money’s Best Life Insurance Companies of September 2023