I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Life insurance companies compete with each other by calculating their risks differently.
In other words, it’s all in the math!
And for you, that means the best life insurance company is the one whose risk calculations fit your exact situation.
The only problem: life insurance companies don’t share their math–not because they don’t want you to know, because they don’t want their competitors to know.
Well, after decades in the insurance business, and with a team here doing more than 200 hours of research per month in life insurance, we now know a thing or two about helping you find the best life insurance company for you.
Select one of the following to find the best companies for your needs:
- Top 10 Best Overall Life Insurance Companies
- Best Companies by Age
- Best Companies with Health Issues
- Best Companies for Fast Coverage
Top 10 Best Life Insurance Companies
Rated by Financial Strength, Price, and Ease of Approval
Rating Our Top Life Insurance Company Picks
We realize you can’t just judge an insurance company by their A.M. Best, Comdex, or S&P rating.
Perhaps even more important is their:
- Pricing (who has the lowest rates across the board?)
- Underwriting Leniency (how forgiving are they of health concerns?)
We’ve ranked our top 10 life insurance companies by assigning them a score of 1-10, with 10 being the best, in the categories of pricing, financial strength, and underwriting leniency.
We’ve combined the 3 giving each one equal weight to come up with their score.
Here is our selection of 2019’s Top 10 Life Insurance Companies:
What follows is a breakdown of how each company above scored in the areas of ratings, pricing, and underwriting leniency, the 3 factors we weighed to arrive at the score.
|Insurance Company||Pricing||Financial Strength||Underwriting||Overall Score|
|Banner Life Insurance||10||9||8||27|
|Prudential Life Insurance||7||9||10||26|
|Protective Life Insurance||9||9||8||26|
|Transamerica Life Insurance||8||8||8||24|
|Savings Bank Life||8||9||5||22|
1. Banner Life Insurance
Overall Score: 27
Banner is our most recommended company. They began in the United Kingdom in 1836 and is owned by Legal and General.
The company operates in 49 states under the name “William Penn” in the state of New York.
Banner is one of the best life insurance companies in the business when it comes to competitive pricing.
Generally, when we review quotes provided, Banner frequently provides the top 5 lowest quotes.
Financial Ratings: 9
Banner has been given an A+ financial rating by A.M. Best, with a “stable” outlook.
This means that Banner is an exceptional and financially stable company.
They currently rank 8th among the U.S. term life marketplace, as measured by term life annualized new business premiums for 2015.
You can feel very confident that the company will meet all its financial obligations when it comes to paying out claims.
Underwriting Leniency: 9
Banner is a remarkable company when it comes to approving individuals with health issues, that many other insurers won’t consider.
Not only is the company one of the most lenient, but it also provides some of the most competitive rates for those with certain health issues.
On several occasions, we’ve got a standard rating from Banner for diabetics when other companies were quoting a 50% to 100% higher rate.
They’ve come through for us in some special epilepsy cases, where we’ve seen them approve at preferred rates where others would price the risk twice as high or even decline.
One of our favorite uses for Banner life is when an applicant’s parent has been diagnosed with (or died from) cancer, 99% of companies penalize you for that.
However, Banner only reduces your rate for family history if your parents had heart disease, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), NOT cancer.
They’re definitely our all-around #1 favorite.
Read our Banner Life Insurance Review for more detailed information.
2. Prudential Life Insurance
Overall Score: 26
Prudential, doing business in most states as “Pruco Life”, was established in Newark, New Jersey in 1875 and is also known as “The Rock”.
If it weren’t for its pricing (which isn’t always the lowest), it would definitely be #1 on our top 10 life insurance company list of 2019.
It is a Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 Company and operates in 48 states.
Prudential Pricing: 7
Prudential is also highly renowned when it comes to competitive pricing, but its products tend to be a bit more expensive.
Prudential also has one of the most detailed online quote tools in the market and can also provide quotes for Universal Life insurance, which is rarely found in quote tools provided by competitors.
If you compare their “best” rates to other insurance companies’ best rates, this is where they falter.
But, if you understand just how good their underwriting is, and how lenient they are, you’d know that their pricing score of 7 isn’t quite fair, since they frequently approve applicants at better ratings than the next company.
In other words, if they approve an applicant at “preferred best” where Banner might only approve them at “preferred”, then Prudential’s rates are just as good as the top-priced companies, and in many cases better!
Financial Ratings: 9
Prudential also has been bestowed by A.M. Best with an A+ financial rating, with a stable outlook.
As of 2016 the company has over 3.7 trillion dollars of life insurance in force with over $766 billion in assets and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as a publicly traded company.
In a recent affirmation of their A.M. Best rating, they were said to have a:
- Highly diversified business and earnings profile
- Strong market positions in its core lines
- Considerable financial flexibility
Underwriting Leniency: 10
The underwriting policies of Prudential also make it one of the most lenient companies in the business.
In fact, they are the ONLY company who receives a 10 in this category!
PRU has some of the best weight allowances in the industry and excels when it comes to those who use tobacco but aren’t cigarette smokers such as those who smoke cigars, chew, use e-cigarettes, marijuana or those who wear patches or use nicotine gum.
They are also known to offer life insurance at a slight sub-standard rating to applicants with recent DUI’s when most other companies will decline them.
On a personal note, I recently was able to help an applicant with Hepatitis C AND hemophilia get approved by Prudential when all else declined him.
It is also one of the best go-to companies when it comes to those who travel outside the U.S. and for non-resident citizens, such as permanent residents, who need life insurance.
Read our Prudential Life Insurance Review for more detailed information.
3. Protective Life Insurance
Overall Score: 26
Protective Life Insurance was founded in 1907 and is based in Birmingham, Alabama.
The company operates in all 50 states. Protective was featured in 2012 in the Forbes Global 2000 and Fortune 1000 lists.
Protective is exceptionally competitive when it comes to pricing and has some of the least expensive products for those who are 50 years of age or older.
It also has one the best prices when it comes to Guaranteed Universal Life, and can lock in prices up to age 90.
Financial Ratings: 9
Protective has also been granted a superior rating of A+ by A.M. Best, due to the company’s overall and solid financial strength.
The company currently has over $357 billion in life insurance and has over $70 billion in assets.
Underwriting Leniency: 8
Protective has some of the most lenient underwriting policies when it comes to seniors, moving violations, smokers, and stay-at-home spouses.
Additionally, the company is considered to be the number 1 option when it comes to individuals who have a history of heart disease and is very liberal when it comes to cholesterol levels.
Read our Protective Life Insurance Review for more detailed information.
4. Transamerica Life Insurance
Overall Score: 24
Transamerica was originally founded in 1928 and is based in Cedar Rapids in Iowa.
The company has grown to become one of the top ranked life insurers in the U.S. and is part of the AEGON group of companies, which is considered to be one of the largest insurance organizations globally.
Transamerica is exceptionally competitive when it comes to pricing and has some of the least expensive products for those who are 71 years of age or older.
The rates for Term insurance are also considered very competitive.
Financial Ratings: 8
A.M. Best has also provided Transamerica with a superior rating of A+ which makes it a solid and financially stable company.
Transamerica presently has as much as 3% of the total market share for life insurance, which means for every 100 policies sold, 3 people will have purchased their insurance through this established and solid company. As of 2013, they have $1.133 billion dollars of life insurance in force.
While all companies in our top 10 list of best insurance carriers hold an “A” rating by A.M. Best, we’ve assigned an “8” to Transamerica for financial strength since their current outlook with A.M. Best is listed as “negative.”
That means they could possibly drop to an “A” rating soon.
Underwriting Leniency: 8
Transamerica has some of the most highly regarded underwriting policies as they apply to seniors, and has very liberal guidelines for those who are ages 71 and older.
It also very lenient when it comes to those with certain health issues such as high cholesterol, hepatitis C and schizophrenia.
Read our Transamerica Life Insurance Review for more detailed information.
5. American General Life Insurance
Overall Score: 24
American General was founded in 1919 and is the life insurance division of AIG or American International Group.
American General is considered to be one of the world’s largest insurance companies and has over 88 million customers.
American General has very competitive rates and is our company of choice when it comes to particular health issues, as the company is much less strict especially when it comes to approving Term life insurance policies.
In a recent case, we took an individual to American General with a pacemaker.
He got a slightly substandard approval from AG, same as what he would have gotten with most of our carriers, but since American General’s “special case” pricing is so low, they blew away the rates at the other companies!
Financial Strength: 8
American General has been rated by A.M. Best as having an “A” rating (excellent) which means that the company is very financially secure and has the ability to honor all its claims.
For a short time, A.M. Best was reviewing American General considering a lower rating, but they recently affirmed the “A” rating and removed the review of negative implications.
Underwriting Leniency: 8
American General has some of the most lenient underwriting requirements for those between the ages of 18 – 66.
It is also very liberal when it comes to cigar smokers, and is flexible with those who have certain health issues, in particular, those who have Type 2 diabetes.
It is also one of the go-to companies when it comes to providing policies for private pilots and foreign travelers.
Read our American General Life Insurance Review for more detailed information.
Overall Score: 23
VOYA was formerly known as ING, but separated from its parent company ING Group and re-branded itself as VOYA in 2014 and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
VOYA also has very competitive rates, particularly when it comes to certain Term policies.
VOYA isn’t always the most competitive when it comes to pricing, but it is still so close to its competitors that we had to include the company in our top picks.
Financial Ratings: 8
VOYA also has a very solid financial base, as the company has been given an A rating by A.M. Best, which means that it is financially sound and reliable.
Underwriting Leniency: 7
VOYA is one of the very few companies that do not ask applicants if they have a family history of cancer, which can impact your rating.
VOYA also has very lenient underwriting policies when it comes to those with blood pressure issues, especially for older applicants age 61 and up.
It is also more liberal for those who have higher cholesterol levels.
However, it’s not quite as good at underwriting as Banner or Prudential, which is why we give them a 7.
Read our VOYA Life Insurance Review for more detailed information.
7. Savings Bank Life Insurance (SBLI)
Overall Score: 22
SBLI was founded in 1907 and is presently located in Woburn, MA. The company operates in all states, with the exclusion of New York and Montana.
Although the products they offer vary from region to region, the majority of its products are available in all states in which they operate.
SBLI has some of the most affordable term rates available and provides term products for up to 30 years, with its strongest product being the guaranteed level term policy.
They rank consistently in the top ten for the most affordable term products and often in the top 5.
Financial Ratings: 9
SBLI is a very financially stable company and has been rated by A.M. Best as having a Superior A+ rating.
Underwriting Leniency: 6
Although SBLI is excellent when it comes to providing lower rates, they are more stringent when it comes to certain health issues, such as for those who have diabetes.
They can also be somewhat strict with their underwriting policies on many other health issues so it can be difficult to get their top rates, which are why they rank a little lower on our top 10 list.
Read our SBLI Review for more detailed information.
Overall Score: 21
SAGICOR began as SAGICOR Financial Corporation in 1840.
It provides both insurance and annuity products in over 22 countries. It operates as a publicly traded company and currently has assets of over $5.78 billion and operates in 45 states including the District of Columbia.
SAGICOR has some most affordable term rates available and provides term products for up to 30 years with its strongest product being the guaranteed level term policy.
Financial Ratings: 7
SAGICOR is a solid company but is not rated as high as other competitors, because it was ranked A- by A.M. Best.
Don’t be dismayed, this is still considered a solid rating and the company is very finically sound.
Underwriting Leniency: 7
One of the main products that we prefer, and for which SAGICOR excels above the rest, are their Non-Medical Life insurance policies.
This is our go-to company for many clients who prefer a non-medical life insurance policy.
Their underwriters are easy to work with and they excel for those with specific needs.
Overall Score: 21
MetLife or Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. can trace its origins back to 1863 and is firmly established throughout the world, serving approximately 100 million clients.
A review of its assets in 2014 shows that it has nearly $475 billion worth of assets and is very established and one of the most recognized names in the life insurance industry.
MetLife prices are somewhat higher than many of the other top 10 competitors on our list.
This is why we ranked it lower, as their products tend to cost more.
Financial Ratings: 9
MetLife has an especially strong financial footing and stellar position when it comes to financial ratings as it has been given a superior rating by A.M. Best of A++ so you know there are no issues with this company.
Underwriting Leniency: 6
The good thing about MetLife is their underwriting is relatively lenient which is one of the main reasons we like this company.
It is much more flexible than many other insurers when it comes to its underwriting policies for a variety of health issues.
Read our MetLife Review for more detailed information.
Overall Score: 21
Principal was founded over 135 years ago and has an established reputation in the insurance industry.
The company provides its service in over 18 countries and its parent company (Principal Financial Group) is listed as a Fortune 500 company.
We especially like Principal for No-Medical exam life insurance policies as they provide some of the lowest quotes in the industry.
Prices tend to be not much higher than what they charge for policies which do require an exam.
That being said, they are bit pricier than other companies for policies which do require an exam.
Financial Rating: 9
Being part of a Fortune 500 company you can rest comfortably assured that Principal has a very solid financial footing and has been rated by A.M. Best as having an A+ or Excellent rating.
Underwriting Leniency: 6
Principal provides great rates and relatively easy guidelines for healthy individuals but they can be a bit stricter than other companies when it comes to underwriting policies for those who have health issues.
It is also one of the very few companies which can provide up to $1 million for a No-Medical exam policy, and has a very fast turnaround period when it comes to processing an application.
Best Life Insurance Companies By Age
If you want to know the best life insurance company at your age, you need to understand one thing:
Best equals “best fit”, not:
- Lowest overall price
- Best financial rating
- Best service
The answer for a 35 year old is completely different than for a 65 year old.
If you need life insurance to cover your mortgage, the answer is different than if you’re looking for permanent universal life insurance for estate planning.
To be honest, we weren’t sure who the best companies were at different ages either, until we ASKED our site visitors what was most important to them.
We asked 30,000 people what they wanted, and here were the results…
We recently ran a survey on our site, asking everyone who visited to share:
#1 – their age
#2 – what was most important to them about life insurance or their biggest concern.
We categorized our respondents into age groups and here’s what we found:
20 to 49 Years Old:
Among 20 to 49 years old, after price, wanting coverage “Quick & Easy” was the number ONE thing our younger respondents said.
If that’s you, you’ll probably want to go with one of our fastest, no exam, options such as:
- Haven Life
- Phoenix Life
50 and Over:
Over age 50, we discovered that “Quick and Easy” was no longer an issue.
We found that for our respondents, they didn’t care about that. Instead, their “Age and Health” was their #1 concern.
If you’re over age 50 and share those same concerns, be sure to visit our section here on the best companies with health issues.
And rest assured, most of the companies we do business with offer excellent rates up to age 80 (and some beyond that), so age shouldn’t be a factor.
In the case of seniors ages 60 and over, one of the carriers we like is:
For a more detailed look at your insurance needs by age, see our in-depth reviews for all ages:
Your important takeaway should be to buy now while you are young and healthy, and have more term options available to you!
Best Life Insurance Companies with Health Issues
Perhaps you’ve been told you can’t qualify for life insurance due to a tough medical condition.
Maybe you’ve even been declined coverage.
… but 99% of the time, all that means is you used the wrong agent.
Here’s a list of some of the medical issues an experienced, independent agent should have no trouble getting covered:
Here’s the deal, when it comes to selecting the best company with a health issue, the name of the game is applying to the company who will:
#1 – approve you
#2 – approve you at the best rating
… because the best rating equals the best price!
Which Company Offers The Best Health Ratings?
It depends. Some companies are particularly lenient with certain health issues.
In the end, the most important aspect of getting life insurance with a high risk medical issue is using an agent who is licensed to work with multiple companies.
In other words, you need an independent agent vs a captive agent.
Featured Company for Pre-Existing Conditions
While there are many companies who we frequently take high risk cases too, (like Banner, Protective, American General, and in severe cases, Gerber)…
There’s one company who stands head and shoulders above the rest for health impairments.
Top Life Insurance Companies for Health-Related Conditions
Best Companies with Family History of Disease
The Secret is in the “Company Guidelines”
One of the tragedies in life insurance…
You could be in “Olympic Athlete” health, and still NOT qualify for a company’s best rating.
One such instance is if one of your parents or siblings (brother/sister) ever had:
The problem is you could be penalized and forced to pay 25% to 50% more depending on someone’s ELSE’s health!
With most companies, family history is only a problem if your parents had cancer or heart disease prior to age 60 or 65.
Some (not all) ask about siblings as well. Others ignore your family’s health completely if you’re over a certain age, like 60 or 70.
They ALL ask about your family on their application in some fashion.
… which is fine if you know this trick.
The Trick is Finding the “Company Guidelines” That Fit Your Situation
Each company publishes its “underwriting guidelines.”
So essentially company guidelines simply state what health rating they’ll approve you at, based on things like:
If you have a father, mother, brother or sister who has had (or died from) a medical condition, make sure to speak to a knowledgeable independent agent.
They can shop the different “underwriting guides” to see where you might be able to slip in best.
Banner Life: A Godsend if Your Parent Had Cancer
Take the situation where your mother had breast cancer.
If you were to apply to Protective, you wouldn’t be able to qualify for their top 2 best rate classes. (I showed their guidelines above — and a parent’s death due to cancer is not allowed).
Banner, on the other hand, doesn’t penalize you for a parental death due to cancer, so you could feasibly still qualify for their best rate.
That could save you about 50%!
Best Companies with Great Rates for Smokers
Including Pipes, Vaping, Cigars, and Pot.
When it comes to smoking and life insurance it all depends on the type of tobacco:
If you’re an everyday cigarette smoker, there’s no getting around it.
You WILL have to pay smoker rates, and they’re on average 2-3x as high as non smoker rates.
The low price leaders here are usually:
If you smoke them every day, you’ll have to pay smoker rates with every company in the U.S.
Except for Prudential!
They’ll offer you their 3rd best non-tobacco rating even if you smoke cigars every day!
Occasional Tobacco Use:
There are a handful of companies that now allow up to 1 to 2 cigars per month without charging you their tobacco rates.
A few of them are:
- Minnesota Life
Here’s the Kicker…Most of these companies (except Prudential) will require you to take a medical exam and test NEGATIVE for tobacco in your urine.
Just be sure you don’t go to your auto insurance agent or some other agent who can only show you quotes from 1 company, and you should be fine with occasional cigar use.
E-Cigarettes, Vaping, Chewing Tobacco, Pipe Smoking:
They’ll consider you for their 3rd best non tobacco rating for any of these.
Social / Occasional Cigarette Smoker:
Just about every company in the U.S. will charge you tobacco rates EVEN if you admit to having a cigarette once or twice per year.
We do have access to one company who will allow you to smoke up to 24 cigarettes per year though, and still give you their 2nd best NON-tobacco rating.
Banner is best here. Most companies make you wait 5 years before offering best class non-tobacco rates.
For Banner, it’s only 36 months (3 years).
A few other companies who allow the best class after 3 years are:
If you’ve only quit for 1 year, many companies will offer you their “standard” rate, which should still be big savings over any tobacco rating you may have had before.
But again Banner leads the way here, as they’ll consider you for their “standard plus” rate, their 3rd best rate after quitting for just 1 year!
Companies have eased up a lot on pot smoking lately.
Depending on how often you smoke, you can now get non-tobacco rates from companies like:
- American General
Have a Prescription?
You’re actually more likely to get NON tobacco rates if you’re smoking pot with an RX.
What do all these cases have in common?
You really ought to talk to an independent agent about your smoking habits so they can find you the best company for your situation.
Best Companies for High Cholesterol
Hint: Your Total Cholesterol Isn’t the Problem
With any health condition, the name of the game is finding the company who is most lenient for YOUR particular situation.
High cholesterol is no different.
Whose Guidelines Fit You Best?
Companies publish their underwriting guidelines for height and weight, blood pressure, and yes… cholesterol.
The Key to Low Rates with High Cholesterol
American General allows for what some might consider pretty high cholesterol (290) in their column on the left, and that’s in the BEST HEALTH CLASS THEY OFFER.
They’ll do this if your ratio of total to good cholesterol (HDL) is lower than 4.5.
Figure out if you have a “high cholesterol” problem or a high “ratio” problem.
First, find out your total cholesterol and your HDL (your good cholesterol).
Next, calculate your cholesterol ratio.
To calculate your cholesterol ratio, divide your HDL into your total cholesterol number. (Example: 250 total chol. / 60 HDL = 4.2)
Some companies will allow your total cholesterol to exceed 300 as long as your ratio is under a certain level!
The next hurdle is making sure you apply to a company who allows you to take medication and still qualify for their best class.
Banner, as well as a handful of other companies, will allow cholesterol treatment in their top tier rating classes.
A few of them are:
Out of Control
If your cholesterol is high and your ratio is high, you could be looking at paying a higher premium.
Your best bet is to check our best companies tool to find the best provider for you.
Best Life Insurance Companies for Diabetics
When it comes to life insurance with diabetes, there are 2 key considerations:
- Price (Based on Approval)
Best Rates for Diabetics
Our favorite carrier for diabetics is Banner Life Insurance.
They routinely approve our clients at a “standard” to slightly substandard rating.
If you’re diabetic, “standard” would be a great approval because that’s the rating for someone with an average life expectancy!
Speed will be increased by choosing a company that offers no exam policies to diabetics.
There are 2 very strong companies when it comes to getting lightning fast approvals with companies who are diabetic friendly.
Fastest Life Insurance Companies
Life insurance with no exam and a “simplified issue process” is the fastest way to buy life insurance.
Simplified issue means not only is there no medical exam, but also they don’t request your medical records.
… in some cases, you can get coverage in place in minutes.
In others, it only takes 1-2 days.
Compare that to the “fully underwritten” process, which can take several weeks.
List of Our Fastest Life Insurance Companies
Our top picks for life insurance when you need it now:
Also, be sure to see our article on life insurance without a medical exam.
Best Life Insurance Companies by Type
- Best Term Life Companies
- Best Whole Life Companies
- Top Universal Life Companies
- Final Expense Carriers
The Best Term Life Insurance Companies
These companies offer the best combination of price, strength, and favorable approvals.
Is there really ONE answer to this question, “who’s the best term life insurance company?”
Isn’t that a subjective question?
We argue there’s a clear winner…
To start, when you’re looking for a good term policy, you want a policy with guaranteed level premiums for up to 30 years, and good conversion options in case your needs change and you require a policy for the rest of your life.
Those are just givens.
The company we’ve selected has terms ranging from 10 to 30 years (many companies only offer 10 and 20 year term) and offers conversion to a competitively priced guaranteed universal life policy (some companies, like Primerica, don’t offer conversion).
On top of that, you want a strong company and good pricing.
In selecting our #1 recommended term provider, we used the following criteria:
- Financial strength
- Leniency in underwriting (accepting health issues)
The clear winner is Banner Life Insurance Company who offers OPTerm 10, 15, 20, and 30. If you’ve never heard of Banner, that’s ok.
I hadn’t either when I first started seeing them among the best priced companies in quote results across all ages and amounts.
As it turns out, they are the life insurance arm of Legal & General, one of the largest insurance and asset management companies in the world.
They were founded in 1836 and have over 10 million customers worldwide.
Featured Company: Banner Life
Banner Life has been selected as one of our top 10 overall picks for the price, financial strength, and ease of approval.
Banner’s OPTerm consistently shows up as one of our top 3 priced term policies for 10 & 20 years, at any age and any amount.
The best part?
They aren’t teaser rates. Our clients routinely qualify for their “preferred plus” health category (their best health class).
There are many companies who may have solid pricing in their best class but make it nearly impossible to qualify for that class. That brings us to the discussion of underwriting (getting approved and at what rating).
Banner Underwriting (Lenient Approvals):
Banner shines in so many areas when it comes to qualifying for life insurance.
Here are a few:
Death of a family member due to cancer: Most companies penalize you 2 or 3 health classes (which could cost you 50% to 75% more) if you had a parent die or cancer prior to age 60 or 65. Banner doesn’t even ask if your parents ever had cancer.
Cigarette smokers: They’ll approve someone who quit for their best rate just 3 years after quitting – most companies wait 5 years!
Sleep apnea and Diabetes II: They’ll go as low as Standard Plus, their 3rd best rating in a best-case scenario, where most companies offer their 4th best rating (standard) which costs 25% more.
In fact, I’ve seen them offer our clients their best rating in some cases where our clients have had:
- Certain skin cancers
- History of Anxiety or depression
And best of all, even if you have a more serious condition…
(Serious conditions are things like Hepatitis C, Diabetes I, atrial fibrillation, or coronary artery disease)
Our friend and associate, Scott Johnson from WholevsTermLifeInsurance.com loves Banner too:
… they often times have the best rates for these cases too. And that’s because of a unique way they price their “substandard” cases.
Basically, all companies add an extra premium to cases where the individual is riskier than a standard risk (standard is someone with an average life expectancy).
What most companies do is add “tables” on top of their standard pricing, with each table costing 25% more than their standard rate.
So Standard Table 2 would cost 50% more than their standard rate.
Banner adds tables too, but they do it on top of their Standard PLUS rating which is about 30%-40% cheaper than most companies’ standard ratings to begin with.
In the end, they almost always win the price war when it comes to tougher cases.
Banner holds an A+ financial rating with A.M. Best, which means their ability to meet ongoing claims obligations is “excellent” in the opinion of A.M. Best.
There are only a handful of companies with a better rating of A++, but their pricing is so high it disqualifies them from being our #1 term company.
However, of the A+ rated companies, Banner has the highest Comdex score, which is an average of the top rating agencies, A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P.
Best Whole Life Insurance Companies
Whole life insurance offers guaranteed lifetime coverage, with the added bonus of accumulating “cash value”, which may be accessed as a tax-free loan.
There are a few good uses for whole life insurance.
Determining the best company will depend on how you’re using it.
3 Reasons to Buy:
#1. Funeral & Final Expenses
Many people buy small $10,000 to $20,000 policies to cover their funeral, burial, and other final expenses that may occur upon death.
Many of these policies can be purchased without a medical exam, and are typically forms of whole life insurance.
A couple of good companies for this type of coverage are:
- Mutual of Omaha
- Phoenix Life
We’ve devoted an entire section in this article to final expense, so if this is the type of coverage you’re looking for, visit our best companies for final expense section.
#2. Severe Health Condition
One type of coverage that’s also built on a whole life structure is “guaranteed issue” or “graded death benefit” whole life.
We only use these policies where severe medical conditions prevent us from buying more traditional term, universal life, or whole life plans.
These policies approve just about anyone, but limit the payout during the first 2 years (typically) to some percentage of the total death benefit, such as 30% in the first year, and 60% in the second year (that’s an example of a graded policy) or in the case of guaranteed issue policies, they typically return only the premiums plus 10% during the first two years.
These are NOT what people think about when they hear the words “whole life insurance,” so let’s move on.
#3. Cash Value Build Up and Tax Free Access to Cash
We rarely sell whole life for “cash accumulation” or as an “investment.”
Our position here is that many agents position whole life as something everyone should have, and due to giant commissions on some of these policies, they’ll push you to see it their way.
That said, we believe whole life insurance is an excellent choice for the right person.
Who’s a Good Fit for Whole Life?
Here are some people who might be a good fit.
Of course, you should also have an actual need for life insurance coverage.
Universal Life – Top Carriers for Lifetime Coverage
Universal Life is known as an affordable alternative to whole life insurance.
If you’re looking for affordable lifetime coverage, look no further than universal life insurance.
We’re not big fans of using life insurance policies as investment vehicles, so we don’t get wrapped up in comparing universal life to your 401K or IRA, or talk about variable universal life or equity indexed UL either.
Our focus is “guaranteed universal life.”
The cheapest way to guarantee level premiums to ages 90, 95, or 100.
Traditional Universal Life vs. Guaranteed Universal Life
When you pay a universal life premium, some goes toward paying your cost of insurance and the rest builds in a cash value account.
That means when a premium is paid, a portion of the premium pays the actual cost of life insurance, and the remainder of the premium is applied to a sort of built-in savings account in the policy known as the cash value.
That means traditional universal life insurance policies may not provide lifetime coverage.
… even if you pay your premium on time, every time.
That’s because as you get older, if insurance costs rise, or the cash value component of your UL policy doesn’t perform as it was expected to, you could run out of cash.
That means the company would send you a letter asking for more premium or your policy could lapse.
The Secret is the “No Lapse Guarantee”
The trick is to ONLY buy a universal life policy with a “no lapse guarantee” rider or some companies call it a “guaranteed no lapse” rider, or “coverage protection guarantee.”
Essentially this says that as long as you pay your premiums on time, it doesn’t matter what the cash value is in your policy…
Your policy will remain in force with no additional premiums needed.
Even if the cash value is zero.
We call this “guaranteed universal life.”
Best Guaranteed Universal Life Companies
The top 5 companies who consistently have the best rates for guaranteed universal life are:
Sample UL Rates
Here are sample rates for a 40 year old male. Premiums are annual and are guaranteed to stay level/fixed until the age specified below.
|Company||Amount of Coverage||Annual Premium||Guaranteed to Age|
|North American||$500,000||$2,675||To Age 90|
|American General||$500,000||$2,811||To Age 95|
|Protective||$500,000||$2,842||To Age 90|
|Principal||$500,000||$2,954||To Age 90|
|Nationwide||$500,000||$2,975||To Age 100|
*Quotes above are samples only and are for a male, age 40 in CA in preferred plus health, non tobacco. Not an offer for coverage. Not available in every state. Rates vary and are subject to change.*
The Best Final Expense Company
Final expense policies are quick and easy to purchase.
They don’t require an exam and are a great choice for seniors over age 65 who need a small policy (typically $50,000 or less).
Our #1 recommended company is Mutual of Omaha for Final Expense life insurance.
Their plan, the “Living Promise”, provides a level death benefit which is immediately available upon death (No 2 year waiting period).
They allow up to $40,000 of coverage and provide coverage *up to age 85.
*Depending on the severity of medical conditions or the state you live, you may only be able to qualify up to age 75, an in some instances, the death benefit is not immediately available.
Miscellaneous Best Companies
- Top Rated Companies
- Lowest Priced Life Companies
- Best Mortage Life Carriers
- Companies That Pay Out
- Most Generous & Charitable
- List of Agent Favorites
Top 10 Rated Life Insurance Companies
Here’s the brutal truth about the top 10 best “rated” life insurance companies:
“Financial Ratings” are deceptive.
Should you pay double or triple for a highly rated company? Consider the following:
First, did you know every state has a “state guarantee association” that provides millions in aid to a struggling life insurance company to avoid it going belly up?
Even more impressive, is if the company does become insolvent, the state guarantee association (*in most states) steps in and provides up to $300,000 of life insurance benefits per individual policy.
*Check out the National Organization of Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Associations for information and limitations in your state.*
In other words, there is little to worry about when selecting an A rated company (see our top picks) with an excellent price, and in most cases, there is no reason to pay double or triple for a company like Northwestern Mutual or New York Life simply because they have a solid financial reputation.
Second, the best rating does NOT equal lowest price, best service, or most lenient on health issues.
It only means one thing…
The company is financially strong.
So when you look at the highest rated life insurance companies list below, it’s important you keep two things in mind:
1. These are NOT Huntley Wealth’s picks(they’re the top “rated” life insurance companies for 2017 according to A.M. Best.)
2. We have compiled our own Top 10 Company list as well
We use over 40 different life insurance companies to pinpoint the most suitable policy based on your age, health and many other underwriting criteria.
All the insurers we use, have their own strengths geared towards individual needs and circumstances as each person has unique insurance needs.
To help you make a good decision for your family, we are offering our top 10 picks for life insurers with the corresponding reasoning based on the following criteria so that you can target the best life insurance policy:
- Financial Rating
- Underwriting Leniency
The above-listed criteria will vary, as each company has its own particular points where they shine.
A higher ranked company may provide policies which are slightly more expensive than a lower ranked company, but may excel when it comes to its underwriting guidelines for health issues for example.
But overall, these are our top 10 based on our 10 plus years of experience as an independent life insurance agency.
Before we get into our picks, which include pricing and underwriting leniency, we’ll start with the best life insurance companies by financial ratings, according to A.M. Best.
Only 19 companies in the U.S. are rated A++ by A.M. Best, although many of them are offshoots/subsidiaries of each other domiciled in different states.
For example, Guardian writes insurance as “Guardian Insurance & Annuity Co” in all states but NY where it’s called “Guardian Life Ins Co of America”.
Both have an A++ rating, but for our purposes, I’ll count those only as one below.
Here they are alphabetically…
Top 10 Life Insurance Company Ratings – Rated by A.M. Best
Knights of Columbus also has an A++ rating but with a “negative” outlook, so it didn’t make the list.
General Re Life Corp also has A++ but is re-insurance company rather than an insurance company selling to consumers, so I didn’t add that one either.
After removing the subsidiaries, that leaves us with only 10 life insurance companies.
Beware of #’s 4-7 Above
I would be very careful dealing with Mass Mutual, NY Life, Northwestern Mutual, or State Farm.
While these insurance giants are well known, and A++ rated, they are also typically among the most expensive and not very forgiving when it comes to health concerns!
Lowest Priced Companies Overall
Little-known savings trick points to a clear winner…
When we sought out to find the best overall priced life insurance company, we decided it wasn’t fair to select companies based on their 10 year term life insurance policies only, or their 20 year only.
We didn’t think it was fair to single out a particular age or amount either. Why?
Companies can easily place themselves as the #1 priced carrier for a particular amount, age, and term length, but then they might be the 5th or 10th or 20th best for pricing at other amounts, ages, and term lengths.
That’s why we took the following into consideration to come up with our overall list of the best priced companies overall:
The Overall Best Priced Companies Considering All These Factors
Here are the rankings from 1 to 21. Please understand some companies we represent are not present, and we are not contracted with all companies on the list.
Best Company with Mortgage
Here’s the big problem with mortgage life insurance:
What most people do is respond to a flyer in the mail from their bank offering them a policy that will pay off their mortgage balance if they die.
One of the big problems is the benefit shrinks as the mortgage shrinks.
That would be fine if it was cheaper than a policy with a fixed death benefit, but usually, that’s not the case.
Mortgage Life Insurance Ripoff Example
In other words, a mortgage life insurance policy that starts off at $500,000, and the next year goes to $498K, then the next year goes to $496K, and so on, typically costs more than a 30 year term for $500,000.
But that’s not all…
Did you know you save even more money by purchasing a policy with:
Protective has a term plan called Custom Choice UL which allows you to buy more coverage than your mortgage for 20 years.
Since it’s a 20 year term, it’s cheaper than the 30 year term.
You just add about 30% to your mortgage and that’s the amount you need.
Check the best insurance companies to find the right one for you, or click here to get a quote.
Life Insurance Companies That Pay Out
Companies who want to pay their death claims
According to the American Council of Life Insurers, life insurance companies paid out $68 Billion dollars in life insurance benefits in 2014.
However, approximately 5,000 death claims are contested or denied every year.
So which companies can you trust?
This is a difficult question to answer with statistics.
Claim Settlement Ratios by Company
In the United States, companies are not required to publish their “payout” rate.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew the % of time each company paid out, like the following chart?
What you see above is the “Claims Settlement Ratios” of some of the top life insurance companies in India.
(This is required of Indian insurance companies.)
The good news?
Overall, life insurance companies pay out 97% of the time in India.
… and I have reason to believe it’s approximately the same in the U.S., as they have similar “fine print” in their contracts such as a 2 year contestability period and suicide clause.
Unfortunately, in the U.S., only a handful of companies post the amount they pay out. (For most it’s millions or even billions per year)
So with no clear number to point to, the only time we tend to hear about a company not paying out is when it makes the news.
My Favorite Company for Payouts
One company I don’t ever see in the news for contested or failed payouts is Transamerica.
A friend and associate of ours also recently shared this story about a client of his who was in his mid-late 30s, when he purchased 3 Transamerica life insurance policies within 2 years, which meant all of the policies were still in their contestability period.
The story that I was told is, one day he is biking & a driver hit him. I don’t know much in detail, but he died because of that accident.
My associate shared with me that he was also diagnosed with depression, so that might cause the policy to not pay out. (Sometimes, during an insurance investigation, if the company finds out the applicant lied on his/her application to be approved for coverage, their claim can be denied.)
However, after investigation, Transamerica still paid to his family $2M…plus interest!
Most Charitable Life Insurance Companies
Companies who go beyond helping their clients
Many life insurance companies go above and beyond in the community.
A few who we’ll give an honorable mention to:
But our favorite two charitable companies are Mass Mutual and Foresters.
Not only is Foresters one of our go-to no exam companies, with a quick and easy process for buying life insurance, but they also have one of the most unique charitable arrangements we’ve seen.
… the “Charity Benefit Provision.”
For every death benefit they pay out,1% of the death benefit goes to the charity of the policyholder’s choosing.
For example, if Foresters pays out a $500,000 death benefit on a life insurance policy, they’ll pay an additional $5,000 (1% of $500K) to the charity the policyholder originally listed on his/her application.
The cool thing is the gift is made in the name of the deceased, meaning his/her estate may be able to use the gift as a tax deduction.
Besides this, Foresters spends millions per year in scholarships and community initiatives.
You can learn more about Foresters’ Charity Benefit Provision here.
Mass Mutual (You Won’t Believe What They Do)
Mass Mutual does so many things right!
Besides being one of only a handful of A++ rated companies in the U.S. (as rated by A.M. Best), they also founded one of our favorite term life insurance companies, Haven Life, who offers lightning-fast approvals without an exam.
When it comes to charity, they do something you’ve likely never seen before.
They actually offer FREE life insurance.
It’s called the “Bridge Program.”
Mass Mutual offers the program to individuals between the ages of 19 to 42 with a household income of $10,000 to $40,000 where they provide free 10 year term policies for $50,000, issued and paid for by Mass Mutual.
Mass Mutual has issued more than 13,600 of these policies since 2002 with close to a billion in death benefits.
Top Picks by Insurance Agents
Find out which companies the insiders choose
While we’ve covered 21 companies in our Sweet Rates Sorter tool, along with more Top 10 Huntley Wealth picks, there are thousands of whole life and term life insurance companies in the U.S. offering various life insurance plans.
Here are some of the top picks from independent agents (and maybe a few captives) we love:
Oops… That’s Not One of Our Hand-picked Companies
To provide a fair comparison of some of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S., we’ve added the following companies to our Sweet Rates Sorter, who we actually are not contracted with, and for whom we cannot provide custom quotes.
Use our quoter below to get a custom quote from over 40 other companies.
Is it worth paying double for a company with good financial ratings?
List Of Life Insurance Companies We Don’t Work With:
It’s NOT worth paying double for a company who has stellar financial strength!*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.