8 Best Life Insurance Companies of January 2022

·23 min read
Money; Getty Images
Money; Getty Images
  1. Best No-Exam Insurance

    Bestow

    Our Partner

    • Company Highlight:

      Full online process

    • Term Coverage:

      10-year, 15-year, 20-year, 25-year, 30-year

    • Death Benefit:

      $50,000-$1.5 million

    • AM Best Rating:

      A+

    • Policies Offered:

      Term

    View Rates

  2. Best for Cheap Life Insurance

    Ladder

    Our Partner

    • Company Highlight:

      Premiums start at just $5/month

    • Term Coverage:

      10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30- year term

    • Death Benefit:

      $100,000 to $3 million

    • AM Best Rating:

      A and A+

    • Policies Offered:

      Terml

    View Rates

  3. Best for Term Life Insurance

    Haven Life

    Our Partner

    • Company Highlight:

      Get a quote 7-10 days after the medical exam

    • Term Coverage:

      10-year, 15-year, 20-year, 25-year or 30-year

    • Death Benefit:

      $100,000 to $3 million

    • AM Best Rating:

      A++

    • Policies Offered:

      Term

    View Rates

  4. Best Comparison Tool and Broker

    Policygenius

    Our Partner

    • Company Highlight:

      Compare quotes in one place

    • Term Coverage:

      Depends on the insurer

    • Death Benefit:

      Depends on the insurer

    • AM Best Rating:

      Only offers policies from companies that have an A.M. Best rating of A- or better

    • Policies Offered:

      Term, Whole

    View Rates

  5. Best for Accommodating Diverse Ages

    Ethos

    Our Partner

    • Company Highlight:

      Whole life available for ages 65 to 85

    • Term Coverage:

      10-year, 15-year, 20-year, 30-year

    • Death Benefit:

      $20,000 to $2 million

    • AM Best Rating:

      A

    • Policies Offered:

      Term, Whole

    View Rates

If you’re the main provider for your family or are worried about their financial future if you were to pass, a life insurance policy can provide peace of mind.

Life insurance can help your family cover final expenses, education fees, loss of income, or any other financial need.

Below, you’ll find our selection of the best life insurance companies for January 2022. Learn all about coverage options, including different types of policies and premiums.

Our Top Picks for Best Life Insurance Companies

  • Bestow – Best No-Exam Life Insurance

  • Ladder – Best for Cheap Life Insurance

  • Haven Life – Best Term Life Insurance

  • Policygenius – Best Comparison Tool and Broker

  • Ethos – Best for Accommodating Diverse Ages

  • Northwestern Mutual – Best for Policy Customization

  • Nationwide – Best for High Customer Satisfaction

  • New York Life – Best for Mutual Insurance

Best Life Insurance Companies Reviews

Pros

  • No-exam underwriting

  • Offers 10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, and 30-year terms for no-exam policies

  • No waiting period

  • Fast quotes

  • 100% online application

Cons

  • Won't cover applicants over the age of 59

  • 20-year term not available to applicants over 45

  • Not available in New York


HIGHLIGHTS

Term Coverage
10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30- year term
Death benefit
$50,000-$1.5 million


Bestow is the best option for no-exam life insurance for reasons that include its speed and convenience in issuing policies. Its application process is fully online and uses your identifying information and questions about your medical history, hobbies and lifestyle to help determine your premiums.

You can obtain a quote, purchase insurance, and obtain coverage on the same day without any physical paperwork.

Its policies are issued by top-rated insurer North American Company for Life and Health Insurance. The company also offers a comprehensive library of helpful information.

Why we chose this company

Bestow is designed for those who particularly value a quick application process, with rapid decisions on coverage without the need for a medical exam. (If you’re not clear on what life insurance without a medical examination is, read What Is No-exam Life Insurance for more details.)

Pros

  • Policies start at $5/mo

  • Up to $3 million in coverage

  • No policy, processing or cancellation fees

  • Coverage can be increased or decreased online

  • Option to adjust your policy by "laddering"

Cons

  • Only offers term coverage

  • No riders for term policies

  • Only insures people aged 20 to 60

HIGHLIGHTS

Term Coverage
10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30- year term
Death benefit
$100,000 to $3 million

Ladder is our selection for best cheap life insurance it uses a simple three-step online process and offers affordable policies that start at $5/month. The company also doesn’t charge any cancellation fees, which means you can cancel your coverage any time, with no strings attached.

Another appealing feature for Ladder is that, unlike other insurers, it allows policyholders to adjust their coverage amount online at any time — with corresponding changes in premiums, of course. This perk can help policyholders maintain an affordable policy at all times, and might give peace of mind to those worried about possible changes in their financial circumstances down the road.

Why we chose this company

Ladder’s appeal includes its unusual allowance for policyholders to decrease or apply to increase their life insurance coverage online. Also, its premiums starts at only $5 a month, making it one of the most affordable insurers on our list.

Pros

  • Offers two types of term policies: Haven Term and Simplified Issue

  • Haven Simplified Issue doesn't require a medical exam

  • Up to $3 million in term coverage

  • Haven Term includes Haven Plus with perks and discounts

Cons

  • Simplified issue policy not available in CA, DE, SD, ND or NY

  • Haven Plus not available in FL, NY, ND, SD, and WA


HIGHLIGHTS

Term Coverage
10-, 15-, 20-, 25- or 30-year
Death benefit
$100,000 to $3 million


Haven Life is our choice for the best term insurance coverage because of its impressive array (10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year) of policy terms, along with coverage amounts that range widely, from $100,000 to $3 million.

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 individual or couple’s trust, will or guardian plan. Life Plus also provides subscriptions to a fitness app, sleep tracking app and an online vault in which you can save documents.

Applicants aged between 20 and 59 can get coverage amounts up to $3 million, while those between 60 and 64 can be insured for up to $1 million with Haven Term. Haven Simple is only available for applicants aged 20-55 and includes the Accelerated Death Benefit rider.

Why we chose this company

Haven Life provides diverse and wide-ranging coverage, including term policies that require no medical exam. Its Haven Plus term policies come with free perks to policyholders, including state-specific and legally valid digital wills, as well as subscriptions to a fitness app and an online vault to store important documents digitally. Note, however, some or all of its coverage options are unavailable in certain major states.

Pros

  • Quick and easy comparison of several policies through an online form

  • One-stop-shop for multiple insurers

  • Create a will or trust using attorney-approved tools

Cons

  • Online quotes are not available for all providers

  • Takes more time than some other options to get a final price


HIGHLIGHTS

Term coverage
Depends on the company
Death benefit
Depends on the company


Policygenius takes the top spot as the best comparison tool and broker for its satisfying provision of one-stop shopping from a range of insurers. Policygenius’s partners include AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, John Hancock, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI and Transamerica.

This online marketplace also offers an extensive library of educational resources for those with different life insurance needs, including recommendations for life insurance for people who suffer from depression and diabetes. This, coupled with its broad range of coverage options such as term or permanent coverage policies, make Policygenius a standout option for comparing life insurance quotes.

Why we chose this company

Policygenius offers one-stop access to policies from a wide range of partners. And unlike some other comparison sites, this one pledges not to sell your information to third parties.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of underwriting, to accommodate diverse customers

  • 100% online application

  • No medical exam required for most policies of under $1,000,000

Cons

  • Doesn't offer many policy options

  • Limited rider options


HIGHLIGHTS

Term coverage
10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30- year term
Death benefit
$20,000 to $2 million


Ethos is our choice for best for accommodating diverse ages thanks to its three types of underwriting: simplified issue, guaranteed issue, and fully underwritten. Their simplified issue policies require you to answer some medical questions but not to submit to a medical exam. Guaranteed issue policies don’t require medical exams or any information about medical conditions, and fully underwritten policies require both a medical exam and disclosure of the applicant’s medical history.

Ethos uses simplified issue and fully underwritten methodology for its term policies, and the company uses guaranteed issue underwriting for its whole life insurance policies.

The company also offers a guaranteed issue whole life insurance policy for people between the ages of 65 and 85 underwritten by AAA Life. Applicants can obtain instant approval for coverage amounts between $10k-$25k, regardless of their medical history.

Why we chose this company

Ethos accommodates a wide range of potential applicants, in part through its use of three types of underwriting: simplified issue, guaranteed issue, and fully underwritten.

Also, the company allows prospective customers to apply for coverage and receive a quote within minutes, without need of talking to an insurance agent.

Pros

  • High customer satisfaction

  • Term and whole life policies can be laddered together

  • Two term life options: annual renewable and level premium

  • Online access to financial advisors

Cons

  • Less detail on the website than for many other insurers


HIGHLIGHTS

Term Coverage
10-, 20-, or up to 80-year term
Death Benefit
Not available on the website


Though it could list its insurance policies more clearly, Northwestern Mutual offers a broad range of life insurance options, including term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance. It also offers both types of term life insurance premiums: annual renewable and level-premium.

The annual renewable type offers an initial low premium that increases with each annual renewal, while level premium ones maintain the same premium throughout the term.

With its CompLife and Whole Life Plus policies, Northwestern also offers policies that incorporate what’s known as a laddering strategy. With this approach, a portion of the coverage you buy is term life insurance while the rest is of the whole life variety. This is an excellent strategy for those who may have both short- and long-term insurance needs.

Like its competitors, Northwestern offers riders to customize your policy, including those for Additional Purchases and Waivers of Premium.

Why we chose this company

Few life insurers can match Northwestern Mutual for its combination of exceptional customer service and financial stability, as measured by third-party ratings. The company holds the highest possible financial strength ratings from AM Best (A++ or Superior), Moody’s (Aaa), and Fitch (AAA).

It’s also among the very highest-rated insurers in the latest J.D. Power Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction ranking, and has very few complaints registered with various insurance agencies.

Pros

  • Above average for customer satisfaction according to J.D. Power

  • Offers Long-term care and CareMatters linked benefits

  • Offers a hybrid universal/long-term care policy

Cons

  • Online quotes aren't available for most policies

  • Its six universal life policies are hard to differentiate

  • No guaranteed acceptance policies


HIGHLIGHTS

Term coverage
10-, 15-, 20-, 30- year term
Death benefit
Not available on the website

Nationwide stands out for its acclaim from third parties. The company has an A+ A.M. Best financial strength rating and a high (third place) ranking in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. customer satisfaction ratings. In the past year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has received only a single complaint against Nationwide for its individual life insurance, which underlines the company’s strong record for customer service.

As with most of its competitors, policies from Nationwide can be customized with riders like accelerated death benefit, premium waiver and children’s term insurance. Nationwide doesn’t charge a fee or requires a medical exam for policy conversions.

Nationwide universal life policies offer two hybrid universal/long-term care riders or linked benefits: Long-term care (LTC) and CareMatters. LTC covers the cost of long term care while giving the insured flexibility on how to receive their benefits. CareMatters covers the cost of an informal caregiver, and guarantees a monthly cash benefit payment.

Why we chose this company

Nationwide has one of the highest customer satisfaction rankings of the companies on our list. This insurer also offers a variety of riders and doesn’t charge a fee for policy conversions.

Pros

  • Policyholders own part of the company's shares

  • Flexible life insurance plans

  • Yearly convertible policy starts with a low premium payment

  • Spouse's Paid-Up rider

Cons

  • Premiums increase once the convertible option term ends

  • Premiums for conversions are higher than average

  • No online quotes


HIGHLIGHTS

Term coverage
10-, 15-, 20- year term
Death benefit
No information on the website


Because it’s a mutual insurance company, New York Life policyholders own part of the company’s shares and, depending on the type of policy, are entitled to receive annual dividends.

New York Life offers a good selection of both term and permanent life insurance options, and its term policies include a conversion option. You can also customize term coverage with options like the Spouse Paid Up rider. With this rider, if you die, your spouse can use the death benefit payout to purchase their own insurance coverage without taking a medical exam.

New York Life also underwrites the AARP Life Insurance Program, which offers both term and permanent group coverage without a physical exam. Some of the program’s policies feature guaranteed life insurance rates, while others offer level premiums.

Why we chose this company

New York Life has a good selection of both term and permanent life insurance options, and its term policy includes a conversion option. It also underwrites AARP’s life insurance program.

Other life insurance companies we considered

Lemonade

Pros

  • Premiums start from $9/mo

  • Completely online application

  • Full refund if you cancel within the first 30 days

Cons

  • Only people aged 18-60 can apply

  • Term life is not available in NY

  • If you have heart disease or cancer it's unlikely that you'll be approved by this insurer

Lemonade is not part of our top insurers because of its limited insurance offerings. It also lacks information about riders and policies on its website.

Sproutt

Pros

  • Options available for those who identify as non-binary

  • Uses technology to match people with the right policy coverage

  • Uses Quality of Life Index to underwrite policies

Cons

  • No phone assistance over the weekend

  • Coverage may be denied if you're in poor health or have a high BMI

  • No-exam policies may be denied if you've filed for bankruptcy

Sproutt didn’t make it into our main list because its Quality of Life underwriting has very specific qualifications, indicating that its policies target a narrow and specific audience. Also, Sproutt’s website lacks information about insurance coverage, riders and term options.

Health IQ

Pros

  • Compare rates from 30 different carriers

  • Licensed agents guide you through the process

  • Offers membership rewards program

Cons

  • Online quotes require that users agree to calls from agents

  • Must have a healthy lifestyle or pass a quiz to qualify for better rates

Broker Health IQ is not part of our main list, in part because its online service is more limited than some, and its website offers less detailed information than is the norm, too. (We note, though, that the company partners with over 25 national insurers, including Prudential, Mutual of Omaha, and Transamerica, and terms, policies and riders depend on the provider the customer selects.)

MassMutual

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • No conversion options for some policies

  • You can only earn dividends with a whole life insurance policy

  • Few or no policy riders

MassMutual is not part of our main list because even though it has a wide selection of life insurance policies, its policies have few or no optional riders.

Guardian Life

Pros

  • Online quotes and account management

  • Policies available for people with HIV

Cons

  • Must apply (and cancel) through an agent

  • Doesn't offer no-exam (guaranteed issue) policies

  • Term life options are basic

Guardian Life didn’t make it to our main list because of its below-average JD Power rating and the limited riders available for its policies.

USAA

Pros

  • Military members can get coverage during war

  • Offer survivor support

  • High cap on the value of their policies

Cons

  • Medical exam required for all policies

  • Some policies unavailable in New York

USAA isn’t part of our main list because it’s only available for military members and their families. Though it isn’t included in JD Power’s latest study of customer satisfaction or rated by rating agencies, the company has a strong record in this regard, including favorable complaints records with insurance regulators.

Mutual of Omaha

Pros

  • Offers online quotes

  • Affordable underwriting for health conditions, including cancer

  • Offers a whole life insurance policy for children

Cons

  • 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 didn’t make our list because its premiums are higher than industry norms for applicants who are healthy and/or older. Application and processing times are also slower than those of some other insurance providers.

Liberty Mutual

Pros

  • Immediate online approval for Passport Term (simplified issue insurance)

  • Continuing coverage once the term ends

Cons

  • Monthly premiums are higher than average

  • No detailed information about policies on the website

Liberty Mutual is not part of our main list, in part because other companies on our main list provide more detailed information about policies and offer a larger array of term insurance options.

State Farm

Pros

  • Premiums vary depending on the customer's needs

  • Optional add-ons include Children's term rider and Waiver of premium for disability

  • Discounts available for bundling homeowners and auto insurance

Cons

  • Policies are only approved in office

  • No live chat option on the site

  • Not licensed in MA, NY and WI

State Farm is not part of our main list because, while it allows the purchase of term coverage online, you need to visit one of its brick and mortar locations to complete the process.

Life Insurance Guide

This life insurance guide aims to answer questions related to life insurance and its different policy types and options, in order to help you more readily select the best life insurance policy for your needs and budget.

What is life insurance?

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

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance protects family members and loved ones from financial hardship upon the death of a primary breadwinner. Yet life insurance is not exclusively available for adults and the elderly. Many companies also offer life insurance for children, which can cover any expenses in the case of death, help with future insurability and provide economic support through the cash value component of the policy.

At its most basic, life insurance 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 are payments made by the policyholder to the insurer in exchange for the policy. Premiums are determined by the insured’s projected life expectancy. High-risk individuals, or those who purchase larger death benefit amounts or a permanent life insurance policy, generally pay higher premiums.

Permanent and whole life insurance policies also include a cash value component that can serve two functions:

  • As a savings account in which cash accumulates on a tax-deferred basis, and which the insured can usually access during their lifetime. Some policies may restrict withdrawals, depending on how the withdrawn money will be used.

  • As a way to cover the policy’s premiums or to purchase additional coverage.

Note, however, that the cash value is a living benefit that stays with the insurance company when the policyholder passes. Any outstanding loans against the cash value will reduce the policy’s death benefit.

What are the different types of life insurance?

Life insurance are typically of one of the following types:

  • Term life insurance – Coverage lasts for a predetermined period (commonly 10, 15 or 20 years), and then expires.

  • Whole life insurance -Covers the insured for the duration of their life as long as the premiums are paid. Policies include a guaranteed cash value component and monthly premiums are typically fixed.

  • Universal life insurance – Similar to whole life, this coverage type protects the insured for the duration of their life as long as premiums are paid, and also includes a cash value component. The cash value component in this policy is not in a guaranteed amount; rather, it fluctuates in step with the market.

What is the difference between term, whole and universal life insurance policies?

Term Life

Whole Life

Universal Life

There are two main types: level term and convertible term

There are three main types of whole life insurance: traditional or non-guaranteed, indexed and variable life

There are three main types: traditional or non-guaranteed, indexed and variable life

The death benefit is paid to your designated beneficiaries as a lump sum, in installments or as an annuity

Policyholders can access the savings component during their lifetime and receive annual dividend payments on the policy

Premium payments and cash value influence the value of the policy. The policy does not receive annual dividend payments.

A lump sum payout means that your beneficiary receives the whole benefit at once. To annuitize, the payment is spread out into fixed installments

Policyholders can make payments above the amount of the premium in order to accumulate a larger cash value

Allows policyholders to increase or decrease the death benefit amount, within limits

Both the whole and universal types are considered permanent life insurance, meaning the coverage they offer can last a person’s lifetime.
If you’re not sure which is best for you, check out our in-depth analysis on term vs whole life insurance.

Life Insurance Glossary

Common life insurance terms

Underwriting

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

Beneficiary

The person, organization or charity that receives the life insurance payout (death benefit).

Rider

Coverage add-ons to your policy at an increased price, such as those that provide an accelerated death benefit, chronic illness, long-term care or a return of premiums.

Disclaimer

When a beneficiary declines to receive, or fails to claim, the proceeds of a policy. 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.

Death benefit

The amount the beneficiaries receive from a life insurance policy, as long as the insured died when the policy was still in effect.

Contestability period

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

Cost of Insurance (COI)

Part of Universal Life Insurance policies, COI is the minimum premium amount that must be paid in order to keep the policy active It includes mortality costs, administrative fees, and other expenses.

Latest News on Life Insurance

Life insurance companies will likely charge higher premiums and might even deny coverage to COVID-19 survivors. Our life insurance experts have looked into how Life Insurance Costs Could Soon Increase for People Who Have Battled COVID-19.

You don’t have to break the bank to afford a life insurance policy. To help you save on your premiums, we have put together a list of 7 Ways to Pay Less for Life Insurance.

With the right information at hand, buying life insurance online shouldn’t be a complicated process. To help you, our Money team has put together a guide on How to Buy Life Insurance Online: What to Expect and Tips to Make it Easier.

Life Insurance Companies FAQ

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 final expenses, and then to subtract any liquid asset you may have.

In any case, it's a good idea to consider life insurance within a larger financial context. If you can, it's a good idea to talk over your life insurance needs with a financial planner.

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance is a policy taken out on your life and paid out in the event of your death, in order to protect those that depend on you financially. The proceeds can serve to pay your final medical expenses or funeral expenses, or be used to set a trust fund for your children's tuition, in estate planning or to pay off remaining debt and mortgages.

What is the difference between term and whole life insurance?

The main difference between term and whole life insurance is that the former type of policy only lasts for a set period (its term). In contrast, a whole or permanent policy covers a policyholder for (essentially) their entire lifespan.

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. The monthly premium will also depend on the applicant's age, gender, lifestyle, and overall health. According to Haven Life, a 35-year-old non-smoking male, living in NY, in good health, will pay around a $30 monthly premium for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit.

What is the best life insurance?

There's no one best life insurance policy or company for everybody. Your choices regarding life insurance will depend on your needs and how you plan to use the policy. That said, we selected Northwestern Mutual as our best insurer overall.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

As part of our methodology to come up with our list of top life insurance companies, we looked at:

  • The ability to pay claims on time

  • Customer experience and product offerings

  • Customer satisfaction and ratings, as reported in J.D. Power’s latest U.S. Life Insurance Satisfaction Study, and the A.M. Best financial strength ratings

  • The number of complaints regarding their individual life insurance policies, based on NAIC data

  • The selection of insurance plans and related products

  • Simplicity of underwriting

Summary of Money’s Best Life Insurance Companies of January 2022

  • Bestow – Best No-Exam Life Insurance

  • Northwestern Mutual – Best for Policy Customization

  • Haven Life – Best Term Life Insurance

  • Policygenius – Best Comparison Tool and Broker

  • Ethos – Best for Accommodating Diverse Ages

  • Ladder – Best for Cheap Life Insurance

  • Nationwide – Best for High Customer Satisfaction

  • New York Life – Best for Mutual Insurance

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