Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

If you’re shopping for whole life insurance, you probably already know that a whole life policy guarantees a death benefit in addition to growing its cash value.

What you may not know is which life insurance provider offers the best whole life insurance.

So, we’d like to share our list of the best whole life insurance companies.

10 Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

We’ve found that these 10 insurers stand out as leaders for permanent life insurance products in our experience.

1. MassMutual: Best Overall

MassMutual Logo

  • A.M. Best: A++
  • J.D. Power: 769 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.08

Since MassMutual is a mutual company, you’d be buying part ownership of the company when you buy a whole life insurance policy from this insurer. Whole policies can pay out dividends to policyholders each year.

MassMutual’s permanent life insurance policies require a medical exam which means the underwriting process could take longer than a no-exam policy.

But with top-notch financial strength ratings and a solid customer service experience, MassMutual should be a good financial partner for your entire life. Waiting a few weeks to finalize coverage could be worth it.

On the downside, you’d have to work with an authorized insurance agent, and MassMutual policies can cost more for the same amount of coverage.

But since premium payments help build cash value within the policy, you’d be working toward building an asset with each month’s payment.

2. Northwestern Mutual: Best for Financial Planners

NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LOGO

  • A.M. Best: A++
  • J.D. Power: 790 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.03

Northwestern Mutual is another insurer with the possibility of dividend payouts for whole life policyholders.

Northwestern Mutual approaches life insurance from the angle of financial planning. To buy a policy, you’d need to work with a Northwestern Mutual financial advisor who could help you find the right permanent policy for your long-term financial needs.

Whole life insurance plans can gain value tax-free over time and be a useful asset later in life.

Northwestern Mutual’s financial strength ratings and customer service record are stellar. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports only a handful of complaints to state insurance departments.

3. New York Life: Best for Financial Stability

new york life insurance logo

  • A.M. Best: A++
  • J.D. Power: 784 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.02

New York Life is another mutual company, and it offers more flexible whole life insurance options, including a value insurance plan.

The value plan limits the cost of your life insurance premiums by reducing the guaranteed growth interest rate of your policy’s cash value.

New York Life has another program allowing policyholders to front-load premiums so they can pay lower premiums during retirement. Life insurers normally require level premiums for whole life insurance.

Like MassMutual and Northwestern Mutual, New York Life combines rock-solid financial stability with some of the industry’s best customer service.

Founded in 1845, New York Life is the nation’s oldest life insurance company.

4. Mutual of Omaha: Best for Guaranteed Issue

Mutual of Omaha logo

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • J.D. Power: 789 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.58

Mutual of Omaha‘s whole life policies are guaranteed issue, which means you wouldn’t need a medical exam to get coverage.

This kind of insurance has a few strengths and weaknesses you should know about before considering Mutual of Omaha.

Weaknesses include low death benefits and high life insurance rates. There’s also no cash value built into a guaranteed issue policy.

However, this type of policy is open to just about everyone. Insurability isn’t based on a medical exam, so even someone with a chronic illness could get coverage.

5. Nationwide: Best for Customer Service

nationwide life insurance logo

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • J.D. Power: 803 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.02

Nationwide is another full-service stalwart of the insurance industry whose life insurance products compete well against mutual companies.

These are some of the most adaptive whole life policies you’ll find. You could lock in a level premium for the first 20 years of the policy to front-load costs or keep level premiums until you reach age 100.

Nationwide also lets policyholders add small-term life policies for spouses and children as riders.

You could start the shopping process online, but Nationwide’s website will direct you to visit a local agent to finalize coverage.

Nationwide has earned excellent customer satisfaction reviews from the J.D. Power 2020 insurance study and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

6. Foresters: Best for Policy Options

foresters life insurance logo

  • A.M. Best: A
  • J.D. Power: N/A
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.53

Foresters may be the only insurer on this list you haven’t heard of. It’s a solid company with a nice variety of whole life insurance products.

Foresters even has whole life policies for children younger than 18. The idea behind these policies is that you could guarantee future insurability for your children regardless of what health conditions they develop later in life.

Like the mutual companies on this list, Foresters can pay dividends to whole life policyholders.

And, like other leaders on this list, Foresters has “paid-up” options — ways to front-load your whole life policy so you can keep coverage without making premium payments later.

7. Transamerica: Best for Large Death Benefits

transamerica life insurance logo

  • A.M. Best: A
  • J.D. Power: 734 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 1.28

Transamerica can offer up to $2 million guaranteed death benefits on whole life policies. This is incredibly high for a non-term life insurance product.

Most policy shoppers won’t buy a whole life policy this large, but shoppers who want a larger face value and permanent coverage can likely find it with this insurer.

Transamerica also focuses on the other end of the spectrum, offering final expense insurance with death benefits as small as $25,000.

Transamerica is the only company on this list to have more complaints than the industry median based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners study.

8. State Farm: Best for Easy Access

state farm life insurance lgoo

  • A.M. Best: A++
  • J.D. Power: 838 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.24

State Farm is our first insurer on the list that doesn’t specialize in life insurance, but this iconic company can meet most people’s whole life insurance needs.

Like New York Life, State Farm has some flexible whole life options, including a front-loaded plan that limits life insurance costs later.

State Farm also sells permanent coverage for final expenses to shoppers between 50 and 80 years old. This kind of coverage has a small death benefit — just enough to keep your loved ones from having to pay out of pocket for your funeral or other end-of-life needs.

State Farm also has some of the easiest ways to access permanent coverage. You can get life insurance quotes online, or you can stop in at one of the company’s thousands of neighborhood agency offices.

9. Penn Mutual: Best for Flexibility

penn mutual life insurance logo

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • J.D. Power: N/A
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.07

Penn Mutual sells some of the most flexible whole life insurance products in this market. You could essentially build your own life insurance plan that generates guaranteed cash values.

You can just about choose the number of years you want to pay up a policy since Penn Mutual has 5-year, 10-year, and 15-year options.

Some of Penn Mutual’s policies have popular extras built in, such as waiver of premium and accelerated death benefit riders.

This company also has some of the lowest incidences of complaints to state officials, according to the NAIC.

10. Guardian Life: Best for Policy Riders

guardian life insurance logo

  • A.M. Best: A++
  • J.D. Power: 743 out of 1,000
  • NAIC Complaint Ratio: 0.67

Guardian Life is another strong whole life insurance provider with financial stability and a strong customer service record.

The only real downside to Guardian is its lack of accessibility. The company has fewer authorized agents around the country than larger and similar insurers such as MassMutual and New York Life.

Guardian made this list because of its unique approach to riders. For example, with one rider, you could essentially convert your whole life policy to an indexed universal life insurance policy by investing its cash value in index funds.

How Did We Choose the Best Whole Life Insurance Companies?

Whole life insurance is more complicated than term life. Its cash value resembles a savings account with a guaranteed interest rate, so there’s an investment component.

Plus, most companies on our list offer mutuality which means you, as a policyholder, can share in the profits of the company by earning dividends.

These elements factored into our choices when we compiled this list, but we focused more on:

Financial Strength Ratings

A.M. Best rates almost all insurance companies and issues grades that reflect the company’s financial health.

A.M. Best’s top grade is A++, followed by A+ and A.

Since whole life insurance is a commitment for most of your life, we chose companies most likely to survive throughout your entire life. We didn’t consider a company unless its A.M. Best rating surpassed A.

Other credit agencies such as Moody’s and S&P 500 also issue life insurance credit ratings.

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Online reviews can tell you a lot about an insurance company, but we wanted a more scientific approach to customer satisfaction ratings.

We used J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study which rated the customer service prowess of 23 of the nation’s insurers.

Almost all of the companies on our list exceed J.D. Power’s average customer service score on a scale of 1 to 1,000.

We also checked with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which measures complaints filed by policyholders in every state. The NAIC compiles complaints and then puts them into context with its index.

The index is important because it helps us measure complaints in relation to the size of a company. If a company with 10,000 policies gets 100 complaints, that’s a lot different from a company with 2 million policies receiving 100 complaints.

The NAIC index resolves this inconsistency by using ratios. In the ratio, 1.0 represents the median number of complaints per policyholder.

  • Scores below 1.0 mean a company gets fewer than the median number of complaints. A score of 0.1 means the company got only a tenth of the median number as adjusted for its size.
  • Scores above 1.0 mean the company got more than the median number of complaints. A score of 2.0, for example, means the company got twice as many complaints as the median number of complaints.

With one exception, we considered companies for this list only if their complaint ratio fell well below the 1.0 threshold.

Whole Life Insurance Specialists

Most insurers offer both term life insurance and permanent life insurance. Companies that offer both often let term life policyholders convert their term plans to whole life insurance plans.

But for this list, we wanted to help shoppers choosing a whole life insurance company from scratch — not shoppers who want to convert an existing term life policy.

So we looked for companies that either specialized in whole life or offered a product line that favors whole life shoppers.

This is important because pricing for whole life is significantly higher than term life insurance, partly because of its permanence but also because of its guaranteed cash value.

You could borrow against this cash value later in life to finance long-term care or to go on an extended vacation. You could surrender the policy and cash out the policy’s surrender value.

These types of life insurance should be part of your overall financial plan, so working with a whole life specialist is the way to go.

Finding The Best Whole Life Insurance For You

Your best whole life insurance company will be the insurer that best meets your specific needs.

An independent life insurance agent is best equipped to help identify your needs and then match you with the right insurance plan.

This is true when you’re picking an insurance plan and when you try to determine your eligibility for coverage.

Not all companies will cover all applicants unless you’re seeking group coverage or guaranteed issue. An independent insurance agent will likely know which companies will best fit your underwriting challenges.

There’s a good chance your agent will work with the leading insurers on this list.