NorthWestern Mutual Life Insurance Review

With roots dating back to 1857, Northwestern Mutual is the top life insurance provider in the United States.

As a mutual company, it places its focus on the policyholders.

There are several NorthWestern Mutual Life Insurance options available, allowing much customization. Find out more in this complete review.

In this review: 

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Ratings

  • AM Best: A++
  • Moody’s: AAA
  • Fitch: AAA
  • BBB: A+

The top rating agencies score Northwestern Mutual as one of the leading insurers in the United States. The company’s financial position is excellent, and the company has earned a reputation as a good investment option.

The ratings from customers are equally impressive. The firm regularly scores well on customer review sites and has a low number of complaints overall.

Life Insurance Products

Northwestern Mutual Term Life Insurance

The policies typically start with a death value of $25,000, and then you select one of the following:

  • Term 10: For those aged 18 to 65, Term 10 is the most straightforward short-term coverage. You may elect to renew the policy annually for ten years or convert it to a whole life policy. At the end of ten years, the policy falls away.
  • Term 80: For those aged 18 to 65, Term 80 provides long-term coverage. You may choose to renew the policy once a year until you turn 80 or convert it to a whole life policy.
  • Level Term 10: For those aged 18 to 60, level term 10 provides coverage for 20 years. The premiums are level for the first ten years, then they increase and stay the same for the remaining period.
  • Level Term 20: It works in much the same way as Level Term 10, except that the premiums never increase.

Northwestern Mutual Whole Life Insurance

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance range also includes Whole Life Cover. A minimum value of $25,000 applies, but you may increase this as needed. These are long-term policies that accumulate a cash value over time.

You may opt to take a loan out against these policies if you’ve built up a sufficient balance. You may also choose to use the death benefit while living if you become seriously ill.

  • 65 Life: Your premiums remain the same until you turn 65. After that, your coverage remains intact, but you don’t pay any more premiums. When you die, your beneficiaries receive the death benefit.
  • 90 Life: This policy works in the same manner as 65 Life, except your premium payments extend to the age of 90. This enables you to build quite the nest egg in the policy. Your coverage extends to the date you die.
  • Limited Pay: You select the term of your policy. You may choose to pay for 10 to 30 years. At the end of the period, you may elect to receive the cash value of the policy.

Northwestern Mutual Variable Universal Life Insurance

Universal policies from Northwestern offer low-cost investments. Unlike most insurers, the firm allows you to select a guaranteed death benefit option.

It’ll cost you extra, but it gives you peace of mind. You’ll know that whatever happens in the financial markets, your beneficiaries won’t suffer, but the growth of the policy is not guaranteed.

Should you not choose this option, the death benefit is not guaranteed. The potential for growth here is more because the higher risk means there’s potential for a higher reward.

Another benefit is the cash value of the policy accumulates income tax-free. Policyholders with complicated tax situations should speak to their financial advisors to see if this benefit might work in their favor.

The downside is that the premiums aren’t fixed. Should the cash portion perform poorly, you may need to pay money to keep the cover going.

Alternatively, a lump sum investment may dwindle to nothing throughout a lifetime.

Choose between the following:

  • Custom Variable Universal Life: This is a simple policy that allows you to decide where to invest the cash portion. You may opt to pay monthly, quarterly, or annually.
  • Single-Premium Variable Universal Life: With these policies, you invest a lump sum upfront. This purchases your life insurance outright, providing a tax-free cash value.
  • Survivorship Variable Universal Life: Couples with children often select this type of plan. It covers you and your spouse and pays out when both partners die. It’s an excellent way to secure your children’s inheritance or pay estate duties.
  • Executive Variable Universal Life: Similar to the custom plans, this package works well for insuring key people in companies.

Life Insurance Riders Offered

Riders allow you to customize your policy to your specifications. The ones the firm offers you depend on the plan you choose and the state in which you reside.

Waiver of Premium Rider

If you are disabled due to illness or an accident, this rider takes effect. NorthWestern Mutual will pay your premiums for at least six months, ensuring that you have unbroken coverage.

Additional Purchase Benefit

This benefit allows you to increase your coverage at set intervals. You will not need to undergo the entire underwriting process, nor will you need another physical.

You may opt to increase your coverage at the anniversary dates of your policies closest to the following birthdays and changing life circumstances:

  • 22
  • 25
  • 28
  • 31
  • 34
  • 37
  • 40
  • Upon marriage
  • After the birth or adoption of a child

You are not obliged to take additional cover, but it may be wise to talk it over with your financial advisor.

Accelerated Care Benefit

This benefit allows the policyholder to access some of the cash value to pay for long-term care. Such a benefit might be helpful to people who may need care in their old age.

Policyholders with frail parents and without children to care for them may benefit from this option.

Eligibility and Application Process

To apply for a policy, you must have:

  • A government-issued identity document
  • Proof of address
  • A valid social security number

The eligibility requirements depend on the type of policy that you select:

  • Term Life: You must be aged between 18 and 70
  • Whole Life: You must be between the ages of 0 and 85
  • Universal Life: You must be between the ages of 0 and 85

You may begin the process online. The firm provides an agent matching service, so you may discuss the matter with a financial advisor before signing.

The advisor will discuss your goals and circumstances before recommending a plan for you.

They’ll advise you whether you’ll need to go for a medical exam or provide access to your medical records. In both cases, the aim is to prove that you’re insurable.

Once you’ve completed all the documents and provided proof of insurability, everything is forwarded to the underwriters. They’ll make an offer for the final coverage amount based on the information they receive.

Northwestern Mutual Pros & Cons


  • Wide range of coverage
  • You’re eligible to earn dividends on all policies
  • A well-established firm with strong financial ratings
  • Nationwide cover
  • It’s possible to convert term policies to universal ones in some cases


  • You won’t find as many details as you’d like online
  • The policies are only available through an agent, not online
  • NorthWestern Mutual Life Insurance has no simplified policies
  • The tools on the website are below par