This guide was written by

Money Geek Team

You've made the smart financial decision to purchase life insurance, but now you're confronted with a dizzying array of potential companies, all with different coverage options and policies to choose from. Don't be so overwhelmed you make a quick choice that comes back to haunt you down the road. We've done the hard work for you by narrowing down the list to our top five life insurance companies, all of which are financially sound and offer a wide range of policy options. We'll also let you in on who made the cut in special categories like the best mobile experience, top customer service and outstanding service for veterans.

The Best Life Insurance Companies

These companies, which are listed in alphabetical order, are the best of the best when it comes to life insurance. They have a lot to offer in terms of coverage, are financially stable and provide all the features you'd expect to see from a top insurance company. Read the full description of our methodology in the section below. And learn more about different types of life insurance coverage like term, whole and universal life in our guides.

The Top Companies
American United Life
Insurance Company
  • Financial Strength Strong
  • Coverage Offered Term, Whole and Universal
  • Riders Offered Term conversion, renewability, accelerated benefits, guaranteed level premium, waiver of premium

American United Life is the founding partner of the One America Financial Partners group, a mutual organization. In addition to life insurance and annuities, the company's product line includes retirement services for individuals and employers. In 2013, AUL introduced a rider for accelerated benefits in the case of chronic or terminal illness, allowing policyholders to access their benefits before death if needed to cover certain medical costs.

  • Financial Strength Extra Strong
  • Coverage Offered Term, Whole and Universal
  • Riders Offered Guaranteed acceptance 50-75, term conversion renewability, accelerated death benefits, guaranteed level premium and waiver of premium

As the 5th largest life insurance company, MassMutual has a deep pool of resources and offers a suite of life insurance products—including more than 20 optional riders—that will cover most people's needs. It also offers annuity sales, disability income insurance and long-term care insurance. As a mutual company, eligible policyholders share in the company's profits through the annual distribution of dividends. In 2015, the company distributed a record 1.6 billion in dividends to policyholders.

New York Life Insurance
  • Financial Strength Heavyweight
  • Coverage Offered Term, Whole and Universal
  • Riders Offered Term conversion, renewability, accelerated death benefits, guaranteed level premium and waiver of premium

New York Life is among the nation's largest life insurance companies and earns the highest financial strength ratings awarded to any life insurance company by all four of the major ratings agencies. It also excels at making information clear and accessible. Its living benefits option can be added to the policy at any time. The company also handles retirement planning and investment products and offers several online tools to help you determine your own needs. These include a quick quote estimator and online life insurance calculators to perform a needs analysis, estimate how long a life insurance death benefit will last and more.

Ohio National Life
Insurance Company
  • Financial Strength Strong
  • Coverage Offered Term (up to 20 years), Whole and Universal
  • Riders Offered Term conversion (available with "Plus" option), renewability, accelerated death benefits, guaranteed level premium and waiver of premium

Ohio National Financial services offers life insurance products through its subsidiary, the Ohio National Life Insurance Company, and that company's subsidiary, Ohio National Life Assurance Corporation. The company's individual life insurance sales have grown for 26 consecutive years, an industry record. Ohio National does a good job of providing educational resources about life insurance and other available products, such as annuities, retirement and investment planning.

Western & Southern Life
Insurance Company
  • Financial Strength Very Strong
  • Coverage Offered Term, Whole and Universal
  • Riders Offered Term conversion renewability, accelerated death benefits, guaranteed level premium, waiver of premium

Western & Southern Life Insurance was named one of the top 25 web-based technology firms in the insurance, annuity, and mutual funds industry in 2015, and has received other communication awards. It provides an online tool to estimate your premium for a term policy. If you need advice on how much coverage you need, you can call an agent. Additional products, such as annuities, are also available.

Special Category Winners

Life insurance isn't a one-size-fits all endeavor. What's important to a family with young children might not matter much to a senior. And while factors like guaranteed level premiums may help you identify the top companies, details like customer service or a great app might be the distinguishing factor that helps you make your final pick. Here are companies that stood out in ways that are worth noting.

Best Customer Service: State Farm

State Farm just missed out on the top five, so it's fitting to include them in this listing. Not only do they score a perfect "5" across the board in the J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey (taking the top award for 2015), they also have a lower than average number of customer complaints reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Their large network of brick and mortar offices around the country make it easy to get in touch with a real, live agent. Add to that a website that's educational and easy to use, and you have a winner.

Best Mobile Experience: Amica

Lots of insurance companies have mobile apps to handle your home and auto insurance needs, but it's rare to find a great mobile app for dealing with life insurance. This may be because the complexities of life insurance make it a product best discussed in person. But if you like to conduct business on the go from your phone or tablet, Amica has you covered with its mobile app and mobile-optimized website.

The quoting tool allows you to input your own coverage amount or have them calculate it for you based on a few questions. It presents background information on life insurance and can connect you directly to an agent to facilitate the process. It also allows you to make a same-day payment on your premium. Free and equally optimized for iPhone and Android, the Amica mobile experience is currently at the head of the pack.

Best Additional Services: Northwestern Mutual

Many life insurance companies are part of a financial group that offers additional services. Northwestern Mutual's subsidiaries include the Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, Northwestern Mutual Investment Services LLC and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. This allows the life insurance company to also work in the fields of annuities, investment products and services, education funding and more, services that aren't offered by many of the top life insurance companies.

Most Customizable Coverage: Prudential

The Prudential family of companies - including the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Pruco Life Insurance Company and Pruco Life Insurance Company of New Jersey - allows you to mix and match different coverage options to create a product that is a perfect fit. Prudential offers a wide range of term and permanent life insurance options. Term policies include 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year terms (or even one year at a time) and there are nearly half-a-dozen options for this type of coverage. The permanent life insurance policies are available as universal and variable universal life policies. And you can further customize your life insurance coverage by choosing from among the dozen riders that are available to include on your policy.

Best Life Insurance Company for Veterans: USAA

Veterans and military families may have unique concerns when shopping for life insurance, and USAA earns top marks for addressing them. Other organizations that provide life insurance for this segment of the population either don't have the nationwide reach that USAA does (such as Navy Mutual) or are underwritten by a separate insurer (such as USBA). In addition to life insurance, USAA offers a wide range of financial services, such as banking, property and casualty insurance, investments and retirement planning. The company gets A.M. Best's highest financial rating (A++) and made Fortune magazine's list of "Most Admired Companies" in 2016.

Best Life Insurance for Seniors: AARP Group Life from New York Life

Many life insurance companies advertise good rates for seniors, but very few actually limit their offerings to that demographic. AARP has a life insurance program that is restricted to its members over age 50 (and their spouses, ages 45 and older). Since AARP is not an insurance company, its life insurance program is underwritten by New York Life, which has a separate division dedicated to group memberships. It contracts with more than 600 different groups to provide special insurance packages to some 1.5 million people. So while it might be worth your time to shop around and get a quote for your specific age and situation, if you are looking for a simple pre-arranged insurance package for seniors, New York Life's group coverage available through AARP might be a good bet.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

There are literally hundreds of life insurance companies in the United States, and deciding which ones are worth your time and money can be tricky. Below we've listed the factors we felt were most important. If a company didn't meet the mark on the following points, they didn't make the cut.

Financial Strength

A life insurance policy is a financial agreement that may not be concluded for several decades, so you want to be sure your insurance company is financially stable and able to pay out on your future claim. The financial strength rating from any of these four independent agencies—A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's—is a good indication of an insurance company's financial stability.

For our top 5 list, we required a company to have a history of stability, with no dramatic changes in their standing in the past few years, and at least two out of three of the following scores:

A.M. Best rating of A+ or better

S&P rating of AA- or better

Moody's rating of Aa1 or better

We then gave them the following ratings:

  • Strong Meets our minimum standards for at least 2 agencies.
  • Very Strong Meets our minimum standard for at least 1 agency and above our minimum standards for at least 1 agency.
  • Extra Strong Rates above our minimum standards for at least 2 agencies.
  • Heavyweight Rates above our minimum standards for 3 agencies.

We eliminated companies that limit coverage to select groups—like veterans or seniors—because we believe a top life insurance company should be accessible to most people. We also required the companies in our top five to write policies in at least 40 states.

Type of Coverage

In this category, we weighed the types of life insurance policies offered. First off, they had to offer term insurance. This is the most common form of coverage, used by a range of people at different stages in their lives. We also required straight whole life in their portfolio. Some life insurance companies offer universal life as their only form of permanent coverage, but we believe a well-rounded company should offer the stability that whole life insurance provides.

Policy Features

We made sure our top insurers offer some key policy features that protect consumers. For example, do they allow you to convert from term to whole life without further evidence of insurability (or a medical exam)? This can be important for policyholders whose situation changes after the initial purchase of term life insurance. Similarly, we wanted to know if the company allows you to renew your term insurance without another medical exam. This doesn't mean that there won't be a higher premium (that depends on your age), but at least you will have the option of continuing your coverage. We also looked for guaranteed level premiums. Premiums that fluctuate may work for some, but for most people, a premium that is steady throughout the life of the policy will work best.

Available Riders

Riders allow you to customize your policy to meet your needs. Which riders are important to you depends on your situation, but there are a few that we considered important enough to include on the "must have" list. One was the accelerated death benefit rider. If you're diagnosed with a terminal illness (or in some cases, even a chronic illness), you can tap into the death benefit of your policy that would otherwise be held up until your passing. Another rider that we wanted to see was the waiver of premium option. If you become disabled and can't pay your life insurance premium, this rider will cover it for you.