Best Universal Life Insurance Companies for 2022

Universal life insurance policies provide you with permanent life insurance with payment and coverage flexibility that is attractive to many shoppers. MoneyGeek analyzed policy details from the largest universal life insurance providers to help you find the best policy for your needs with a monthly payment that works for your budget.

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Last Updated: 9/21/2022
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Looking for lifelong insurance coverage that provides the option of increasing or decreasing your premium payments and death benefit coverage while still building cash value? Universal life insurance may be the type of coverage you’re after.

Universal life insurance is not like whole life insurance, which offers guaranteed cash value, death benefit and premium payments. This type of permanent life insurance provides the most flexibility but more responsibility.

The best universal life insurance plans come from companies with exceptional financial stability, product offerings and customer satisfaction scores. Our top picks for the best universal life insurance companies are State Farm, Mutual of Omaha, Prudential, Guardian and MassMutual.

Best Overall Universal Life: State Farm

State Farm

pros

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Joint and survivorship policies save on premiums

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Valuable riders available for an extra cost

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Three types of universal life insurance to choose from

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Not available in Massachusetts

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 97.4
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 820.5
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.19

MoneyGeek’s Take: State Farm is our top pick for the overall best universal life insurance because of its #1 ranking for customer satisfaction, along with its excellent reputation, superior financial strength and robust universal life policy choices.

State Farm is J.D. Power’s winner for individual life insurance customer satisfaction, with a score of 822 out of 1,000 points. The company beat out 20 other life insurers for the best communication, customer interaction, product offerings and statements, attesting to the high-quality life insurance company this provider offers to its customers.

State Farm offers individual universal life, joint universal and survivorship universal life products. Joint universal life insurance protects two lives — spouses, business owners with a buy-sell agreement, etc. — and pays out when each person dies. The survivorship universal life policy only pays after the second spouse dies and is generally used to offset estate taxes for large estates or to maintain or create generational wealth. Insuring two people with one policy is usually cheaper than two separate policies, making this an attractive option for some.

Along with flexible payments and coverage amounts, State Farm offers valuable riders to tailor your universal life policy to your specific needs. You can add term life insurance for your children and spouse. At the same time, the guaranteed insurability option allows you to buy more life insurance with no health questions or medical exams on certain dates.

With flexible care benefits, you can access a portion of the death benefit to pay for long-term care expenses. The waiver of premium for disability rider will pay your premiums if you are completely disabled for six months or longer.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Universal Life
  • Survivorship Universal Life
  • Joint Universal Life

Best Indexed Universal Life: Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

pros

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Accelerated death benefit included at no extra cost

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Two indexed universal life policies to choose from

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Downside protection prevents negative returns

cons

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Only available through agents

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS
  • MoneyGeek Score: 90.8
  • J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 783.4
  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • NAIC Complaint Index: 1.20

MoneyGeek’s Take: We chose Mutual of Omaha as the best indexed universal life insurance company because its policies can be tailored to fit your needs, with downside protection to avoid negative market returns.

Mutual of Omaha offers two choices for indexed universal life insurance. Both policies come with market return protection, so if the market index is negative, your returns are guaranteed never to go below zero. This is a significant benefit to someone willing to take the risk for higher cash value growth but doesn’t want to risk negative returns, which could cause the policy to lapse.

The Life Protection Advantage indexed universal life policy guarantees coverage up to age 90 or older, as long as premiums are level or higher based on the no-lapse guarantee minimum required premiums. This policy includes the accelerated benefits rider, which provides some of the death benefit before you pass away if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. It also has a guaranteed refund option rider, which allows you to surrender the policy at specific dates with a guaranteed refund amount.

Income Advantage is similar but focuses more on building cash value through interest-crediting options. The money isn’t invested in the market, but the interest accrued is based on market index performance. This could lead to higher cash value accumulation, but you still get the downside protection guarantee if the market underperforms and creates a negative index return.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Life Protection Advantage IUL
  • Income Advantage IUL

Best Variable Universal Life: Prudential

Prudential

pros

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Several riders available for policy customization

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No-lapse guarantee included

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Prospective and performance reports available online

cons

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Quotes and coverage only available through financial professionals

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 82.8
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 756
AM Best Rating: A+
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.15

MoneyGeek’s Take: Prudential is our pick for the best variable universal life insurance. This company offers individual and survivorship variable policies, with several rider options available and no-lapse guarantee provisions included.

Prudential has three options for variable universal life insurance, and all come with a no-lapse guarantee, as long as minimum premiums are paid, and requirements are met. The VUL Protector is best for those with moderate investment risk, hoping for moderate returns.

PruLife Custom Premium II focuses on long-term growth potential and is best for high-risk, high-reward individuals, with short-term and limited no-lapse guarantees to protect from downturns in the market. With PruLife SVUL Protector, you can choose your market risk and investment options to leave a legacy or fund your business or charity with a second-to-die permanent life insurance policy.

Each policy type has an impressive lineup of riders available to tailor your variable universal life policy to your needs. Each offers living benefits at no extra cost for a diagnosed chronic or terminal illness, plus overloan protection, which prevents a policy lapse if large loans are taken from the policy.

SVUL Protector also has estate protection available, which increases the death benefit if both insureds die before the fourth policy year. This plan also offers enhanced cash value, which is ideal for business owners who want higher cash surrender value if they cancel the policy in the first few years. The guaranteed policy split feature ensures the ability to split the policy into two if the spouses divorce. VUL Protector and PruLife Custom Premier II also offer the enhanced cash value rider, plus children’s term life and enhanced coverage for accidental death or disability.

Policy Types Offered:

  • PruLife SVUL Protector
  • PruLife Custom Premium II
  • VUL Protector

Best Guaranteed Interest Rate: Guardian Life

Guardian Life

pros

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Guaranteed minimum interest rate of 2%

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All types of universal life available

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Generous underwriting guidelines for pre-existing conditions

cons

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No guarantee on variable universal life

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 81.6
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 735.8
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.73

MoneyGeek's Take: Guardian Life is our choice for the best universal life insurance with guaranteed interest, which currently sits at 3.5% and has the potential to increase.

While most universal life insurance companies offer a minimum floor set at 0% to avoid market downturns, Guardian steps up with some of the best guaranteed interest rates we’ve seen on these policies. Guardian Life offers all types of universal life insurance policies, and all have guaranteed interest rates except for variable universal life.

The company’s minimum interest rate will always be at least 2% but has the potential to go higher each year if the market warrants an increase, which is evidenced by its current interest rate minimum of 3.5%. Guardian may be the best choice for someone on the fence about the risk involved in owning and maintaining a universal life insurance policy.

Guardian also has generous underwriting guidelines, allowing those with pre-existing conditions to qualify for competitive pricing on universal life and other life insurance products. Those in good health may be eligible for accelerated underwriting, which requires no medical exam or lab work.

Those looking to buy up to $5 million in universal life insurance, and those between rating classes, may have an opportunity for the Expanded Standard Program, which puts you in a better rating class with lower premiums. These are just some of the ways Guardian Life has become one of the best universal life insurance companies.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Indexed Universal Life
  • Universal Life
  • Variable Universal Life

Best for Payment Flexibility: MassMutual

MassMutual

pros

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Multiple payment options available

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No cap on coverage with proven financial need

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Cigar smokers can qualify for non-tobacco rates

cons

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Quotes and applications only available through financial professionals

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 84.5
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 758.1
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.07

MoneyGeek’s Take: MassMutual is our pick for the best payment flexibility, with the option to change payments monthly or as needed to meet your financial and policy goals.

If you want the ultimate in payment flexibility for your universal life policy, MassMutual may be the best choice. Recognizing the need for flexible premiums, MassMutual policyholders can change their payment amount at any time, even month to month. The only restriction is the policy has to have enough cash value to prevent it from lapsing if you plan to reduce your payments.

Having a good understanding of universal life insurance is key to ensuring your policy doesn’t lapse, even if you choose the no-lapse guarantee offered by MassMutual. Though riders for universal life are limited with MassMutual, its universal life policies come with a free accelerated death benefit rider, which allows you to access some of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The company also offers group universal life insurance you can buy through your employer, which is an uncommon characteristic. Employees can take advantage of group rates and, if they decide to leave the company, they can take the policy with them at the same great rate.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Universal Life
  • Variable Universal Life

Universal Life Company Comparison Summary

The table below provides a snapshot of the best universal life insurance companies. Find out each company’s financial strength and customer service scores, as well as the types of universal life insurance policies offered.

  • Companies
    AM Best Rating
    J.D. Power Score (out of 1000)
    Universal Life Policies
  • State Farm
    Best Overall

    A++

    820.5

    • Universal Life
    • Survivorship Universal Life
    • Joint Universal Life
  • Mutual of Omaha
    Best Indexed
    Universal Life

    A+

    783.4

    • AccumUL Answers
    • Life Protection Advantage IUL
    • Income Advantage IUL
  • Prudential
    Best Variable
    Universal Life

    A+

    756

    • PruLife Essential UL
    • PruLife SUL Protector
    • PruLife Founders Plus UL
    • PruLife Index Advantage UL
    • PruLife Survivorship Index UL
    • PruLife SVUL Protector
    • PruLife Custom Premium II
    • VUL Protector
  • Guardian
    Best Guaranteed
    Interest Rate

    A++

    735.8

    • Indexed Universal Life
    • Universal Life
    • Variable Universal Life
  • MassMutual
    Best for Payment
    Flexibility

    A++

    758.1

    • Universal Life
    • Variable Universal Life

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Sample Universal Life Insurance Policy Costs

The cost of life insurance is based on many factors, including your age, health and coverage amount. The table below offers sample rates for universal life insurance to give you an idea of how much a $500,000 universal life insurance policy may cost a healthy nonsmoker.

Cost for $500k Universal Life Coverage

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  • Age
    Premium for Average Male
    Premium for Average Female
  • 1.
    30
    $158
    $147
  • 2.
    40
    $242
    $220
  • 3.
    50
    $366
    $324
  • 4.
    60
    $541
    $498

The table above represents the average cost based on quotes from five major carriers for men and women up to age 100 who are healthy nonsmokers with average BMIs.

What Is a Universal Life Policy?

A universal life policy is a type of life insurance that offers permanent coverage for the rest of your life. This coverage differs from term life insurance, which only lasts a certain amount of years. While whole life insurance also provides permanent coverage, universal life insurance plans typically have lower premiums and more flexibility with coverage and costs.

Universal life provides a death benefit paid to your beneficiary when you pass away. It also has a savings component that grows cash value over time. That money can be used to fund premiums, take out a loan or withdraw from the policy. If you decide to surrender the policy, you will also receive the cash value, less any surrender charges.

Types of Universal Life Policies

When choosing a universal life insurance plan, you have four options to consider:

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    Guaranteed Universal Life

    This policy allows for decreases and increases of coverage but removes the investment ability of the policy. You may still get cash value growth with guaranteed universal life, but it is minimal. Sometimes called no-lapse guarantee universal life insurance, this policy is designed to continue life insurance coverage, not grow the cash value. It is the cheapest type of universal life insurance.

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    Indexed Universal Life

    Indexed policies work similarly to other universal life plans, but the cash value account is attached to the stock market, using indexes like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite. Stock market fluctuations directly affect the amount of cash value in the policy. There may be a minimum interest rate guarantee and an upper limit on returns. If not, you could pay large premiums to pay back poor returns to maintain the life insurance and prevent it from lapsing.

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    Universal Life

    This permanent life insurance allows for decreases and increases in coverage amounts and premium payments. There is a cash value element that grows with time. The interest rate is tied to the stock market and can go up and down, but the funds are not actively invested.

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    Variable Universal Life

    A variable policy works like indexed universal life but with more investment options for the cash value. The account is structured like mutual funds, using bonds and stocks to grow the value. There may be a floor and ceiling cap on investment returns, like indexed universal life. If not, large premiums may be required after poor market performance to keep the policy in force.

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What Are the Advantages of Universal Life Insurance?

There are several advantages of choosing universal life insurance:

  • Cash value that can be used in several ways
  • Control over where the cash value is invested
  • Returns may have a minimum guarantee, and some policies have no cap
  • Flexible premiums
  • Flexible death benefit
  • Some policies come with a no-lapse guarantee
  • Lifetime insurance coverage
  • Some policies offer guaranteed interest rates

What Are the Disadvantages of Universal Life Insurance?

Universal life insurance is not the best option for everyone looking for permanent coverage. Here are some disadvantages to consider before choosing a universal life insurance plan:

  • Potential for negative returns and ballooned policy payments to prevent lapse
  • May need to overfund in the beginning to prevent future lapses
  • Requires monitoring of cash value
  • Increased risk with stock market fluctuations
  • Takes time to build cash value
  • May not perform as well as other investments
  • Usually not offered online

If you are considering universal life insurance, be sure to review the policy documents thoroughly to understand the fees, charges, and specifics of the plan.

How to Choose the Best Universal Life Policy

With so much flexibility built into these plans, it can take more effort to find the best universal life policy to meet your needs. Understanding how to choose the best universal life insurance plan can help you find an ideal life insurance policy.

1

Figure out how much coverage you need.

Ask yourself what you want the policy to cover. A few years of your salary? College costs for your children? Enough for your spouse to stay home and raise them to adulthood? Come up with a figure for each expense you’d like covered with life insurance. These are your liabilities. Subtract any assets that can be used to fund these goals, like other life insurance policies, savings and retirement accounts. The final number is how much life insurance you need.

2

Determine your budget.

Before getting quotes for universal life insurance, determine how much you can pay toward your premiums. Then, work with your life insurance agent to determine how much coverage you can afford, keeping in mind that universal life offers flexible payment and coverage amounts you can adjust down the road.

3

Consider the cash value account.

How aggressive or conservative you want to be with your cash-value account can help you and your agent choose which type of universal life is best for your goals. With a conservative approach, a guaranteed interest rate policy may be the best choice. But if you are confident in your follow-through and want aggressive growth, indexed or variable universal life may be the better choice.

4

Talk with an agent.

Universal life insurance is the most complicated type of life insurance. With so much flexibility, you should speak with an agent about your goals and needs so they can help you choose the right policy.

What Factors Impact the Cost of Universal Life?

Several factors impact the cost of universal life insurance, including:

  • Age
  • Health and family medical history
  • Driving record
  • Smoking status
  • ZIP code
  • Lifestyle, hobbies and occupation
  • How much coverage you choose
  • The type of universal life insurance you buy
  • Riders and supplemental benefits

These all make up the cost of insurance. Administrative expenses and premium expense charges are also deducted when you pay your premium. The cost of insurance is paid next, and then the rest goes into the cash value account.

What Riders Are Available for Universal Life Policies?

Not all riders are available for universal life policies, and the options may differ from one company to the next. These are the most common free and paid riders offered on universal life insurance plans:

  • Accelerated death benefit
  • Accidental death and dismemberment
  • Children’s term
  • Chronic illness
  • Critical illness
  • Guaranteed insurability
  • Long-term care insurance
  • No-lapse guarantee
  • Spouse insurance
  • Term conversion
  • Terminal illness
  • Waiver of premium for disability

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FAQs About Universal Life Insurance

By understanding the answers to the most commonly asked questions about universal life insurance, you can determine the best policy for your needs.

Methodology

We go the extra mile so that you can feel confident about life insurance content from MoneyGeek. Universal life insurance policies may seem confusing at first, but our MoneyGeek team is here to help you find the best policy at the best price. Our universal life insurance ranking incorporates many data points from insurance industry research companies, such as J.D. Power and Associates, and our unique proprietary qualitative and quantitative policy research, including real universal life sample quotes. To learn more, visit our complete methodology page.

About the Author


expert-profile

Mandy Sleight is a professional freelance writer and licensed insurance agent. She has her property, casualty, life, and health licenses and has been working in the industry since 2005. Mandy has worked for well-known insurance companies like State Farm and Nationwide Insurance, and most recently as the Operations Coordinator for a start-up employee benefits company.

Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Baltimore and her Master in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She uses her vast knowledge of the insurance industry and personal finance combined with her writing background to create easy-to-understand and engaging content to help readers make smarter choices with their budget and finances.


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