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The best whole life insurance companies of 2023 are Northwestern Mutual, MassMutual, New York Life, Guardian Life, State Farm, and Mutual of Omaha. Buying life insurance can be confusing, especially with numerous policy types on the market to choose from. Whole life insurance offers guaranteed death benefits, cash value growth, and stable premiums for life. We evaluated dozens of life insurance companies and their whole life insurance policy offerings so you don’t have to. Keep reading to learn more about each of these companies and their policies, so you can choose the best whole life insurance coverage for your needs.

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Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

Best Overall Whole Life Insurance Company: Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual


Hybrid term/whole life product

Choice of the length of payment term

Riders available to customize your whole life insurance

Dividends available


No online quotes

Can only buy from a Northwestern Mutual agent

All policies are fully underwritten


MoneyGeek Score: 87.4
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 772.6
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.05

MoneyGeek's Take: Northwestern Mutual tops our list of best whole life insurance companies for its product flexibility and customization options, high third-party customer satisfaction scores, superior financial strength and industry longevity.

Northwestern Mutual is the largest writer of individual life insurance policies in the U.S., with a 9.5% market share, according to the Insurance Information Institute. It offers two whole life insurance policies for individuals up to 85 years old. Minimum coverage starts at $25,000 with no cap, as long as you can prove a financial need for higher death benefits. The company’s CompLife whole life insurance plan allows you to choose how long you’ll be paying for whole life insurance. You can opt to pay for a period of anywhere from 10 to 30 years or until you reach age 65, 90 or until death. Keep in mind that the shorter the payment schedule, the higher your premiums.

Northwestern Mutual is one of the few companies to offer a hybrid solution. Its Whole Life Plus policy combines term and whole life insurance in one policy. You can choose how much temporary and permanent coverage you need, with further customization provided through optional riders like accelerated care benefit to cover long-term care or waiver of premium, which pays your premiums if you become disabled. The company also provides living benefits, which means you can use some of the death benefits while still alive if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.

As a mutual company, Northwestern Mutual pays some of the highest annual dividends to policyholders in the industry (most policies will receive a 5% dividend in 2023).

Policy Types Offered:

  • CompLife
  • Whole life plus

Best for High Guaranteed Returns and High Dividends: MassMutual

Mass Mutual


Annual dividends

At least 4% cash value growth guarantee

Customizable premium lengths and riders


No online quote

Limited online information

Can only buy from a MassMutual agent


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: Even during the pandemic, MassMutual managed to pay out a 6% dividend, something they’ve done annually for eligible policyholders since 1869. The company’s consistency in paying dividends is why it topped our list for the best whole life insurance policy for high guaranteed returns and dividends.

Mass Mutual is one of the best whole life insurance providers for seniors and other age groups. Its whole life policies come with a guaranteed minimum of 4% cash value growth. Furthermore, although the company doesn’t ensure annual dividends, it has been paying them yearly since 1869. In 2022, policyholders got a 6% annual dividend, amounting to an estimated $1.85 billion in dividend payouts.

MassMutual requires a minimum whole life insurance death benefit of $25,000. You can choose from various payment lengths, including 10, 12, 15 and 20-year terms, or payments until you reach the age of 65 or 100.

The company also has a Legacy High Early Cash Value whole life policy — usually called keyman life insurance — geared toward businesses providing coverage for key employees. These policies are paid to age 85.

You can choose from a wide range of riders to customize your whole life insurance, including waiver of premium, long-term care, renewable term and accelerated death benefit. With the guaranteed insurability rider, you can buy more whole life insurance at certain times in the future without having to answer health questions or complete a medical exam.

If you want the ability to buy term life insurance when needed, the renewable term rider allows you to turn a whole life policy into a hybrid policy. It also offers you the option to convert the term coverage to permanent or drop it when it’s no longer needed.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Legacy high early cash value
  • Legacy 10
  • Legacy 12
  • Legacy 15
  • Legacy 20
  • Legacy 65
  • Legacy 100

Best for Customization and Riders: New York Life

New York Life


Highly customizable whole life policies

High cash value and dividend growth potential

Long list of riders, some free


No online quotes

Can only buy from a New York Life agent


MoneyGeek Score: 87.5
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 771.5
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.16

MoneyGeek's Take: MoneyGeek considers New York Life one of the best whole life insurance companies if customization and riders are what you’re after. It also happens to be one of the oldest and most well-respected providers in the industry.

New York Life is one of the most recognized names in the life insurance industry. It offers a standard whole life insurance policy with a minimum death benefit of $25,000. This policy includes guaranteed cash value, death benefit and premiums. If you want to customize your policy, you get all that and more with custom whole life insurance.

If you’re looking for the best life insurance policy for children, its whole life policies are great. The custom whole life policy begins with a $50,000 death benefit and no cap, as long as you can prove your financial need. New York Life is also a mutual company and has paid dividends annually since 1854.

With New York Life, you can add the following free riders: insurance exchange to transfer your policy to another person (there is a transfer fee), living benefit to access a portion of the death benefit if diagnosed with a terminal illness and paid-up insurance purchase for your spouse. The last of these three allows the living widow or widower to use the death benefit to buy a fully paid life insurance policy for them after their spouse passes.

New York Life also has the following paid riders that you can add to your life insurance premium:

  • Accidental death
  • Annual convertible term
  • Children’s term
  • Children’s protection benefit (covered until age 25)
  • Chronic care
  • Disability premium waiver
  • Dividend option term
  • Level premium convertible term (a convertible 5-year term)
  • Paid-up additions option
  • Payer protection benefit (for when the payer and insured are not the same)
  • Policy purchase option (guaranteed insurability to buy more life insurance in the future)

Policy Types Offered:

  • Custom whole life
  • Whole life

Best for Product Options and Flexibility: Guardian Life

Guardian Life


May not require a medical exam

May earn yearly dividends

Hybrid long-term care solutions available


Quotes and applications only available through financial professionals

Limited information on company website


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: We chose Guardian Life as our top pick for best product options and flexibility because of its diverse whole life insurance policy lineup.

With Guardian Life, you get varied whole life insurance options and flexibility, especially if you’re interested in long-term care coverage. Guardian’s standard whole life insurance policy allows you to choose payment terms ranging from 10 to 20 years or terms that are paid up at certain ages, like 65, 95 or 99 years old.

The death benefit starts at $25,000 for individuals up to 80 years old, with no maximum coverage cap. Like other mutual companies, Guardian Life has paid out dividends annually since the 1800s, though they aren’t guaranteed.

Guardian's joint long-term care rider and survivorship whole life policy provide a long-term care solution with life insurance for one or both spouses in one product. You have the option of accelerating up to half of the death benefit’s face amount for long-term care. If you do that, you can use the monthly benefit payments for care, and Guardian will credit premiums as paid, so the policy stays in force.

All long-term care payments will reduce the death benefit, but not deplete it. The remaining death benefit can be paid to your beneficiary when the second-to-die spouse passes. This rider can be added as early as age 18 and up to age 70, but you must be in good health to be eligible.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Joint Long-Term Care Rider and Survivorship Whole Life
  • Whole life

Best for Purchasing Through an Agent: State Farm

State Farm


Several policies to choose from

Local agents provide a personalized experience

May qualify for whole life insurance with no medical exam


Only available through agents

Not available in Massachusetts or Rhode Island


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 has 19,000 agents across the country, making it easy to purchase through an agent and get a personalized experience.

State Farm is another mutual life insurance company that offers dividends on its whole life insurance policies. Though product availability varies by state, State Farm has whole life insurance options. It also has local agents to help you find what you need to protect your family. State Farm offers a single premium whole life insurance policy, limited payment options for 10, 15, or 20 years, and a standard to-age-100 whole life policy. Starting at age 50, seniors can purchase final expense whole life insurance with up to $10,000 in coverage.

When you speak to an agent, ask about State Farm’s rider options if you want to customize your life insurance policy. Several options are available, including the children’s and spouse term rider, waiver of premium for disability, guaranteed insurability, payor insurance benefit and level term to age 95, which offers a hybrid solution of term and whole life in one policy.

The minimum death benefit for State Farm's whole life policy is $10,000. If their policy death benefit is less than $1 million, healthy individuals under 50 may qualify for coverage without a medical exam.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Final expense
  • Limited pay whole life
  • Single premium whole life
  • Whole life
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You can bundle life insurance with another State Farm product, such as auto or home insurance, to potentially save money. — Mark Friedlander, Director, Corporate Communications, Insurance Information Institute

Best Guaranteed Acceptance Whole Life for Seniors: Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha


No medical exam or health questions

Most claims paid in 24 hours

Tobacco use not considered


Only available to seniors

Limited death benefit


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: Mutual of Omaha is our pick for best guaranteed acceptance whole life and best whole life for seniors. With no medical exam or health questions, coverage is guaranteed, and tobacco use doesn’t increase premiums.

The older you get without buying life insurance, the greater your chances of no longer being eligible for coverage. For seniors with health concerns, Mutual of Omaha offers up to $25,000 in guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance. If you are between 45-85 or 50-75 in New York, you cannot be turned down for coverage.

Your premiums are only determined by your age at the time of issue, gender and coverage amount. While this is more expensive than medically underwritten whole life insurance, guaranteed issue whole life allows you to get final expense coverage without health being a factor.

If you don’t have as many health concerns but still prefer not to undergo a medical exam, Mutual of Omaha also has simplified issue whole life coverage. This policy makes you answer a few simple health questions but doesn’t require a medical exam and doesn’t take tobacco use into consideration. It offers coverage of up to $20,000 ($40,000 in Washington) and provides a graded death benefit. The latter only provides returned premiums plus 10% if you die from a non-accidental death within the first two years. If you want a level death benefit immediately, an accelerated death benefit rider can give you up to $40,000 in coverage for being confined to a nursing home or diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Level benefit plan whole life insurance
  • Graded benefit plan whole life insurance
  • Guaranteed whole life insurance

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What is Whole Life Insurance?

Life insurance is a policy that provides guaranteed cash value, level premiums, and a death benefit. Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that covers you until death, as long as you continue to pay your premiums. Some whole life insurance policies have a limited payment period, which means they will continue to accrue cash value after the policy is paid in full. For instance, a 20-year whole-life policy requires 20 years of payments before the policy is paid in full. This type of policy has a higher premium due to the shorter payment timeline.

Additionally, whole life insurance policies offered by mutual insurance companies may have dividends, which are profits returned directly to the policyholders instead of stockholders. Policyholders can use dividends in various ways, such as taking them as cash, paying premiums, or outstanding loans against the cash value, or buying paid-up additions. Paid-up additions are an option to increase the death benefit amount and cash value by using the dividends to purchase additional whole life insurance coverage.

Whole Life Insurance vs. Term Life Insurance

Whole life insurance and term life insurance differ in several ways. Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance, while term life insurance is temporary coverage. Both policies have level premiums, but whole life insurance provides lifetime coverage, whereas term life insurance expires once the term is over. If you renew term life insurance, you will have to pay higher premiums based on your current age.

One of the significant differences between whole life and term life insurance is that whole life insurance builds cash value and may come with dividends, which are not offered with term life insurance. The ability to accumulate cash value and receive dividends makes whole life insurance more expensive than term life insurance. Despite the higher cost, whole life insurance provides lifelong protection and long-term financial planning benefits that term life insurance does not offer.

Who Should Buy Whole Life Insurance?

When deciding whether to purchase whole life insurance, you should consider your specific life insurance needs. If your primary goal is to cover a temporary debt, such as a mortgage, or ensure your children can afford college in the event of your death, term life insurance may be the best option.

On the other hand, if you want to provide for funeral expenses or have a financial dependent that will continue for life, such as a special needs child, permanent life insurance like whole life may be a better choice. Whole life insurance offers guaranteed cash value, level premiums for life, guaranteed death benefit, cash value growth, and dividends (if offered by your provider).

For many individuals, a combination of term life and whole life insurance may be the best solution. This strategy allows for temporary needs to be covered by term life insurance while permanent needs are met with whole life insurance. Ultimately, the decision to purchase whole life insurance depends on your individual circumstances and financial goals.

How Much Does Whole Life Insurance Cost?

Several factors are taken into consideration when determining the cost of whole life insurance. These include age, gender, health status, lifestyle habits (such as smoking), occupation, and the coverage amount desired.

For example, a healthy 30-year-old female non-smoker may pay around $2,500 per year in premiums for a $500,000 whole life insurance policy. However, a healthy 60-year-old male non-smoker may pay around $17,000 per year for the same coverage amount. Those with pre-existing health conditions or a history of tobacco use may also pay higher premiums for whole life insurance.

In addition to age and health, other factors can impact the cost of whole life insurance. The location where you live can also affect premiums, as insurance companies may adjust rates based on local mortality rates and other demographic factors. Additionally, some whole life insurance policies may offer riders or additional benefits, such as long-term care coverage, which can increase the cost of the policy.

Overall, the cost of whole life insurance can vary widely depending on the individual's circumstances and the coverage amount desired. It's important to work with a licensed insurance agent to get personalized quotes based on your specific situation.

Potential Pitfalls to Know About Whole Life

While whole life insurance may be the best solution for some, it’s not without its pitfalls. For one, the cost of life insurance for whole life is often higher than term life insurance and is level for the policy's lifetime. Because of the higher premiums, you may not be able to afford as much coverage as you need or changes in your circumstances could make whole life insurance unaffordable for you. Though some whole life insurance companies offer limited payment options, others typically require premium payments until age 100 or older, which means most people will pay for coverage until they die.

When you get a quote for whole life insurance, the sales illustration will depict cash value growth and potential dividends based on historical data. Though the minimum cash value growth is guaranteed, dividend payments are not. If you decide you no longer want your whole life insurance policy, you can surrender it. You will receive any remaining cash value, but you may also be assessed surrender charges. These charges vary by company and are set for a specific period, known as a surrender charge period. Like a mortgage, the surrender charge period front loads the interest, meaning you will pay the highest charge in the first few years of the policy.

Compare Life Insurance Rates

Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

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FAQs About the Best Whole Life Companies and Policies

Find the answers to some of the most common questions about the best whole life insurance policy and companies.

Experts' Advice on Finding the Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

  1. What is whole life insurance, and how does it work?
  2. When purchasing a whole life policy, how should buyers think about and assess the company that's issuing the policy? In other words, how would you know you've picked a good company?
  3. What additional features and riders of whole life policies should buyers consider? Are there any that are less valuable? Why?
  4. How do guaranteed returns and dividends work in whole life insurance policies?
Catherine Valega
Catherine Valega

Certified Financial Planning Prof (CFP), and CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst)

Paul Wetmore, MBA, LUTCF®, CLU®, FSCP®
Paul Wetmore, MBA, LUTCF®, CLU®, FSCP®

Adjunct Professor of Insurance at The American College of Financial Services

Kenneth Romanowski, MBA, CTFA(Ret.), CFP Board Emeritus® Member
Kenneth Romanowski, MBA, CTFA(Ret.), CFP Board Emeritus® Member

Adjunct Faculty, Rosemont College and Retired Senior Financial Advisor

Andrew Rosen CFP®, CEP®
Andrew Rosen CFP®, CEP®

President of Diversified LLC

Mark Kenney, CFP®, CTS™
Mark Kenney, CFP®, CTS™

Certified Financial Advisor at SHP Financial

Aaron Rubin
Aaron Rubin


Kate Brownstein
Kate Brownstein

Sr. Financial Planner & Shareholder at Truepoint Wealth Counsel

About Mandy Sleight, Licensed Insurance Agent

Mandy Sleight, Licensed Insurance Agent headshot

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

Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Baltimore and her Master of 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 budgets and finances.