Best Whole Life Insurance Companies: The Most Reputable Companies with Great Customer Service

MoneyGeek analyzed policy details and real quotes to help you find the best whole life insurance policy for your needs.

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Last Updated: 5/31/2022
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Buying life insurance can be confusing, especially with numerous policy types on the market to choose from. Whole life insurance offers guaranteed death benefit, cash value growth and stable premiums for life. The guarantees provided by whole life insurance can be attractive to those with permanent life insurance needs.

Getting the best whole life insurance policy comes down to knowing specific details about the plan, like what riders, flexibility and customizations a company offers, and what returns you can expect out of the policy.

Based on data collected by MoneyGeek, which include dividend payouts, third-party rankings and customer service scores, these are the best whole life insurance companies to choose from.

Best Overall Whole Life Insurance Company: Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

pros

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Hybrid term/whole life product

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Choice of the length of payment term

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Riders available to customize your whole life insurance

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Dividends available

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No online quotes

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All policies are fully underwritten

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

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 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 2022).

Policy Types Offered:

  • CompLife
  • Whole life plus

Best for High Guaranteed Returns and High Dividends: MassMutual

MassMutual

pros

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Annual dividends

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At least 4% cash value growth guarantee

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Customizable premium lengths and riders

cons

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No online quote

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Limited online information

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: 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 2021, policyholders got a 6% annual dividend, amounting to an estimated $1.7 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

pros

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Highly customizable whole life policies

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High cash value and dividend growth potential

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Long list of riders, some free

cons

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No online quotes

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Can only buy from an agent

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

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, their 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

pros

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May not require a medical exam

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May earn yearly dividends

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Hybrid long-term care solutions available

cons

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Quotes and applications only available through financial professionals

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Limited information on company website

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: 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. Once you’re on claim, 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

pros

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Several policies to choose from

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Local agents provide a personalized experience

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May qualify for whole life insurance with no medical exam

cons

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Only available through agents

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Not available nationwide

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 has over 18,000 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. They also have 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

Best Guaranteed Acceptance Whole Life for Seniors: Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

pros

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No medical exam or health questions

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Most claims paid in 24 hours

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Tobacco use not considered

cons

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Only available to seniors

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Limited death benefit

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: 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 WA) 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

Best Whole Life Company Comparison Summary

Based on MoneyGeek's scores, the companies listed below are the best whole life insurance companies available today.

These companies have superior financial strength to pay life insurance claims, high customer satisfaction scores with J.D. Power, are available to most age groups and have several policy options to choose from.

Best Whole Life Insurance Companies
  • Companies
    AM Best Rating
    J.D. Power Score (out of 1,000)
    Whole Life Coverage Options
    Issue Age
  • Northwestern Mutual
    Best Overall

    A++

    772.6

    • CompLife
    • Whole life plus

    Up to 80

  • Mass Mutual
    Best for Returns & High Dividends

    A++

    778.7

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

    Up to 90

  • New York Life
    Best for Customization
    & Riders

    A++

    758.1

    • Custom whole life
    • Whole life

    Up to 90

  • Guardian
    Best for Product Options
    & Flexibility

    A++

    735.8

    • Joint long term care rider and
      survivorship whole life
    • Whole life

    Up to 90

  • State Farm
    Best For Purchasing
    Through an Agent

    A++

    820.5

    • Final expense
    • Limited pay whole life
    • Single premium whole life
    • Whole life

    Up to 80

  • Mutual of Omaha
    Best Guaranteed Acceptance for Seniors

    A+

    783.4

    • Whole Life Insurance: Graded benefit plan
      and level benefit plan
    • Guaranteed Whole Life Insurance

    Up to 85

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How Does Whole Life Work?

Whole life insurance is a permanent type of life insurance. It offers guaranteed cash value, level premiums and a death benefit. The policy 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. These policies have a higher premium because of the shorter payment timeline.

Mutual insurance companies' whole life insurance policies may also have dividends, which are profits returned directly to the policyholders instead of stockholders. Policyholders who receive a dividend can use it in several ways, including taking it as cash, paying premiums or outstanding loans against the cash value, or buying paid-up additions. When you purchase paid-up additions, the dividends are used to buy additional whole life insurance coverage, increasing the death benefit amount and cash value.

Whole Life vs. Term Life

Whole life insurance is different from term life insurance in a few ways.

First, whole life is permanent life insurance, while term life insurance is temporary. Both have level premiums, but whole life provides lifetime coverage, and term life expires once the term is over. You can renew term life insurance, but the premiums will be higher based on your current age.

Whole life insurance also builds cash value and may come with dividends, which aren’t offered with term life insurance. Because it provides lifetime protection and cash value growth, whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance.

Whole Life and Term Life Comparison
  • Insurance Type
    Length of Coverage
    Cash Value
    Premiums
  • Whole Life

    Lifetime coverage

    Builds cash value
    over time

    • Stay level over time
    • More expensive than term
      life premiums
  • Term Life

    Coverage for a specified
    length of time

    No cash value (aside
    from death benefit)

    • Level premiums until term ends
    • If policy is renewed, premiums increase
      based on current age
    • Premiums are lower than whole life

Who Should Buy Whole Life and What Are the Benefits?

When determining which type of life insurance is the best choice for you, consider what needs life insurance will cover. If you’re looking to cover a specific debt, like a mortgage, or want to make sure your kids can go to college if you pass away before that happens, you have a temporary need for life insurance coverage. This would be best suited to term life insurance.

However, if you want to pay for your funeral and end-of-life expenses, have access to a cash value or have a financial dependent that will continue for life, such as a special needs child, you should consider permanent life insurance like whole life.

For many, a hybrid solution is best, with temporary needs covered by term life and permanent needs covered by the best whole life insurance you qualify for. With whole life, you get:

  • Level premiums for life
  • Guaranteed cash value
  • Guaranteed death benefit
  • Cash value growth
  • Dividends (if your provider offers them)

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 premiums 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.

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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.

Methodology

Here at MoneyGeek, we do our best to ensure that you’re getting the most reliable information about whole life insurance. Our ranking for the best whole life insurance companies incorporates third-party analysis from AM Best and J.D. Power and Associates. It also considers our own proprietary research and analysis of each company’s policy offerings and application process. 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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