Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

Northwestern Mutual is the best whole life insurance provider

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Whole life insurance is life insurance that lasts for the length of one’s life, builds cash value, and has other unique benefits. Because of these factors, whole life insurance comes with higher premiums than other life insurance. 

The best companies have high AM Best ratings, are available in all 50 states, and feature riders to make the policy fit the user’s needs. Whole life insurance companies sometimes offer plans without a medical exam, popular with less healthy or older populations.

Best Whole Life Insurance Companies of 2021

Best Overall : Northwestern Mutual


Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • No. of Plans Offered: 2
  • Issue Ages: 18 to 80
Why We Chose It 

Northwestern Mutual won for best whole life insurance because of the wide array of options they have for policies, including the Survivorship Whole Life policy. It also typically pays dividends on its policies and can be purchased in all 50 states. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Broad range of policy options

  • Combo Term and Whole Life option

Cons
  • Can’t purchase policies online

  • Limited information online

Overview

Northwestern Mutual was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1857. As a top-rated financial services and insurance company, Northwestern Mutual has two different whole life insurance plans to choose from. It also offers a combined term and whole life plan, called the Whole Life Plus, which is the only one of its kind, and they have a long history of paying dividends on their whole life policies. 

Northwestern Mutual has two main whole life policy options: the 65 Life and 90 Life. With the 65 Life, you pay premiums until age 65 and with the 90 Life, you pay premiums until age 90. After you are done paying premiums your coverage remains. It also offers a combined term and whole life product, called Whole Life Plus, as well as a Survivorship Whole Life plan. 

Whole Life Plus option:

  • Allows you to customize part of your insurance to be temporary and the rest permanent
  • Can add on riders such as accelerated care benefit and waiver of premium for disability
  • Start with what can afford and gradually shift more coverage to whole if desired

Survivorship Whole Life option:

  • Covers two people and only pays out to beneficiaries when both insureds have died
  • Typically used to transfer wealth to heirs
  • Cash value benefits including the ability to borrow against

Policies can be issued to those ages 18 to 80, with a selection of riders to add on and customize each policy. Riders include:

  • Waiver of Premium: ability to waive premiums if you become disabled or ill
  • Additional Purchase Benefit: ability to purchase additional coverage
  • Accelerated Care Benefit: helps cover potential long-term care costs in future

Although you can’t get a quote or purchase a policy directly online, working with a representative may ensure you get the right type and amount of coverage needed. 

Northwestern Mutual is rated A++ (Superior) by AM Best. AM Best was founded in 1899 and gives an independent and objective opinion on a company’s creditworthiness and financial strength.

Best without a Medical Exam : Transamerica


Transamerica

Transamerica

  • AM Best Rating: A
  • No. of Plans Offered: 3
  • Issue Ages: 0 to 85 years
Why We Chose It

TransAmerica is our best for whole life insurance without a medical exam because of the company’s long history, ease of application, and highest death benefit coverage for no exam insurance policies. It also offers online quotes for its three Final Expense policies. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Online quotes and application

  • No waiting period

Cons
  • May be more expensive than competitors

  • Lower ratings

Overview

Transamerica was taken over by Bank of America in 1930 and split from them in 1956. In 1999 Transamerica became part of Aegon N.V. Transamerica Life Insurance. The company offers three final expense policies, including a Final Expense Solution Portfolio life insurance policy with a benefit amount of $1,000 to $50,000 for those ages 0 to 85.

The Final Expense Solution Portfolio has three different options:

  • Immediate solution: for ages 0 to 85, paid up at age 121
  • 10-pay solution: for ages 0 to 85, paid up in 10 years
  • Easy solution: for ages 18 to 80 (50 to 75 in New York)

There are two riders available for the Final Expense Solution Portfolio Insurance policy:

  • Accidental Death Benefit Rider: gives extra payout if your death is ruled an accident
  • Child/Grandchild Rider: can provide coverage to eligible children/grandchildren

Although finding a company that offers no exam whole life insurance policies can be difficult, many offer final expense policies without an exam. The payout from final expense policies can cover outstanding medical bills, debts, and funeral arrangements. 

Transamerica has the highest coverage amounts as well as online quotes and applications, making it a strong choice for no exam final expense policies. 

Although it does not pay dividends on their whole life policies, Transamerica is licensed in all 50 states.

Transamerica is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best.

Best for Seniors : New York Life


New York Life Insurance

New York Life Insurance

  • AM Best Rating : A++
  • No. of Plans Offered: 2
  • Issue Ages: 0 to 90
Why We Chose It

We chose New York Life for the best whole life insurance for seniors because of its longevity, strong ratings, partnership with AARP, and unique riders for seniors. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Unique riders for seniors

  • Final expense policy available up to age 90

  • Offered nationwide

Cons
  • No online quote

  • App doesn’t have as many features

  • No online application

Overview

New York Life was founded in 1845 and has been paying dividends every year since 1854. To apply for coverage you can easily fill out a form on their website to get connected with a financial professional. 

It offers two main types of whole life insurance available to age 90:

  • Whole Life Insurance: guaranteed life insurance coverage and cash value
  • Custom Whole Life Insurance: same as above but pay premiums for as little as five years 

Riders for the whole life policies include:

  • Disability Waiver of Premium: premiums are waived in the event of a disability
  • Option to Purchase Paid-up Additions: can purchase more coverage without an exam
  • Chronic Care: protects against financial hardship if you become chronically ill
  • Living Benefits: can use a portion of benefits to pay for treatment or care if terminally ill
  • Accidental Death Benefit: gives extra payout if your death is ruled an accident

The Chronic Care Rider, which protects against financial hardship if become chronically ill, and the Living Benefits Rider, which allows you to access a portion of the death benefit to pay for care if terminally ill, are especially beneficial for seniors. 

New York Life is licensed in every state and has an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best.

Best for Online Quote : USAA


USAA

USAA

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • No. of Plans Offered: 2
  • Issue Ages: 15 days to 85 years old
Why We Chose It

Very few companies offer online quotes for Whole Life products, but USAA is one of the rare exceptions. We selected USAA as best for online quotes because of its easy-to-use website and ease of obtaining a quote online for its Simplified Whole Life product. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Easy-to-use website

  • Online quotes available

  • Very highly rated

Cons
  • Health questionnaire and exam required

  • No final expense insurance

  • Must be a member to receive policies

Overview

USAA has been around since 1922, supporting active-duty and veteran military members and their families. It offers two whole-life insurance policies: Simplified Whole Life and Guaranteed Whole Life. 

USAA is the only company on our list for which we could obtain a quote for a whole life insurance product. Although you can’t get a quote for both of their whole life policies, you can obtain a quote for their Simplified Whole Life.

To receive a quote online for Simplified Whole Life, enter in your basic personal information, as well as information about your military involvement and a few family history and health questions. From there, the results page will give you the option to choose your payment duration and how much coverage you want. These factors will change the monthly premium amount quoted. 

Simplified Whole Life:

  • Covers age 15 months to 85 years
  • $25,000 to $10 million in coverage
  • Requires health exam 
  • Online quotes available

USAA is licensed to conduct business in all 50 states and Washington D.C. but does not pay dividends on their life insurance policies. 

Unlike other companies, USAA has riders specific to military members and veterans such as Military Future Insurability Rider, which increases your coverage after leaving the military, and the Military Severe Injury Benefit Rider, which pays out $25,0000 if an injury was obtained during active service. 

USAA is rated A++ (Superior) by AM Best.

Best for Policy Options : MassMutual


MassMutual

MassMutual

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • No. of Plans Offered: 2
  • Issue Ages: 18 to 65
Why We Chose It

MassMutual is our choice for the best whole life policy options because they offer the most plan options and riders. They also have a long history and a strong rating by AM Best. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long company history

  • Many plan options

Cons
  • No online quotes

  • Must purchase through an agent

Overview

MassMutual was founded in 1851 and was included on the World’s Most Ethical Companies list for eight years in a row. It offers six different types of Whole Life insurance policies: 

  • Whole Life 100: pay premiums until age 100
  • Whole Life 65: pay premiums until age 65
  • Whole Life 20: pay premiums for 20 years
  • Whole Life 15: pay premiums for 15 years
  • Whole Life 10: pay premiums for 10 years
  • Single premium life insurance: pay for policy with a one-time payment

Riders for these policies include:

  • Waiver of Premium for Disability rider: no premium payments if become disabled
  • Long-term care rider: ability to add on coverage for long-term care
  • Transfer of Insured rider: ability to exchange policy for policy on another individual
  • Guaranteed Insurability ride: ability to add more coverage later on without medical exam
  • Accelerated Death benefit rider: access to premium for treatment for terminal illness
  • Renewable Term rider: access to term insurance that can be renewed 

Although not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends every year since 1869 and is licensed to conduct business in all 50 states. 

With six types of Whole Life policies and six different types of Riders, MassMutual has the most amount of policy options for buyers to choose from. MassMutual is rated A++ (Superior) by AM Best.

Best for Veterans : AAFMAA


AAFMAA

AAFMAA

  • AM Best Rating: N/A
  • No. of Plans Offered: 4
  • Issue Ages: 15 days to 84
Why We Chose It

The Army & Air Force Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) is our top choice for whole life insurance for veterans due to its high ratings with customers, long history, and plans customized to veterans’ needs. 

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Long history of serving veterans

  • No exam policy available

Cons
  • Not available in every state

  • May be cheaper options

Overview

Before 1879, if a soldier was killed in battle, a collection was taken up to send to the soldier’s family. However, after the Battle of Little Bighorn (also known as Custer’s Last Stand), in which every soldier was killed and no funds could be collected, the War Council established AAFMAA to help take care of its soldiers' families.

AAFMAA offers four whole life policies available to veterans and their families: 

  • Veteran Survivor Plan: available for those ages 45-84 and requires no medical exam, with coverage up to $25,000
  • Value-Added Whole Life: available to members and spouses up to age 80, up to $1 million in coverage, Long Term Care Settlement Option for no additional cost
  • Wealth Builder Life Insurance: for ages 60 and above, up to $1 million in coverage, Long Term Care Settlement Option for no additional cost
  • Generations Plus: up to $50,000 in coverage for children, when the child turns 18, death benefit doubles with no increase in premium

To apply for a policy you can fill out a form online, or call to speak to a representative. Coverage is not available in Washington, D.C., Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Washington, or Wisconsin. There is no information online as to whether the policies pay dividends. 

The AAFMAA is not rated by AM Best because it operates as a 501(c)(23) not-for-profit member-owned organization. It holds over $1.3 billion in assets and is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars from over 1,000 reviews on Trustpilot.

Best for Young Families : State Farm


StateFarm

StateFarm

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • No. of Plans Offered: 4
  • Issue Ages: 0 to 80
Why We Chose It

We chose State Farm because of its high rating with AM Best, bundle options, and ability to insure the whole family. With spouse and child riders, State Farm is a great option for young families. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Ability to insure young children

  • Spouse and child riders

Cons
  • Not available in all states

  • Online quote not available for whole life plans

Overview

State Farm was founded in 1922 by a retired farmer, George Mecherle, and the company’s corporate headquarters is currently in Bloomington, Illinois. Its whole life policy allows young families to insure both themselves and their children, for the duration of their lives.

It offers three different Whole Life policies for young families including: 

  • Whole Life: pay premiums until age 100
  • Limited Pay Whole Life: pay premiums for 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Single Premium Whole Life: one premium 

Rider options for State Farm include: 

  • Child and Spouse Term Rider: can add term coverage for children and spouse
  • Guaranteed Insurability Rider: ability to purchase more coverage without an exam
  • Waiver of Premium for Disabilities Rider: covers premiums if become disabled
  • Accidental Death Rider: pays out more if death is ruled an accident

To receive a quote, potential buyers can look online or speak to a representative over the phone or in person. Coverage is not available in Massachusetts, New York, or Wisconsin.

Because State Farm also offers auto and home insurance as well, it can be a one-stop-shop for young families looking to protect all their needs in one convenient location. It also pays dividends on its whole life policies, although they are not guaranteed.

State Farm is rated A++ (Superior) by AM Best.

Final Verdict

There are many great options when it comes to choosing the right whole life insurance provider. From obtaining online quotes with USAA to Transamerica that gives up to $50,000 of coverage without a medical exam, there are companies for every type of buyer including veterans, seniors, and young families. However, based on our research, we chose Northwestern Mutual as the top whole life insurance provider. 

Northwestern Mutual was selected because of its long-standing history of paying dividends, strong rankings, plethora of rider options to customize a plan, and unique Survivorship Whole Life policy. It is a great option for those looking for dependable coverage for life. 

Compare the Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

Company AM Best Rating  Coverage Limit  Online Quotes  No. of Plans  Rider Options 
Northwestern Mutual
Best Overall
A++ Unavailable online No 2 3
Transamerica
Best Without a Medical Exam 
A $50,000  Yes
New York Life
Best for Seniors 
A++  Unavailable online  No 
USAA
Best for Online Quote 
A++  $10 million  Yes 
MassMutual
Best for Policy Options 
A++  Unavailable online  No 
AAFMAA
Best for Veterans 
A+ $1 million  Yes 
State Farm
Best for Young Families 
A Unavailable online  No 

How to Choose the Best Whole Life Insurance Companies

While there are many factors to consider when shopping for the best whole life insurance, there are a few key elements to consider when narrowing down your choices:

  • Cost: Whole life insurance tends to be much more expensive than term insurance. Because they offer cash value and longer protection, it’s important to compare prices and make sure the plan fits into your budget. 
  • Dividends: While most companies pay dividends on their whole life policies, some companies have a better or longer history of doing so. If dividends are important to you, do your research beforehand to see how often you may receive them. 
  • Ability to purchase online or over the phone: Some prefer to purchase life insurance over the phone or online while some prefer to meet with a representative in person. Determine which method you prefer and search for companies that fit that need. 
  • Rider availability: When looking for a life insurance policy be sure to inquire about what riders are available for extra coverage. You may find one or more that you absolutely must have, like a child or spousal rider or accidental death coverage, but every company may not offer the same riders. Make sure you also inquire about any extra cost for the riders or if they’re included with your policy.

Term Life Insurance vs. Whole Life Insurance


Term life and whole life insurance policies each have their advantages and are both very different in how they operate. 

Term Insurance

Term life insurance is only purchased for a certain length of time such as 10-, 15-, 20- or 30- year terms. Because they only last for a certain term, these policies have lower premiums than Whole Life insurance. Typically term life insurance policies include rider options. 

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is meant to last the entire life of the person purchasing the policy. While term life coverage ends when the policy is done being paid for, whole life policies have different payment options. A policy is considered “paid up” when all payments have been made. The coverage is completely paid for and valid, and no more payments are due. Some examples of paid-up options include paid up in 20 years, paid up when the buyer reaches age 100, or paid up when the buyer reaches 65. 

Because these policies last for the lifespan of the buyer and typically contain a cash balance feature, the premiums are higher.

Additionally, whole life insurance comes with a cash value, which you can borrow against if you need it. Be aware though that if you do, it may affect the death benefit (e.g., the amount paid out to your beneficiaries may be reduced). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Whole Life Insurance Companies Offer Investment Options? 

Whole life insurance is sometimes confused with investments, but they are two different things. Life insurance policies are purchased to cover your beneficiaries when you die, while investments are assets you purchase with the hope that they will grow. However, there is a cash value component to whole life policies that can be taken out or borrowed against, but it typically grows much slower than if that same amount of money were invested in the market. In addition, borrowing against or taking out cash value typically reduces the death benefit amount of a policy. 

Can Seniors Receive Coverage With Whole Life Insurance Companies?

Many companies provide coverage to seniors and many with policies that require no medical exam. However, seniors typically have to pay higher premiums and sometimes have more difficulty receiving coverage due to poor health or older age. 

What Are the Costs Involved With Whole Life Insurance Companies? 

When you purchase a whole life insurance policy, you are agreeing to pay the premium over the length of time stated in the contract. This premium payment will cover the cost of insurance and riders, but also may include other fees such as administration fees and the mortality and expense risk charge, a fee that helps cover a company if they need to pay out a benefit sooner than expected. 

Methodology

We evaluated 15 life insurance companies and looked at factors such as dependability, company ratings, policy and rider options, and whether you could receive quotes or apply online. We also considered whether clients need a medical exam, which could affect how easy it is for individuals to get coverage.  

Ultimately we chose companies that offer multiple plan options, as well as strong ratings, dividend payouts, and customizable options.

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