Best Life Insurance Companies in 2018

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What is the best life insurance company for you?

There’s good news: there are many outstanding and safe choices among the more than 800 companies who sell life insurance.

Yes, there are more than 800 life insurance companies to choose from to find the best!

Thankfully, there aren’t 800 questions to answer to identify which one or two (or maybe three) are best to meet your specific needs.

This article is designed to help you make a good decision when purchasing life insurance.

We’ve broken it into six sections to make it easy:

  1. 10 best life insurance companies right now
  2. How to choose the best life insurance company
  3. Types of life insurance
  4. How much life insurance do I need?
  5. How to determine financial strength of a life insurance company
  6. Best insurance company customer service

What’s best: brand name or lowest cost life insurance company?

The question we get most often is: “Do I go with a brand-name life insurance company or a company that I haven’t heard of, but has good rates?”

The right answer is “it depends.”

Like any business, it’s easy to get confused when you’re shopping for a life insurance policy.

As a start, the PolicyZip team has compiled a list of the best life insurance companies in America to help clients find the right fit for their unique personal needs. We compiled this list from an analysis by A.M. Best, a global company which reports on insurer financial strength ratings for life insurance and property and casualty insurance firms around the world.

While PolicyZip works with nearly 100 life insurance companies, our focus is on those that meet the requirements to earn an “A” rating year over year. While each client’s situation is different, and some may require unique underwriting, the vast majority of our business is conducted with A-rated companies.

Let’s get going!

PolicyZip is an independent life insurance agency working nationwide with the best life insurance companies. Rates for term insurance and whole life insurance will vary based on the date, your age, your health conditions, and the amount of coverage you ultimately decide to purchase.

10 best life insurance companies right now

Based on our experiences, financial strength ratings, reviews from customers and consumers, and overall product availability, below is our list of top 10 best life insurance companies in the USA:

And, the best part, we can help get you quotes for any of the companies listed below. Not only are we a national insurance agency, but we partner with the captive companies like Northwestern and State Farm to make sure that we provide you the absolute best life insurance buying experience we can.

  1. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
  2. New York Life Insurance Company
  3. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
  4. MetLife Life Insurance
  5. Banner Life Insurance
  6. Transamerica Life Insurance
  7. Prudential Life Insurance
  8. Fidelity & Guaranteed Life Insurance Company
  9. Principal Life Insurance
  10. Protective Life Insurance

NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Northwestern has been around for more than a century (one of Policy Zip’s owners started his career at Northwestern Mutual), providing some of the most competitive permanent life insurance products in the entire industry. Backed up by outstanding ratings from all four major credit rating agencies, they’re one of just a handful of companies with a perfect Comdex score.

While consumers see higher prices for term life and limited availability of product (sold exclusively through company agents only), these two downfalls are masked by an institution with $220 billion in assets, a long-standing history, a stout financial portfolio, and promising future.

You will have access to insurance products, like participating whole life insurance, to full-scale investments to suit every need in your household or business.

Are you looking for a Northwestern Mutual life insurance quote? Let us help connect you with the best Northwestern Mutual agent in your area.

NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Coming in a close second place on our list of top 10 best life insurance companies, New York Life is a near match to Northwestern Mutual.

Having been in business nearly 170 years, it is one of the longest-standing life insurance companies in America. Like Northwestern, New York Life has outstanding ratings from all four of the rating agencies who review financial institutions, putting them in elite company.

New York Life has an excellent suite of exclusive products offered only through its agents, and expect to pay the price for the extra quality, brand, and benefits. New York Life is also the underwriting institution behind the highly acclaimed AARP program, one of the most recognized names for senior benefits.

Expect a superior product from this company who has offered dividends for more than a century.

Click here if you would like us to connect you directly with a top New York agent in your area.

MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL

Massachusetts Mutual, our third-place company, is a company owned by its policyholders, not by investors.

One of the larger companies we reviewed coming in at more than $500 billion in total assets, Mass Mutual has high ratings from all major rating agencies, putting it among the strongest, financially-stable life insurers in America.

Another reason Massachusetts Mutual is ranked so high this year is its expanding focus on financial planning. Many carriers have chosen to offer life insurance, but few have made such large strides as Mass in integrating insurance and investments.

Getting a Mass Mutual life insurance quote is easy using our quick quote tool.

METLIFE LIFE INSURANCE (BRIGHTHOUSE FINANCIAL)

MetLife continues to be the largest provider of life insurance in the United States, but this was not enough to put them in the top 3 for the year 2017; simply being the largest life company is not enough.

The largest, most recognized name in life insurance, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company brand is the giant of the industry. Since the civil war, MetLife has been offering life insurance to fit any budget, any business, or any need. Although it’s harder to get accepted with MetLife than many other companies, it offers a great lineup of products, including term, universal and whole. The ratings received by all four credit agencies are fantastic, and MetLife has secured “A” ratings across the board.

Metropolitan Life also has an affinity to working with those with specials needs, so consider this if it fits your criteria.

BANNER LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

The best term life insurance company in 2017, Banner has become one of the most aggressive insurers on pricing for the term insurance market. They are hands down the best insurance company for low prices on a term life policy.

Although not a monster-sized brand like many of its competitors, Banner is a long-standing life insurance carrier who not only offers competitive premiums, but underwrites several impaired risk categories most other life insurers shun.

$600 billion dollars of life insurance are currently in force with Banner Life. It gets A ratings from all four rating agencies.

In addition to term life insurance products, it also offers competitive universal life insurance options to fit the needs of the permanent insurance crowd.

TRANSAMERICA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Just outside the top five of our list once again, Transamerica is a century-old life insurer with a great group of product choices to meet any need.

Famous for its prominence in the skyline of San Francisco, Bank of America’s purchase of Occidental and it’s re-branding to Transamerica has given the company new life since its inception more than 110 years ago. It holds A ratings from all four rating agencies.

Transamerica Life offers an excellent variety of life insurance, including term, universal, whole and accident. Outside of its insurance arm, there are additional resources for investments, if you so choose, where Transamerica and its subsidiaries are competitive.

Transamerica is also a great company for individuals needing international life insurance.

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PRUDENTIAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY (PRUCO)

Prudential is a household name. Extremely successful in several smaller areas of life insurance, Prudential also has leveraged its brand to become a leader in the life insurance industry as a whole. This 140-year-old financial institution is a premiere insurer, with ratings of A or better from all of the rating agencies. In competition with MetLife for most life insurance sold, Prudential did take home the highest in net premiums, topping $13 billion.

Although there is no whole life insurance policy availability, Prudential does have term, universal and indexed universal to fill its portfolio of products. Non-life insurance options include accident, critical illness, disability, and more.

Prudential is one of the best life insurance companies for smokers.

FIDELITY LIFE ASSOCIATION

Most highly recognized for its investment side, few realize how well Fidelity has moved up within the life insurance industry.

Fidelity has a special place among the graded life insurance niche, earning its spot in the overall category for 2017. Fidelity is responsible for new advances in the marketplace, including its hybrid life insurance product line.

The company has more than $100 million of in force life insurance policies. There are also term products, whole life, and no medical exam policies available through Fidelity. As the company continues to embrace change, look for them to move up our rankings in the coming years.

Fidelity has received an “A-” from A.M. Best, one of the top rating agencies.

PRINCIPAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Another rising company for life insurance is Principal, coming in at number nine on our list of top 10 life insurance carriers.

While receiving A ratings across the board, Principal does not quite have the footprint yet of the larger companies in our list. Principal made our list because of its strong stable of term, universal and variable universal life products

Principal has more than just life insurance among its offerings, including financial investments through subsidiaries.

PROTECTIVE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Squeaking in at number 10 is Protective is a company many have not heard of, but has a dominant foothold within more than one sector of the life insurance industry.

For more than a century now, Protective Life has lived up to its name in protecting households and businesses. With more than five subsidiaries, an international presence, four separate “A” ratings, and a huge number of policyholders, Protective is getting noticed.

You will have your pick of term life insurance, universal, or variable universal, where Protective is extremely price competitive. Especially with its universal products, Protective is one of the few companies that offers permanent insurance for all tiers of fully underwritten life insurance.

If you are considering permanent coverage for estate planning, Protective should be among your considerations.

BEST LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES BY CATEGORY OR PRODUCT TYPE

We thought it would be useful to further rate companies by the type of life insurance product.

For this rating, more emphasis was put on product, price and additional benefits provided by the company itself which would enhance the overall experience in buying from them. Utility of a product, its riders, the convertibility (where appropriate), and its availability to several demographics were heavily considered in our choices.

Here are selections for each type:

BEST TERM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Lincoln National

Lincoln Financial Group exemplifies what consumers want in affordable term insurance: simplicity, wide availability, and superior pricing. Lincoln has some of the most cost-effective term insurance products on the market and includes excellent riders and convertibility for those looking to add a little oomph to their policy.

Their TermAccel product is especially strong for those of you under the age of 50 and looking for $500,000 or less in life insurance coverage.

If you’re looking for more than $500,000 or you’re 50 years of age or older, the Lincoln LifeElements life insurance product will work great for you.

You need to make sure you’re getting the right policy for your situation to ensure you’re never over spending on your life insurance.

BEST UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Protective Life Insurance

Protective Life hosts the most comprehensive assortment of universal life at virtually unbeatable prices. With perhaps the most highly customizable universal product available, anyone seeking the cheapest possible solution for permanent coverage should look no further than Protective.


BEST WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

Also awarded our overall best life insurance company for the year, Northwestern Mutual takes the cake for any consumer looking to find top notch participating whole life insurance and survivorship life insurance. The greatest considerations were safety, security, guarantees and growth. Among other things, a good selection of riders, credits from term conversion, and dividends make these products second to none.

BEST NO MEDICAL EXAM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Sagicor Life Insurance

If there was any one category which had a front runner most separated from the pack, it’s our winner for the top no exam life insurance company this year, Sagicor. The evolution in accessible, no medical exam coverage is dominated by Sagicor, which took top honors in virtually every aspect, including variety, types of coverage, and everyone’s favorite, price. In addition, Sagicor has made a name for itself because of its ability to approve and issue policies quickly.

BEST BURIAL INSURANCE COMPANY

Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance

The top burial insurance company is Mutual of Omaha, with its level, permanent coverage options. Though there were close contenders because of the necessity to compare all sub-types of burial insurance (level, graded, guaranteed), Mutual of Omaha stood out with superior availability to wider demographics, simple and fast underwriting, and very competitive prices. Its products have plenty of long term guarantees, and the company behind the product is strong and stable.

BEST IMPAIRED RISK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Prudential Life Insurance

For those looking for affordable higher risk coverage, Prudential is easily the top pick. The most aggressive, liberal underwriter for coverage in the industry, Prudential boasts uncharacteristically relaxed guidelines in the most progressive areas of life insurance.

How to choose the best life insurance company

What does “best” mean in the life insurance business?

Just like any business, it’s a combination of all the things the company provides for its customers, whether it is fast and courteous customer service, the lowest rates or the most locations.

When you search online for “best life insurance companies in the USA” the lists you’ll see are typically influenced most by their financial performance. It’s certainly hard to argue with that when you’re in business to protect people, and the products you sell must last 20, 30, 50 years or more.

A lifetime. Your lifetime

Lean on your agent to find the best life insurance company

The best way to evaluate a life insurance company is to lean on your insurance agent for the analysis. Far and away the most important factor is the company’s rating.

As we mentioned, we work with A-rated companies unless a client’s specific situation requires we expand our search below the A rating. When this happens, it is often driven by a client’s health condition or a medical exam that uncovers issues.

Here are the seven things we encourage customers to either research on their own and/or ask their agent to do to determine the best life insurance company for them:

  1. Financial performance
  2. Risk Tolerance
  3. Policy type
  4. Price
  5. Company structure
  6. Type of Agent
  7. Level of Service

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Best life insurance companies’ ratings

It starts with the pocket book:  yours and the insurance company’s.

Ratings play an important role in assessing the financial strength of an insurance company. This is especially important when it comes to life insurance as your policy is pointless if the company that issued it doesn’t have the financial strength to pay your claim 10, 20, 30 years or more in the future.

We we always urge customers to review the financial stability of a life insurance company.

There are four well-known rating services that conduct thorough research on life insurance companies:

These companies get into every nook and cranny of a life insurance company’s financial business to help consumers separate the good from the not so good. These ratings, ranging from A+ to F, consider many factors along with company financials, such as complaints received from the public and data from many public sources.

Don’t confuse insurance company ratings with recommendations

But, ratings should not be confused with recommendations. Financial strength ratings miss the customer service component of the company’s business. In your evaluation of an insurance company you want to know that it has a track record of positive interactions with customers. The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to check customer service complaints.

Important tip: If your current life insurance agent isn’t providing you an annual review of your policies then you should either ask them to do so or, get on google and search “life insurance agent near me” and find someone new.

Your tolerance for risk is critical in choosing the best life insurance company

You may be wondering what “risk” there is in insurance. Isn’t insurance supposed protect me from risk?

Of course, but with more than 800 life insurers in the U.S., you are going to get a wide range of approaches to the market with products, price and service.

And, then there’s the rating of the company.

Pay attention, because this is where it gets important. At the beginning of this article we identify 10 insurance companies that are solid, safe and secure. They are all A-rated companies. And, there are many more that earned high ratings beyond these 10 and deserve your consideration.

However, there are also many rated below “A”, so it’s important to factor in what kind of risk is involved with the company you are choosing. For those that like to avoid risk, you might choose a brand name carrier, even if it has a higher rate. However, others might prefer a lesser-known brand that offers low rates. It’s all personal preference and comes down to the risk you are willing to take.

Many options to find the best life insurance company

If your goal is the best coverage at the best price, there are many outstanding A-rated companies.  Following is a list of the best life insurance companies we like, all of which are A-rated companies:

  • AIG Life Insurance Company (Partners Group)
  • Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance Companies
  • Protective Life Insurance
  • Sagicor Life Insurance
  • Transamerica
  • Banner Life Insurance Company
  • Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts (SBLI)
  • American Amicable Life Insurance Company
  • ANICO Term life insurance
  • Lincoln Financial Group
  • Columbian Life Insurance Company
  • North American Life Insurance Company
  • Allianz Life Insurance Company
  • Protective Life Insurance Company
  • Nationwide Life Insurance Company
  • Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • National Life Group
  • Life of the Southwest
  • United Home Life Insurance Company
  • Assurity Life Insurance Company
  • Axa Equitable Life Insurance Company
  • Aetna Life Insurance Company
  • American Equity Life Insurance Company
  • Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • Voya Life Insurance and Annuity Company
  • Royal Neighbors of America Term Life Insurance

While it’s good if you can do research on your own, remember that it is your agent’s job to educate you on those options.

Important tip: If you receive a rate for a policy that seems unusually low then you must ask the agent how does the company keep its rates that low. If it’s too good to be true…

Life Insurance premiums (price) and how they are calculated

Once you’ve decided on a couple of insurance companies to explore further, getting life insurance policy quotes is easy and fast. Life insurance is priced based on risk to the insurance company. It’s purely mathematical. There’s no negotiating on price.

At the same time, there are more than 800 different insurance companies and, to survive, they sometimes have to be aggressive on their pricing, especially those that aren’t household names. And, being aggressive on their price is all about how much risk they are willing to take.

Age and health key factors in how insurance companies manage their risk

For example, if you’re a 25-year-old male who is not overweight, in good health and doesn’t smoke, you’re going to find a lot of insurance companies who want your business.

On the other hand, if you’re a 58-year-old male who is overweight, smokes and has Type II diabetes, you are going to need an experienced agent to find the right insurance company willing to take a risk on you. You will likely be asked to take a medical exam. They are definitely there, but be prepared to pay.

This example is what many seniors today face. The best life insurance company for seniors is one with a proven record of flexibility with seniors. While age and health conditions raise the risk for insurers, there are many companies PolicyZip works with whose customer service is very friendly to seniors.

The price you pay for life insurance is simply about how much risk an insurance company is willing to take on you, which is why it is so important to have an independent insurance agent shop the market for you.

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Which of the best life insurance companies should you choose?

This is where an agent will be most helpful to help you choose the best life insurance company to meet your needs. With more than 800 companies that sell life insurance, trying to come up with a list of the best life insurance companies would be overwhelming. However, when you strip away the sales and marketing, life insurance is life insurance. It’s pretty simple.

If you’re looking for peace of mind, then you’re probably best choosing a well-known insurance company. If you’re more interested in finding the lowest cost insurance, then your options widen dramatically.

Knowing your needs will help your agent narrow the list very quickly. At PolicyZip, we have found a handful of insurance companies—all A-rated—that are customer oriented and affordable. They may not always be the cheapest, but they are consistent and financially solid.

Four most important issues to determine best life insurance policy

So, with your choice of insurance company in hand, there are a few critical questions that will determine what kind of coverage you can purchase:

  1. What is your age?
  2. Do you suffer from any pre-existing health conditions?
  3. What medications are you taking?
  4. Do you currently use tobacco, e-cigs, vape, or smoke marijuana?

The final step is deciding the type of insurance you want to purchase. Do you want term life insurance, whole life insurance, guaranteed universal life insurance, or burial insurance? Not sure the difference between term and whole life insurance (see the section below on the different types of life insurance)?

Most of our clients end up choosing term life insurance simply because it costs less than whole life. The nice part about term life insurance is that it’s an easy decision and you can always convert it to whole life or universal life down the road.

The devil is in the details. Find an independent insurance agent who can help you find the best life insurance policy option for you.

Types of life insurance, companies and agents to consider

There are roughly 800 insurance companies today that offer a dizzying array of products and services. Those of us in the business are continually amazed at how these companies continue to innovate and bring new products to the market.

The easiest way to think about your options when buying life insurance is that you have two paths to take: term or permanent. From there, well, it can get confusing, but stay focused because there are many outstanding products, one that will likely meet your exact needs. Here are a few to consider:

Term life insurance: Most basic, affordable

What is term insurance? Term offers death benefit coverage only, which often makes it very affordable. There is no cash build-up. Coverage is for a set number of years, typically 10, 20, 30 years and sometimes longer. Also, many companies offer a one-year renewable term product.

The premium typically remains fixed for the duration of the insurance policy. If the insured survives past the term they will have to re-qualify for insurance if they want continued coverage. Often the premium will be much higher. Some term policies allow the policyholder to convert to permanent coverage. Getting term insurance quotes from an independent insurance agent is very easy.

Return of Premium Term Life Insurance: Option if you outlive your insurance

This is term life insurance that allows the insured to recover some or all of their premiums paid over the term of the insurance policy, if they do not die during that time period. These types of policies are more expense than a standard term life insurance policy. Before buying this type of product, we urge clients to also evaluate other ways they could invest the additional premium cost, such as equities, bonds, etc.

Whole Life Insurance: Lifetime coverage, peace of mind

This is the most simple and popular form of permanent insurance. As long as the insured pays the premiums, which are locked in while the policy is in force, the policy will cover that person for their lifetime. The ideal scenario and best use of a whole life insurance policy is buying it at a young age, when you are presumably healthy, and keeping it the rest of your life, regardless of your age or health issue.

There is another significant benefit of whole life: cash value that builds on a tax-deferred basis, which means the gain will not be taxed until it is withdrawn. Imagine the compounding effect of this if you purchase whole life at an early age. Some whole life policies pay dividends, and they are also not taxed because they are considered a return of the premium.

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Universal: Options to grow cash value

This is another form of permanent life insurance. Whole and universal are similar in that they build cash value and the funds grow tax-deferred. However, universal has a more flexible option on how the premium dollars are distributed. A policyholder can choose how much of the premium is dedicated to the death benefit versus the cash value. And, the policyholder always has access to their cash value account, which can be withdrawn or borrowed against for any reason.

Variable and Variable Universal Life Insurance: Expanded options to grow cash value

Variable life insurance policy is also a form of permanent life insurance. Along with the death benefit and cash elements, the insured has the option to participate in investment vehicles like stocks. This is a two-edged sword: there is a chance the funds will grow at a faster rate than funds in a regular whole life policy, however that also means there is more risk because they are exposed to the movements of the investment markets.

A variable Universal life insurance policy is similar to universal, except the insured can participate in other investment tools such as mutual funds. The policyholder can to invest the cash in their policy into different types of investments such as mutual funds. There is no guaranteed minimum cash value with variable universal.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance: Cash value mirrors index markets

Similar in concept and function to variable universal life, the cash component of indexed universal grows as a result of index performance (e.g. Dow Jones Industrial Index, Standard and Poor’s 500, etc.). The index is determined by the client and/or the investment advisor.

Survivorship Universal Life Insurance: Affordable, solid planning tool

This type of life insurance policy is designed to cover more than one person; a married couple for example. One of the most common uses of survivorship life is to cover the first to die, paying the survivor when the first person dies. It is a flexible tool that is often cheaper than each person having individual life policies.

Survivorship Whole Life Insurance:

Often called second-to-die life insurance, a survivorship whole life insurance policy is designed for two people, and pays the death benefit with the second person dies. This type of whole life insurance policy is often used to pay estate taxes. However, there are many other uses.

Single Premium Universal Life Insurance: Flexible, accessible

This type of life insurance policy allows those with disposable cash to pay a lump sum into a life policy for a death benefit that will be paid up until the insured dies. The amount of the death benefit is determined by the amount of money invested initially.

The single premium product has several other benefits. The cash value builds faster because the policy has been fully paid. Also, many single premium policies have what is called “living benefits”. For example, some policies allow tax-free access to the amount of death benefit to pay for long-term care costs.

Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance: When you’re in between whole and term

What about the person who can’t afford a whole life insurance policy and finds the fixed period of term insurance insufficient for their needs? Guaranteed universal life is guaranteed for life, but unlike whole insurance, does not build cash value. It allows the insured to keep premiums lower than whole life, yet get the insurance benefits.

Burial Insurance: Affordable, guaranteed end of life insurance

This important whole life insurance policy is typically purchased to cover the cost of a funeral and burial and, sometimes, other expenses that must be paid to close an estate, such as credit cards and other types of small loans or bills. The average cost of a funeral today is almost $10,000, and can be much more. Burial insurance policies are typically capped at around $25,000, depending on the insurance carrier.

A burial insurance policy typically serves those between the ages of 50-85. Some insurance companies will insure people older than 85. The cost of these types of policies are typically affordable, and acceptance is generally high.

The structure of the insurance company matters

There are two broad types of insurance companies: a mutual life insurance company, and a stock-held life insurance company.

Mutual Life Insurance Company

A mutual company is owned exclusively by those who do business with the company. The only way to own a piece of the company is to own its product. Typically, dividends, or excess gains and funds acquired throughout the year, are distributed back to policy holders. These dividends are never guaranteed, but some companies have been paying them out for more than 160 consecutive years. The type of agent you’ll deal with is more likely to be an in-house, or captive agent.

Stock-held Life Insurance Company

A stock-held company is a public company owned by the holders of its stock. It is traded on a stock exchange, like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and like any other public company, anyone can purchase stock. If a public company decides to declare a dividend, it is paid to the shareholders, not the customers.

Two Types of Life Insurance Agents

There are also two broad types of life insurance agent: a captive life insurance agent and an independent licensed life insurance agent. And, there is a significant difference between the two.

Captive Life Insurance Agents

Captive agents are employed directly by an insurance company and, often, can only sell the products offered by that company. Some insurance companies allow their agents to sell other products, but the breadth and selection of those products is typically limited. But, even then, the agent’s primary focus and what they are evaluated on is selling their company’s insurance.

Independent Life Insurance Agent

Independent agents are self-employed rather than employed directly with one insurance company. By being self-employed they can get life insurance policy quotes from just about any insurance company. An independent insurance agent is often called a broker.

By offering many different insurers at once, independent agents can ‘shop your rate’ quickly and efficiently. A knowledgeable independent insurance agent is well-versed with different products and their underwriting guidelines. If you want access to a mutual life insurance provider’s policy, however, they may not be able to assist you.

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How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

It all starts with your specific needs. There are two broad types you can consider: term or permanent insurance.

  • If you need a life insurance policy to last your entire life, then start with permanent (or whole life).
  • If you just need life insurance for a specific time, choose term insurance (in many cases term can be converted to permanent insurance).

How much insurance should I buy?

A rule of thumb you’ll often hear from agents in the life insurance business is to buy 10-20 times your salary. This is only a rule of thumb. Many clients purchase 15 and sometimes 20 times because they identify future costs and obligations that they want to ensure their family will be able to handle after their death.

Regardless of the type you purchase, the amount you need will be based on several important factors. Here are five factors we encourage clients to consider:

  1. Amount of income you will need in the future
  2. Assets, such as stocks and real estate, that will supplement your income
  3. Liabilities, such as loans
  4. Life insurance you own today, either individually or through your work
  5. Significant one-time or ongoing costs your family will face in the future, such as college educations

Follow these 4 simple steps to determine how much life insurance you need.

  1. Debt:  Calculate your total debt
  2. Income:  Calculate your annual income times the amount of years you want that income to continue for your family. For example, $60,000 salary will continue to pay your family for 20 years.  $60,000 x 20 years = $1,2000,000
  3. Mortgage: Calculate how much you owe on your mortgage
  4. Other costs insurance should cover:
    • Education (children, grandchildren)
    • Home purchase and/or improvement
    • Marriage
    • Changing jobs
    • Start a new business
    • Charitable donations / contributions
    • Funeral Expenses

Using this simple four-step process makes determining the amount of life insurance you need easy.

Some people purchase mortgage protection insurance which does exactly what it says: pays off your mortgage in the event of your death. This coverage lasts the length of time of your mortgage. An option we recommend is a decreasing life policy, which means the amount of insurance coverage decreases as the mortgage is paid down. These types of policies are typically less expensive than fixed life insurance policies.

Best Insurance company customer service

The demands on insurance company customer service have never been higher. While more and more customers today solve service problems or questions over the internet and never speak to a person, the expectations for customer service have nonetheless increased.

That seems counter-intuitive, but just think about yourself. Today you probably carry a smart phone just about wherever you go. You likely have either a tablet or laptop computer nearby or at home. And, you communicate is many ways: phone, email, text, social media and on and on. Having all this at your fingertips is second nature to you.

The technical complexities for the insurance company to tie all these devices together to present a seamless experience for you are—no exaggeration—staggering.

And, it’s not just the devices that make it complex. Consumers are relentless when it comes to shopping for a life insurance company. Here’s an example:

  • The majority first do research online. There are many resources to help consumers compare life insurance companies. Then, they might search for reviews. And, it’s more common every day for them to blast out a note to their social network friends to get their advice.
  • The next task is to get a few quotes online. Again, there are many resources for this.
  • Then they need to find an agent. They probably have a person they have worked with, but it’s not uncommon for consumers to shop. So, they pull out their smart phone and search. Of course, they want the capability to be able to call any agent they choose right from their search.
  • After the conversations, they then go to LinkedIn to learn more about the agent.
  • Now they are ready to buy, and they have many options to start the process: email, phone, text, chat or possibly Skype.

Your independent insurance agent is the best source to help you find an insurance company with top-rated customer service.

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What makes customers happy has not changed

It’s no secret the life insurance business has lagged in building the capabilities for customers to easily navigate through the many components of an insurer’s business. What hasn’t changed are the most important things about customer service that satisfy customers:

  • Courteous employees
  • Knowledge and professionalism
  • Easy to do business with
  • Easy to understand process and procedures
  • Fast service (in the case of insurance, the customer getting paid quickly)

You could go back 50 years and these five needs would have popped up as most important.

There are ways to check up on insurance company custom service quality

As with any industry, the level of customer service you receive from a company can vary widely. This will be the hardest component of an insurance carrier’s reputation to judge.

You can first ask around from people you know for a reference to a company or agent who they were exceptionally satisfied with. You can also read reviews online, dial a few companies to see how quickly you can get access to someone, or even reach out to several agents to see who is most responsive and helpful.

Of course, the Better Business Bureau might help, too. It is one of the easiest places to quickly search and find formal complaints filed against an insurance company. Just remember, a company can still keep a high grade even with a large number of complaints.

Best insurance company customer satisfaction

From the latest industry report by J.D. Power, life insurance companies hit an all-time customer satisfaction record in 2017. Here are the highlights:

  1. Record high customer satisfaction: Satisfaction among individual life insurance customers has reached an all-time high of 785 (on a 1,000-point scale), up by a significant 16 index points from 2016.”
  2. Price is a key driver of higher satisfaction: The increase in overall satisfaction among life insurance customers is being driven by improvements in all studied factors, but price emerges as the highest-weighted factor with the largest year-over-year improvement. Price satisfaction has jumped to 764 in 2017 from 747 in 2016.”
  3. Improved engagement among new customers helps drive price satisfaction: Price satisfaction increases the most among newer customers—those who have a tenure with an insurer of less than four years—improving by 35 points in 2017, compared with a 13-point increase among those who have been customers for more than three years. The proportion of newer customers who say they “completely understand” their billing statements has increased by 20 percentage points year over year.”
  4. Discounts matter, but wearables fail to gain traction: Discounts have a significant effect on overall satisfaction and particularly price satisfaction. The specific discounts driving the highest overall satisfaction are multiple policy discounts. The much-hyped use of wearables as a discount tool has failed to gain any significant traction as of this year’s study.”

Following are J.D. Power’s latest rankings for life insurance companies:

  1. State Farm Life Insurance
  2. MetLife Life Insurance
  3. Pacific Life
  4. Nationwide Life Insurance
  5. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
  6. Guardian Life Insurance
  7. Ameriprise
  8. Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance
  9. Penn Mutual Life Insuranc
  10. MassMutual Life Insurance

PolicyZip has great relationships with many of the best life insurance companies, including Voya, Lincoln National, AIG Partners Group, SBLI, Banner, and many others.

Top 10 largest insurance companies today

Size doesn’t always equate to the best customer service, but it’s a good start. Here are this year’s largest life insurance companies by market share (you’ll see several familiar names from our top 10 best life insurance companies list at the beginning of this article):

Company Direct Premium Market Share
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company $ 13,356817,802 8.39%
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance $10,123,987,236 6.36%
New York Life Insurance $8,822,266,796 5.54%
Prudential Life Insurance $8,626,713,484 4.42%
Lincoln National Group $6,731,270,174 4.23%
Mass Mutual Life Insurance $6,176,244,595 3.88%
John Hancock Life Insurance $4,755,478,621 2.99%
Transamerica Life Insurance $4,483,371,714 2.82%
State Farm Life Insurance $4,232,704,277 2.66%
Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance $3,815,847,464 2.40%

So, what is market share and why is it important?

In general, market share is the portion a company maintains of the overall activity or business in its industry.

For life insurance, it’s the amount of premiums (dollars paid by all consumers and businesses) for the life insurance in force each year. In other words, it’s the amount of money the insurance company takes in.

Market share is simply one way to look at a company’s position against its competitors. It does not consider many other factors such as financial strength, as indicated by the major rating services, or customer service.

Still have questions? Review our blog or frequently asked questions for more information about how you can secure the best life insurance rates, every time!

You can also get a quote directly on this page, and see your possible rates instantly. You’ll get quotes from more than 50 companies, and it takes less than a minute.

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All reviews are our own, based on our own criteria, knowledge, experience, customer reviews, and more, and are not endorsed by any company. You can get a life insurance quote using the form on this page, or contact us directly for more a more accurate idea given your own situation.