7 Best Life Insurance Companies in February 2024

MassMutual and Guardian top our list of the best life insurance companies for 2024.
Katia Iervasi
By Katia Iervasi 
Updated
Edited by Lisa Green

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The life insurance market in the U.S. is competitive, made up of a mix of longstanding insurers and newer “insurtechs” that sell policies online. To narrow down our list of the best life insurance companies, we looked at customer complaints data, consumer experience and financial strength. We also assessed the types of policies on offer, and the ways you can buy coverage.

Based on these factors, these are our top life insurance companies for 2024.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure the content on our site is accurate and fair, so you can make financial decisions with confidence and choose the products that work best for you. Here is a list of our partners and here’s how we make money.

Our picks for the best life insurance companies in February 2024

All of the life insurance companies listed below scored 5 out of 5 stars. There are hundreds of insurers competing for your business, often selling very similar products, so it’s smart to compare life insurance quotes from a few before making a decision.

Insurer

NerdWallet rating

Policies offered

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, universal, variable universal and indexed universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, whole and universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term, whole and guaranteed issue whole life.

How we ranked the top life insurers

NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on consumer experience, complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance, and weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims. Within the consumer experience category, we consider ease of communication and website transparency, which looks at the depth of policy details available online. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.

These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

In our life insurance reviews, our editorial team considers the customer and the insurer. These are some of the factors we take into account:

Policies offered. There are many types of life insurance on the market, and they fall into three key categories:

  • Term life insurance offers temporary coverage and a guaranteed payout if the policyholder dies during the term.

  • Permanent life insurance typically lasts a lifetime and builds cash value that can be borrowed against in the future.

  • No-exam life insurance issues coverage without the need for a medical exam.

Financial strength. We use AM Best ratings to confirm an insurer’s long-term financial stability and ability to pay claims. For life insurance, NerdWallet typically recommends considering insurers with ratings of A- or higher. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Exceptional: A+, A++.

  • Strong: A-, A.

  • Moderate: B, B+.

Complaints. These ratings are based on complaints to state regulators relative to a company’s size, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The best life insurance companies have fewer than the expected number of complaints.

Buy online. This indicates whether an insurer allows you to apply for and buy a policy completely online.

Best life insurance companies: Pros and cons

Learn more about our top life insurance companies in 2024 by reading the brief summaries below and checking out our comprehensive reviews.

Jump to:


Best life insurance company overall: MassMutual

Best overall
insurance-product-card-logo

MassMutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: MassMutual offers a solid range of term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance, plus free coverage for low income parents.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

Yes

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam
Best overall
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

MassMutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: MassMutual offers a solid range of term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance, plus free coverage for low income parents.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

Yes

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., often shortened to MassMutual, is one of the largest life insurers in the country. Founded in 1851, it offers a wide range of products, from term life to variable universal life insurance — a type of permanent policy with flexible premiums and investment opportunities. MassMutual is a mutual company, which means it’s owned in part by its policyholders and pays out dividends to qualifying members. Its 2024 dividend payout is set to be the highest yet at almost $2.2 billion

.

» Read the full review: MassMutual life insurance


Best life insurance company for applicants with HIV: Guardian

Best for applicants with a history of HIV
insurance-product-card-logo

Guardian Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Guardian sells term, whole, universal and variable universal policies, and caters for people living with HIV with tailored coverage.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent
Best for applicants with a history of HIV
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

Guardian Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Guardian sells term, whole, universal and variable universal policies, and caters for people living with HIV with tailored coverage.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent

Guardian was founded in 1860 and has paid dividends to its eligible policyholders since 1868. The company is set to pay out $1.4 billion in dividends in 2024, the largest sum in the company’s history

. The insurer drew significantly fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company its size. Aside from life insurance, Guardian also sells a range of products including dental, vision and cancer insurance.

» Read the full review: Guardian life insurance


Best life insurance company for consumer experience: Northwestern Mutual

Best for consumer experience
insurance-product-card-logo

Northwestern Mutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: The biggest insurer in the country, Northwestern Mutual offers term and permanent life insurance, and has the lowest complaint ratios of the life insurers we review.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent
Best for consumer experience
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

Northwestern Mutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: The biggest insurer in the country, Northwestern Mutual offers term and permanent life insurance, and has the lowest complaint ratios of the life insurers we review.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent

Founded in 1857, Northwestern Mutual is the largest seller of individual life insurance in the United States, according to the latest data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Universal life policyholders have flexible payment and coverage options, while term life customers have the opportunity to convert their policy to permanent coverage without taking a medical exam. The company is set to pay $7.3 billion in dividends to qualifying policyholders in 2024

. Northwestern Mutual received significantly fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size, making it a trustworthy choice for shoppers.

» Read the full review: Northwestern Mutual life insurance


Best life insurance company for coverage amounts: New York Life

Best for high coverage amounts
insurance-product-card-logo

New York Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: New York Life offers term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance. Their level term policy offers 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent
Best for high coverage amounts
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

New York Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: New York Life offers term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance. Their level term policy offers 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent

New York Life is a mutual company, which means it’s owned by its policyholders. As such, you may be eligible to vote in board elections if you’ve held a permanent policy for more than a year and earn dividends — the insurer is set to pay out $2.2 billion in 2024

. The company is one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. and drew fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size. It ranked above average in J.D. Power’s 2023 customer satisfaction study for life insurance. One of its whole life policies includes a flexible payment option, allowing you to pay off your premiums early.

» Read the full review: New York Life insurance


Best life insurance company for permanent life insurance: Pacific Life

Best range of permanent life insurance
insurance-product-card-logo

Pacific Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Pacific Life sells a broad range of policies, and stands out for providing detailed and easy-to-digest information about each type on its website.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam
Best range of permanent life insurance
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

Pacific Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Pacific Life sells a broad range of policies, and stands out for providing detailed and easy-to-digest information about each type on its website.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam

Company overview: Pacific Life has been in business for more than 150 years. It has drawn significantly fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size over the past three years. Among Pacific Life’s range of policies is the company’s indexed universal life insurance. These policies typically grow investments based on stock market indexes like the S&P 500. They also have a guaranteed floor, which means your life insurance cash value won’t fall below a certain value if the stock market dives.

» Read the full review: Pacific Life insurance


Best life insurance company for customer satisfaction: State Farm

Best for customer satisfaction
insurance-product-card-logo

State Farm

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: State Farm topped the list in J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Life Insurance Study for customer satisfaction, and offers highly customizable term, whole and universal policies.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam
Best for customer satisfaction
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

State Farm

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: State Farm topped the list in J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Life Insurance Study for customer satisfaction, and offers highly customizable term, whole and universal policies.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam

Company overview: When you think of State Farm, you probably think of its auto insurance products. But it also offers a decent range of life insurance policies, including return-of-premium life insurance — if you outlive the term, you get a refund of the premiums you paid into the policy. State Farm also offers a single premium option for its whole life policy and a final expense policy that can help cover funeral costs.

State Farm ranked first out of 22 companies in J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Life Insurance Study for customer satisfaction, and has consistently topped this list in recent years — pointing to its positive reputation among policyholders

.

» Read the full review: State Farm life insurance


Best life insurance company for older applicants: AARP

Best for older applicants
insurance-product-card-logo

AARP

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
No medical exams are required for life insurance policies through AARP, although you have to be a member to buy one.

on Nerdwallet

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam
Best for older applicants
insurance-product-card-logo

on Nerdwallet

AARP

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
No medical exams are required for life insurance policies through AARP, although you have to be a member to buy one.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam

Company overview: AARP’s Life Insurance Program offers coverage to its members in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The policies are underwritten by New York Life, one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. Members can apply for a term or whole life policy by answering a few health questions, with no medical exam required. AARP also sells a guaranteed issue whole life policy via New York Life, which bypasses both the questionnaire and medical exam for eligible applicants.

» Read the full review: AARP life insurance


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Best term life insurance companies of 2024

Term life insurance provides temporary coverage for a set number of years, usually one to 30. It’s the cheapest and most popular type of coverage, and insurers can stand out in the market for offering competitive prices, riders and more.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: 1, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: 1, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: 1, 10 or 20 years.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: 1, 10, 15 or 20 years.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: 10, 20 or 30 years.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Term lengths: Until age 80.

Best whole life insurance companies of 2024

Whole life insurance typically lasts your entire life. As a type of permanent life insurance, it also builds cash value over time. We’ve compared whole life companies based on factors like coverage flexibility and the potential to earn dividends.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet rates insurers at the company level, not the policy level. This means our star rating reflects the company as a whole, and not its whole life insurance policies specifically.

Best no medical exam life insurance companies of 2024

With no medical exam life insurance, the application process is streamlined. Depending on the policy you choose, you might have to answer some questions about your health and lifestyle, though some policies skip both the exam and questionnaire.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

No exam or medical questions (whole life). No exam but you may have to answer medical questions. (term life).

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

No exam but you may have to answer medical questions.

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

No exam but you may have to answer medical questions.

NerdWallet rates insurers at the company level, not the policy level. This means our star rating reflects the company as a whole, and not its no-exam insurance life policy specifically.

How to choose the best life insurance company

Follow these four steps to find the best life insurance company for your family.

1. Look at customer satisfaction scores

Other customers’ experiences can help you decide whether you want to do business with a company. You can get clues about an insurer’s reputation through complaints filed with state regulators, which are visible on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website. All of the companies listed above have had fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for insurers of their size, according to three years’ worth of data from the NAIC.

2. Consider financial strength

It’s especially important to look into life insurance companies’ financial strength because you’ll want a company that can pay claims many years down the road. NerdWallet’s insurance reviews use weighted averages of financial strength ratings. For additional information about life insurance companies, try a ratings agency like AM Best. We recommend looking at insurers with an AM Best rating of A- or better.

3. Evaluate the policy options

Term and permanent are the two main types of life insurance.

4. Get prices from a handful of companies

The cost of coverage varies among companies, so it’s smart to compare life insurance quotes from multiple insurers.

Although many companies sell similar policies, some focus on certain products — such as whole life — or on particular customers, such as seniors who need life insurance. You can narrow down your options by focusing on the companies that specialize in the type of insurance you’re looking for.

More about top-rated life insurance companies

Looking for a specific type of life insurance policy? Check out NerdWallet’s top picks across these categories:

Frequently asked questions

The average cost of life insurance is $26 a month, which is based on a healthy 40-year-old buying a 20-year, $500,000 term life policy. Life insurance rates vary between policies and insurers, so it's important to compare life insurance quotes from a handful of companies to make sure you're getting the best possible price for the coverage you need.

There are two main types of life insurance. Term life insurance offers temporary coverage for a set period of time, like 10, 20 or 30 years, and pays out if you die within that time frame. Permanent life insurance typically lasts your entire life. It also has a cash value component that grows over time, and once it reaches a certain level, you can begin to take out loans against your policy.

If you want to skip the life insurance medical exam, you can still buy life insurance, though your options may be more limited. Some types of no-medical-exam life insurance may still require you to answer questions about your health and lifestyle, while others bypass both the questionnaire and medical exam.

The cheapest life insurance companies can vary based on your age, gender, smoking status and the type of coverage you want. It's worth comparing quotes from multiple companies to get the most competitive rate.

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