5 Best Whole Life Insurance Companies for January 2023

Guardian, MassMutual and Northwestern Mutual are among our top picks for whole life insurance policies in 2023.
Katia Iervasi
By Katia Iervasi 
Edited by Lisa Green

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If you’re looking to treat your life insurance policy as a cash asset, you might be in the market for a whole life insurance policy. Along with providing a payout to your loved ones when you die, these policies build cash value over time at a set interest rate.

To create this list of the best whole life insurance companies, our experts focused on financially strong insurers with low levels of customer complaints. We then honed in on important features of whole life insurance policies, such as riders, the potential to earn dividends and the amount of coverage you can buy.

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.

The best whole life insurance companies of January 2023

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

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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.

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 life insurance quotes from several companies to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews.

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 whole life insurance policies for 2023

Learn more about each company in our list by reading the brief summaries below and checking out the NerdWallet review links.

Jump to:


Best for applicants living with HIV
insurance-product-card-logo

Guardian Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Guardian has a diverse lineup of whole life products, including life insurance for people living with HIV.
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent
Best for applicants living with HIV
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on Policygenius

Guardian Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Guardian has a diverse lineup of whole life products, including life insurance for people living with HIV.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent

Company overview: With Guardian’s whole life coverage, you can choose a policy with level premiums, or a “limited payment” policy that allows you to pay off your policy in 10, 15 or 20 years. After that, no premiums are required to keep your coverage. You can choose from a range of riders, such as a disability waiver of premium, long-term care and an index participation feature — or IPF — rider. The IPF rider allows you to link a portion of your cash value to the performance of the S&P 500 Price Return Index, and any profits are paid out in dividends.

The company also offers life insurance for people living with HIV. To qualify for these term and whole life policies, you must prove you’re under a specialist’s care and successfully receiving antiretroviral therapy. 

While Guardian doesn’t guarantee dividends, it has paid them out to its permanent policyholders every year since 1868, and is set to pay $1.26 billion in 2023, the highest payout in the company’s history

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Policy options: Life Paid Up at 121, Life Paid Up at 99, Life Paid Up at 95, Life Paid Up at 65, 10 Pay Whole Life, 15 Pay Whole Life, 20 Pay Whole Life, EstateGuard.

Eligibility age range: 0 to 90 (varies by policy).

Minimum coverage amount: $25,000.

Maximum coverage amount: Unlimited.

State availability: All states (varies by policy).

Potential to earn dividends: Yes.

» Read the full review: Guardian life insurance


Best for cash value growth
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MassMutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: MassMutual has a string of whole life policies to choose from, some of which earn cash value at a set interest rate of 3.75%.
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

Yes

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam
Best for cash value growth
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COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

MassMutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: MassMutual has a string of whole life policies to choose from, some of which earn cash value at a set interest rate of 3.75%.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

Yes

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam

Company overview: Depending on your policy, you might be able to customize your coverage with various riders. These include a long-term care rider, chronic illness rider and a yearly term purchase rider, which allows you to direct your dividend payments toward a term life insurance policy.

As a permanent policyholder, you’re eligible to receive dividends based on the insurer’s profits. MassMutual estimates it will pay out almost $1.9 billion to its permanent policyholders in 2023.

Policy options: Whole Life 100, Whole Life 65, Whole Life 10/12/15/20 Pay, Whole Life HECV.

Eligibility age range: 0 to 90 (varies by policy).

Minimum coverage amount: $25,000, or $100,000 for HECV — a policy designed for businesses.

Maximum coverage amount: Unlimited.

State availability: All states.

Potential to earn dividends: Yes.

» Read the full review: MassMutual life insurance


Best for blended term
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Northwestern Mutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Northwestern Mutual sells one whole life policy with flexible coverage starting at $50,000, and the option to blend term life for cheaper coverage.
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent
Best for blended term
insurance-product-card-logo
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

Northwestern Mutual

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: Northwestern Mutual sells one whole life policy with flexible coverage starting at $50,000, and the option to blend term life for cheaper coverage.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Far fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent

Company overview: Northwestern Mutual’s whole life insurance policy comes with various payment options. You can choose to pay premiums for 15, 20 or 25 years, or until you reach age 65 or 100. Plus, you may have the option to blend term life with your policy to lower the premiums, while maintaining permanent coverage. 

To enhance your coverage, you can add riders to your policy, such as an accelerated death benefit that pays out a portion of your payout if you need long-term care. There’s also an additional purchase benefit rider, which lets you increase your coverage at a later date without taking another life insurance medical exam. Northwestern Mutual is a mutual company, one of the largest individual life insurers in the U.S., and it is set to pay out $6.8 billion in dividends in 2023

.

Policy options: Whole Life Plus.

Eligibility age range: 0 to 85.

Minimum coverage amount: $50,000.

Maximum coverage amount: $80 million.

State availability: All states.

Potential to earn dividends: Yes.

» Read the full review: Northwestern Mutual life insurance


Best for rider options
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New York Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: New York Life sells three whole life policies and offers a variety of life insurance riders, as well as customizable payment options.
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on Policygenius

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent
Best for rider options
insurance-product-card-logo
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

New York Life

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: New York Life sells three whole life policies and offers a variety of life insurance riders, as well as customizable payment options.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term & permanent

Company overview: New York Life’s custom whole life policy offers flexibility with premium payments. You can opt to pay off your policy in as little as five years, or schedule the timing and amount of your payments to suit you.

The insurer also offers a variety of life insurance riders, such as a chronic care rider, waiver of premium rider and accelerated death benefit.

As a mutual company, New York Life is set to pay out $2 billion in dividends to its policyholders in 2023

.

Policy options: Whole Life, Custom Whole Life and Secure Wealth Plus.

Eligibility age range: 0 to 90 (varies by policy).

Minimum coverage amount: $25,000 (for applicants ages 18 and older).

Maximum coverage amount: $100 million.

State availability: All states.

Potential to earn dividends: Yes.

» Read the full review: New York Life insurance



Best for customer satisfaction
insurance-product-card-logo

State Farm

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: For flexible payment options, it’s worth looking into State Farm’s lineup. Depending on the policy, you may have the option to pay off your coverage in one payment.
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

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
COMPARE QUOTES

on Policygenius

State Farm

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Bottom line: For flexible payment options, it’s worth looking into State Farm’s lineup. Depending on the policy, you may have the option to pay off your coverage in one payment.

Financial strength rating

Exceptional

Online purchase

No

NAIC complaints

Fewer than expected

Policies offered

Term, permanent & no-exam

Company overview: State Farm’s standard whole life policy has level premiums, which means you’ll pay the same amount each month. But if you’d like to adjust when and how much you pay, you can buy a single premium or limited payment policy.

If you’re healthy, age 18 to 50 and applying for a policy worth $100,000 to $1 million, State Farm might fast-track your application and issue your policy without the need for a medical exam. If you purely want to cover your own funeral, burial and end-of-life expenses, the insurer offers a final expense policy to applicants ages 50 to 80 (50 to 75 in New York). Policy features aside, State Farm leads J.D. Power’s list of life insurers with the best customer satisfaction

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Policy options: Whole Life, Limited Pay Whole Life, Single Premium Whole Life, Final Expense.

Eligibility age range: Varies by policy.

Minimum coverage amount: $10,000 for final expense policy; $25,000 for other whole life policies.

Maximum coverage amount: None for standard whole life policies; $10,000 to $15,000 for the final expense policy, depending on the state.

State availability: All states except Massachusetts.

Potential to earn dividends: Yes.

» Read the full review: State Farm life insurance


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Alternatives to the best whole life insurance

Traditional term life insurance is typically sufficient for most people. Term life, which doesn’t build cash value, is much less expensive than whole life insurance. A term life policy lasts a set number of years, and by the time it expires, you may no longer need life insurance.

If you’re certain you want lifelong coverage, you may also want to consider other types of permanent life insurance. Some of the options are:

More about whole life insurance

Learn more about whole life policies before you buy. Here are a few resources to help you understand your options.

Insurer complaints methodology

NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019-2021. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. NerdWallet conducts its data analysis and reaches conclusions independently and without the endorsement of the NAIC. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

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