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Bottom line: Northwestern Mutual offers a range of policies and scores well for customer satisfaction and complaints, making it an option worth checking for many shoppers.
Policies offered: Term & permanent.
Financial strength: Exceptional.
Complaints: Far fewer than expected.
Buy online? No.
How we review life insurance companies
Northwestern Mutual has been in the life insurance business for more than 160 years. It offers term, whole and universal life policies and scores well for financial strength and consumer complaints. The company sells policies through a network of agents.
Northwestern Mutual life insurance
Northwestern Mutual earned 4.5 stars out of 5 for overall performance. NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account consumer experience, complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and financial strength ratings.
Based on these ratings, Northwestern Mutual is among NerdWallet’s Best Life Insurance Companies.
Northwestern Mutual life insurance pros and cons
Far fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company its size.
Company website doesn’t give specifics about coverage amounts, term lengths or riders.
Highly rated for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power study.
Very few term riders available.
Consistently pays a dividend to eligible customers.
Northwestern Mutual life insurance policies
Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole and universal life insurance policies. The company's universal life insurance option gives customers flexible payment and coverage choices. With whole life insurance, premiums stay level for the life of the policy.
The company offers two types of term life insurance: annual renewable and level premium. Annual renewable term life has low premiums to start, but they increase every year when the policy renews. The cost for a level premium term life policy may not start as low as annual renewable coverage, but it stays the same throughout the length of the policy. Northwestern Mutual's term policies can be converted to whole life policies without a medical exam.
Additionally, Northwestern Mutual offers two types of universal life insurance: The "Single Premium" universal life policy can be purchased with one lump-sum payment, and the "Custom Universal Life" policy lets you adjust the death benefit and premiums as your needs change.
» MORE: Compare life insurance quotes
Northwestern Mutual customer complaints and satisfaction
Over three years, Northwestern Mutual has drawn significantly fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size, according to a NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Additionally, Northwestern Mutual ranked third out of 21 companies in J.D. Power's 2021 U.S. Life Insurance Study for overall customer satisfaction.
More about Northwestern Mutual life insurance
As a mutual company, Northwestern Mutual is owned by its policyholders, some of whom are eligible to share in annual dividends when the company does well. The company expects to pay $6.5 billion in dividends in 2022, the highest payout in its history.
Northwestern Mutual also provides disability insurance, long-term care insurance, estate planning services, investment solutions and more.
Life insurance buying guide
Before you start comparing companies, choose the type of life insurance you want, such as term or whole life. Decide which life insurance riders, if any, you want the policy to include. Calculate how much life insurance you need and how long you want the coverage to last. Check that the insurers you’re considering offer the coverage you’re looking for.
When comparing rates, be sure the quotes are for the same amount of coverage over the same period of time. It’s also important to make sure the policy’s medical requirements match your needs. For example, if you want to skip the life insurance medical exam but don’t mind answering health questions, confirm that the application process for each policy you're comparing aligns with that.
Price may not be the biggest driver behind your decision to buy. Look at the number of consumer complaints each company receives, as high numbers can be a red flag about the quality of service.
For more guidance, see our life insurance buying guide.
Life insurance ratings methodology
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.
Insurer complaints methodology
NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. 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. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.