The Best Life Insurance Companies

Northwestern Mutual is the best life insurance company among those we scored, but many others also are worthy of consideration.
Insurance, Life Insurance

Finding the best life insurance company typically involves weighing customer service, financial strength and price. Hundreds of life insurance companies are competing for your business, often selling very similar products.

The other element of your buying decision will be price. It’s smart to get life insurance quotes from at least a few companies.

Our calculations show that Northwestern Mutual is the best life insurance company among those we scored, and many others also are worthy of consideration. (Full methodology below.)


The best life insurance companies

Life insurance companyNerdWallet composite score (300-point scale; see full methodology below)Consumer
complaint rating
(5 stars means fewest complaints to state regulators)
A.M. Best financial strength rating (indicates ability to pay future claims; A++ is best)J.D. Power customer satisfaction score (850-point max)Start comparing
1. Northwestern Mutual280
A++799
2. MassMutual278
A++780
3. Guardian Life276
A++760
4. State Farm Life273
A++828
5. Mutual of Omaha272
A+766
6. Lincoln Financial269
A+744
7. New York Life267
A++774
8. Nationwide266
A+806
9. Principal Financial262
A+774
10. AXA Equitable260
A+752
11. John Hancock259
A+739
12. Protective249
A+742
13. Primerica247
A+717
14. Voya235
A745
15. MetLife233
A+779
16. Transamerica217
A+719

17. Prudential212
A+770

18. AIG162
A718



The best life insurance companies

Life insurance companyNerdWallet composite score (300-point scale; see full methodology below)Start comparing
1. Northwestern Mutual280
2. MassMutual278
3. Guardian Life276
4. State Farm Life273
5. Mutual of Omaha272
6. Lincoln Financial269
7. New York Life267
8. Nationwide266
9. Principal Financial262
10. AXA Equitable260
11. John Hancock259
12. Protective249
13. Primerica247
14. Voya235
15. MetLife233
16. Transamerica217
17. Prudential212
18. AIG162



The best life insurance companies

Life insurance companyNerdWallet composite score (300-point scale; see full methodology below)Start comparing
1. Northwestern Mutual280
2. MassMutual278
3. Guardian Life276
4. State Farm Life273
5. Mutual of Omaha272
6. Lincoln Financial269
7. New York Life267
8. Nationwide266
9. Principal Financial262
10. AXA Equitable260
11. John Hancock259
12. Protective249
13. Primerica247
14. Voya235
15. MetLife233
16. Transamerica217
17. Prudential212
18. AIG162

How to choose the best life insurance company for you

Look at customer satisfaction scores: Other customers’ experience can help you decide whether you want to do business with a company. You can get clues about a company’s reputation through:

  • Customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power. The independent ratings firm publishes scores for nearly two dozen of the largest life insurers each year.
  • Complaints filed against the company with state regulators.

Consider financial strength: Financial strength is especially important for life insurance companies because you’ll want a company that can pay claims many years down the road. Financial strength ratings are available through ratings agencies such as A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. We don’t recommend considering insurers with an A.M. Best rating of B or lower.

Get prices: The cost of coverage varies among companies. It’s smart to get prices from at least a few insurance companies.

Evaluate product selection: Although many companies sell similar policies, some focus more on certain products, such as whole life insurance, or on certain customers, such as seniors. Knowing generally the type of life insurance you want to buy will help you narrow the choices. You can learn more about the product offerings of each life insurance company below by clicking on the NerdWallet reviews. 

How we came up with our rankings: We started with a list of the largest life insurance companies and then calculated a total score based on three measurements, each with equal weight within the score. We then adjusted scores to a 300-point scale:

  1. Customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power, worth up to 100 points.
  2. Complaint ratios from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for 2015, which measure complaints to state regulators adjusted for market share. We adjusted the complaint ratios to a 5-star scale, with companies getting the median number of complaints for their size earning 3 stars.
  3. Financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims, worth up to 100 points. All of the companies shown have solid financial strength. A.M. Best defines the ratings shown above as:
  • A++ and A+ = superior.
  • A = excellent.