Advertiser Disclosure

The Best Life Insurance Companies for 2020

Northwestern Mutual is the best life insurance company among those we scored, but many others are worth considering, too.
Insurance, Life Insurance
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Finding the best life insurance company involves weighing customer service, financial strength and price. Hundreds of life insurance companies compete for your business, often selling very similar products, so it’s smart to get life insurance quotes from at least a few companies.

To help you evaluate your options, NerdWallet scores and ranks the largest national companies that sell life insurance policies to individuals.

The best life insurance companies

Our calculations show that Northwestern Mutual is the best life insurance company among the large companies we scored. Pacific Life and Guardian Life came in second and third place, respectively. Many other insurers are also worthy of consideration, and several on our Top 20 list scored within a fraction of a point of one another.

CompanyNerdWallet composite score
(300-point max)
1. Northwestern Mutual274.2
2. Pacific Life267.4
3. Guardian Life263.6
4. MassMutual261.8
5. Principal Financial261.1
6. Penn Mutual257.9
7. State Farm Life254.9
8. Nationwide252.7
9. New York Life250.1
10. Lincoln Financial249.3
11. Minnesota Life (Securian)241
12. Prudential231.7
13. John Hancock231.4
14. AXA Equitable227.5
15. Midland National (Sammons)217.8
16. Brighthouse Financial 216.9
17. Protective214.1
18. Primerica213
19. Mutual of Omaha174.5
20. Transamerica 163.2

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:

  • Scores from J.D. Power. The independent ratings firm publishes customer satisfaction scores for 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, so it’s smart to compare prices. You can use NerdWallet’s tool to get term life insurance quotes from multiple insurers.

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 life insurance companies listed by clicking on the NerdWallet reviews.

Methodology: Life insurance rankings

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 index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance, which measure each company’s share of complaints to state regulators relative to its share of total market premiums. We calculated each insurer’s complaint index, weighted for the market share of its subsidiaries, over a three-year period (2016-2018). We then adjusted those scores to a 100-point scale, with 100 meaning the fewest number of complaints and 1 equaling the expected number of complaints for companies of a similar size.
  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 with ratings of “excellent” to “superior.”
Scores are based on the most recently released data as of Jan. 1, 2020.