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The Best Life Insurance Companies

Northwestern Mutual is the best life insurance company among those we scored, but many others are worth considering, too.
July 6, 2018
Insurance, Life Insurance
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

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.

Our calculations show that Northwestern Mutual is the best life insurance company among 23 large companies we scored. Many others are also worthy of consideration, and several on our Top 20 list scored within a fraction of a point of one another. (Full methodology below.)


The best life insurance companies

CompanyNerdWallet composite score (300-point max; methodology below)Consumer
complaint rating
(100-point max)
A.M. Best financial strength rating (A++ is best)J.D. Power customer satisfaction score (850-point max)Start comparing
1. Northwestern Mutual277.297A++802
2. Pacific Life273.898A+808
3. Guardian Life273.694A++796
4. MassMutual
272.794A++787
5. State Farm Life

272.387A++853
6. Ameriprise (Riversource)

27096A+790
7. Penn Mutual
269.896A+788
8. Nationwide269.694A+806
9. Principal Financial266.593A+785
10. New York Life

264.286A++782
11. Lincoln Financial

261.188A+781
12. Minnesota Life (Securian)259.787A+777
13. John Hancock
257.386A+763
14. AXA Equitable

255.188A771
15. Brighthouse Financial (formerly MetLife)253.282A812
16. Prudential
247.775A+777
17. Voya245.881A748
18. Midland National (Sammons)242.573A+745
19. Primerica240.470A+754
20. Protective226.454A+774



The best life insurance companies

CompanyNerdWallet composite score (300-point max; methodology below)Start comparing
1. Northwestern Mutual277.2
2. Pacific Life

Pacific Life
273.8
3. Guardian Life273.6
4. MassMutual
272.7
5. State Farm Life

272.3
6. Ameriprise (Riversource)

270
7. Penn Mutual

269.8
8. Nationwide269.6
9. Principal Financial266.5
10. New York Life

264.2
11. Lincoln Financial

261.1
12. Minnesota Life (Securian)259.7
13. John Hancock
257.3
14. AXA Equitable

255.1
15. Brighthouse Financial (formerly MetLife)253.2
16. Prudential
247.7
17. Voya245.8
18. Midland National (Sammons)242.5
19. Primerica240.4
20. Protective226.4



The best life insurance companies

CompanyNerdWallet composite score (300-point max; methodology below)Start comparing
1. Northwestern Mutual277.2
2. Pacific Life

Pacific Life
273.8
3. Guardian Life273.6
4. MassMutual
272.7
5. State Farm Life

272.3
6. Ameriprise (Riversource)

270
7. Penn Mutual

269.8
8. Nationwide269.6
9. Principal Financial266.5
10. New York Life

264.2
11. Lincoln Financial

261.1
12. Minnesota Life (Securian)259.7
13. John Hancock
257.3
14. AXA Equitable

255.1
15. Brighthouse Financial (formerly MetLife)253.2
16. Prudential
247.7
17. Voya245.8
18. Midland National (Sammons)242.5
19. Primerica240.4
20. Protective226.4

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. It’s smart to get quotes 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 life insurance companies listed 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 ratio scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance in 2017, which measure complaints to state regulators adjusted for market share. We adjusted the complaint ratios to a 100-point scale, with 100 meaning the fewest number of complaints and 1 equaling the median number of complaints for companies of their size. All of the companies shown drew significantly fewer complaints than the median.
  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.