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Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Review 2019

Jan. 2, 2019
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Northwestern Mutual

  • Earned No. 1 spot in NerdWallet's ranking of best life insurance companies.
  • Ranked high in a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey.
  • The company is owned by its policyholders, which means eligible customers can receive dividends.


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 $5.6 billion in dividends in 2019, the highest payout in the company’s history.

» MORE: The best life insurance companies

Learn more about each element that’s considered in our review by clicking below.

NerdWallet rank: 1st

Northwestern Mutual ranked No. 1 out of the 20 best life insurance companies as scored by NerdWallet. The rankings are based on A.M. Best financial strength ratings, J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores and the number of complaints to state regulators for companies, adjusted for market share. NerdWallet scores the largest nationwide companies.

A.M. Best financial strength rating: A++ (superior)

Northwestern Mutual’s financial strength is “superior,” according to ratings agency A.M. Best.

Financial strength is important because it indicates how well an insurer can pay claims. It’s especially important when choosing a life insurance company, because claims might not be made until decades after a policy is purchased.

Consumer complaints: Better than the median

Northwestern Mutual drew significantly fewer than the median number of complaints to state regulators in 2017 for a company of its size, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The association assigns a complaint ratio score to insurance companies, based on the number of complaints to state insurance commissioners, adjusted for market share. The median score is 1. A score less than 1 means fewer complaints. Northwestern Mutual’s score for individual life insurance in 2017 was 0.03.

J.D. Power ratings: Better than most

Northwestern Mutual ranks high among life insurance companies for customer service, according to research firm J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Life Insurance Study. The company had the second-highest score overall among 23 of the largest U.S. life insurers.

Customer satisfaction categoryNorthwestern Mutual's score
Overall satisfaction"Better than most"
Policy offerings"Among the best"
Price"Better than most"
Billing and payment"Better than most"
Interaction"Among the best"
Communication"Among the best"
Application process"Better than most"

More about Northwestern Mutual

Types of life insurance soldOther products & services
  • Term life.
  • Whole life.
  • Universal life.

  • Annuities.
  • Disability insurance.
  • Long-term care insurance.
  • Education funding plans.
  • Investment and wealth management services.
  • Special insurance options

    Disability insurance for part-timers and stay-at-home spouses: Northwestern Mutual offers disability insurance policies designed for part-time workers and stay-at-home spouses. The coverage for part-time employees is geared to people who work between 15 and 29 hours. The coverage can expand if their jobs become full-time. The policies for stay-at-home spouses are geared to people who provide care for children or elderly or disabled family members.

    Two types of universal life insurance: The “Single-Premium” universal life policy can be purchased with a single lump-sum payment. The “Custom Universal Life Accumulator” policy lets the policy owner adjust the death benefit and the price for coverage as needs change.