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The Principal Financial Life Insurance Review 2017

Insurance, Life Insurance

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The Principal

  • Offers term, universal, variable universal and survivorship life insurance.
  • Solid financial strength ratings.


The Principal Financial Group offers individual disability and life insurance as well as annuities, mutual funds and retirement plans. Principal also provides group insurance plans through employers, including critical illness, dental, disability, life and vision insurance.

NerdWallet rank: 9th

Principal ranked No. 9 out of 18 large companies scored by NerdWallet. NerdWallet’s life insurance company rankings combine its A.M. Best rating, consumer complaints and J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction score.

» MORE: The best life insurance companies

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

Principal’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 many decades after a policy is purchased.

Consumer complaints: Better than the median

Principal drew far fewer than the median number of complaints to state regulators in 2015 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. Principal’s score for individual life insurance in 2015 was .09.

J.D. Power ratings: Generally Average

In a survey of customer service by J.D. Power published in 2016, Principal scored “better than most” for interaction with customers and “about average” in all other categories. Principal ranked No. 8 overall out of 21 insurers included in the survey.

Principal customer satisfaction scores
Overall satisfaction About average
Billing and payment About average
Price About average
Policy offerings About average
Interaction About average
Source: J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Life Insurance Study

More about Principal

Types of life insurance sold
  • Term life
  • Universal life
  • Variable universal and survivorship life insurance for individuals
  • Getting the best rates

    Every life insurance company has its own specific rules about how people can qualify for coverage and get the best rates. Here’s a look at some of Principal’s underwriting guidelines:

    • Blood pressure: For the best rates, called “Super Preferred” at Principal, applicants ages 20 to 44 cannot have blood pressure higher than 135/85. For people between 45 and 64 years old, blood pressure cannot exceed 140/85, and those ages 65 to 85 cannot have blood pressure higher than 140/90. For standard rates, called “Super Standard,” applicants ages 20 to 64 can qualify with blood pressure below 145/90.
    • DWI (driving while intoxicated): For the best rates, there must be no DWIs/DUIs or reckless driving in the past five years.
    • Nicotine: For the very best nonsmoking rates for applicants ages 20 to 80, there should be no tobacco use for the past five years.
    • Substance abuse: There should be no history of alcohol or drug abuse to get the best rates.