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8 Best Life Insurance Companies of 2024

According to LIMRA’s 2023 Insurance Barometer, about 52% of Americans are covered by some form of life insurance. That leaves about 2 in 4 with no coverage at all. Are these people playing fast and loose with their surviving heirs’ finances? The short answer is: possibly.

How much life insurance you should have — and what type of life insurance is most cost-effective for your family’s needs depends on your age, income, family size, stage of life, and long-term financial goals.

Whatever type of policy you opt for, you’ll want to choose a life insurance company that’s both financially strong and dedicated to its policyholders’ well-being.

Best Life Insurance Companies for U.S. Policyholders

Hundreds of reputable life insurance companies serve U.S. consumers today, supporting a trillion-dollar (or more) market.

You can and should use an aggregator like Policygenius to find providers and policies that fit your needs quickly. But check out these companies in particular — they’re among the best.

1. State Farm: Best Overall

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Types of policies: Term, Whole, and Universal Life

State Farm offers term, whole, and universal life policies. It also offers some lower-cost niche products, such as final expenses insurance, which is suitable for older policyholders who want to ensure their death doesn’t create a financial burden for their survivors. They have 19,000 agents throughout the company, and they’ve received a 5 out of 5 for overall customer satisfaction from J.D. Power.

State Farm also offers return-of-premium coverage with a 20—or 30-year term length. Coverage starts at $100,000 and returns all premiums paid if you outlive the initial life insurance term.

They also offer Instant Answer Term Life Insurance, which provides an answer and coverage on the same day. This basic policy is for $50,000 up to age 50 or a maximum of 10 years, whichever is longer. This coverage is meant to provide affordable coverage when needed.


  • High AM Best rating
  • Many types of policies are available
  • Conversion to permanent policies allowed


  • Must go through an agent
  • Some policies are age-restricted

Learn More

2. Bestow: Best for Fast Approval

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Types of policies: Term life

Bestow is a technology-driven term life solution that specializes in no-exam coverage. Its application process is even more streamlined than Ladder’s, with approval coming in about 5 minutes. Underwriting is fully algorithmic, meaning you can be approved for a policy as large as $1.5 million without taking a medical exam.

Bestow offers life insurance policies for up to a 30-year term in five-year increments. Coverage ranges from $100,000 to $1.5 million, and you pay a set monthly premium for the entire term. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get your money back if you change your mind within that time.


  • No medical exam
  • Online application
  • Coverage amounts up to $1.5 million


  • No customization options
  • Only offers policies up to age 60

Learn More

3. Ladder: Best for No-Exam Coverage

  • AM Best rating: n/a
  • Policy types: Term life

Ladder is a technology-driven term life insurance solution that does away with traditional insurance trappings. Its signature benefit is an unusually high death benefit (up to $3 million) for no-exam life insurance coverage — that’s a term life policy that doesn’t require a medical exam as a condition of approval.

Ladder, like Bestow, offers an answer within minutes, and they keep their premiums low due to their low overhead model. The application process is 100% online for policies up to $3 million, but an in-home medical exam is required for policies over $3 million. You can also ‘ladder up or down’ your coverage anytime by logging into your account.


  • Online application
  • Large death benefit
  • Typically no medical exam needed


  • No riders available
  • Only term life insurance

Learn More

4. Pacific Life: Best for Permanent Life Insurance

  • AM Best rating: A+
  • Policy types: Term, indexed universal, variable universal, and standard universal

Pacific Life offers an above-average variety of permanent life insurance products, including indexed universal, variable universal, standard universal, and term life insurance.

Indexed universal life insurance bases the cash value growth on the market but offers guaranteed loss protection to limit losses. Variable universal life offers more investing options without loss protection, and standard universal life offers flexible premiums, so you have more control over your cash growth. 

You can also start with a term policy and convert to permanent later using the PL Promise Term product, which offers level 10- to 30-year options with fluidless (abbreviated medical exam) underwriting for older policyholders.


  • Options for riders
  • Large variety of permanent life insurance options
  • Ability to convert to a permanent policy in the future


  • No online application
  • Age restrictions on certain policies

Learn More

5. Northwestern Mutual: Best for Variety of Policies

  • AM Best: A++
  • Types of policies: term, whole, universal, and variable universal

Northwestern Mutual was named the World’s Most Admired Life Insurance Company in 2023 by Fortune®. They expect to pay $7.3 billion in dividends in 2024 and have the highest AM Best rating.

Northwestern Mutual offers applicants many types of insurance policies, including term, whole, universal, and variable universal life insurance. Each policy has different benefits, but they all include a death benefit to protect your loved ones when you die.

To further protect yourself and your family, Northwestern Mutual offers insurance riders on all policies, such as a Waiver of Premium if you become disabled, an Additional Purchase Benefit that allows you to buy more coverage at certain ages regardless of your health, and an Accelerated Care Benefit that allows you to use some of your death benefit early for long-term care expenses.


  • Financially strong company
  • Allows policies up to age 85
  • Ability to convert to permanent life insurance


  • Not transparent online
  • Must work with an agent

6. Guardian: Best for Low Premiums

  • AM Best rating: A
  • Types of policies: Term, whole, and universal life

Guardian offers budget-friendly life insurance that’s available online for individuals. They have provided life insurance for 160 years and have over 12 million customers. Guardian offers term, whole, and universal life insurance, but only term insurance is available online; all other policies must be purchased with an agent.

Guardian is a mutual insurance company, which means its customers own it, so they put their customers’ needs first. Term life insurance is their most common product. They allow the addition of several riders on term policies, including a Term Conversion rider that allows you to convert a term policy to a whole life policy, a Waiver of Premium rider to eliminate premiums if you become disabled, and a Guaranteed Renewability rider for those who have been diagnosed with an illness and would have much higher premiums on a new policy.


  • Can apply for term policies online
  • Offers term and permanent life policies
  • Some policies allow higher age limits


  • Not as transparent as they could be
  • Permanent life insurance policies require you to contact an agent

7. MassMutual: Best for Personalized Support

  • AM Best rating: A++
  • Types of policies: Term, whole, universal, and variable life insurance

MassMutual has been helping clients with their life insurance needs since 1851. In 2023, they paid $9.1 billion in insurance and annuity benefits; today, they have over $1 trillion in life insurance policies.

MassMutual offers term, whole, universal, and variable life insurance products, but you work with an agent to apply for a policy. They simplify the process by asking questions about your financial goals and objectives and suggesting various plans that will help you reach those goals. MassMutual offers terms of 10 – 30 years with various coverage amounts available. 


  • Allows online claims
  • Large selection of policies
  • Agents help match you with a policy


  • Can’t apply online
  • Most people need a medical exam

8. New York Life: Best for Financial Strength

  • AM Best rating: A++
  • Types of policies: term, whole, universal, and variable universal life

New York Life has provided life insurance policies for the last 175 years, helping families protect their legacies. Like other insurance companies on our list, it has a strong financial strength rating and is mutually owned, always putting customers first.

New York Life offers term, whole, universal, and variable universal life insurance to cover all life insurance needs. They work with customers who need short and long-term coverage, and their agents have extensive knowledge of life insurance needs to help you choose the right option. 

One feature that stands out with New York Life is the ability to customize each plan so you get the exact coverage needed. You’ll work closely with an agent to determine your financial goals and how to achieve them with your life insurance policies.


  • Many policy options
  • Strong financial rating
  • Customization available for policies


  • No online application
  • Charges a fee to convert to a permanent policy

Types of Life Insurance

There are two basic categories of life insurance—term and permanent life insurance. Within the permanent life insurance category, there are several options. Here’s what to consider.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance has a specified term. If you outlive the term, some companies allow you to renew it, or you can apply for a new policy. The terms usually last 10 – 30 years, and policy amounts vary by insurance company. Beneficiaries receive a lump sum payout of the death benefit if you die while the policy is in effect. This is the most common ‘first life insurance policy.’

Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance lasts your entire life or as long as you pay the premiums. They have two components—the death benefit and cash value. The death benefit is similar to a term life insurance policy and is the amount your beneficiaries will receive if you die.

Permanent life insurance policies differ in their cash value benefit. Depending on the type of policy, some of your monthly premium gets invested or earns interest. Some policies pay a flat dividend, and others vary based on market performance. 

No-Exam Life Insurance

Some life insurance policies don’t require a medical exam. This means you may get approved faster or have fewer obstacles to cross. These policies work well for people with medical conditions that might exclude them from life insurance approval.

Keep Reading: Guide to the Different Types of Life Insurance

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost?

Numerous factors affect life insurance premiums. The most important include:

  • Policy Type. Permanent life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance because its protection continues indefinitely. A policy with the same death benefit could cost five to ten times as much. 
  • Age. Older life insurance applicants pay higher premiums than younger applicants because they’re more likely to die during the policy term. 
  • Length of Coverage. Longer-term policies tend to have higher premiums because the risk of death increases as you age. 
  • Policy Size (Death Benefit). Policy premiums increase in relation to the death benefit.
  • Tobacco Use. If you currently use tobacco or have in the past, your life insurance premiums will be higher than if you never smoked. 
  • Family Health History. Any known health issues in your immediate family could increase your perceived risk and result in higher premiums for the same amount of coverage. 
  • Personal Health History. Your personal medical history and the result of a medical exam during underwriting (if needed) could affect your policy premiums. 
  • Driving Record. If you’re a risky driver with multiple accidents and infractions on your record, you’ll pay more for life insurance due to the inherent risk of aggressive driving. 

For example, a 30-year-old non-smoking male looking for a $1 million policy for 30 years would pay $87.57 a month at Bestow, but a 30-year-old male smoker would pay $280.36 a month. If the male waited until he was 40-years old to apply, he would pay $134.97 and only get coverage for 25 years, as that’s the maximum at Bestow at that age and a smoker would pay $408.89 a month.

Keep Reading: Best Life Insurance Companies for Smokers

Methodology: How We Select the Best Life Insurance Companies

We use six key metrics to assess the life insurance companies on this list. Collectively, they offer a comprehensive picture of these companies’ likelihood of making good on their promises to pay death benefits — a critical consideration for any life insurance policyholder — and the overall customer experience.

Financial Strength Ratings

Third-party financial strength ratings assess insurers’ ability to pay out death benefits in the future. When possible, we use ratings from A.M. Best, a highly respected rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry.

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Once your policy is in force, you shouldn’t have to interact with your life insurance company regularly. 

That said, it’s nice to know that someone will be there to address any concerns, and your experience during the application and underwriting process will no doubt set the stage for the rest of the relationship.

We use J.D. Power customer satisfaction ratings to assess companies’ customer service quality when available.

Customer Complaints

We don’t put much stock in anonymous online reviews, which can be difficult to assess objectively and aren’t always relevant to the average user’s experience. Instead, we look for patterns of complaints with state regulators and reputable consumer protection organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners compiles policyholder complaints. Bigger insurance companies draw more complaints overall because they serve more customers, so pay attention to the relative proportion of complaints rather than the absolute number.

Policy Types

All life insurance policies can be characterized as one of two types: term or permanent. Term policies have no cash value and expire at the end of the term if not renewed. Permanent policies build cash value over time and last indefinitely (until the policyholder dies or the policy lapses due to nonpayment or cancellation).

Term policies are defined primarily by their initial term length — typically 10 to 30 years — and by their optional or mandatory riders (modifications), such as accelerated death benefit or the option to convert to permanent coverage.

Permanent policies can be structured as:

  • Whole
  • Universal
  • Variable 
  • Variable universal

Each structure differs in its treatment of the cash value component, among other factors.

Many life insurance companies, especially leaner online insurers, offer term life coverage only. If you’re looking for permanent coverage, you’ll have fewer options — though still plenty to choose a policy that fits your needs.

Keep Reading: Term vs. Whole Insurance Comparison

Application and Underwriting Process

Applying for life insurance can be tedious and time-consuming. Some insurers haven’t fully embraced digitization, resulting in a cumbersome paper-pushing process that involves multiple mailings and long wait times.

Other insurers are more responsive to modern applicants’ needs. Some make it easy to complete an application in a single sitting and provide provisional approval within minutes. While recognizing that some old-fashioned insurers do offer great products, we prefer companies with more streamlined approval and underwriting processes.

No-Exam Option

When required, the medical exam is usually the biggest sticking point during the life insurance application process. It can take days or weeks to schedule and still take longer to produce results. However, fully medically underwritten policies also tend to have lower premiums, so the ordeal is worthwhile for relatively healthy applicants.

If you don’t want to deal with a medical exam or worry that a health issue could affect your chances of approval or premiums if approved, opt for a no-exam policy instead. These are increasingly common and much easier to apply for, though they tend to cost more on average.

Life Insurance FAQs

You have questions about life insurance. We have answers.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

Many experts recommend buying enough life insurance to multiply your current income tenfold. For example, if you earn $100,000 per year today, you’d want a $1 million life insurance policy. 

In some cases, more life insurance is warranted. This is true if you have significant debts or expected future expenses that could outlive you or if you’re the primary income-earner in your household. You can multiply your income by the expected length of time in years that you’ll need coverage and add in the value of all expected future expenses using a future value calculator.

Keep Reading: How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Who Should You Name As Your Life Insurance Beneficiary?

You must name at least one life insurance beneficiary. Most people name immediate family members, such as spouses or children, but you can also name:

  • A business entity
  • A trust (this is common if the intended beneficiary is a minor child)
  • A charity of your choice
  • Certain other qualifying organizations

You can name as many primary and contingent beneficiaries as you want. Contingent beneficiaries only receive proceeds if all named primary beneficiaries are deceased when the policy pays out or disclaims (refuse) the benefit.

Note that married policyholders may need spousal permission to name someone other than the spouse as the primary life insurance beneficiary.

Can You Convert a Term Life Insurance Policy to a Permanent Life Insurance Policy?

Many term life insurance policies include a conversion rider that lets you convert the policy to permanent status once a certain amount of time has passed (usually five years from the effective date). Doing this will significantly increase your monthly premium, but you can often reduce the death benefit to compensate. 

How to Choose the Best Life Insurance Company

Which life insurance company is best for you? That depends on what you want out of the relationship.

If you’re looking for a smallish term policy that doesn’t require a medical exam, your shortlist of insurers will look very different than if you’re hunting for a whole life policy that you hope establishes generational wealth for your heirs. Or a fully medically underwritten term policy large enough to replace your income for the next 30 years, for that matter.

To find the insurer that best suits your needs, consider:

  • Whether they offer the policy type you need
  • Their policy coverage limits, if any
  • Whether the application process requires a medical exam
  • How flexible is the policy when it comes to life changes? For example, can you convert a term policy to a permanent policy?

Fortunately, you can’t go wrong with any of the insurers on this list.

Keep Reading:

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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