Whole life insurance can provide peace of mind should the unexpected happen. Protecting your family from loss of income while also building tax-deferred cash value growth makes whole life insurance an attractive permanent life insurance policy option for many people.
With hundreds of options available in 2023, choosing a reliable company is not easy, and that's why we compiled our list of the best whole life insurance options utilizing solid criteria.
Best whole life insurance companies: shortlist
- Everyday Life — best online whole life insurance for everyday families
- MassMutual — best overall and financially stable life insurance company licensed in all 50 States
- Ethos — best online whole life insurance for seniors
- New York Life — top reputable insurance company with multiple customizable options
- State Farm — solid insurance company with high customer satisfaction ratings
Best whole life insurance companies in 2023
We’ve selected this list of outstanding insurance providers to highlight their distinguishing features. Adopting AI technology has begun to modernize the insurance industry, and there are more options than ever when selecting a whole life insurance policy that is right for you and your loved ones.
1. Everyday Life — best online whole life insurance for everyday families
Everyday Life is a newer insurance company. They are an independent online life insurance brokerage connecting consumers with strong insurance providers such as Fidelity Life, Assurity, Legal & General, TruStage, and SBLI. The Financial Health Network backs Everyday Life.
Everyday Life has strong A+ ratings from BBB. It offers customers the convenience of one application to receive multiple quotes online without going through the time and hassle of applying to various companies.
Everyday Life utilizes a proprietary state-of-the-art technology called Predictive Protection Technology that combines AI with computer science to help consumers calculate how much coverage they need and get matched with a policy quickly.
Premiums start at $4.61, and the average cost is $15/month. Everyday Life offers a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee. Whole life policy coverages range from $2,000–$100,000 for ages 18–85. They offer cash value accumulation but no dividends and are licensed in every state.
- Term Life
- Whole Life
- No exam
- Accidental Death Insurance
- Guaranteed Acceptance Whole Life
2. MassMutual — best whole life insurance company with solid financial strength
MassMutual is a large, stable financial and insurance company in business since 1851 and has provided more than $950 billion of insured life protection as of 12/31/22. MassMutual is rated A++ Superior from A.M. Best Company, the highest rating available, and has strong BBB and J.D. Power customer satisfaction ratings.
Policies are quoted and purchased through MassMutual financial professionals, although a life insurance calculator is available on the website to get you started. Dividends are not guaranteed, but have been paid to eligible policyholders annually since 1869.
MassMutual offers various riders, such as additional insurance, catastrophic disability, lapse protection, long-term care, terminal illness accelerated death benefit, and waiver of premium. Policies start at $25,000 and are available to those aged 0–90. They are licensed in all 50 States.
- Whole Life
- Term Life
- Universal Life
- Variable Universal Life
3. Ethos — best online whole life insurance provider for seniors
Ethos Life is a new online life insurance provider that utilizes predictive modeling to provide a simplified underwriting process and application without requiring a medical exam for most applicants. Ethos earned an A+ rating from BBB and is backed by established life insurance companies like Legal & General America, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., and TruStage.
Ethos offers a guaranteed whole life insurance policy for seniors through TruStage. People aged 66 to 85 are guaranteed approval regardless of health history. These policies range from $1,000 to $30,000 and provide a guaranteed cash value growth account. Ethos Technologies Inc. (Ethos) is licensed as a producer in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, allowing them to provide life insurance.
- Whole Life
- Term Life
- Accidental Death
4. New York Life — reputable insurance company with multiple customizable options
New York Life has been a solid financial and insurance company in the business for 178 years, with a Superior rating from A.M. Best Company of A++ (the highest rating available). Although dividends are not guaranteed, they have paid policyholders annual dividends since 1854.
The company offers many customizable options such as the Custom Whole Life Insurance and riders such as disability waiver of premium, option to purchase paid-up additions, chronic care, living benefits, and accidental death benefits.
New York Life is licensed in all 50 states and has 12,000 professionals nationwide to assist in selecting a policy. It is sold mainly by New York Life Agents, but you may also find a few financial advisors who are licensed to sell. Whole Life insurance policies are available to those aged 0 to 90 with coverage amounts from $25,000 to $100 million.
- Whole Life
- Term Life
- Universal Life
- Variable Universal Life
5. State Farm — solid insurance provider offering many insurance options and excellent customer satisfaction
State Farm is one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. In business for 101 years, State Farm has policies to cover vehicles, homes and property, small businesses, health, pet medical, disability, and liability. State Farm’s whole life insurance policies pay dividends, although not guaranteed.
They offer options for how and when premiums are paid, such as 10, 15, or 20 years of limited pay life insurance or even the option to provide one premium payment known as their single premium policy for lifetime coverage. Another option is final expense life insurance (available in N.Y.) with a range of up to $10,000 for individuals aged 50-80.
State Farm Life is licensed in the District of Columbia and all states except Massachusetts. Discounts are available to those purchasing bundled insurance options, such as life and auto insurance. Policies begin at $15/month, and coverage starts around $25,000. You can obtain a quote online, but must purchase through a State Farm agent. Age eligibility varies by policy.
- Whole Life
- Term Life
- Universal Life
- Final Expenses
Best whole life insurance policies: a comparison
We’ve analyzed the following criteria to select some of the top whole life insurance providers in the U.S. in 2023. We focused on customer satisfaction, financial stability, and policy flexibility/options.
|Everyday Life||MassMutual||Ethos||New York Life||State Farm|
|A.M. Best Rating - FSR||N/A||A++||N/A||A++||A++|
|BBB||A+ (accredited)||A (not accredited)||A+ (accredited)||B- (not accredited)||A (not accredited)|
|Years in business||4||172||7||178||101|
|J.D. Power overall customer satisfaction index ranking (out of 1,000)||N/A||780||N/A||775||839|
|NAIC complaint index||N/A||0.03||N/A||0.22||0.23|
|Types of policies||Accidental death, final expense, term and whole life||Whole, term, universal, and variable life||Term and whole life, accidental death||Term and whole life, universal, variable universal||Term, whole, and universal life, final expenses|
|Company structure||Fully licensed insurance brokerage||Mutual insurance company||Licensed producer and third-party administrator||Mutual insurance company||Mutual insurance company|
|Application||Online||MassMutual financial professional||Online||New York Life agent||State Farm agent|
|Policy options||No medical exam, immediate coverage start, guaranteed acceptance||Riders, hybrid long-term care and survivorship options||No medical exam, accidental death covered immediately||Custom whole life, multiple rider options||Multiple premium pay options, riders|
*A.M. Best Ratings, BBB Ratings, and NAIC Complaint Index were accessed in July 2023
How we ranked the top whole life insurance companies
To rank the best whole life insurance companies, we evaluated the following:
- Overall value. The overall value of a whole life insurance policy lies in finding the right fit. These companies provide good policies at various prices and offer unique features such as riders, add-ons, no medical exams, policies for seniors, and modernized accessibility.
- Policy flexibility and customization. We identified insurance companies that offer various customization options via riders, add-ons, and custom whole-life policies.
- Financial strength. A company's financial stability is essential, so you know it can pay your claims when it is time. A.M. Best is a global credit rating company specializing in the insurance industry. The highest rating is Superior, A++, while the lowest rating is Poor, D. Viewing the A.M. Best website ratings is free, but you must register for an account.
- Online reputation. We analyzed the Better Business Bureau scores that factor in the business’s complaint history with BBB, type of business, time in business, transparent business practices, failure to honor commitments to BBB, licensing and government actions known to BBB, and advertising issues known to BBB. Companies are scored from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
- Number of complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) oversees and standardizes insurance agencies and their practices. They work to protect consumers and provide a platform to file consumer complaints against insurance companies. The closer the NAIC index is to zero, the fewer complaints the company has had.
Whole life insurance: the definition
Whole life insurance provides peace of mind should the unexpected happen, while also contributing to long-term financial goals. Whole life is a permanent policy that provides lifelong coverage compared to temporary life insurance, such as term life, which covers a set number of years, usually 10–30 years.
A distinguishing feature of whole life insurance is its cash value account, accessible throughout the policyholder's lifetime. Most whole life insurance policies offer level premiums that do not fluctuate throughout the policy's lifetime. Many people select whole life insurance for its guarantees: level premiums, set death benefits, and cash value growth. Whole life insurance typically costs more than other types of life insurance. It is an attractive policy for high-earning people seeking additional conservative investment opportunities that have maxed out other tax-deferred options.
The way whole life insurance works
Whole life insurance provides coverage for the insured's entire life as long as premiums are paid promptly. As the policyholder pays premiums, a portion of those funds are put into a cash value account, and the other part is allocated to pay the internal costs of the policy. The cash value account grows over time and can be accessed by the policyholder via withdrawals or loans. If not repaid, outstanding loans can decrease the death benefit and cash value. When the policyholder dies, their beneficiaries receive the tax-deferred death benefit, a cash lump sum.
To apply for a whole life insurance policy, most individuals must complete a medical exam, including a review of their age, height, weight, and medical history.
Death benefits are the “face value” of the policy, the amount of money your beneficiaries will receive from the insurance company upon your passing. The death benefit is generally income-tax-free.
Mutual (also known as participating) whole life insurance companies offer dividends. If the company performs well financially that year, policyholders will receive a sum of money annually, like a bonus. Dividends are not guaranteed. They can be paid out like cash, used to increase the life insurance coverage, or added to the cash value.
Cash value is like a savings account guaranteed to grow. This is the main distinguishing factor of whole life insurance. A portion of the premium is deposited in this cash value account, which will grow slowly throughout the policy's lifetime. It can be accessed while the policyholder is still alive.
Premiums in a whole life insurance policy are level, meaning they are guaranteed never to increase. Premiums are payments rendered promptly for the policy to remain active. Many insurance companies offer options for how long and how often premiums are paid: monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
A grace period is typically 30–31 days after your premium’s due date, during which time you can make a late premium payment without being charged interest. You will still be covered during the grace period.
Riders provide additional options to customize coverage at a cost to the policyholder, such as disability waiver of premium, option to purchase paid-up additions, chronic care option, and living benefits. This allows the policyholder to modify coverage specific to their needs.
How much does whole life insurance cost?
The cost of whole life insurance is calculated by determining your insurance risk. Listed below are a few factors that insurance companies evaluate:
- Gender. Males pay higher rates than females because they have a lower life expectancy.
- Age. The younger you are, the lower premium costs will be.
- Credit history. Your credit score does not directly impact your life insurance application, but credit history, such as bankruptcy or late debt payments, could result in higher premium costs or application denial.
- Health history. Healthier individuals will have lower rates than those with health challenges.
- Lifestyle choices. Life choices that increase the risk of harm may increase your insurance cost. Activities such as bungee jumping and smoking will increase your policy rate.
Insurance companies may offer varying rates for similar whole-life insurance policies because they calculate risk differently. It is best to compare quotes from multiple insurance companies before selecting the one that is right for you.
Factors that do not impact the cost of life insurance include race, location, relationship status or number of beneficiaries.
Choosing the best whole life insurance policy: what to consider?
When selecting a whole life insurance policy, you’ll want to consider various criteria such as the following:
- Customizable options. Does the company offer add-ons, riders, and flexible benefits to tailor the insurance products to fit your unique circumstances?
- Customer satisfaction. Is the company’s team equipped to provide you with timely answers to your questions and easy access to your policy? The Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power provide ratings to help consumers review prospective insurance companies.
- Financial stability. Is the company able to pay for your claims when it is time? Does the company have longevity and/or is backed by reputable investors? Some of the entities that measure financial strength are A.M. Best Company, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard & Poor’s.
- Application process. Is online navigation and application easy? Is purchase only available via an agent? Is a medical exam required?
The drawbacks of whole life insurance
Whole life insurance might not be the best insurance option for everyone. Here are some drawbacks to consider:
- Costly premiums. Whole life insurance premiums are high compared to other types of life insurance, such as term life insurance. These high premiums must be paid timely for the policy to remain active.
- Dividends are not guaranteed. Dividends are subject to the annual financial performance of the company.
- Surrender charges. This is a fee that the insurance company may charge if you cancel your whole life policy. It may apply for canceling after as little as 30 days or even up to 15 years, and can range from 1–10% or higher. Fees vary by company.
- Slow cash value growth. The guaranteed cash growth is attractive because the account is safe from market losses and inflation, but it does take time to grow, which may hinder those needing quick cash.
Similar options to whole life insurance
Consider what financial coverage you need and what fits your budget before shopping for a policy. The NAIC website can connect you with a local insurance agent to decide on a policy that fits your needs. Below are some other types of life insurance to consider.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is a temporary policy purchased in “terms” or periods of typically 10–30 years. It is one of the more affordable, straightforward coverage options to protect your beneficiaries from loss of income if you die. Some policies have the option of converting to permanent life insurance. Consider looking out for reliable companies offering term life and other types of life insurance according to your preferences.
Universal life insurance
Universal life insurance is permanent insurance that offers flexible premiums and death benefits combined with a cash value account that earns tax-deferred interest. The distinguishing factor of Universal Life is its ability to change coverage amounts and premiums to be flexible to your life’s changing needs.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance
Indexed Universal Life Insurance is permanent life insurance similar to Universal Life but with different options for investments of the cash value account. The policyholder can choose an account with a fixed rate of return or accounts tied to equity indexes like the S&P 500 to allocate their cash value. This provides more investment options for the policy but also assumes more market risk.
Self-insurance relies on your investments and assets instead of an insurance policy to cover your beneficiaries’ expenses should you pass away. If you have enough savings and investments to protect your beneficiaries’ expenses without income, you might feel comfortable bypassing life insurance policies and being self-insured.
Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance
Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance guarantees a life insurance policy for most applicants upon application without requiring a medical exam or health questionnaire.
Read more about other life insurance policies
Can you cash out a whole life insurance policy?
Yes, you can cash out a whole life insurance policy. If you cash out, you will receive the cash value (amount of premiums paid into the policy) minus applicable fees, and you forfeit the face value (the death benefit). Other cash options to consider that won’t forfeit your policy are withdrawals, loans, and alternate premium payments.
At what age should you buy whole life insurance?
The best age to buy whole life insurance depends on your circumstances and financial obligations. However, as a general rule of thumb, the younger you are when you purchase the policy, the more affordable it will be, and the more time the cash value has to grow.
What is the benefit of whole life insurance?
The benefits of a whole life insurance policy include providing a death benefit to your beneficiaries, level premiums, guaranteed cash value growth, and life benefits. By selecting the guaranteed cash value growth and death benefit, you transfer the market risk and inflation to the insurance company in exchange for premium payments.
What is better term life or whole life insurance?
Term life insurance is a basic, affordable way to provide income loss protection for working-age people with minor beneficiaries. Whereas, whole life insurance is a more costly option for someone needing to cover long-term expenses for their beneficiaries while providing a cash value growth option. Consider your needs, beneficiaries, budget, and financial strategy before selecting a life insurance policy.
- Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel. Life Insurance.
- NAIC. NAIC Life Insurance.
- J.D. Power. J.D. Power 2022 Press Release - US Individual Life Insurance Annuity Studies.
- NAIC. NAIC Consumer.
- State Farm. State Farm Whole Life Insurance.