The Best Term Life Insurance Companies

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If you provide for anyone financially, you may worry about what would happen to them if you died. Buying a policy from one of the best term life insurance companies is a low-cost way to eliminate that risk.

Term life insurance is the simplest type of life insurance. You pay a monthly premium for an agreed-upon coverage amount. If you die within the term, usually between 10 and 30 years, your beneficiary receives a payout.

When you see the monthly rates, term life insurance can seem like a small expense. But your decision will last as long as 30 years, so it’s important to find the best policy for your needs. You need to evaluate the longevity of the company you choose as well as the cost of your premiums.

In this article, I’ll detail the factors you should consider when you shop for term life insurance.


Best Term Life Insurance Companies in 2020

Money expert Clark Howard recommends a simple two-step filter when you’re shopping for the best term life insurance company.

First, he recommends checking the company’s rating via the credit rating agency A.M. Best. (Read more about A.M. Best here.) You don’t want to pay monthly premiums for 29 years only to have the insurance company go bankrupt.

Clark says you should only consider companies with an A++ rating — or perhaps A+ if you’re buying a 10- or 15-year policy. Then it’s time to price shop.

“As long as you use that as the criteria, if you put in you want a 20-year policy and you want $500,000 in coverage, you can buy from the cheapest A++ company there is,” Clark says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a name you’ve never heard of or anything like that. As long as they have the financial strength standard, whoever’s cheapest is who you buy.”

There are a few other factors that may make sense for some people to consider, which I’ll talk about later.


Table of Contents


Best Term Life Insurance Companies

Insurance CompanyWhy It Makes Our List
Amica MutualClark recommendation, great all-around insurance company
Haven LifeMore frictionless than parent MassMutal; also includes digital benefits
MassMutualStable company, good term life options, free coverage for low-income families
New York LifeGood scores on our criteria; unique death benefit option for spouse
NorthwesternPays dividends on term life; exceptionally few customer complaints
State FarmOption to return premiums if you outlive policy; unique Instant Answer option
USAAClark recommendation, offers coverage for active military members

For this list, I considered only those companies from which you can buy insurance directly. But there may be value in comparison sites such as Policygenius, which provide you with price quotes from many different companies.

Also, it’s usually better for you as a consumer to get an insurance policy that requires a medical exam. The confidence that provides to insurers typically means you’ll get a cheaper monthly premium.

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But there’s a category of term life insurance called “simplified term.” These policies don’t require a medical exam. There are entire companies devoted to simplified term such as Bestow. Some of the options on our list also offer at least one simplified term product.

Read more about the different types of term life insurance companies, including marketplace companies and simplified term, here.


Amica Mutual

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

A+

0.00

$114.84 million

Amica is one of Clark’s favorite options for term life insurance. It writes fewer policies than some of the giants on this list and it carries an A.M. Best rating of A+ instead of A++.

It offers guaranteed level premiums between 10 and 30 years. It’s possible to get a policy without a medical exam. You also may be able to get a discount on your auto insurance if you get life insurance from Amica. Clark loves Amica’s auto insurance options as well.

Life insurance complaints filed against Amica Mutual with state regulators were non-existent in 2019 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and that’s an excellent sign.


Haven Life

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

N/R

(See MassMutual.)

(See MassMutual.)

Haven Life offers policies backed by MassMutual, which has an A++ A.M. Best rating and actually owns Haven Life.

As a smaller online agency, Haven Life offers a self-directed option that lets you apply online at any time. You can even get a policy without a medical exam through Haven Life’s InstantTerm product.

That’s different from MassMutual, which almost always requires you to consult with a representative to get a quote and usually requires that you submit to a medical exam.

Haven Life Plus, a no-cost “rider” on some of its policies, includes free access to a service that will help you create an online will. It also provides an online “safe deposit box” and a 15% discount on single CVS MinuteClinic services, a fitness app and an app “that combines the latest sleep and neuroscience research to help prevent jet lag.”

Its term life policies are standard. If you’re under age 60, you can get terms between 10 and 30 years and between $100,000 and $3 million in coverage.

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MassMutual

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

A++

0.05

$15.81 billion

MassMutual is an old, huge, stable insurance company with an A.M. Best rating of A++.

Most of its term life insurance policies last for 10 or 20 years with level premiums. Those are vanilla life insurance options, which is a good thing in this case. It reduces the likelihood that MassMutual is trying to upsell you or talk you into more complex (and profitable) products.

Most of MassMutual’s term life insurance policies allow you to convert to what’s known as a “permanent” policy without a second medical exam, although Clark says that for most people, permanent life insurance doesn’t make sense.

MassMutual also offers direct term life insurance: You apply online and get an immediate decision. The terms range from 10 to 30 years, and the coverage ranges from $100,000 to $3 million. You’ll still need a medical exam, but you’ll have 90 days to get it done after the decision, during which time you’ll get temporary coverage.

The company also offers a free $50,000 10-year term life insurance policy for low-income families. MassMutual’s LifeBridge program deposits the $50,000 into a trust to pay for the education of the policy holder’s children.


New York Life

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

A++

0.03

$13.77 billion

New York Life is another industry behemoth that has existed since 1854 and holds an A.M. Best rating of A++.

Its term life insurance options are pretty standard, but unlike many other carriers, New York Life offers terms only up to 20 years.

New York Life offers two options for term life insurance customers — a policy that you renew annually, usually with increasing premiums and a policy with level term premiums that you can extend annually, typically at a higher cost, once your term expires.

There’s also an option for your spouse to use a portion of your death benefit to get insurance without a medical exam, which is unique to New York Life.


Northwestern Mutual

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

A++

0.02

$14.59 billion

As one of the oldest and largest insurance companies in the country, it’s not a surprise that Northwestern Mutual boasts an A.M. Best rating of A++. Its NAIC complaint index score is exceptional.

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Northwestern Mutual will pay you dividends on term life options, which is unusual. It also offers a range of term life insurance policy options that’s as extensive as any of the insurance companies I reviewed. That includes level term policies, renewable annual term policies and a 10-year level term policy with the option to renew for another decade (possibly at a different rate).

Unfortunately, Northwestern Mutual insurance policies are not the most convenient. You probably won’t find detailed policy information online, only an agent can sell you a policy, its coverage and quote tools are limited and most applicants will need to submit to a medical exam.


State Farm

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

A++

0.24

$4.99 billion

In addition to its A.M. Best rating of A++, State Farm offers a nice variety of policies to its term life insurance customers.

State Farm’s Select Term Life Insurance product offers 10-, 20- and 30-year terms. It also gives you the option to extend your coverage beyond the term until you’re 95 years old, although your premiums will get more expensive as you age.

Its aptly-named Instant Answer Term Insurance gives you $50,000 of coverage without a medical exam. The coverage will last until you’re 50 years old or for a maximum of 10 years, whichever is longer. Plus, State Farm says that if you’re approved, you can purchase a policy “on the same day at an agent’s office.”

The company also offers a couple of products that differ in structure from most term policies. One is unique in that if you outlive your term, State Farm will return your premiums. Premiums for that kind of coverage are usually more expensive. The company also offers a rare term life insurance option that includes cash value, which you can borrow against. But unpaid loans or withdrawals will reduce the death benefit.


USAA

AM Best Rating

NAIC Complaint Index Score

2019 Premiums

A++

0.13

$2.76 billion

Clark has recommended term life insurance from USAA for years.

But in most cases, only those with military ties are eligible for USAA’s term life insurance, which offers level-term policies between 10 and 30 years.

It can be difficult to get life insurance if you’re an active military member. USAA gives you that option. In fact, active-duty military members can get coverage during wartime, up to $25,000, to help with expenses caused by severe injuries. And veterans are guaranteed coverage after they leave the military.

USAA also offers active duty military members (ages 18-35) an additional $100,000 of term life insurance if they marry, buy a house or have a baby.

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The company offers an A.M. Best rating of A++.


How to Choose a Term Life Insurance Company

The most important factor is to make sure your term life insurance company will survive for the entire length of your term.

The best term life insurance companies offer you:

  • Long-term financial strength. Clark says you should consider only those companies that have an A.M. Best rating of A+ or A++. Stick with A++ only if you’re purchasing insurance for a term longer than 15 years. Some comparison-shop websites allow you to filter by A.M. Best rating.
  • Competitive prices. If you’re deciding between two companies with A++ ratings, consider choosing the one with the cheapest monthly premium. Just make sure that you use the same inputs when you’re looking for quotes. That includes answering all the health-related questions the same way.
  • Good customer service. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners website offers each insurer’s complaint index score. The NAIC bases its score on the number of complaints filed against the insurer with state regulators, adjusted for the size of the insurance company. To find the score, type in the company’s name, hover over “Click for Report Options” in the right column, click on “Go To Complaint Code Report” and then click on “Results By Complaint Index.” Here’s what it looks like for USAA.
  • Additional policy options. As long as the company has an A++ A.M. Best rating and a competitive policy price, you should be all set. Just so you’re aware, there are a few add-ons that some term life insurance companies offer. For example, an accelerated death benefit allows you to get part of the money from the death benefit while you’re still alive if you’re terminally ill or confined to a nursing home.

Who Should Get Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is designed to replace your income, especially if you die unexpectedly or at a relatively young age.

If you have anyone counting on you to provide for them, term life insurance will ensure they’ll be OK financially if you pass away.

Perhaps your family depends on you to pay the mortgage. Perhaps your children are counting on you to pay for their education. There are a lot of reasons that people want to insure against the loss of income in case of premature death.

No matter where you buy term life insurance, you’ll need to decide on the term and the amount of coverage.

Let’s say you’ve already paid off your mortgage. Your primary concern is paying for your daughter’s college education, and she’s a high school junior. You plan to fund her education out of your annual salary and want to get life insurance in case anything happens. You probably don’t need a 30-year term with $1 million worth of coverage. Hopefully, your daughter will have finished her schooling by then.

It’s important to understand your personal financial situation to make decisions on the term length and coverage amount. Just remember it’s designed to replace your income.

Ideally, by the time your coverage ends, you’ll be financially secure, having built up enough savings and investments, and having paid for whatever you needed the insurance to cover.

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Term Life vs. Whole Life Insurance

When you’re choosing the best term life insurance company, you may come across articles or advertisements talking about whole life insurance.

Term life insurance is almost always a better choice. (In a recent article, I went into more detail about term life vs. whole life insurance; you can read that here.)

Whole life insurance premiums are much more expensive because:

  • You’re insured until death rather than for a specified period.
  • They include an investment component called “cash value.”

The “cash value,” or investment portion, of a whole life insurance policy is complex, inefficient and potentially risky. It can be difficult for you to capitalize on its value, and if you don’t use it before you die, the insurance company keeps every cent.

In some instances, particularly if you’re wealthy or make more than $400,000 per year, Clark says it makes sense to consider whole life insurance.

But most people are better off buying relatively inexpensive term life insurance and following a good long-term investment plan that’s separate from your life insurance policy.


What Is A.M. Best and Why Should I Care?

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best is the most widely used credit rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry.

A.M. Best says its rating for each company is based on “… an independent opinion of an insurer’s financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contractual obligations. It is based on a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a company’s balance sheet, strength, operating performance and business profile.”

While Clark recommends a standard of at least A+, there’s not a huge difference between A+, A and A- in A.M. Best’s ratings system.

According to A.M. Best, A and A- ratings both equate to insurance companies with “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.”

There are other entities that rate the long-term financial health of insurance companies including Fitch and Standard and Poor’s.


Final Thoughts

Term life insurance is a pretty affordable way to make sure your loved ones are financially protected.

If you decide to purchase it, make sure you choose a financially stable company that offers competitive pricing and has a history of few customer complaints.


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