Best Life insurance Companies in July 2024

Most of us don’t enjoy thinking or talking about our own demise, let alone planning for it. But if you have financial dependents, significant debt obligations, or your own business, you should at least think about getting a life insurance policy.

The best life insurance companies have strong financials and a solid reputation, provide various policy types and additional riders, and offer affordable plans with a convenient application process.

Fortunately, with well over 700 life insurance companies operating in the United States, there’s no shortage of options to choose from.

Erika Taught Me

  • Nationwide had the lowest monthly premium for adults out of various sample quotes.
  • No matter which insurer you pick, they won't pay out automatically. The beneficiaries need to file a claim.
  • Life insurance premiums can be pretty affordable if you buy it while you're still young.

. . .

Overview of the Best Life Insurance Companies

Best forMonthly sample premiumRidersMedical check
NationwideTerm life$28Child, premium waiver, accelerated death benefit No-check policy available
Securian FinancialWhole life$146Guaranteed insurability, accelerated benefit, premium loanRequired for over age 60
PrudentialSeniors$110Accidental death, living needsRequired for over age 60
State FarmUniversal$321Flexible care, child, monthly premium waiverMay be required
Gerber LifeKids$17Payment protectionOnly required in rare circumstances

Best Term Life Insurance: Nationwide 

  • Monthly sample premium: $28 for 35-year-old male, non-smoker (20 years, $500,000 policy)
  • Riders: Child, premium waiver, accelerated death benefit 
  • Online application: Available for basic policies
  • Medical check: No-check policy available

. . .

Nationwide’s term life insurance rates are among the most affordable in the industry.

The $28 monthly quote I received was for a 20-year, $500,000 policy for a 35-year-old non-smoking man in excellent health. It was difficult to find a quote below $30 for that policy type and applicant profile.

Furthermore, the application process for Nationwide’s basic term life policy was one of the most convenient I found, as it can be handled entirely online and without a medical exam.

A few different riders can be added to a basic Nationwide term life policy. You can add children below the age of 17 for a death benefit of $10,000 to $25,000, and they can stay on the policy until age 22.

A rider to waive your policy’s premiums if you become disabled is also available.

Finally, an accelerated death benefit is automatically included in Nationwide’s term life policies free of charge, which allows you to access up to $250,000 of your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a life expectancy of a year or less.

Best Whole Life Insurance: Securian Financial

  • Monthly sample premium: $146 for 28-year-old male in excellent health ($150,000 policy)
  • Riders: Guaranteed insurability, accelerated benefit, premium loan
  • Online application: n/a
  • Medical check: Required for over age 60

. . .

Whole life insurance has a reputation for being pricey. But if you’re comfortable financially and interested in diversifying your investments, certain whole life policies might be more affordable than you’d expect.

This $146 quote from Securian is for a 28-year-old man in excellent health with a $150,000 policy.

The policy’s premium always stays the same, and its cash value grows at a guaranteed interest rate of 4%, reaching nearly $46,000 after 30 years. 

Securian’s guaranteed insurability rider gives you the option of increasing your death benefit at any time without undergoing a medical exam, and its impact on premiums is usually rather minimal.

In my sample quote, adding that rider would only bump up the monthly premium by about $2.

Best Life Insurance for Seniors: Prudential

  • Monthly sample premium: $110 for a 70-year-old female in good health (15 years, $100,000 policy)
  • Riders: Accidental death, living needs
  • Online application: n/a
  • Medical check: Required for over age 60

. . .

Prudential is a great fit for seniors with limited income, as its rates are quite low relative to competitors. I got a sample quote of $110 for a 70-year-old woman in good health for a $100,000, 15-year policy. 

Two riders are offered by Prudential for seniors: accidental death and living needs.

With an accidental death rider, the death benefit is higher than the regular policy amount if the insured dies in an accident. The living needs rider allows the insured to access part of their death benefit if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and have six months or less to live. 

There are, however, some drawbacks. If you're aged 71 or over, you will only be able to access a 10-year insurance policy, and all seniors aged 60 and over are required to undergo a medical check to qualify.

That said, there’s no waiting period for the insurance to kick in after medical underwriting is completed. Once the policy is approved, it’s immediately active.

Best Universal Life Insurance: State Farm

  • Monthly sample premium: $321 for a 40-year-old female in excellent health ($250,000 policy)
  • Riders: Flexible care, child, monthly premium waiver
  • Online application: n/a
  • Medical check: May be required

. . .

Universal life insurance is a flexible form of permanent insurance, and it’s particularly well suited to freelancers or small business owners who have inconsistent income from one year to the next.

After making at least two years of premium payments, State Farm’s universal coverage allows you to use your policy’s built-up cash value to pay premiums. Death benefits (and therefore premiums) can also be increased or decreased as needed throughout the life of the policy.

My $321 quote was for a traditional universal policy for $250,000, held by a 40-year-old woman in excellent health. It also includes a rider to waive monthly premiums in the event of a disability.

State Farm’s flexible care rider is also notable: If you need long-term care, the rider allows you to liquidate your death benefit to pay for expenses. 

While you can’t apply for a universal quote online, State Farm agents are very accessible by phone, and, in my experience, they offer by far the best customer service of any universal policy provider.

Best Life Insurance for Kids: Gerber Life

  • Monthly sample premium: $17 for a one-year-old girl in good health ($25,000 policy)
  • Riders: Payment protection
  • Online application: Available
  • Medical check: Only required in rare circumstances

. . .

If you prefer to purchase a separate policy for your child rather than add a child rider to your own life insurance policy, Gerber Life’s Grow-Up Plan offers some features that stand out. 

This whole life plan’s most notable advantage is that the coverage amount you purchase doubles when the insured child becomes an adult.

If you purchase the maximum $50,000 in coverage, that will automatically increase to $100,000 when the insured turns 18.

If you initially purchased less than the maximum, the insured is allowed to increase their coverage amount up to the maximum without answering medical questions. They can elect to do this at ages 21, 25, 30, 35, and 40.

The quote I received was for a one-year-old girl in good health with $25,000 in coverage, and the application can be completed entirely online within a few minutes.

A payment protection rider can be added, which protects the policy if the policyholder passes away before the insured child turns 21. Premiums are then paid until the insured turns 21.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

As a life insurance policyholder, you make regular payments, called “premiums,” to an insurance company in exchange for that company’s guaranteed compensation if a specific event occurs while your policy is active.

In the case of life insurance, that event is your death. That tax-free payout, or “death benefit,” is paid to your designated beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries of a life insurance policy may be dependents who would struggle financially in your absence. These are a few examples of circumstances in which it might be a wise move to take out a life insurance policy: 

  • You have children who want to pursue post-secondary education, and you’re concerned that without your financial support, they might graduate with significant student loan debt.
  • You have a mortgage and don’t want your spouse to be burdened by housing expenses after you’re gone.
  • Your child has an intellectual disability and will not be able to support themselves as an adult in your absence.

READ MORE: Do You Need Life Insurance?

Types of Life Insurance

Life insurance can be separated into two main types: permanent life insurance and term life insurance. They both have several subtypes. 

Permanent life insurance is usually the more expensive of the two. It guarantees a specific death benefit, provided you continue to pay your premiums. In addition to the death benefit, most types of permanent life insurance also build cash value. A policyholder can typically withdraw or borrow from their permanent life policy’s cash value during their lifetime. 

Term life insurance, on the other hand, will only pay out if you die during a specified period (the “term”), which may range from one to 40 years. If your term expires and you die the next day, you won’t get a payout.

The life insurance premiums you pay will vary depending on several factors, including your:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Health status and history
  • Chosen type of life insurance policy
  • Coverage level
  • Insurer 
  • Selected riders

“Look for policy options and riders (additional coverage) that can be added to customize your policy to better fit your needs, “ says Alison Salka, Ph.D., head of research at the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association.

“Examples include critical illness riders, accidental death benefit riders, or disability income riders.” 

Keep in mind, though, that adding riders will typically increase your premium amount.

READ MORE: Term vs. Permanent Life Insurance: Key Differences

How is life insurance paid out?

Unfortunately, an insurer won’t just automatically mail a check to your primary beneficiary the day after you die.

Your beneficiaries will need to file a claim, which the insurer will investigate to rule out fraud and foul play.

Once the claim is approved, the death benefit will be paid out as a lump sum of cash or as an interest-bearing annuity or retained asset account.

How To Choose Life Insurance

Before comparing life insurance companies, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What type of life insurance should I purchase? All types of life insurance pay out a death benefit. Beyond that, their premiums, levels of flexibility, and recommended use cases vary dramatically. Clearly identifying what you want to get out of life insurance will help you filter out insurers and policies that aren’t a match.
  2. How much coverage do I need? Conventional wisdom holds that you should take out enough life insurance to cover 10 years of your annual income. But this will vary depending on your financial standing, debts, and motivations for getting the insurance.  

Once you’re armed with those decisions, you can get a few different quotes and compare policies and premiums.

Be sure to check rates for policies both with and without riders you’re interested in. And if two providers ultimately offer you comparable policies and rates, the companies’ respective financial positions might help you make your final choice.

“Research the financial stability and credit ratings of the insurance company. You want a company that is financially strong and capable of paying out claims when needed,” says Salka.

Pros and Cons of Life Insurance

Life insurance is a worthwhile expense for the majority of us. But it also has several shortcomings that may make it an unwise investment for some.

Pros

  • The premature death of the primary breadwinner can be financially devastating for a family. Life insurance can help mitigate that financial blow.
  • Life insurance premiums can be quite affordable if you buy a policy at a young age.
  • Riders can be added to customize your policy and make it more flexible.

Cons

  • Premiums can be prohibitively expensive for consumers who smoke, have preexisting health conditions, are obese, or are of an advanced age.
  • Term life insurance doesn’t provide a death benefit after your term expires.
  • The value of permanent life insurance as an investment vehicle is controversial among personal finance experts.

READ MORE: How To Use Life Insurance as an Investment

FAQs

When should you get life insurance?

Salka recommends purchasing life insurance if you have financial dependents, carry large outstanding debts (like a mortgage), or own a business.

Buying a small life insurance policy might also be a good idea if you don’t want your funeral and burial costs to fall on the shoulders of your loved ones.

“This is the most common reason Americans give for owning life insurance,” according to Salka. “Six in 10 Americans who have life insurance say one of the reasons they have coverage is to pay for final expenses.”

No matter what your reason is for buying life insurance, it’s always best to buy it when you’re young. Salka notes that 40% of consumers regret not getting a life insurance policy earlier.

Is life insurance worth it?

There are three types of people who may not need life insurance of any kind:

  • Those who are single and have no children
  • Those who have significant savings, investments, and other assets that can amply provide for their loved ones
  • Those who are comfortably retired and have paid off most debts

If you fall outside those three categories, most experts consider term life insurance to be a worthwhile safeguard, provided you qualify for a premium that won’t strain your monthly budget. 

However, the relative value of permanent life insurance is one of the most divisive topics in personal finance. Some analysts consider permanent policies to be poor investments and a waste of money. Others point out that a permanent policy might make sense if you have a financial concern that is, well, permanent.

For instance, permanent life insurance is more suitable than term life if you have a child who will need to be financially supported throughout their lifetime.

Can I buy life insurance for someone else?

You can purchase a life insurance policy for a child, provided you are the child’s legal guardian. You can also buy life insurance for another adult, but they must be fully aware of the policy and sign it. 

. . .

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.