The Best Life Insurance Companies 2020




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Advertiser Disclosure Updated: Sep 2, 2020, 8:47am

Updated: Sep 2, 2020, 8:47am Amy Danise

Editorial Note: Forbes may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

Finding the best life insurance company can be difficult for any consumer, who has to navigate a huge range of products and pricing variables.

A life insurance purchase is usually a long-term commitment, especially if you’re buying cash value life insurance. This type of insurance can require significant investment over time, and is intended for long-range financial goals. For these reasons, we focused on the quality of companies’ cash value life insurance offerings for our ratings.

The Best Life Insurance Companies

Pacific Life Insurance Co.

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Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Life Insurance Company Ratings

How to Evaluate Term Life Insurance

Products represented in these ratings are cash value life insurance products. While term life insurance is an important and useful product for many buyers, it doesn’t require the same investment and buying analysis that permanent life insurance products often do, and term life isn’t scored in our ratings.

If you’re shopping for term life insurance, you’ll generally want to focus on comparing premium quotes among several companies for the amount and length of term policy you want, and make sure the company earns a financial strength rating in the A range from Standard & Poor’s and/or A.M. Best. Life insurers generally have their ratings on their websites, or ask your insurance agent or financial advisor.

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Tips for Buying Cash Value Life Insurance

Cash value policies are good for buyers who need life insurance for estate planning purposes, to fund a trust that will support a lifelong dependent such as a special needs child, to accumulate cash value for investment purposes, or to simply provide a legacy for heirs.

Permanent life insurance policies with cash value include whole life insurance and universal life insurance.

Buyers of cash value life insurance policies have many considerations that may not be obvious at first. But the policy’s coverage amount and the quoted premiums aren’t necessarily the right focus (unless you’re buying term life insurance). Factors such as internal policy costs and a company’s investment performance can greatly affect the financial benefits of the policy in the future.

Here are some tips for buying cash value policies, based on the factors we used for scoring the companies.

Insist that cost disclosures be included in any proposals for universal life insurance. A life insurance quote reflects what you’ll be billed for, but doesn’t tell you anything about a policy’s internal costs, such as expenses and fees, and the cost of insurance within the policy. Be sure to insist that any universal life insurance illustration include the detailed expense pages or policy accounting pages. It’s important to look at the year-by-year policy charges instead of just comparing premiums.

Products with a low premium quote but higher costs have a greater risk that higher premium payments will be required in the future or that the actual growth of cash value will be low.

Look at financial strength ratings. A strong financial strength rating is more than just assurance that the company won’t go out of business decades from now. insurers with better claims-paying ability today are more likely to perform better between now and the time of a life insurance claim.  Insurers with greater financial strength can be less likely to need to increase internal policy costs and premiums in response to challenging financial times.

Ratings are available from agencies such as S&P and A.M. Best, and are usually found on insurers’ websites.

Don’t assume insurers offer competitive pricing for everyone. Yes, insurers want your business. But potential prices can vary wildly, and a company that offers a competitive price for one customer may not have a good deal for someone else.

Each life insurance product can have more than 10,000 different prices when you consider that:

  • Each product has different pricing at every age
  • Males vs. females get different pricing
  • Pricing varies for up to five different health classes
  • There can be two or three price variations for smoking status (smoker/non-smoker/never-smoked)
  • There could be four to six rate bands depending on how much coverage you buy
  • Rates can vary if you want a product that accumulates cash value faster
  • And other pricing variations

“Look under the hood,” advises Barry Flagg, founder of Veralytic. That means asking for proposals that show year-by-year disclosure of policy charges (for universal life insurance) or the dividend interest crediting rate (for whole life insurance).

Methodology

We used data provided to Forbes Advisor by Veralytic, a leading publisher of pricing and performance research and competitiveness ratings for cash value life insurance products. Veralytic maintains a database of thousands of life insurance products and measures the competitiveness of each product against industry benchmarks to score each policy.

We rated the largest 25 companies, according to market share for cash value life insurance issued, although not all large companies are represented. Companies that sell all or mostly term life insurance products were not included, nor were some companies that are direct writers, meaning they sell policies either directly to consumers or only through their own exclusive agents.

Life insurance companies’ products were scored by Veralytic based on these five measurements:

  1. Cost competitiveness of internal policy charges for the company’s cash value policies
  2. Pricing stability of the internal costs and illustrated expectations relative to a company’s historical experience.
  3. Availability of policy account values for the company’s permanent life insurance products
  4. Historical performance of invested assets underlying policy cash values for the company’s products
  5. Financial strength of the company

The life insurance companies offering the largest proportion of products with the highest Veralytic ratings in these five measurements received the best scores.

How We Developed the Forbes Life Insurance Company Ratings

The Veralytic data scores permanent life insurance products from each company on a five-star scale. To calculate our ratings, we determined which companies have the largest proportion of high-scoring products, making the companies worth serious consideration for a buyer of permanent life insurance:

  • 50% of score: Percentage of 5-star policies among the company’s life insurance products
  • 40% of score: Percentage of 4-star and higher products among the company’s offerings
  • 10% of score: No low-scoring life insurance products or a very low percentage

How Veralytic Scores Life Insurance Products

Buyers looking for cash value life insurance policies need confidence that their money will be at work for them over many years, often decades. Choosing the right permanent life policy requires more than just a comparison of premium quotes, particularly since current regulations permit insurers to “quote” a lower premium than other products even when internal policy costs are higher than other products.

You don’t want to have to pay more premiums than expected or have your cash value eaten away by high fees and charges, or lower-than-expected performing investments.

Veralytic’s benchmarking system incorporates these elements:

  • Cost competitiveness: This indicator evaluates a product’s internal charges, encompassing the cost of insurance, fixed administration expenses, cash-value-based wrap-fees and premium loads.
  • Pricing stability: This measure looks at whether a product’s pricing (cost of insurance, policy expenses, and the expected/illustrated earnings rate on cash value) appear to be adequate and reasonable, based on the insurer’s historical experience with these values.
  • Relative policy value: This evaluates relative access to or restrictions on the policy account. Generally speaking, the higher the liquidity, particularly in early policy years, the better, but some insurers charge more for greater liquidity, so consider if there’s a tradeoff.
  • Historical performance: This indicator measures whether the historical performance of the company’s investments that underlie policy account values are superior to similar products.
  • Financial strength and claims paying ability: This incorporates the insurer’s financial strength ratings from four major ratings agencies.

Veralytic Star Ratings are determined based on these five major considerations in any decision to buy or keep a life insurance product.

All five factors are assigned an equal weight in the Veralytic Star Rating, so a product with a lower Star Rating can still be appropriate for a particular buyer when one or more of these five major considerations are of lesser importance in their situation. Likewise, term life insurance may be the best product for a particular buyer, and term life insurance is not reflected in these ratings.

See Veralytic for more information.

Compare Life Insurance Companies
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best type of life insurance to buy?

The very different features of life insurance products can seem confusing. But if you’re looking for life insurance protection for only a specific number of years, term life insurance is likely the best fit. Term life insurance is often bought by people who want life insurance to cover only their working years, or the years of a mortgage.

 

For long-term and lifelong needs, permanent life insurance products such as whole life insurance and universal life offer both life insurance protection and cash value.

What kinds of death are not covered by life insurance?

Life insurance generally covers all types of death, whether it’s from illness, injury or old age. Even homicide and death by drug overdose are covered. Suicide is usually not covered within the first two years after the policy purchase, but is covered after that time period.

 

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance has a life insurance payout only for accidental deaths, such as a car crash or accidental fall.

Can I buy life insurance on someone else?

You can buy life insurance on someone else, such as a spouse or a parent, as long as you have an “insurable interest” in that person. That means you would suffer financially if they pass away.

 

If you’re the policyowner for life insurance on someone else, you can make yourself the life insurance beneficiary and receive the payout.

 

But you can’t buy life insurance on someone else secretly—they’ll need to sign the application.

Forbes adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners. Amy Danise

I’m the Insurance Analyst for Forbes Advisor. I’ve been writing about insurance for consumers for more than 20 years. Insurance intersects with many parts of our lives, yet it’s tough to untangle, and wrong choices can make a financial mess. I’m here to help you make sense of it. I’m especially interested in how data is affecting the price you pay for all insurance types.

First Published: Jul 14, 2020, 6:00am

Our Guides to Life Insurance

Our Guides to Life Insurance

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60 : 50; $(“html, body”).animate({scrollTop: scrollOffset}, 800); } } $(document).on(‘click’, ‘.table-of-contents a’, function () { handleJumpLink($(this).prop(“hash”)); }); handleJumpLink(location.hash); function toggleVisibility (el, targetEl) { $(el).on(‘click’, function() { $(el).css(‘cursor’, ‘default’); setTimeout(function() { $(el).css(‘cursor’, ‘pointer’); }, 400); $(targetEl).slideToggle(); $(el).find(‘.arrow’).toggleClass(‘arrow-down’); }); } toggleVisibility(‘.table-of-contents h3’, ‘.table-of-contents ul’); }); })(jQuery); ]]>The very different features of life insurance products can seem confusing. But if youu2019re looking for life insurance protection for only a specific number of years, term life insurance is likely the best fit. Term life insurance is often bought by people who want life insurance to cover only their working years, or the years of a mortgage.n

 n

For long-term and lifelong needs, permanent life insurance products such as whole life insurance and universal life offer both life insurance protection and cash value.n” } },{ “@type”: “Question”, “name”: “What kinds of death are not covered by life insurance?”, “acceptedAnswer”: { “@type”: “Answer”, “text”: “

Life insurance generally covers all types of death, whether itu2019s from illness, injury or old age. Even homicide and death by drug overdose are covered. Suicide is usually not covered within the first two years after the policy purchase, but is covered after that time period.n

 n

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance has a life insurance payout only for accidental deaths, such as a car crash or accidental fall.n” } },{ “@type”: “Question”, “name”: “Can I buy life insurance on someone else?”, “acceptedAnswer”: { “@type”: “Answer”, “text”: “

You can buy life insurance on someone else, such as a spouse or a parent, as long as you have an u201cinsurable interestu201d in that person. That means you would suffer financially if they pass away.n

 n

If youu2019re the policyowner for life insurance on someone else, you can make yourself the life insurance beneficiary and receive the payout.n

 n

But you canu2019t buy life insurance on someone else secretlyu2014theyu2019ll need to sign the application.n” } }] } ]]>

The Forbes Advisor editorial team is independent and objective. To help support our reporting work, and to continue our ability to provide this content for free to our readers, we receive compensation from the companies that advertise on the Forbes Advisor site. This compensation comes from two main sources. First, we provide paid placements to advertisers to present their offers. The compensation we receive for those placements affects how and where advertisers’ offers appear on the site. This site does not include all companies or products available within the market. Second, we also include links to advertisers’ offers in some of our articles; these “affiliate links” may generate income for our site when you click on them. The compensation we receive from advertisers does not influence the recommendations or advice our editorial team provides in our articles or otherwise impact any of the editorial content on Forbes Advisor. While we work hard to provide accurate and up to date information that we think you will find relevant, Forbes Advisor does not and cannot guarantee that any information provided is complete and makes no representations or warranties in connection thereto, nor to the accuracy or applicability thereof. Here is a list of our partners who offer products that we have affiliate links for.

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