No one wants to think about the fact that they’re going to die someday, but it’s not like we can avoid death by not talking about or preparing for it. There are many reasons why it’s important to talk about, but one important reason is that it’s critical to talk about life insurance.
Life insurance is important to have at almost any life stage. For a monthly premium, you guarantee that your family will get a payout in the event of your death. This is critical for many people to help cover funeral expenses, but it can cover other things as well.
If you don’t know much about life insurance, this is a good place to start. In this guide, you can compare our picks for the best life insurance companies and learn more about what to consider when it comes to life insurance.
Table of Contents:
- Compare Life Insurance Companies
- Best Life Insurance Companies
- Why You Need Life Insurance
- What Kind of Life Insurance Do You Need?
- Things to Consider When You Review the Best Life Insurance Companies
- What to Know if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
- Additional Information
Best Life Insurance Companies
To help you find the best life insurance, our team evaluated a few providers and brokers on 14 data points including AM Best Rating, BBB Rating, Trustpilot, NAIC Complaint Index score, Trustpilot Rating, available terms, and more.
Click an option below to jump to the review:
- Best Term Life with No Medical Exam: Bestow
- Best Term Life with High Coverage Amounts: Ladder
- Best for Comparing Life Insurance: LeapLife
Best for: Term life with no medical exam
Bestow is an online life insurance provider offering policies through the North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, which has an A+ rating by AM Best.
Bestow makes getting term life insurance easy with its fast online application and instant decision. In fact, the average time to purchase life insurance through Bestow is only 8 – 12 minutes.
Unlike most providers, Bestow never requires a medical exam. Other providers may offer coverage with no medical exam for some individuals but typically require it for others.
- Policy Types: Term Life
- Age Limits: 18 – 59
- Coverage Amounts: $50,000 – $1.5 million
- Premiums: Starting at $16 per month
- Terms: 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years
- AM Best Rating: A+ (for the North American Company for Life and Health Insurance)
- Trustpilot Rating: 4.8 (Excellent)
Best for: Term life with high coverage limits
Ladder helps people get term life insurance policies through Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York (for NY) and Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (in all other states and D.C.).
With Ladder, you can apply in under 10 minutes and find out if you’re approved instantly. There are no hidden fees and pricing is typically very affordable.
Aside from the high coverage limit of $8 million, another great benefit of Ladder is the flexibility in the plans offered through the company. You can reduce your coverage and premium amounts at any time if your needs change. Your coverage amount and premium will decrease at the same percentage, helping you adjust your policy to fit your situation over time.
- Policy Types: Term Life
- Age Limits: 20 – 60
- Coverage Amounts: $100,000 – $8 million
- Premiums: Starting at $4.95 per month
- Terms: 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years
- AM Best Rating: A+ (Superior) for Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York and Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America — affirmed October 2021 (learn more about AM Best and access the latest rating, here)
- Trustpilot Rating: 4.8 out of 5, as of November 5th, 2021 (learn more about Trustpilot’s rating process, here)
Best for: Comparing life insurance
LeapLife isn’t a life insurance provider itself, rather it is a life insurance search engine that matches you with personalized life insurance policy quotes at the lowest possible price. The company is partnered with 15 carriers that offer both term and whole life insurance policies.
By comparing options through LeapLife, you can make sure you find a policy that gives you the coverage you need at a price you are comfortable with. LeapLife has a seamless application process for term life insurance that only takes minutes to complete and can be done online or by phone. For whole life insurance, you will have to call a live agent to discuss your options.
- Policy Types: Term, Whole
- Age Limits: 18 – 75
- Coverage Amounts: Varied by carrier
- AM Best Rating: A (average of carriers)
- Trustpilot Rating: 4.7 (Excellent)
Why You Need Life Insurance
There are countless reasons why you should consider getting life insurance.
Do you have massive student loan debt that you had a cosigner help you with? If you die, your cosigner will be responsible for paying those loans back. But a life insurance policy will help cover your loans in case you pass away.
Do you have a family that you want to protect and provide for? Life insurance allows you to put money aside to pay off your home or just help keep up with the bills in case you die and your family needs to replace your income. If you’re listed on your mortgage, your loan could become due immediately upon your death, which would leave your family in a difficult situation unless they have some sort of protection in place.
As you get older, there are other reasons to get life insurance. It could be part of your retirement plan and help cover things like your spouse’s retirement or nursing care after you die. Or you could get whole life insurance, which would allow you to borrow from your insurance in order to fund unexpected expenses—or your retirement—since it builds cash value over time.
Whatever your reasons are for wanting life insurance, there are many companies who offer it. This can make it hard to decide which company and policy to go with, though. To help you find the right policy for you, here are our picks for the best life insurance providers.
What Kind of Life Insurance Do You Need?
Most people know that there are different coverage levels when it comes to life insurance, but many people don’t realize that there are actually different types of life insurance. The main types are whole life insurance, term life insurance, universal life insurance, and variable life insurance. We’ll break each of the types down so you can understand them better.
It’s important to note that many people don’t just get one type of life insurance, but actually get more than one policy in order to ensure they can meet their family’s and their own financial needs during different stages of their lives.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance is exactly what it sounds like – life insurance that is meant to cover you for your whole life. That means that as long as you keep paying your premiums it will never expire. You take out a policy and then you don’t need to renew it or get another policy. When you die – no matter how old you are when you do – you will get a set amount.
Whole life insurance policies tend to be more expensive than term life insurance policies, but they have some unique benefits. A whole life insurance policy actually combines life insurance coverage with an investment fund. Every time you make a payment, money goes toward building cash value in your life insurance fund and that money is invested by the insurance company to build wealth. This money is able to grow without being taxed.
This can be beneficial for a number of reasons as there are ways to access this money over the life of your insurance policy. For example, you can take out a loan from your life insurance policy, get a bank loan, and use your life insurance cash value as collateral, or cash in parts of your policy to take out your cash value. All of these things can be done for any reason, whether you want to buy a home, send your children to college, or you need money to supplement your retirement.
Many people get a term policy to cover additional risk during their prime earning years or when they’re raising a family or paying off their home. But they also get a whole life policy in order to cover them throughout their life.
Term Life Insurance
When most people talk about life insurance they’re likely talking about term life insurance. Term life insurance is the most common type of life insurance. The way it works is that you buy life insurance that will cover you for a specific term – anywhere from 10 years to 30 years or more. At the end of the term, your life insurance expires and you would have to get another policy if you want to continue to have life insurance.
Term life insurance tends to be popular for a number of reasons. The first reason is that it’s relatively cheap. You’re able to get a large amount of coverage for a small amount of money. That’s because the coverage isn’t meant to cover you your entire life – but often just during periods in your life when you’re younger so statistically less likely to die.
Most people who buy term life insurance buy it when they are in their 20s and 30s and want to protect their family in case they die. The death benefit would be used to do things like pay off student loans or a mortgage, or cover living expenses.
Term life insurance is a great fit for all sorts of people at different times in their lives, but it’s particularly perfect for those with young families. When your family is young you need more coverage. The reason for this need is that you likely haven’t paid off your home yet, and you also need to ensure that your children are taken care of in case something happens to you.
But as most people get older, the amount of life insurance that they need might shift as they build more wealth, their mortgage gets paid off, and their children leave home. That’s why many people get term life insurance, because they know that they will only need a large policy during the period in their lives when they have less wealth.
It’s important to read the fine print on your term life insurance policy as some allow you to add to your term and others allow you to convert your policy to a permanent life insurance policy or renew your coverage at the end of your term.
Universal Life Insurance
A universal life insurance policy is similar to a whole life insurance policy in that it is a permanent policy that will cover you for life. It also offers an investment portion to the policy where money is invested to earn a return.
These policies are adjustable and give you more flexibility to reduce or increase your death benefit and pay more or less in premiums. While you need to pay enough to cover the insurance portion of your premium, you can choose to put more or less into the investment portion of your universal life insurance policy.
The insurance company also offers you a minimum interest rate and then invests your funds – so if their portfolio outperforms, your investments can earn more. Money grows tax-deferred and you have access to the funds in the same way you would with a whole life policy.
Variable Life Insurance
A variable life insurance policy is a permanent life insurance policy. It has a cash value account but this amount is invested in various sub-accounts. These sub-accounts act as a mutual fund. The investment return of these accounts can fluctuate, as can the principal. Ultimately, the money is invested in riskier investments offering more opportunity for investment gains or losses.
Money can grow in these accounts tax-deferred and you are also able to access these funds as you would with a whole life policy.
Things to Consider When You Review the Best Life Insurance Companies
Ultimately, before buying life insurance, it’s important to spend some time considering what your life insurance needs currently are, and what they might be in the future. Some things to think about are how you want to protect your family – or the family you plan to have someday.
Experts often suggest that you have enough insurance to cover you for 10 times your current income. Others suggest you have enough to cover paying off your mortgage and other debts, and money for living expenses for your family for 10 years. You might want to work with a financial planner to help you figure out the right amount of insurance for your family and particular financial situation.
Usually, the earlier you get a policy the cheaper your policy will be, since you save on premiums if you’re young and if you’re in good health. For that reason, it’s important to consider how your needs might change in the future when shopping for life insurance. You’re likely better off taking out a larger policy when you’re younger if you’re planning to have children or buying a policy that you can add coverage to later on.
For example, let’s say that you’re 25 and want to get insurance in order to protect your student loan cosigners in case something happens to you. You could get a life insurance policy that only covers the cost of your student loans. But you might want to take out a policy that could also protect the family that you and your partner are planning to start in a few years. If you aren’t able to add coverage or if you don’t get enough and you develop an illness, you might not qualify for coverage.
Similarly, if you only have one child and you plan on adding to your brood, you might want to take out extra insurance. While you can get more insurance later on, if your health changes you could end up paying a lot more for it.
The costs of life insurance can vary significantly depending on a number of factors like your age, health, the types of policy you want, the term length of the policy, the amount of coverage you want, whether you have pre-existing conditions, family history, and many other factors.
Ultimately, costs tend to be less if you’re healthy and young, and start going up as you age or develop various conditions. You will, for example, pay more if you’re diabetic or if you smoke – two things that are big risk factors for an early death. Your weight might also be a factor or whether you participate in dangerous sports like skydiving.
If you want a shorter insurance term length, you will also pay less than you would if you wanted a longer term length or a permanent life insurance policy.
For some people, all they can afford is a term policy and so that is a better option for them than going uninsured. But it is important to remember that you can get more than one policy to give you the benefits of more than one type of coverage.
There are a number of great benefits to be had by taking out life insurance. The first benefit is the peace of mind that you’ll get from knowing that your family is protected in case something happens to you. The last thing that you’ll want is your family to have to be worrying about money while they’re trying to grieve. If you have children or a spouse, the policy will cover things like your funeral and final expenses, as well as provide them with funds going forward.
Different types of policies offer you different types of benefits. While term policies allow you to get the coverage you need for the time in your life when you’re building wealth and are likely to need it most since you have more dependents and less wealth – they don’t provide coverage for your full life.
Also, there are several benefits of using permanent types of life insurance as part of your financial plan which should be considered before you purchase your policy. For example, it’s important to recognize that life insurance could be part of retirement planning or planning for your children’s college educations.
After all, the FAFSA does not count your permanent life insurance policy when deciding how much aid your family is eligible for. For that reason, you could save tax-free in a permanent life insurance policy and then cash in some of that policy to send your kids to college. Just make sure the plan’s fees and rate of return give you the best value compared to other investment options.
You might also use a permanent life insurance policy to supplement or replenish your retirement savings. You could borrow from the policy as needed in retirement or cash parts of it out. If you or your spouse dies first, life insurance can also be used to replenish retirement funds. For that reason, it’s critical to speak to a financial planner about what kind of insurance you need.
Picking the Best Life Insurance
When you’re in the market for life insurance, you want to make sure to get it from a good company – after all, insurance isn’t like a normal purchase, but something that you buy for many decades or for life. For that reason, it’s best to get insurance from a company that has a great reputation and a long track record of financial stability. After all, you don’t want your insurance company to go bankrupt.
When it comes to the reputation of your life insurance company, you can turn to places like the Better Business Bureau or the recommendations of friends and family to help you find the best company. Also, companies like A.M. Best and Moody’s analyze life insurance companies to gauge their financial stability.
You might also want to go with an insurance broker when buying insurance rather than an insurance adviser. A broker represents a number of different companies and can help you compare different plans across the market. In contrast, an insurance agent or adviser only works for one company.
You’ll also want to choose a company that has a number of different options so you can figure out what is best for you rather than just get a standard policy.
Life insurance companies that offer flexible coverage is also a good thing. Some companies offer term life insurance that allows you to either renew or convert your coverage at the end of your term. This could be key for you if your health were to change and you were no longer insurable if you tried to get a new plan.
Tips to Help You Choose
The best bet is to make a list of what you want in your life insurance policy based on what your needs are. Then look for a company that is able to give you as much of what you need at a great price.
You might also want to choose based on which insurers will even be willing to insure you. For example, if you participate in certain high-risk hobbies like sky diving some companies won’t cover you. That goes for certain kinds of pre-existing conditions as well.
We’ve also created guides to help those in specific situations find the right policy. Here are a few guides:
What You Should Know if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
If you have pre-existing conditions, you will almost definitely have to have a medical exam, even if that exam might not be necessary otherwise. Whether you will actually be approved for insurance could depend on your particular pre-existing condition and what state your health is currently in.
For example, if you have high blood pressure but are able to reduce your numbers for 12 months prior to a life insurance medical exam, you’re more likely to get approved and to lower your premiums. For things like cancer, it is difficult to get coverage unless you have a highly treatable form of cancer and you’ve been in remission for at least two years.
If you have a pre-existing condition, your best bet is to research your chances of getting approved for life insurance with that particular condition and what you can do to improve your chances.
Life insurance companies are more likely to approve you for coverage if your condition is being well managed and particularly if you have continued for at least two years with minimal negative changes to your health status. You do want to be careful if you have a pre-existing condition to apply at the right time since if you’re turned down by one life insurance company it could increase your chances of being turned down by other life insurance companies. So be sure to wait until you have the ideal circumstances to apply.
You should also know that you’ll likely pay a premium because of your medical condition. How much you will pay will depend on your particular medical condition and state.
What You Should Know if You Have Diabetes
Diabetes is one of the pre-existing conditions that can disqualify you from getting life insurance or raise your life insurance premiums. That’s because having diabetes increases your chance of a premature death. But it’s important to note that just because you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or if diabetes just runs in your family, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to qualify for insurance coverage.
Whether you will get approved will depend on a company’s particular underwriting criteria as well as other health factors. For example, you likely won’t have a hard time getting approved if diabetes just runs in your family or if you are pre-diabetic. In those cases, they might do a physical to see how your health is and assess your risk.
If you have diabetes, however, you are more likely to get rejected, but it often depends on the state of your diabetes. If your diabetes is under control and you’re managing it, then you could still get approved. You’ll just likely have to get additional tests so the company can determine the risk factors.
When it comes to the cost, most life insurance companies have a premium that they charge if you have diabetes. You’ll want to shop around as the extra costs for diabetics can vary significantly from company to company.
>> Read More: Life insurance for diabetics
What You Should Know if You’re a Tobacco User
If you use tobacco, you might be wondering whether you’ll even be able to get insurance. Luckily, the answer is usually yes – but you’ll just have to pay more for it. Life insurance companies look at any kind of tobacco usage so it doesn’t matter if you use cigars, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, or nicotine patches or gum.
However, some companies treat different types of tobacco differently, which affects your ability to qualify for insurance and the amount that you’ll end up paying. This is because there are different risks to using different types of products, and life insurance companies price all of these risks into their coverage differently.
You will likely also need to take a medical exam if you’re a smoker – even if your insurance would otherwise not have required it. This is to see what kind of damage your smoking has caused. If you only use tobacco products irregularly such as a couple of times a year, you might be able to get a lower or non-smoker rate. It depends on the insurer, so be sure to shop around.
If you use chewing tobacco, how you will be treated will depend on the insurance company. Some see it in the same category as regular smokers, while others will give you more affordable coverage if you are otherwise in good health. Some companies have specific rates for those who chew tobacco that are less expensive than its smoker’s rates.
What if you stop using tobacco products? Can you get nonsmoker rates? You usually have to have gone at least six months to one year smoke-free before you can qualify as a nonsmoker.
How much more you’ll actually pay as a tobacco user could depend on things like how often or how much you smoke and what company you get insurance from. Different insurers will charge more or deny you coverage. Also, if you do have to pay a smoking surcharge, you can often get a reduction in your fees if you later stop smoking for six months to over a year.
Finally, it’s a bad idea to try to lie to an insurance company about your tobacco use, as it will show up on medical tests.
>> Read More: How do life insurance nicotine tests work?
How Can You Get Life Insurance Without a Medical Exam?
It can be difficult to get life insurance without a medical exam, but it’s not impossible. Whether or not you can do so often depends on things like your age, health, the type of insurance you’re buying, and how much life insurance you want to take out.
Because life insurance companies try to limit their risk, they want to check your health status–especially if you want to take out a significant amount of insurance. If you want to get life insurance without a medical exam, there are options but they tend to be for lower coverage amounts and could cost more. This could result in you not having enough coverage. You also still need to declare any known conditions on the application form, so not having a medical exam might not help you as much as you think it will.
Do Employers Offer Life Insurance?
Many employers offer life insurance policies for their employees. While this is a great benefit, it is often misleading. Many employees who know that they have life insurance policies through their jobs don’t bother to get separate policies outside of work. But work-related life insurance policies tend to only cover a limited amount – usually one to two times your annual salary.
While that might seem like a lot, it is not likely to cover all your expenses or protect your family. After all, your family will have to pay for your funeral, and potentially might have your mortgage due if you are a signee on the loan. If they cannot come up with that cash or get a new loan, your family could wind up having to sell their home at a very difficult time.
In addition, that money is often not enough, according to many life insurance experts to support your family or your spouse. While it depends on your personal situation, most people recommend that you have around 10 times your salary in life insurance.
Having your own independent life insurance policy is important for two other reasons. The first is the fact that if you have your own life insurance policy, you can bring it with you no matter where you work. You don’t have to worry about someday going without insurance because you’re between jobs or having to find a life insurance plan if your new employer doesn’t offer it.
In addition, getting your own life insurance policy ensures that you get insurance while you’re still young and healthy rather than waiting until later in life. Generally, you’re more likely to be able to lock in a low rate if you get your life insurance policy when you’re younger and healthier.
How Long Does It Take to Get Life Insurance?
How long it takes to get a policy will depend on your personal situation, how much life insurance you need, and the company that you’re getting insurance from. These factors can vary because you might not need a medical exam to qualify if you’re getting a relatively low amount of coverage and if you’re in good health. In that case, it can take a very short amount of time to get your insurance coverage – as little as a week or less.
But there are various steps to getting coverage. And it can take more than 30 days from the point where you sit in an insurance broker or adviser’s office to the point where you sign an insurance offer and finalize your policy.
The length of time it will actually take you will depend on things like how quickly your doctors can send in your medical records to the insurer and when you can get in for a medical appointment. After those two things are completed, the insurance company will have its insurance adjuster look at your file and will finalize your coverage.
Red Flags to Avoid With Life Insurance Companies
You’ll want to avoid companies that try to sell you a lot of insurance without telling you why you actually need that much. Similarly, you’ll likely want to avoid a company that doesn’t do a needs analysis and wants to sell you the cheapest and most bare-bones coverage. You want to make sure that your family is protected, so it’s important that the amount of life insurance you get is customized to your financial situation – and that this is fully explained to you.
If you’re considering buying life insurance online, make sure the company’s licensing information for its agents or brokers is clearly accessible and visible. If you’re unsure if they are real brokers or an agency, you can always check on your state’s department of insurance website to confirm.
You’ll also want to avoid life insurance companies that don’t provide you with a great customer service experience. If they can’t give you good service when you’re buying a policy, they will likely make things more difficult for you when you need to redeem a policy.
If you’re buying online or from a broker, one big red flag is if you don’t recognize the names of any of the companies that they are working with. Because you want to make sure you buy life insurance from a company that will be around for a long time, you’ll likely have heard of the companies that would be good choices. If you can’t find out much about them after a quick Google search, skip their plans.