The Best Life Insurance Companies 2020

Nadav Shemer

Life insurance is big business in the USA. In 2019, Americans spent $730 billion on new life insurance policies, 60% more than on vehicle purchases. Although the 10 top life insurance companies account for more than half of all premiums, an increasing number of Americans now purchase life insurance through Insurtech providers.

Insurtech is a combination of the words ‘insurance’ and ‘technology’. According to Investopedia, the word refers to the use of technology to squeeze out savings and efficiency from the traditional industry model.

Today, the best online life insurance companies all deploy Insurtech in one way or another. These Insurtech companies can be divided into three categories:

  • Direct insurance carriers directly offer life insurance policies.
  • Brokers work closely with the customer to secure the best life insurance policy from a network of third-party insurance carriers.
  • Marketplaces also help the customer find the best life insurance rates, but take a more hands-off approach than brokers.

In this guide, we present our list of the best life insurance companies on the internet. We hope this helps you find the best life insurance policy for your needs and lifestyle.

Broker
Direct
Broker
Direct
Marketplace
Marketplace
No limit
Marketplace
Term, Whole
Term
Term, Whole, Universal
Term
Term, Whole, Universal
Term, Whole, Universal
10-30 years
Term, Whole
$10 million
$1 million
$3 million
$3 million
$1 million
$1 million
$3 million
$5 million
10-40 years
10-20 years
5-30 years
10-30 years
10-30 years
10-30 years
Term, Whole
10-30 years
No limit
21-54
No limit
18-64
All ages
All ages
Marketplace
18-75

The Best Life Insurance Providers - An In-Depth Look

  • 1

    Policygenius

    Broker that helps you every step of the way
    Policygenius
    • Max coverage$10 million
    • Terms10-40 years
    • Issue AgeNo limit

    Policygenius is a major online insurance broker specializing in many types of insurance, including life insurance. It uses technology to find the best types of life insurance and best rates for your profile. Then, before handing you over to an insurance carrier, one of Policygenius’s agents will call you to talk you through your options and make sure you’re getting the best possible deal.

    The Policygenius network consists of around 20 major insurance carriers, but you’re better off applying through Policygenius than directly through the carriers. Policygenius is so confident of finding you the best life insurance rates that it promises to give you $100 if you find a better rate elsewhere. Moreover, its exclusive relationship with some of its partners helps expedite the underwriting process—getting you coverage faster than the usual 6-8 weeks.

    Pros
    • Assistance from real insurance agents
    • Best-price guarantee
    • Customizable insurance types
    Cons
    • Not a direct insurance carrier
    • Network only consists of around 20 carriers
  • 2
    Quick, affordable term life insurance
    Bestow
    • Max coverage$1 million
    • Terms10-20 years
    • Issue Age21-54

    Bestow offers term life insurance for the 21st century, making it our vote for the best term life insurance provider. It takes only a few seconds to get a quote and just minutes to complete an application. All of this is made possible by Bestow’s proprietary insurance technology, which has been funded to the tune of more than $50 million by major venture capital investors.

    All Bestow policies are issued by the North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, an A+ rated insurer. Policies are then reinsured by Munich RE, one of the best-known names in life insurance. Bestow gives back to the community through the Bestow Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that assists people affected by the death of loved ones from Covid-19 and other circumstances.

    Pros
    • Takes only 5-10 minutes to apply
    • No medical exam needed
    • Policies provided by A+ carrier
    Cons
    • No permanent life insurance
    • No coverage over $1 million
  • 3
    AI-powered life insurance broker
    Sproutt
    • Max coverage$3 million
    • Terms5-30 years
    • Issue AgeNo limit

    Sproutt is one of a new generation of Insurtech brokers using artificial intelligence to find you the best life insurance policy for your profile. It works in 3 simple steps. First, you answer a few questions about yourself and your lifestyle. Then, Sproutt shows you your Quality of Life Index, which we’ll tell you more about in a second. Finally, Sproutt shows you the best term life and best whole life insurance policies for you and your family.

    The Sproutt Quality of Life Index (also known as QL Index) uses your data and AI to assess your life and help you live better. Ultimately, the goal of the QL Index is to help you improve your health and get better life insurance rates in future. The QL Index gives you a personalized score and report in 5 areas: movement, sleep, emotional health, nutrition, and life balance.

    Pros
    • Policies customized to your lifestyle choices
    • Personalized health and lifestyle assessment
    • Wide range of insurance types
    Cons
    • Only founded 2 years ago
    • No weekend contact hours
  • 4

    Haven Life

    Term life insurance up to $3 million
    Haven Life
    • Max coverage$3 million
    • Terms10-30 years
    • Issue Age18-64

    HavenLife is a tech-powered insurance platform providing speedy term life insurance coverage. All policies are underwritten by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), an A++ rated insurer with some of the best term life insurance rates in the business. US citizens under age 60 may apply for up to $3 million in term life insurance coverage. Applicants aged 60-64 and eligible non-US citizens may apply for up to $1 million.

    There are 2 processing options, and HavenLife’s sophisticated technology will decide which you qualify for. InstantTerm is offered to qualifying applicants up to age 59 and $1 million in coverage. It lets you skip the medical exam and get full coverage immediately. All other applicants are required to take a medical exam. This exam takes up to 20 minutes and can be conducted at your home office. After the exam, it can take up to 7-10 days to get your term life insurance coverage.

    Pros
    • Open to US and non-US citizens
    • Most users get to skip exam and purchase instantly
    • Backed by MassMutual, an A++ rated insurer
    Cons
    • Lower coverage limits for some users
    • Can take up to 7-10 days for some users
  • 5

    National Family

    Best for quickly comparing the market
    National Family
    • Max coverage$1 million
    • Terms10-30 years
    • Issue AgeAll ages

    National Family Assurance is an online life insurance marketplace that exists to connect insurers with consumers. It has one of the largest networks of its kind, with hundreds of carriers and agents competing for your attention. It’s a good starting point if you’re looking to do a quick market comparison of life insurance providers without having to do endless hours of research.

    Although National Family Assurance has licensed agents, it doesn’t offer the hands-on customer service of some of the brokers higher up on this list. However, the fact that it’s so quick and covers such a broad range of insurers makes it a good starting point for your next life insurance purchase.

    Pros
    • Network of hundreds of carriers and agents
    • Customer support from its own licensed agents
    • Takes 1-2 minutes to see your results
    Cons
    • Website lacks information
    • Shares your contact details with third parties
  • 6

    Assurance

    Lets you compare life insurance and other cov...
    Assurance
    • Max coverage$1 million
    • Terms10-30 years
    • Issue AgeAll ages

    Assurance is an online insurance marketplace operated by Assurance IQ, LLC, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc and the same company that operates National Family Assurance. Where the Assurance and National Family Assurance platforms differ is that Assurance specializes in multiple types of insurance, including life insurance, health insurance, and auto insurance.

    Like its sister company, Assurance is a good starting point for anyone wanting to do a comparison shop of life insurance providers. It maintains a network of literally hundreds of top life insurance companies and agents. It takes only a couple of minutes to fill out a quote-request form and see your top four results.

    Pros
    • Network of hundreds of carriers and agents
    • Results come up in 1-2 minutes
    • Lets you compare health, auto and other types of insurance
    Cons
    • Website lacks information
    • Shares your contact details with third parties
  • 7

    Health I.Q.

    Reap the benefits of your healthy lifestyle
    Health I.Q.
    • Max coverage$3 million
    • TermsTerm, Whole
    • Issue AgeMarketplace

    Health IQ is a marketplace provider with a unique pitch—it focuses on those with healthy lifestyles, and commits itself to rewarding them with lower rates than they’d otherwise find from direct providers. 

    Because of this, Health IQ has a more rigorous application process. Applicants must score high on a medical history quiz and may have to submit medical records and other evidence of good health in order to qualify. But those that are eligible will be privileged with quotes from top providers at highly competitive rates. Successful applicants to Health IQ, therefore, might find life insurance policies from top-notch providers such as Prudential and Transamerica at lower rates that reward their health status and positive lifestyle habits. 

    Pros
    • Impressively low rates for those in good health
    • High-profile partners such as Prudential and Transamerica
    • Choose from a variety of plans and riders
    Cons
    • Eligibility can be contingent on healthy habits
    • Not a direct provider
  • 8

    Leap Life

    Cut through confusion and find a policy quickly
    Leap Life
    • Max coverage$5 million
    • Terms10-30 years
    • Issue Age18-75

    Leap Life offers insurance-seekers a simple and fluid platform for getting quotes from some of the top insurance providers out there. The marketplace provides quick quotes and easy comparison facts to help users who may be overwhelmed by their choices make a decision within minutes.

    With an A+ rating from BBB and a large network of A-rated AM Best carriers, Leap Life is a safe bet, even if it’s not the most comprehensive marketplace. Visitors can apply online and get approved instantly to a wide range of policies and terms. A unique algorithm is in place to provide the best rates and plans that match each user’s needs, and customer service is accessible, along with helpful tools like a needs calculator and a Life Insurance 101 guide to help clarify confusing terms and details. 

    Pros
    • Compare, apply, and get approved online
    • Quick and transparent
    • Smart algorithm provides highly relevant matches
    Cons
    • No live chat
    • Online only

How to Choose the Right Life Insurance

Before diving in and purchasing life insurance, it is vital to understand exactly what features to look for when comparing the best life insurance companies. There are various types of life insurance that are designed to fit a wide variety of needs. Moreover, some providers offer customizable policies with added provisions known as “riders,” which can add valuable benefits.

What Life Insurance Companies Offer

Life insurance policies are designed to grant beneficiaries or loved ones a sum of money in the event of your death. This can also extend to cases that require intensive medical care, or scenarios in which an individual is unable to provide for themselves or their family due to disability. Insurers have different processes for approving applications, but will generally consider health, lifestyle, and related factors when determining the right level of coverage to offer. Life insurance is an excellent way to guarantee that loved ones will be able to maintain their standard of living and cover basic needs even if you’re not there to provide for them. 

Life Insurance Basics

Before diving in and purchasing life insurance, it is vital to understand exactly what features to look for when comparing the best life insurance companies. There are various life insurance options that are designed to fit a wide variety of needs. Moreover, some providers offer customizable policies with added provisions known as “riders,” which can add valuable benefits. While the vast majority of applications are approved, the application process helps the insurer to determine the amount of coverage and the rates—so do take the process seriously.

What Are the Types of Life Insurance

There are many kinds of life insurance policies, and each offers its own unique benefits. Here are some of the most common options:

  • Term life insurance: This type of policy is not permanent, but rather covers a specific term, as the name implies. Companies will offer different terms, ranging from 5 to 30 years, but these policies will only provide coverage for the specified period. These are ideal if you’re looking for an affordable and easy-to-understand alternative. Some life insurance companies take it a step further by offering an alternative known as a convertible term insurance, which can be turned into a whole life insurance policy once the original term expires.
  • Whole life insurance: This life insurance policy covers an entire lifetime, and will provide the benefits to beneficiaries after passing, no matter when it occurs. These policies also accumulate value over time. Generally, whole life policies have higher premiums, which can be paid over the course of a lifetime, or during set terms. These policies also tend to pay out annual dividends which can be a great benefit, but they are more expensive than other options, and therefore not ideal for everyone.
  • Universal life insurance: This type of coverage is like whole life insurance, but allows greater flexibility in that you can adjust premiums and the death benefit, and also use the cash value that the policy accrues over time.  Premiums will be adjusted accordingly. This type of life insurance is more complex than whole life, and the cash value accrual is based on the insurer’s investment strategy. These policies are a good choice if you want to maintain permanent coverage even if your income is less during your retirement, especially due to the attractive ability to borrow against the cash value of the policy.
  • Variable life insurance: Although similar to whole life insurance policies, variable life insurance sets a minimum death benefit and fixed premiums. One of its most attractive benefits is the ability to improve the rate of cash value returns based on your investment portfolio. Part of the regular premium payments go toward funding this portfolio.

Don’t Just Rely on Group or Employer Life Insurance

But what about life insurance provided by an employer? If your company offers free life insurance, then sign up for this free benefit—but don't stop there. Many companies offer their employees a certain amount of insurance for free, but this is usually not enough.

Usually, you can purchase supplemental insurance through your company's benefits, but this insurance does not travel with you if you move jobs—unless your company allows you to pay an expensive premium price to take your policy with you. So, if you want to fill in any gaps in coverage and make sure you can take that coverage with you if you change jobs, an individual term life policy might be worth checking out.

How Much Life Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

It can be daunting to figure this out but evaluate your current financial situation today, and what foreseeable expenses will need to be covered 10 to 20 years down the road. 

When deciding how much coverage to purchase, ask yourself these questions:

  • How long do I need coverage? If you just got married and are starting a family, you will need at least 20 years of coverage to ensure that your children are provided for until graduation.
  • How much can I afford? Find the balance between buying enough coverage and having a monthly premium that fits in your budget. The more coverage you purchase, the more expensive your premium (the amount you pay) will be.
  • What will my family need if I pass away today? If something were to happen to you today, there would be a lot of financial expenses placed on your family's shoulders. 

Whether you choose term or whole life insurance depends on your current and future financial needs. Either one is essential to have, especially if you have loved ones who rely on you for financial stability. 

How to Check Your Insurer’s Financial Strength Rating

While it’s good to know the state guaranty association has your back, you should still look to purchase your policy from a financially stable insurer. If your insurer becomes insolvent, there are limits to how much your state guaranty fund will cover. Moreover, state guaranty funds typically take more time to pay out than the insurers themselves – and waiting times have been known to reach two to three years. 

When shopping for insurance, most consumers compare providers by monthly premium, excess, and perhaps customer service. We recommend also checking the insurer’s financial strength rating–freely available on the websites of 4 major credit rating agencies and a handful of smaller agencies. 

  • A.M. Best. The only one of the rating agencies dedicated specifically to rating the insurance industry. 
  • Standard & Poor’s. Also known as S&P, this is one of the two major U.S.-based credit-rating agencies. 
  • Moody’s. The other major U.S. based-credit-rating agency. 
  • Fitch. The smallest member of the “big three” rating agencies, Fitch is dual-headquartered in New York and London.

Regulation Information 

Life insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis across the United States. Most states do not regulate policies from the outset when coverage is first initiated like they normally do with vehicle or health insurance. This means that rules generally apply to the claim period, when beneficiaries are awarded the payout. Because the regulatory environment varies by state, it is essential to be familiar with local laws when applying for coverage. 

Underwriting and Getting Approved

Underwriting is the process by which life insurance companies, and other financial institutions, determine how risky it is to offer potential policyholders their services. Financial providers have advanced and specific formulas that help them determine a person’s risk level. For life insurance, these formulas include health history, current status, and even information regarding driving history along with past and present medication use. Although it might appear invasive, these factors must be evaluated to offer a policy that matches a your needs, while also taking care of life insurance provider. 

Before getting started, it's important to make sure you are prepared for a process that could potentially take more than a few weeks to complete. This is simply because of the amount of information needed, and the time it takes to analyze some of the more detailed documents insurers generally request for submission.

The First Step: The Application

The information you submit during the application process has a significant impact on whether your request will be approved or not. At this step, a life insurance provider is concerned with familiarizing themselves with a potential policyholder while finding out the basic details that will form the basis of the underwriting process. Insurance companies use an application to review basic vital statistics including age, weight, height, and gender. However, this section also includes some questions regarding lifestyle activities, such as participation in extreme activities, exercise habits, and other similar questions, as well as a basic overview of your medical history. While these might seem intrusive, they are designed to help expedite the underwriting process.

Medical Examination

This part of the underwriting process might seem intimidating, but is generally quick, and in many cases, can be skipped altogether. After submitting an application for review, most life insurance companies will request a quick paramedical exam, which is usually free. This exam generally takes less than an hour and is just a simple check up to ensure what was written in the application is accurate. This includes a checking blood pressure and pulse, verifying weight and height, and taking blood and urine samples. This process should not take long, although in some cases, some insurers will ask you to provide a document known as an Attending Physician Statement, or APS. This will be requested if a provider feels they need more information, but is generally not required as it can be expensive and can be time consuming.

The Review Process

Once these steps have been completed, an insurer will move forward with the review of the materials provided. Additionally, a life insurance company will also request and examine a few other public records to properly assess risk levels. This includes reviewing your motor vehicle report, which includes a history of prior car accidents, citations, crimes, and even DUI reports going back 5 to 7 years. An insurer will also review the corresponding Medical Information Bureau (MIB) report. The MIB is a trade group that tracks customers’ history of life insurance and medical reports submitted during applications. This report is used to help prevent fraud, as insurers can examine previous applications and compare with the current one to make sure all the information lines up.

A Brief Interview

This part of the underwriting process is a small informal phone call with one of an insurer’s agents. This is not required by all life insurance providers, and in many cases, can be skipped to go directly to the approval stage. During this conversation, the provider will review answers provided during the application. Agents might ask about lifestyle habits—if you enjoy dangerous activities, work out, smoke, and more—as well as corroborate information provided regarding medical status. Be prepared to provide truthful and detailed answers as the best way to guarantee the most favorable outcome during the approval process. Overall, this process only takes a few minutes, outside of scheduling a time to speak with an insurance agent.

Approval

After an application and all required documentation have been thoroughly analyzed, a life insurance provider will proceed to the approval stage. As opposed to other financial services, life insurance policy approval is highly likely. Only roughly 4% of applicants for life insurance policies get rejected outright. However, approval is not a simple yes or no answer, and all the pertinent information delivered during the application will be used to determine the premium, amount of coverage, and other policy specifics. Life insurance providers will generally give a rating for the approval based on the application as well as a series of tables, including mortality, body mass, and a “credit” table that can offset negative factors with positive attributes such as healthy lifestyle choices. Approval ratings will generally be within one of these five categories:

  • Approved Standard: This is the most common rating received, and translates into receiving standard rates and premiums, including the quotes initially offered. Approved standard also means that premiums will remain locked in for the duration of a policy’s term, as these rates cannot be changed later due to lifestyle risks and other factors.
  • Approved Preferred Rates: If an application shows the insurer that you lead a healthy and less risky life, they may approve the policy and offer a significantly discounted rate. This discount can in some cases reach as high as 30% and translate into thousands in savings down the line. Oftentimes, insurers will give the opportunity to change the amount of coverage and keep the premium the same, or leave coverage unchanged and receive a lower premium.
  • Approved Substandard: If an insurer decides that there are numerous risks in your application, they may choose to offer approval at much higher rates compared to the Approved standard status. This may drive premiums as high as 500% of the average rate and can be influenced by lifestyle choices such as smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and a history of dangerous behaviors. Unlike standard approval, however, rates can improve over time if an insurance provider is shown evidence that the factors that led to your substandard approval have been corrected.
  • Postponed: This does not mean that an application was rejected, but rather that the insurance company discovered a risk factor or condition that may become more prominent down the road. While this is not an outright rejection, it may leave an applicant uninsured for some time as the insurance provider is unlikely to immediately reevaluate the application. In these cases, it makes sense to look at other alternatives in case the original insurer choice takes too long to review the outstanding case.
  • Rejected: While this is undoubtedly a negative outcome, it doesn't mean that you can't be insured. If rejected, the first step is to request the rationale behind the denial directly from the insurance company.  However, it must be noted that when working through an insurance broker, the broker is not authorized to receive that information. Additionally, the decision can be appealed and overturned in certain cases. If the appeal process is unsuccessful, it may be worthwhile to attempt to apply with a different insurance provider.

Your Family's Future Is In Your Hands

Getting the right life insurance policy can give you and your family peace of mind should your circumstances take a turn for the worse. As this is a very important decision that could affect the future of your family, it’s important to compare all the best life insurance companies available and choose the one that best suits your needs.


Nadav Shemer
Nadav Shemer specializes in business, tech, and energy, with a background in financial journalism, hi-tech and startups. He enjoys writing about the latest innovations in financial services and products.