Top 10 Largest Life Insurance Companies
Trends in the life insurance industry
Life insurance ownership rates had been on a downward trend for decades, but that changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. New policy purchases went up in both 2020 and 2021. J.D. Power reported that quote and buy rates increased by 4% last year. And in a survey by ReMark, 64% of respondents said they increased their life insurance in 2021.
It probably doesn't come as a surprise that most consumers buy life insurance to cover final expenses and pass on money to their beneficiaries. There are two other common ways people used life insurance policies in 2021:
- 18% used them to protect retirement income.
- 9% used them for tax planning purposes.
The most significant change to the life insurance industry in recent years is a more streamlined buying process that can be completed at home. Online sales are much more common. The portion of consumers who preferred this went from 17% in 2011 to 29% in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Accelerated underwriting and no-exam life insurance have become popular, especially as the pandemic made it more difficult to go through a series of medical exams to get a policy.
Next up, we'll provide more details on the 10 largest life insurance companies. We've included each provider's coverage options and its most recent customer satisfaction rating from J.D. Power. Satisfaction rates are on a 1,000-point scale, and the industry average is 776.
1. Northwestern Mutual
Northwestern Mutual have Market share: 7.49% with Direct premiums written: $14,271,892,131 . They Coverage options are : Term life, whole life, universal life, variable universal life and Claims satisfaction: 807
Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance company, and it's also The Ascent's pick for the best life insurance company overall. It got to the top of the market and our rankings because of its all-around excellence with no notable weak points. Northwestern has highly rated customer service, several coverage options, and competitive premiums.
A strong brand is important to consumers shopping for life insurance, and this provider's 160 years in business certainly help there. It also does very well retaining customers, as 96% stay with the company from year to year.
2. New York Life
With Market share: 6.97% and Direct premiums written: $13,264,228,971. They Coverage options are: Term life, whole life, universal life, variable universal life and Have Claims satisfaction: 777
New York Life was at the top of the market as recently as 2020, but it's second in the most recent market share data. This provider has all the most popular coverages, and it's known for offering customizable policies that allows consumers to get exactly what they need. Its yearly convertible terms are great for those looking for the best cheap life insurance.
This is another company with a lengthy history behind it, as it has been offering life insurance for over 170 years. While it doesn't have any major issues, its customer satisfaction is only a little above average. That could be the difference between it and first-place Northwestern.
With Market share: 6.03% and Direct premiums written: $11,476,164,714 Met Life Coverage options are : Term life, group variable universal life, group universal life and they have Claims satisfaction: 756
While most of the biggest life insurance providers are available to individuals, MetLife only offers workplace plans. Employees can get coverage from MetLife if it's an option with their employers.
Coverage options at MetLife are more limited than what many other top providers offer. It's also below average in terms of customer satisfaction. It still remains a popular choice for workplace life insurance, which has allowed it to capture just over 6% of the market and nearly $11.5 billion in premiums.
Prudential have Market share: 5.59% with Direct premiums written: $10,644,345,943. They Coverage options are: Term life, universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life and have Claims satisfaction: 753
The fourth-largest life insurance company, Prudential, has been in business for over 140 years. It's one of the few life insurance carriers that doesn't exclude customers with chronic conditions, such as HIV.
Although Prudential has its perks, there are also some areas it could improve. It had one of the lowest customer satisfaction scores of the top 10 largest life insurance companies. It's also missing whole life insurance, a common coverage that many of its competitors have available.
5. Mass Mutual
Mass Mutual Insurance have Market share: 5.29% with Direct premiums written: $10,068,389,696. They Coverage options are: Term life, whole life, universal life, variable universal life and have Claims satisfaction: 782
Mass Mutual rounds out the top five with over $10 billion in direct premiums written. Among the major providers, Mass Mutual is one of the better ones in terms of customer service and financial strength. Those both make it a great life insurance company for seniors. It's also notable for LifeBridge, a free life insurance program it offers to income-eligible families.
Unlike some other providers, Mass Mutual doesn't offer car insurance, homeowner's insurance, or renter's insurance. That could be an issue for consumers who want to bundle plans to get a discount or simplify their insurance policies.
6. Lincoln Financial Group
Lincoln Financial Group have Market share: 4.36% with Direct premiums written: $8,301,364,165. They Coverage options : Term life, whole life, universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life and Claims satisfaction: 773
Lincoln Financial Group owes both its name and its logo to President Abraham Lincoln. It keeps its plans simple by dividing them into two groups: Temporary life, which is its name for term life insurance, and permanent life, which includes whole and universal coverages.
Customer satisfaction for Lincoln is a little below the industry average. To its credit, it does offer quite a few different coverage options and breaks them down in an easy-to-understand format.
7. State Farm
State Farm have Market share: 2.76% with Direct premiums written: $5,254,688,099. They Coverage options: Term life, whole life, universal life and Claims satisfaction: 822
State Farm may be seventh in the life insurance market, but there aren't many carriers that can compete with it in the insurance industry as a whole. It's the largest auto insurance company and the largest home and property insurance company, and it's ahead of the pack in both those rankings by a comfortable margin.
Even though State Farm doesn't have lots of coverage options for life insurance, it makes up for that with excellent customer service. It recorded the highest customer satisfaction rating in J.D. Power's most recent survey.
8. John Hancock
Market share: 2.65% with Direct premiums written: $5,039,509,686. Coverage options: Term life, universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life and Claims satisfaction: 781
With just over $5 billion in direct premiums written, John Hancock is the eighth-largest life insurance provider. This company recorded above-average customer satisfaction scores with J.D. Power and an A+ financial strength rating from A.M. Best.
John Hancock has quite a few coverage options available, although it is missing whole life insurance. It's notable for offering no-exam life insurance policies ranging from $100,000 all the way up to $3 million.
9. TransAmerica (AEGON)
Market share: 2.62% with Direct premiums written: $4,980,417,247. Coverage options: Term life, whole life, universal life, indexed universal life, final expense life and Claims satisfaction: 747
TransAmerica is known for its high life insurance coverage limits. Policies start as low as $25,000 and can be worth as much as $2 million for whole life and $10 million or more for term life. It offers no-exam policies for qualified consumers with up to $2 million in coverage.
There's one glaring problem with TransAmerica, and that's lackluster customer service. It had the lowest customer satisfaction score among the top 10 providers in J.D. Power's most recent survey, and the third-lowest score overall. This company also only offers life insurance, so consumers can't bundle their other insurance policies if they go with TransAmerica.
10. Securian Financial
Market share: 2.54% with Direct premiums written: $4,834,847,124. Coverage options: Term life, whole life, universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life and Claims satisfaction: 769
At the end of the list of largest life insurers, Securian Financial has been around for over 140 years. It previously operated under the name Minnesota Life Insurance. This provider is based in Minnesota but offers life insurance across the country.
All the most popular life insurance coverages are available with Securian, including term life, whole life, and multiple types of universal life insurance. It doesn't offer auto or home and property insurance, though. In terms of customer service, Securian is below the industry average.