…We only represent the best.
So how do we narrow it down to the top life insurance companies?
The trick is finding the perfect blend of highly rated companies that offer excellent pricing, policy options, and underwriting.
- The Best Pricing
- The Best Financial Ratings
- Affordable Coverage with Medical Risks
- Best “No Exam” Companies
- Best Options for Seniors
With access to 50+ carriers, and a combined experience of more than 100 years in the life insurance industry, we know who the “go-to carriers” are for your needs.
The Top Life Insurance Companies for Pricing, Financial Strength, Underwriting (and More)
One of the most common questions my client’s ask me is, “What are the best Life Insurance Companies?”
With all of the life insurance companies to choose from, and all of the different types of insurance available, I can understand why I get asked this question so much.
Not all insurance companies are equal, but the truth is, it really depends on the person who is being insured.
Are they looking for a company that offers the most affordable coverage with high risk health conditions?
… Or is the financial security of the company more important?
… Or perhaps they’re in good health just looking for the best price.
In this guide, we’ll review the top life insurance companies for each of the above.
We consistently see three companies at the top of the list for best prices.
Before we reveal our top carriers for best rates, though, you need to understand this important distinction about pricing in life insurance:
“Best price” is often tied to the carrier that will approve a client at a better health rating. For more on this, see our Top Carriers for Health Conditions Section.
Therefore, we’ve provided a list of companies below that don’t just offer the best rates for a normal, uncomplicated case, but have also considered underwriting leniency as a variable.
Click the link to read our review for each:
Banner is our #1 go-to company, not just as a top company for pricing, but could also be placed in the category for top companies offering affordable coverage with health conditions.
While Banner’s pricing consistently beats most other carriers in an apples-to-apples quote comparison, what you’ll find in life insurance is that in many cases, comparisons are not apples-to-apples.
I could quote you a “Preferred Non Tobacco” premium from Banner and XYZ Company that may just be a couple dollars per month different, so at first they may seem similar, but where Banner shines is they normally will approve applicants for a better health class than most other companies.
… It boils down to their aggressive underwriting.
I’ve seen them approve applicants with sleep apnea better than any other company, and the same goes for applicants with type II diabetes. So in the battle of quotes, they’ll normally win once the approval comes.
Banner is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best, and has been in business since 1949. They’re a huge player in the term life insurance market, and just about every independent agent in the nation offers their insurance products. They’re owned by Legal and General, a well-known insurance company in the UK.
Also see our Banner Life Insurance Review for more about their ratings, pricing, and underwriting.
SBLI is a big player in the low price war for term life insurance. They frequently come in the #1 price, and are fair in underwriting.
While they are not quite as lenient as some of our other carriers like Banner and Prudential Life Insurance for underwriting, they’re perfect for healthier individuals who will qualify for preferred or preferred plus rates. Also, they have a dedicated staff member to answering “quick quote” requests, so if you have a tough case, we can email them with the details of the case, and find out quickly at what rating they will likely approve the case.
SBLI calls themselves the “No Nonsense Company”, and we would stand by that statement. For example, try comparing an SBLI whole life illustration to any other carrier’s illustration. SBLI’s is 10 pages long and easy to read, while most other carriers’ are 25+ pages.
They are rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best and have been in business since 1907.
One of our most innovative, flexible carriers is Transamerica.
Besides consistently showing up in the quote results as one of the lowest priced options, they are also unique in several ways.
- They are one of the only carriers who offer a 1 year term (cheaper than 10 year term), and great for short term life insurance needs.
- Most carriers set a max age of 50 or 55 for their 30 year term. Trans is the ONLY company who will issue 30 year term up to 58 years old.
- Want to keep the cost down? Request for your beneficiary to receive an annual income rather than a lump sum. Trans provides this, which we’ve discussed in our 8 Most Overlooked Secrets to Saving on Life Insurance.
Besides their unique product offerings above, Transamerica is also one of the most fair companies for underwriting tough cases. We love this carrier and send them tons of business.
Transamerica has been in business since 1904 and is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best.
Every single life insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines.
These guidelines are what determine the amount of money the life insurance will cost by placing the insured in one of 16 different rate classes.
The underwriting guidelines for life insurance are based off of the insured’s health and lifestyle.
Health Effects on Life Insurance
Life insurance companies consider a variety of different health factors like:
- blood pressure
- family history of heart disease
- weight in proportion to height
- medical history
- tobacco use
- and medications
To get an idea of how the health conditions above affect a life insurance premium, see our Infographic:
JRC’s Top 2 Life Insurance Companies for Health Risks
Remember, for individuals with medical concerns, the best price in life insurance comes from the carrier who is willing to offer that individual the best health rating.
With that in mind, here are our top two companies for clients with medical concerns:
American General is one of our “go-to” companies for impaired risk cases.
The reason they’re so great for impaired risk because their “table rates” cost the least, and are good at underwriting tough cases.
… In other words, if you get the same substandard rating at American General (say table 2 or table 4) as you do at another carrier like Banner or Prudential, American General will almost always have the lowest premium.
They have a couple interesting sweet spots we like to use them for. In the case of non-working spouses trying to get lots of coverage, we can get push back from other carriers, but AG will go up to $1 Million of coverage. They’re also terrific for world travelers. You can travel up to 8 weeks almost anywhere in the world and get Preferred Plus.
American General is rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best. As a part of AIG, they’ve been in business over 160 years.
Prudential is our #1 go-to company for tough medical cases. Hands down, PRU will accept cases other carriers will decline. Often times, they’ll also approve cases at a better rating class than others, making their premium the lowest.
We use them frequently for:
- Elevated Liver Functions
- Overweight applicants
- Pipe & Chewing Tobacco users (they get non tobacco rates at PRU)
- Non-US Citizens
- Sleep apnea cases
- Marijuana users
- and so much more!
Besides being our most lenient carrier for underwriting, they are one of the most recognizable brands in the world. We all know Prudential, the Rock. Pruco Life Insurance is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best and has been in business for 138 years.
Lifestyle Effects on Life Insurance
For an individual’s lifestyle, insurance companies consider hazardous occupations to be occupations like:
- SWAT Team members
- off-shore oil platform workers
- and high-rise iron workers
For the most part, occupation doesn’t affect our clients. For example, if you are in law enforcement, unless you receive “hazardous pay” you’re in the clear.
Other Lifestyle Factors
The insurance companies will also look into an individual’s:
- criminal records
- future travel plans
- driving history
- and residency
Some insurance companies will not offer coverage to people who frequently travel to areas listed on U.S. State Department’s travel warning list. In addition some countries have laws that prohibit their citizens from purchasing insurance abroad.
For these reasons, the best insurance companies really vary from individual to individual.
One insurance company might overlook family history while another may be lenient with and individual’s weight in proportion to their height.
Quick links to JRC’s Top 4 Companies for No Exam Policies:
Sagicor Life Insurance Company
Sagicor is the biggest new player in the non-medical arena. Their pricing compared to other non-med options is very good, especially for people in good health. (Hint: they have a “preferred” health category” while not all non-med policies do)
They’re very good for occupational risk. Having read this in their guidelines, we recently gotten a coal miner and a fire fighter approved Preferred with Sagicor. (Please don’t expect that every coal miner will get preferred at Sagicor, but this is definitely a good sign). They’re also good with some medical conditions. We commonly help diabetics, for example. We typically have them go through full underwriting (where they take an exam) to get the best price, but there’s always a risk our diabetics will be declined this way. Having said that, we have seen some very positive approvals from Sagicor for diabetics.
Their underwriters are also willing to work with us if the case gets approved at a lower rating than expected. In other words, we get to fight for our clients directly with the underwriter making the decision, and often in one conversation, are able to get a “rated” approval changed to a “standard” approval.
They’re rated A- by A.M. Best (Excellent) and has total assets over $930 million. Sagicor Life is owned by Sagicor Financial, which was founded in 1840.
Also known as ANICO, they’re another big player in the no exam market for policies under $250,000. They offer table rates for individuals who aren’t as healthy, something not all non-med companies do, and have one of the most affordable Annual Renewable Terms (ART) we sell. These work well when you only need coverage for a few years, or in a situation where you have a medical issue which you expect to improve on, so you can carry ART for a year or two and reapply for better rates once the medical issue is taken care of. Their table rated plans are also very friendly to diabetics.
One important distinction between ANICO and other no exam carriers is ANICO will pull medical records for people with health issues. In other words, even though there’s no exam, this does not mean you’ll be approved within a few days. It can take weeks to get medical records.
American National Insurance Company is rated A by A.M. Best. They offer life insurance, retirement plans, annuities, and pension plans. They own many subsidiaries and were founded in 1905.
Assurity is another top non-med carrier, offering no exam policies, and are somewhat unique in that they offer a simplified issue policy for younger people with health conditions that won’t allow them to be approved for traditional coverage. (Many top companies only offer simplified issue at age 50 and over, but Assurity will take just about anyone, even children.) We recently submitted an Assurity application for a 13 year old juvenile diabetic with an insulin pump and he was approved a week later.
Another reason to like Assurity is they take credit cards. Approvals typically take 1-2 weeks.
In 2007, Assurity merged with 3 insurance carriers whose roots go back to 1890. They are rated A- (Excellent) with A.M. Best.
The most interesting thing about Principal, besides being owned by the Principal Financial Group, is they offer $1 Million policy with no medical exam. It’s by far, the highest any carrier will go without an exam. It just requires a brief phone interview. If all is good, no medical exam will be required. Preferred Plus is possible. However, medical records may be ordered at the discretion of the underwriter.
Principal is rated A+ (Excellent) by A.M. Best. Their parent company, Principal Financial Group, is a Fortune 500 company, offers insurance and financial services in 18 countries all over the world, and was founded over 135 years ago.
When it comes to life insurance for the elderly, there are two categories we’ll want to review.
Quick guide to our top 3 companies for healthy seniors:
They are an Aetna company and what makes American Continental unique is they have a life insurance policy with no medical exam up to age 89. What’s even better is this is a level death benefit product, meaning the death benefit pays out at 100% on day 1, but the insured has to be quite healthy to get it.
They don’t do a prescription check or MIB check, so it’s pretty easy to qualify.
However, it’s not available in all states, so call us for details at 855-247-9555.
Royal Neighbors hands down has the best no exam rates for ages 70-80. They’re pretty progressive in that they allow phone sales (a must for us since most of our clients are non face-to-face). Their underwriting is solid, and are our first choice when the client fits.
Royal Neighbors has been in business since 1895 and are rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best. They are also unique in that they are a women-led organization.
We love this carrier since we work with a lot of older age applicants. For example, an 85 year old female in good health could qualify for $10K of coverage for $111 per month. American Memorial crushes all other no exam options for ages 81-85 and has voice signature by phone.
American Memorial is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best, and is a subsidiary of Assurant, a Fortune 500 company with over $25 Billion in assets, and has been in business since 1892.
We also use quite a bit of Gerber and Transamerica for seniors when the above don’t fit.
Final expense policies are also no exam policies, but offer simplified underwriting. They don’t pull medical records.
Quick scroll to JRC’s Top Final Expense Carriers:
Final expense policies are typically for people who are either older and just want a small amount of coverage, or for people over age 50 with some health issues that can’t qualify for a fully underwritten policy.
The typical final expense application works as so…
- It will contain 3 sections of questions (mostly health related questions).
- If you can answer “no” to all the questions about the ailments you may have had, you could qualify for their level death benefit option. Basically this means if you’re healthy enough, you can qualify for a policy that pays out 100% of the death benefit on day 1.
- If you can answer “no” to only the first 2 sections of the application, you may qualify for a modified benefit policy. This will cost a bit more than the level benefit premium, and 100% of the death benefit won’t be available during the first 2-3 years after the policy is issued.
- If you can’t qualify for the modified benefit option, there is also a third option. It will be a bit more expensive than the modified option, but will also pay a “graded benefit”. They’ll typically pay you return of premium if death occurs during the first 2-3 years. Some of them pay return of premium plus a percentage.
They are a final expense company that offer coverage up to age 80. Their policies go up to $35k of coverage with 3 levels of death benefit… level, modified and graded.
Baltimore Life is unique in that they offer voice signature. They actually have a phone in application (we conference call our clients in with a Baltimore Life representative and they take voice signature). Cases issue in 48 hours typically.
Baltimore Life is rated B++ (Good) by A.M. Best, their fifth highest of 16 ratings. They’ve been in business for 130 years.
Another of our simplified issue/no exam carriers, Americo’s Ultra Protector product offers 3 death benefit types based on answers to application questions – Full death benefit, a 2 year graded benefit, and a 3 year graded benefit. There’s no medical exam, and policies typically issue in a 48 hour turnaround. They’re a little behind the times and don’t do electronic signature. Just paper applications.
However, sometimes, depending on the case, they have the best price, and we use them often.
Carriers that Offer Longer Term Lengths at Older Ages
In addition to health and lifestyle factors, some insurance companies offer options which others do not. For example, most of the top carriers set age 50 or 55 as the maximum age they’ll offer 30 year term life policies to. However, one of our A+ rated carriers, Transamerica Life Insurance Company, offers 30 year term up to age 58.
Sample Client with Limited Options Elsewhere
An example of limited options elsewhere is a current client of mine who is 71 years old.
My client needed to get 15 years of coverage, but his local State Farm agent couldn’t offer it to him. He needed to protect that last 15 years of his mortgage, but State Farm does not offer more than 10 years of coverage to someone over the age of 70.
Luckily one of our clients referred him to me. By shopping more than 40 companies, I was able to offer my client multiple companies with options for 15 years coverage. I was even able to offer him coverage to the age of 90, 95, 100, even 121.
When my client got approved he was offered 15 years of insurance for less money than State Farm wanted to charge him for 10! Both policies were for $300,000 of coverage and were guaranteed not to increase in price for the length of the policy.
The biggest misconception that some of the clients I speak to have is that, they believe the company that advertises the most has the best insurance.
… This is very far from the truth.
Content TV commercials, radio commercials, mail-outs, and magazine ads are very expensive. The cost of all this advertising is transferred onto the client by charging as much as 40% more for the same life insurance.
What most people do not know is that the biggest life insurance companies hardly advertise at all.
Some clients say, “I don’t want to buy my life insurance from a fly-by-night company.”
This is completely understandable, and we wouldn’t sell you a policy from a company that is not top-rated. We work with companies that have a solid track record many of which have been around for more than 100 years. Companies like Transamerica, Protective, William Penn, Prudential, etc.
To ensure our clients only receive the cream of the crop, JRC Insurance Group chooses to work solely with insurance companies that are “A-” or better rated by AM Best, while the majority of our companies are rated “A” or “A+”.
According to A.M. Best, their “A+” rating is their “Superior” financial rating and is described as follows:
“A++” and “A+” – Assigned to companies that have, in our opinion, a superior ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations.
A few of our top companies for ratings and financial stability are:
Rated “A+” by A.M. Best
- Transamerica Life Insurance
- Protective Life Insurance Company
- MetLife Insurance Company USA
- Prudential/ Pruco Life Insurance
- Banner Life Insurance Company
- Savings Bank Life Insurance
Rated “A” or “A-” by A.M. Best
- VOYA Life Insurance Company
- Gerber Life Insurance Company
- Sagicor Life Insurance Company
- Fidelity Life Association
- Assurity Life Insurance Company
- Genworth Life Insurance & Annuity Co.
How much emphasis do we place on financial rating? Beyond offering only A- or better carriers, not much.
If we have two companies competing closely for the lowest premium, and one is rated A+ where the other is A-, that might be a situation where financial rating comes into play.
Beyond this scenario, however, we don’t place a huge priority on financial rating.
Here’s the thing…
The life insurance industry is very heavily regulated and is overseen by each state’s Insurance Commissioner. In order for a life insurance company to be able to sell life insurance policies, it must prove that it is in good financial standing. In other words it must prove that it has enough assets and cash on hand to pay all future claims.
If an insurance company cannot provide this proof, its credit rating is downgraded. If an insurance company’s rating falls too low it is no longer able to sell insurance. If this were to occur the insurance policy would be transferred to another company with stronger finances, in addition the Insurance Commissioner for each state charges a small fee every time a policy is sold in their state. This money is held in reserve as a secondary back-up to ensure that all insurance claims are paid out.
We work with over 40 top-rated life insurance companies to make sure we always match our clients with the best company available to them, and typically, more emphasis is placed on the company that will approve our clients based on their health or lifestyle factors.
If we’re dealing with a tough case like a diabetic, who also had a heart attack 5 years ago, and needs coverage for a buy-sell agreement for his business, you can see that here, we’ll recommend the best company for these particular health conditions and will place little to no emphasis on financial rating.
… trust me, you don’t want to go to a carrier like Northwestern Mutual if you have a tough medical condition.
When working a case like this, it helps to work with over 40 companies, and to KNOW how the most lenient ones are.
Most of the client’s we work with are shocked at the options we can offer them because the largest call centers in America that sell life insurance only offer 6-8 different companies to choose from.
… Not exactly shopping the market!
These companies offer huge multi-million dollar bonuses each year to these call centers to make sure their products are sold the most….so much for being non-partial. Not to mention you will probably be forced to get a quote for your car insurance when you are trying to shop for life insurance.
More Company Resources:
- Top 50 Life Insurance Companies – this list ranks the carriers by total assets. Metlife is #1. Keep in mind not all of these carriers sell life insurance.
- Top Life Insurance Companies 2011 – Provided by LifeHealthPro, more for agent use than consumer use, as it ranks the carriers by the top life insurance companies to work for, which ones have the best training, marketing, and so on.
- Top Life Insurance Companies 2012
Think “Top Agency” Rather than Top Company
Our agents at JRC have multiple years of experience with working with a multitude of different top-rated life insurance companies. Most importantly we will find the best insurance company for you as an individual.
There is no one size fits all with life insurance, but we do promise to find the life insurance company that fits you the best. Why pay thousands of dollars more than you have to for life insurance? If an A+ rated company that has been around longer than State Farm and has more financial stability and assets than State Farm offers you the exact same amount of coverage for a fraction of the price, wouldn’t it be an easy decision? This is why so many people shop their insurance with a licensed and experienced agent or broker. In fact, we have dozens of clients who are agents themselves.
In addition we know you’ll love working with our agency because we provide our client’s with unprecedented customer service. Our agents are not forced to read from a script or offer you products you didn’t ask for. We are not a gigantic call center with quotas and shareholders to answer to. We are an employee owned agency. We want all of our employees to have a vested interest with every single client they work with.
Call us today at 855-247-9555!
We’ll show you why all of our clients refer their friends and family. We will find you the best life insurance company based on your needs, health, and lifestyle. Our service is free, and we can provide you with an accurate quote in just a few minutes.