Though it’s not a necessity for everyone, life insurance can provide financial help to your family by covering final expenses in the event of a death. Unfortunately, many people are underinsured or have the wrong policy, especially women who are the primary breadwinners for their family.

Because not all insurance carriers offer the same policies, services, support or tools, finding the right carrier requires careful consideration of its policies to make sure the carrier fits your needs.

Top 10 Best Rated Life Insurance

Gerber Life Insurance is an independent affiliate of the familiar and trusted Gerber baby food brand. Their Grow-Up Plan protects children with a life insurance policy that they take ownership of when they turn 21.
Nationwide Insurance began in Ohio in 1925 as a small mutual auto insurer sponsored by nine farm bureaus. Today it has expanded its services to include life insurance, all while providing excellent customer service.
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance has provided life insurance plans for almost 160 years. In 2015, the company was noted "World's Most Admired" and had the highest financial ratings of any life insurance company.
Founded in 1922, State Farm Life Insurance offers a range of life insurance options to people throughout the United States. It provides local support services along with 24/7 telephone support to meet customer needs.
Geico Life Insurance offers flexible payment options, tailored insurance policies and an easy application process. The company has also teamed up with Life Quotes, Inc. to offer consumers the opportunity to obtain free quotes.
USAA Life has been insuring members of the military and their families since 1922. The company was started by 25 Army officers who held these military values in high esteem: service, loyalty, honesty and integrity.
Founded in 1845, New York Life is now one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. In addition to a range of life insurance policies, they offer annuities and long term care insurance.
Amica has been in the insurance business for over a century. It prides itself on the one-on-one relationship users and agents have, as well as its guaranteed fixed rates throughout the term of the life insurance policy.
Allstate is one of the largest publicly held insurance companies in the United States. Although best known for its auto insurance, it offers a variety of life insurance plans, including both term and life insurance.
Farmers began with insuring the vehicles of rural farmers in 1928; it now makes up one of the country’s largest insurance companies. It is known for insuring vehicles and homes, but it also offers a wide variety of life insurance.

Neal Frankle is a Certified Financial Planner in Los Angeles. He is the publisher of WealthPilgrim.com, an information resource for consumers. He has been a professional financial advisor since 1991 and is the editor of www.MCMHA.org.

What features matter most?

Stability of the company

Life insurance is a very long-term proposition. Policyholders need to be as sure as possible that the company is going to be there to fulfill its obligations. The need for company strength and stability cannot be overemphasized.

  • Current ratings: Check the current ratings of the company with AM Best, S&P 500, Weiss and Moody’s.
  • Rating history: Look for any change in ratings from year to year.
  • Financial statements: Review financial statements for continuity and profitability.

Policies

Most large carriers offer a full menu of insurance products. A large selection of available insurance products might become more important to you as time passes because your needs change over time. If your carrier allows you to easily upgrade (or downgrade) to a different kind of life insurance policy, it might make all the difference to you and your family.

  • Term life: Structured to insure you over a set period of time.
  • Universal: A form of permanent insurance structured to insure you over your entire life.
  • Whole life: Permanent insurance with fixed premiums and returns.
  • Variable life: Permanent insurance that invests in mutual funds providing potential greater returns (and losses).
  • Survivorship life: Permanent insurance often purchased by couples that pays off after both parties pass away.

Additional services

Most large insurance companies sell other financial products and services which might be helpful to you.

  • Mutual funds: An investment pool that buys stocks and bonds.
  • Annuities: A deposit with the insurance company that grows tax-deferred until funds are withdrawn.
  • Long-term-care insurance: Coverage to help defray the cost of long-term health problems not covered by typical medical insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Group or business insurance: Insurance offered to the business owner or employer to provide coverage for all or most of the employees.

Customer support

Good customer support is a signal that a company is well managed, but this does not indicate which company is best fitted for your life insurance needs.

  • Phone or live chat support: If a company offers phone or live chat support, it is important to note whether you can contact the company 24/7 or during very limited hours. Some companies may also offer a support forum.
  • Email support: Companies should offer email support and make their contact information easy to find.
  • Local offices: It is often helpful when a company has local offices available for in-person meetings or bill pay.

Online tools

Most companies offer additional online tools which can be accessed even without purchasing an insurance policy.

  • Insurance calculators: Many companies will offer online calculators to help you determine how much life insurance you need.
  • Learning center: Many consumers would like to conduct research to find general information about how insurance works, which makes a learning center a valuable resource.
  • Online policy management: Some companies offer online tools that allow consumers to make account changes such as updating a mailing address or adjusting their method of paying premiums.

Types of policies

Term life

Term life insurance is extremely popular. It’s very inexpensive which means you can buy a lot of coverage for each dollar you spend. Policies are much less expensive for younger purchasers, and premiums and death benefits are clearly defined from the beginning. If the policy holder dies during the term of coverage, his or her heirs receive the money.

However, once the “term” has expired, the coverage disappears and (in most cases) family members can be left with nothing. It is primarily intended for consumers who are in their child-rearing years.

Whole life

Whole life insurance is designed to stay in effect during your “whole life,” for which it is appropriately named. With this kind of insurance, premiums might be paid throughout a policyholder’s entire life or for a limited period. Shorter premium periods mean larger payments.

The biggest benefit of whole life insurance is that policy conditions, such as death benefits and specific payment information, are defined up front. Whole life policies often build up a cash value which may be borrowed from or used to pay premiums.

Finally, as long as premium payments are made, the insurance stays in force regardless of when the policyholder dies. However, the major drawback to whole life coverage is that it can be up to seven times more expensive than term insurance.

Survivorship life

Survivorship life insurance is a version of whole life insurance which can be purchased by couples. With this insurance in place, the benefits are paid out only after both parties pass away.

Universal life

Like whole life, universal life (often referred to as “UL”) is a type of permanent insurance meant to be in force throughout the length of one’s entire life. The only difference between whole life and UL is that the conditions of a UL policy change depending on how much the insurance company earns.

If the UL insurance company earns more than expected, a policy will build cash value more quickly and might even result in reduced or eliminated premium payments. If earnings come in lower than expected, the policyholder may have to make up the difference by increasing premiums or paying for a longer period of time.

Other than these differences, UL is similar to whole life. Premiums are going to be higher than term insurance for the same death benefit. However, UL coverage can be in place for a longer period of time, which creates the possibility that cash value will grow.

Variable universal life

Variable universal life insurance (VUL) coverage is almost identical to universal life, with the exception that rather than investing in fixed investments like UL, VUL invests in equities and other investments. This, of course, provides the potential for greater returns, but it also exposes the investor to the risk of greater investment losses.

Who's it for?

Young professionals & singles

Young professionals and/or singles who have no dependents may not need life insurance unless they plan on eventually having a family and want to get coverage while they are young and healthy. Term insurance might be a good fit for this type of consumer.

Young families

Term insurance is a wonderful tool to protect young families. It provides an instant investment pool which can be used to create investment income in case of premature death. Since it’s so inexpensive, buyers can buy a lot of protection at a very reasonable cost.

Business owners

Depending on the continuation plan a business owner has in place, either term or whole life might work. If an owner is using life insurance to buy out the partner in case he or she dies, permanent insurance like whole life or universal are likely the best choices to consider. If coverage is only needed for a specific time period, term might be a better choice.

Heads of household & mature employees

As we age our financial needs change. In most cases people need less life insurance as they get closer to retirement. Head of household consumers who have dependents should consider term insurance to cover those risks.

Retirees & seniors

Retirees and seniors are another group of consumers who may not need life insurance. If they’ve done a good job of creating and implementing a solid financial plan, they should have enough passive income to provide for their family, and replace their earned income. In that case, they may not need any life insurance at all.

Affluent individuals

Affluent individuals sometimes have to contend with estate taxes and one of the best ways to do that is through life insurance. Survivorship life is something to consider for people in this situation since estate taxes are due upon the second death if the estate is set up correctly.

What do the experts have to say?

  • AARP Life Insurance

    AARP is a large organization boasting over 38 million members ages 50 and up. They opened their doors in 1958 and now have offices in all 50 states.

    • Prudential Life Insurance

      This is a financial services conglomerate that first started operations in 1875. Prudential is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey and is a Fortune 500 company offering life insurance, annuities and investments to consumers.

      • John Hancock Life Insurance

        Hancock is another old-time life insurance provider. It was founded in 1862 but it was acquired by Canadian insurer, Manulife Financial, in 2004. The subsidiary is still headquartered in Boston.

        • MetLife Life

          MetLife, Inc. is the holding company for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (Met Life). The parent company (MetLife, Inc.) is one the largest insurance sales companies in the world. MetLife, Inc. has over 90 million customers in over 60 countries and started their business in 1868. MetLife, Inc. is headquartered in New York City.

          • American General Life Insurance

            American General was founded in 1850. They do business with 13 million customers worldwide. They offer a wide range of insurance products and annuities.

            • Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance

              Also a Fortune 500 company, Mutual of Omaha was founded in 1909 and is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

              • AAA Life Insurance

                The American Automobile Association has over 51 million members and the national headquarters are in Heathrow, Florida. AAA was founded in 1902.

                • Allstate Life Insurance

                  Allstate was founded in 1931 as part of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Allstate established its beginning by selling auto insurance. Founded in 1993, Allstate calls Northfield Township, Illinois home.

                  • Farmers New World Life Insurance

                    As one of the only large insurance companies based on the West Coast, Farmers is headquartered in Los Angeles. Farmers opened its doors in 1928 but is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial, an Irish insurance company.

                    • New York Life

                      New York Life Insurance Company is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Headquartered in New York City and founded in 1845, the company offers an array of insurance plans, as well as securities products and services.

                      • AccuQuote

                        AccuQuote is a company that provides customers with the ability to search for the best and most affordable life insurance policies. The company not only provides search tools, but also offers consumers unbiased advice about the best policy for them.

                        • Aflac Life Insurance

                          Founded in 1955, Aflac offers whole and term life insurance policies to individuals through their employers, with payment done by payroll deduction only. Aflac offers a variety of insurance policies that include life, auto and even cancer insurance.

                          • American Family Life Insurance

                            American Family Life Insurance is a company that is dedicated to giving their customers peace of mind as well as custom tailored insurance policies that fit each individual's needs. They also make the insurance process as simple as possible by providing friendly and helpful service, as well as keeping the claims process easy and worry-free.

                            • Erie Life Insurance

                              Erie Life Insurance company is a Fortune 500 company that offers a variety of term, whole and universal life insurance solutions. It currently serves residents living in 12 surrounding states, along with those living in the Washington, DC, area.

                              • Esurance Life Insurance

                                Esurance Life Insurance is known for giving their customers an easy way to find insurance coverage online. They have grown into a company with over 3,000 associates nationwide that help people find the right policy to meet their individual needs. Their goal is to provide quality insurance coverage for the modern world.

                                • USAA Life

                                  USAA Life offers a variety of life insurance policies for active-duty, retired and discharged members of the military and their spouses, as well as a term life insurance plan for customers' children under the age of 17. Unlike other life insurance companies, USAA will pay benefits on a member's policy even if he or she is killed in war. Additionally, some USAA life insurance policies do not require a medical exam.

                                  • Farm Bureau Life

                                    Farm Bureau Financial Services offers several types of life insurance to residents in Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. They have earned "Excellent" ratings from A.M. Best for more than 50 years.

                                    • Geico Life Insurance

                                      Founded in 1936 with a customer base of government and military employees, Geico has grown into one of the largest insurance companies in the US. Geico offers a range of insurance policies, which can be tailored to meet the needs of individual customers.

                                      • Gerber Life Insurance

                                        Gerber Life Insurance is an affiliate of the Gerber baby food company, although the two are financially independent from one another. Gerber has been providing life insurance since 1967 with a focus on children and young parents. They currently sell policies throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

                                        • Globe Life Insurance

                                          Globe Life Insurance is among the most prominent and reputable life insurance writers in the United States. Founded in Oklahoma in 1951, the company provides life and accident insurance to individuals. They offer a variety of plans that tailor to individual needs, and make the buying experience easy with no sales agents involved. They have more than $69 billion of insurance in force and are committed to providing secure life insurance protection to their policyholders.

                                          • Liberty Mutual Life Insurance

                                            Liberty Mutual provides Life, Home and Auto insurance that help meet the needs of individuals, families and businesses. Since 1912, Liberty Mutual has developed a corporate culture that treats its customers like people and strives to deliver excellent customer service.

                                            • Nationwide Life Insurance

                                              For over 85 years, Nationwide Insurance has proven itself as a leader in the insurance industry. The company offers many choices with insurance -- from auto and homeowners insurance to even life and pet insurance. Financial advisers can also help customers who may have concerns about their insurance needs.

                                              • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

                                                Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance is a financial services company that provides its clients various insurance options and investment opportunities. It can aid individuals and businesses to possess a lifetime of financial stability.

                                                • Primerica Life Insurance

                                                  Founded in 1977, Primerica Life Insurance is an insurance company that focuses on helping Main Street families in North America to earn more income and become financially stable and independent through affordable term life insurance. Primerica also advises families on how to invest their savings. The company offers term policies for clients between the ages of 18 and 95.

                                                  • Progressive Life Insurance

                                                    Progressive Life Insurance helps individuals understand and compare different types of life insurance and choose policies that meet their needs. The company offers term, permanent and final expense life insurance, as well as a wide variety of riders, saving components and payment options. With an established quote system, a customer service telephone line and a wide range of policies, Progressive Life Insurance helps people plan for a secure future.

                                                    • State Farm Life Insurance

                                                      State Farm Life Insurance is a Fortune 500 company that specializes in a variety of insurance solutions, including term, whole and universal life insurance. Its flexible policy options allow its customers to obtain a customized life insurance policy that meets their needs and fits their budgets.

                                                      For women

                                                       

                                                      Women need life insurance

                                                      Nearly everyone (85% of consumers) agrees that they need life insurance. Yet, only 62% of consumers say they have life insurance, and of those who do, more than 40% think they don’t have enough.

                                                      What’s more, there is a sizable gender gap in life insurance coverage. Only 40% of women in the U.S. have life insurance, and women average smaller amounts of individual life insurance coverage than men. On average, women have $129,800 of individual life insurance to men’s $187,100. Here are three reasons women, especially women with children, should own life insurance.

                                                       

                                                      1. To protect their families from loss of income

                                                      A mom's contribution to household income

                                                      Most (70%) U.S. households with children under 18 would have trouble meeting everyday living expenses within a few months if a primary wage earner were to die. That could be bad news for the 40% of homes where mothers are the primary breadwinner in their family, and the more than 60% where the mother brings home at least 25% of the family’s earnings.

                                                       

                                                      2. To replace the services they provide

                                                       How much would stay-at-home moms earn?

                                                      In 2014, there were 5.2 million stay-at-home moms nationwide. And while no amount of money can replace the love and caring the moms provide their families, recent surveys show that stay-at-home moms would earn, conservatively, $117,000 per year for the tangible services they provide (activities like cooking, cleaning, and caring for their children). The same survey showed working moms render $71,860 per year worth of services on top of their annual salaries. 

                                                       

                                                      3. To care for their children

                                                       Single parents and life insurance

                                                      83% of single parents are single mothers. For them, life insurance will provide their children with the financial resources they will need to avoid additional hardships in their lives. Yet, 70% of single parents don’t have life insurance.

                                                      Although nobody wants to think about it, 800,000 people are widowed each year in the U.S. Life insurance gives moms peace of mind knowing that, should the worst happen, their families will be protected. For more helpful tips  and user reviews to help you choose the right insurance provider for you, check out the rest of our guide.

                                                       

                                                      Sources: 
                                                      http://www.widowshope.org/first-steps/these-are-the-statistics/
                                                      http://www.salary.com/mom-paycheck/
                                                      http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/04/25/going-naked-dont-single-parents-life-insurance/
                                                      http://investor.genworth.com/investors/news-releases/archive/archive/2011/Children-of-Single-Parents-at-Greatest-Risk-to-be-Uninsured/default.aspx
                                                       

                                                      11 – 37 Best Rated Life Insurance

                                                      Esurance Life Insurance uses top-of-the-line technology and intuitive tools to give their customers a hassle-free environment to find difference insurance products, both on their website and through their mobile app.
                                                      Liberty Mutual, an insurance company founded in 1912, does not see their policyholders as customers, but instead as people who want to feel safe and secure when it comes to the lives they have built.
                                                      For over 90 years, Erie Life Insurance has provided its customers with a wide range of life insurance policy options. Customers have the ability to customize their policies with a variety of flexible options.
                                                      Progressive Life Insurance offers whole life insurance with guaranteed premiums for those who want set premiums over their lifetime. The company also offers universal life insurance, which allows for more flexibility in payments.
                                                      Farm Bureau Financial Services is an Iowa-based insurance company offering three types of life insurance with plenty of options for customization to customers residing in 14 Western and Central states.
                                                      American Family Life Insurance is working to provide their costumers with peace of mind. They do this through custom policies, great customer service and by keeping everything as simple and worry free as possible.
                                                      Globe Life Insurance is an insurance provider that offers a variety of coverage types, from supplemental Medicare coverage to life insurance for children and adults. They currently have 3.9 million policyholders.
                                                      Founded in 1955, Aflac life insurance is geared toward employees and their dependents. All payments for Aflac life insurance policies, whether whole or term, must be made through automatic payroll deductions.
                                                      AAA is best known for auto insurance, but it provides life insurance benefits as well. Users can get coverage in case of death in an auto accident. Term and whole life insurance policies are also available through this company.
                                                      MetLife, which is best known for using "Peanuts" characters in its marketing, offers comprehensive life insurance as well as other types of insurance policies. It offers whole and term life insurance to meet consumers' needs.
                                                      Primerica was founded in 1977 as a term life insurance provider. Individuals can easily earn money on the side or full-time by signing up with Primerica to help consumers make investments and buy insurance.
                                                      Transamerica has been providing life insurance since 1928. It is determined to help its customers make the right choice in life insurance through making insurance easy to understand and providing flexible insurance options.
                                                      Mutual of Omaha offers nationwide life and other types of insurance through its Omaha office. It is committed to Midwestern values, especially family, neighborliness and making sure that everybody is provided for adequately.
                                                      The Hartford is one of the oldest insurance companies in the U.S. It works with AARP to provide life insurance and other benefits to seniors so that they can live independently and provide for their loved ones after death.
                                                      AARP offers discounts, programs and policies for senior citizens, including life insurance policies. Its life insurance is aimed at making sure seniors have the best quality of life and assisting with end of life planning.
                                                      John Hancock named itself after one of the United States' Founding Fathers. It has offered life insurance since 1862 and tries to help Americans provide for their families through its life insurance plans and policies.
                                                      Frankenmuth has been in business for 145 years. It employs over 600 associates to help consumers understand different life insurance plans, choose a plan that's right for them and get set up with the life insurance they want.
                                                      Prudential is well known for its dedication to helping customers build and manage wealth. Its life insurance policies cover people on five continents to ensure their loved ones are provided for after consumers' deaths.
                                                      AIG was founded in 1919 by an American living in China. Today, it offers innovative life insurance options such as "quality of life" insurance in addition to more traditional life insurance plans for Americans and others.
                                                      Bankers Life was founded in 1879 with the goal of making insurance affordable. Today, it offers a variety of life insurance plans. They're especially interested in helping people with retirement and estate planning.
                                                      Conseco has been offering life insurance since 1979. It is a publicly held company that serves more than 4 million customers; its life insurance polices are geared towards middle aged Americans who are thinking about retirement.
                                                      Stonebridge Life offers life insurance coverage in partnership with JC Penney. It has been in operation for over 45 years and offers both term and whole life insurance to meet users' needs at affordable prices.
                                                      American General Life Insurance has served over 12 million customers since its inception in 1850. It offers a variety of life insurance plans to cover consumers' needs and ensure their loved ones are financially taken care of.
                                                      MetLife has been insuring people’s lives since 1868. They pride themselves on being a leading global provider of insurance for approximately 100 million customers worldwide.
                                                      Guarantee Trust is a family-run life insurance company that has offered comprehensive insurance packages since 1936. In addition to life insurance, it offers accident, automobile and health insurance packages to customers.
                                                      AccuQuote provides a range of life insurance quotes for customers interested in buying a life insurance policy. They also offer consumers advice about purchasing policies, as well as recommendations for updating existing coverage.
                                                      Navy Mutual has been providing military insurance and annuity products since 1879. Located in Arlington, Virginia, the company is focused on providing financial assistance, benefits, and support to those who have served.