Research Hours


Official Product Overview Pamphlets Consulted


Companies Considered 


Companies Selected 


70+


30+


25+


9


Life insurance products aren’t exactly something you can pull off a shelf and put in your cart. Your eligibility to buy a policy and the price you are quoted is unique to you, and getting a quote that you’re happy with is harder for seniors than it is for any other age group since costs rise with age. While it’s true that in many cases the pressing need for a life insurance policy also diminishes with age, there are still many situations in which having one is essential. 

Seniors who have dependents who are minors or disabled can use life insurance to provide for their loved ones’ futures after they can no longer be there. According to the 2010 U.S. Census and AARP’s GrandFact’s Report, about 2.5 million grandparents are the primary caretaker for a grandchild, and about 825,000 of those grandparents are over the age of 60. For these individuals and those in similar situations, having a policy can be a part of responsible financial planning.  

Even for those who don’t have dependents to provide for, having a life insurance policy can be a nice way to leave something behind for a loved one’s benefit or provide for a specific expense. Seniors who have a serious debt such as a mortgage can get life insurance at least until that debt is paid off so that the home will not have to be sold or repossessed. Having at least some life insurance toward the end of life can also provide a way for the family to take care of the final expenses associated with burial. From the seniors who have no current coverage to the ones who feel they could use more than they have, many seniors have a highly practical reason to seek life insurance coverage. 

If you’re intimidated by shopping for coverage online or if the seemingly endless types of policies and companies have you overwhelmed, our guide to the best life insurance companies can help. Below you can learn about several financially secure brands, all of which offer policies tailored to meet seniors’ needs.

The Basics of Life Insurance

The Basics of Life Insurance

Shopping for life insurance can get technical very fast, so it is important that you know some foundational terms and concepts before diving in. The list below is not exhaustive, but it will help you get started in the right direction. 

Key Concepts for Life Insurance Shopping:

  • Issue Age: This is the age(s) at which a person can get a particular policy, often expressed as a range such as 0-85. Companies are usually able to set their issue ages however they wish. Some states, especially New York, require lower issue ages for certain policy types, so you may notice some variations.
  • Death Benefit: The death benefit is the amount of money to be left to your beneficiaries. Companies usually list a minimum and maximum amount, such as $100,000-$500,000. Seniors are sometimes limited in the size of death benefits they can get. 
  • Underwriting: This is the process of assessing how much financial risk the insured brings to the insurance company. Clients who are projected to live longer are less risky for the company, so the company looks at age, gender, medical and family history, behaviors, and sometimes physical tests to make a decision about the customers’ “health class” and, therefore, their premiums. 

Types of Life Insurance 

In order to purchase a life insurance policy, you’ll want to be clear on the different available policies. The most important distinction is that some policies offer a death benefit only if you pass away during a set term such as 10 years, while other policies offer the death benefit permanently as long as premiums are paid on time.

Unlike term policies, whole life insurance and universal life insurance are both considered permanent policies with guaranteed death benefits in most cases. Both whole and universal policies have the potential to accumulate a cash value that can be borrowed like a loan before death, but universal policies can have additional features like flexible premiums or special investment features. Our company profiles cover some universal policies but primarily focus on term and whole options. Our Buyers Guide provides more details on all types of policies. 

Ratings

We’ve included information on three different ratings for each company. The ratings from A.M. Best and S&P Global are focused on the companies’ financial stability and ability to pay claims in the future. The ratings from J.D. Powers come from the 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study and measures overall customer satisfaction.

When comparing ratings from different agencies, it’s important to highlight how the rating scales differ. Multiple ratings can provide a balanced view of a company, but the ratings are not apples-to-apples comparisons.

  • A.M. Best: A+ and A++ is the “superior” range, A to A- is considered “excellent”, B++ to B+ is “good,” B to B- is considered “fair”, and so on down to letter D which is designated as “poor.” Plus and minus symbols are considered “notches” within this ranking system. A full explanation of ratings can be seen in this guide
  • S&P Global: Significantly different from the A.M. Best scale, the S&P Global scale’s highest score is AAA and its lowest is D. AAA companies are characterized as “extremely strong,” AA is “very strong,” an A rating indicates a “strong” company, and letters after that descend in desirability in a similar manner. Note that at the end, this scale jumps from a single “C” to a single “D” rating without the intermediate DDD and D that might be expected. Read more about this rating scale in “Intro to Credit Ratings.” 
  • J.D. Powers: The J.D. Powers system of ratings ranks a company’s customer satisfaction on a scale of 0-1,000 points. In 2019, J.D. Powers published rankings for 24 life insurance companies, and the highest score attained on that list was just 810, significantly lower than the highest possible score. The lowest score was 722, and all other scores fell in between. 

How We Selected The Best Life Insurance Companies    

How We Selected The Best Life Insurance Companies

High Issue Ages

Seniors don’t want to waste time looking at companies that don’t offer a variety of quality senior options. We eliminated companies from our list that did not offer any senior options or only offered one or two choices. All companies on our list have four or more policies available to those 65 or older. 

Quality Information Available

We only included companies for whom we were able to obtain significant amounts of written information. The reviews below are all based on official brochures directly from the companies and the careful reading of materials produced by industry agencies and professionals. 

Stable Ratings

Seniors who spend money on life insurance want to know that it’s going to be there for their families when they are gone. We looked into all companies’ financial reliability on our list, only including those that received A or better ratings from two prominent insurance rating agencies, A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s (S&P). 

The 9 Best Life Insurance Companies for Seniors in 2021   


Policies Available to Seniors


Maximum Issue Age


Death Benefit Range


Estimated Lowest Term Life Insurance Premium*


Mutual of Omaha


8+


Term: 80


Whole: 85


Universal: 80 


Term: $25,000 – $100,000


Whole: $25,000+


Universal: $100,000- $1,000,000+


$88


State Farm


7+


Term: 75


Whole: 80


Universal: 85


Term: $100,000+


Whole: $10,000 - $250,000+


Universal: $25,000-$250,000+


$104


Principal 


8


Term: 80-99


Whole: N/A


Universal: 85 


Term: $200,000-$1,000,000+


Whole: N/A


Universal: $200,000+


$72


Protective


7


Term: 75


Whole: N/A


Universal: 85


Term: $100,000- $50 million


Whole: N/A


Universal:$100,000- $50 million


$72


Liberty Mutual


7


Term: 70


Whole: 90


Universal: N/A


Term: $50,000-$1,000,000+


Whole: $15,000-$1,000,000+


Universal: N/A


$185


Nationwide


11


Term: 70


Whole: 80


Universal: 85


Term: $25,000-$100,000+


Whole: $10,000-$250,000+


Universal: $100,000+


About $81+


Northwestern Mutual


4+


Term: 70


Whole: 85


Universal: 85


Term: $100,000+


Whole: $50,000+


Universal: $50,000-$500,000+


N/A


Transamerica


9


85 for all major policy types


Term: $25,000-$2,000,000


Whole: $1,000-$2 million,


Universal: N/A


$98


New York Life


9+


Term: 75


Whole: 90


Universal: 90


Term: $10,000+


Whole: $10,000+


Universal: $25,000-$250,000+


N/A


*Note: Monthly premium estimates are for illustrative purposes only. All estimates are derived from online quote tools and are based on a hypothetical 65-year-old woman in excellent health (non-smoker), living in New Mexico, a state where residents typically enjoy a lower-than-average cost of living. These estimates reflect the lowest cost for a 10 year term policy with a $250,000 death benefit. Selecting different term lengths or different death benefit sizes will result in different premiums. Availability of different options varies by company. 

Mutual of Omaha

Most Charitable Company

Mutual of Omaha was founded in 1909 in Omaha, Nebraska, where it initially incorporated under the name Mutual Benefit Health & Accident Association. Over 110 years later, the company still operates out of Omaha and is now led by CEO James T. Blackledge. This company has recently taken great steps to increase its impact on its own community. Customers will be interested to know that Mutual of Omaha started a new foundation in 2019 in order to address cycles of poverty in its own hometown with a combined grant of 4.3 million dollars. Employees are also encouraged to donate their time to local charities, and last year they gave 10,000 volunteer hours in over 200 organizations.

Overview of Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance Policies

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


8+


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 80


Whole: 85


Universal: 80


Death Benefit Range


Term: $25,000 – $100,000


Whole: $25,000+


Universal Life: $100,000- $1,000,000+


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


$87


Mutual of Omaha’s Ratings

  • A.M. Best: A+ (superior)
  • S&P Global: A+ (strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 795 (better than most)

This brand has somewhat mixed ratings, with S&P rating it lower than A.M. Best does (considering their different rating scales), but it is still a very solid choice overall. Its J.D. Powers customer service score is particularly strong.

How to Get a Quote From Mutual Of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha offers quotes for both term and whole life policies on its own website, through direct contact with agents, and some third-party quote sites. While the Mutual of Omaha website is a great place to start reviewing the terms of different policies, the information listed online can be vague. In particular, we found the website lacked clarity on its two whole life policies. 

Mutual of Omaha’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Term Life Answers

A fully underwritten policy, this option offers low-cost premiums, particularly for healthy seniors. Those who are 68 years old and younger can get up to 20 years of coverage, while those up to age 74 can buy a 15-year term, and those up to age 80 can get 10 years. Death benefits can be offered in excess of $1,000,000, though eligibility may depend on health. Quotes for death benefits under $1,000,000 can be obtained easily online.

Term Life Express (TLE)

This policy features simplified underwriting for a faster processing time and a more convenient customer experience. It’s structured similarly to the policy above, except that rates may be higher and it is only available for those aged 70 and younger. The highest death benefit a senior can obtain is $250,000, but those who are 70 are limited to $150,000. 

Guaranteed Whole Life

The guaranteed option has “no medical exam or health questions,” making it great for those who otherwise might not qualify. With death benefits between $2,000-$25,000 and issue ages up to 85 (except for in New York, where the maximum issue age is 75), this policy is ideal for taking care of funeral expenses and other relatively modest financial obligations that might remain when you are gone. 

In addition to the popular options above, Mutual of Omaha has one other whole life option that requires simplified underwriting as well as numerous Universal Life (UL) and Indexed Universal Life (IUL) variations. 

State Farm

Best Financial Stability

State Farm was founded in Bloomington, Illinois in 1922 and is now led by CEO Michael L. Tipsord. This company is famous for its wide range of insurance and related products, and it has even branched into some forms of banking in recent years. With 19,000 agents and 58,000 employees, this brand has a presence in many local communities. State Farm stands out as one of the most financially successful and stable companies on our list. At position 36 on the Fortune 500 list, it ranked higher than any other competitors that we reviewed. It also has extremely respectable ratings of A++ from A.M. Best and AA from S&P Global, two agencies that assess the stability of insurance companies.

Overview of State Farm Life Insurance Policies

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


7+


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 75


Whole: 80


Universal: 85


Death Benefit Range


Term: $100,000+


Whole: $10,000 - $250,000+


Universal: $25,000-$250,000+


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


$104


State Farm’s Life Insurance Ratings

  • A.M. Best: A++ (superior)
  • S&P Global: AA (very strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 808 (among the best)

State Farm shines in all three of the ratings that we looked at. Its score from A.M. Best is the highest possible, and its S&P is very good though not the highest. Its J.D. Powers score is the second-best out of the 24 companies that were studied by J.D. Powers.

How to Get a Quote From State Farm

State Farm offers quotes for its term policies online, and its website also contains remarkably detailed information on policies. We noted that State Farm is one of the few companies that list issue age restrictions in a place that’s easy for customers to find. Note that State Farm life insurance products are available in all states except Massachusetts. 

State Farm’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Select Term

One of the most basic policies available, this option can be obtained by seniors up to age 75. In most cases, this policy will have the most affordable premiums of State Farm’s offerings, though there can be exceptions. Seniors who have not yet passed age 65 can get up to 20 years of coverage, but those older than 65 can only obtain 10 years, making this option best for those with very short term needs. Coverage amounts start at $100,000 and your ability to get more coverage than that may depend on your health class and other factors., 

Final Expense

Many seniors want the comfort of knowing that their heirs won’t struggle to pay for a nice funeral for them when they are gone. Having a dedicated whole life insurance policy for that reason can provide peace of mind. State Farm’s Final Expense policy, called $10,000 Whole Life Insurance in New York, can provide a modest but useful amount of coverage for that purpose, but beneficiaries can also use it for any other expense if they so choose. Seniors ages 50-80 can get this policy (50-75 in New York), and the maximum death benefit available is $10,000. While not a guaranteed issue policy, the application process is designed for seniors and may be easier to qualify for than the average, fully-underwritten policy would be.

Other options from State Farm include three different universal life policies, including ones designed to serve couples, and a few different whole policies. Limited Pay and Single Pay Whole Life options offer stability with unique ways to pay, while universal options offer more financial growth opportunities.

Principal

Highest Possible Issue Age

Principal is a global insurance provider that was founded in 1879 in Des Moines, IA. Now number 201 on the Fortune 500 list, this company is the third-largest supplier of group benefits insurance. Principal is also well known for its positive and inclusive corporate culture. Among the other companies that we reviewed, Principal stood out thanks to its unusually high issue age options on many of its policies. In a market where being older means less access to affordable life insurance, Principal makes options available even to those who are 99 years old.

Overview of Principal’s Life Insurance Policies 

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


8*


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 80-99


Whole: NA


Universal: 85 


Death Benefit Range


Term: $200,000-$1,000,000+


Whole: NA


Universal: : $200,000+


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


$72


*Note: More than eight policies are available to seniors from this brand, but some of them are only available if offered through an employer. 

Principal’s Life Insurance Ratings

  • A.M. Best: A+ (superior)
  • S&P Global: A+ (strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 789 (better than most)

Principal’s ratings are great overall, with labels of superior and strong from financial rating agencies. In the J.D. Powers study, Principal came in at a very respectable fourth place for customer satisfaction.

How to Get a Quote From Principal

Seniors can find term life insurance quotes from Principal on the company’s own website as well as through some broker web tools and by working directly with an agent. It’s important to note that Principal offers only term and universal varieties, not whole life policies. 

Principal’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Term Policy

A low-cost option, the term policy offered by Principal is basic and functional. Those up to age 80 can apply for 10 years of coverage, those up to age 75 can apply for 15 years, and those who are 65 can even get 20 years. With a minimum death benefit amount of $200,000 and the possibility of getting $1,000,000+, this policy has less flexibility for those with small death benefit needs. 

One-Year Term (OYT)

This unique option, hard to find elsewhere, offers just 12 months of coverage and is ideal for short term needs such as debt protection during a transitional time of life. Remarkably, this policy offers up to 5 million dollars in death benefits for up to age 75, and even those aged 81-99 can receive up to 1.25 million. Online quotes are not available, so speak with an agent about rates. The minimum death benefit is $200,000.

In addition to the two term options described above, Principle offers a wide range of universal life policies, including survivorship, indexed, and variable policies. In particular, the survivorship option could be a good choice since it can help a senior couple if one member qualifies for life insurance but the other’s health is too poor to qualify. Universal policies all have significantly more complex terms than the policies we discussed above, but they may be great for those who have a trustworthy financial advisor to guide them through the choices. 

Protective 

Highest Death Benefit

Founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1907, Protective Life Insurance Company has been offering American families stability and peace of mind for over 110 years. By the 1990s, this company had begun to offer service on a truly national scale. The company has grown through acquiring many other life insurance companies and is itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan’s Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company. Protective has great financial power behind its name, and as such, it is able to offer some of the highest death benefit options that we have seen on the market. Seniors who are looking for an unusually large death benefit can find amounts as high as $50 million with Protective. 

Overview of Protective Life Insurance Policies

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


7


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 75


Whole: NA


Universal: 85


Death Benefit Range


Term: $100,000- $50 million


Whole: NA


Universal:$100,000- $50 million


Guaranteed Issue or Simplified Underwriting Available?


No


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


$72


Protective’s Life Insurance Ratings

  • A.M. Best: A+ (superior)
  • S&P Global: AA- (very strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 754 (above average)

While its ratings from A.M. Best and S&P are fantastic, Protective lags somewhat on customer satisfaction. Still considered above average, it sits almost exactly in the middle of the 25 companies that J.D. Powers ranked in its study.

How to Get a Quote From Protective

Prospective customers of Protective can get quotes on term life policies on the company’s own website as well as on some broker sites. To get a whole or universal quote, you’ll need to reach out to an agent. Seniors who are Costco members should also note that they may have exclusive access to a term plan that Protective offers in partnership with Costco.  

Protective’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Protective Classic Choice Term

This policy is Protective’s most affordable and simplest option. Coverage options range from 10-20 years depending on the person’s age when they sign up for a policy. Coverage starts at $100,000 but may be available up to $50 million in some cases. Premiums for such high coverage will, of course, be much higher than the average. Typically, your ability to buy a high death benefit coverage will be dependent on health class and a number of other factors.

Protective Customer Choice Universal Life (UL)

This universal life policy from Protective is a bit more expensive and complex than the term option, but it offers a unique alternative for those who want a blend of term life and universal life features. Initially, customers get full coverage for a set term as well as the option to convert the policy to another type. Even if not converting, coverage continues after the term at the same price. However, the death benefit decreases after the term. This is best for those whose needs for life insurance decrease with age. Seniors are eligible for between 20 and 10 years of coverage, depending on the issue age.

Liberty Mutual

Best Whole Life Options

Founded in 1912, Liberty Mutual is a global insurance company that operates in 29 countries with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. In the United States, it is best known for its auto and homeowners’ insurance policies. Ranking 77th on the Fortune 100 list, this brand is also considered the sixth-largest insurer for property and casualty in the USA. When compared to other brands, Liberty Mutual’s whole life options stand out as a particularly good choice since they have a higher-than-average maximum issue age of 90. The whole life policies are also available in three different payment styles, making them convenient for a variety of needs.

Overview of Liberty Mutual Life Insurance Policies 

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


7


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 70


Whole: 90


Universal: NA


Death Benefit Range


Term: $50,000-$1,000,000+


Whole: $15,000-$1,000,000+


Universal: NA


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


$185


Liberty Mutual’s Ratings 

  • A.M. Best: A (excellent)
  • S&P Global: A (strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 788 (better than most)

Liberty Mutual scored very well across the board. Perhaps its most impressive score is its J.D. Powers score, for which it came in at 5th place among 24 companies. 

How to Get a Quote From Liberty Mutual

Like many competitors, Liberty Mutual offers its term quotes online but leaves other quotes to agents and brokers. Unfortunately, the Liberty Mutual website has very little information on life insurance overall. This may reflect the fact that life insurance isn’t the company’s main product line. 

Liberty Mutual’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Whole Life

Liberty Mutual’s whole life policies come in a few different payment options, giving seniors the choice that fits them best. For someone who has just reached age 65, simplified underwriting may be available, making the application process fast. For seniors over age 65, a fully underwritten option is available to age 80 or 90, depending on the payment plan. Liberty Mutual has a somewhat uncommon whole life “20 pay” option, in which seniors make payments for just 20 years but receive coverage for life. A single-premium whole life policy is also available, or seniors can just opt for the traditional monthly payment plan. Death benefit amounts vary but must be at least $15,000 and can be over $1,000,000.

Passport 10 & 15

The Passport Term life insurance option from Liberty Mutual works like a typical term life insurance policy. Seniors up to age 70 can apply for a 10-year term, while those who have not yet passed age 65 can get up to 15 years of coverage. Those who are 65 can even qualify for a simplified issue policy. Death benefits for these policies start at $50,000 but may need to be higher in some cases. Liberty Mutual does not list an upper limit for the death benefits of these policies, but approval for over $1,000,000 must go through a more lengthy approval process. 

In addition to the policies mentioned above, Liberty Mutual has as few other specialties, including some that seniors may be interested in. It’s important to note that when talking with a sales representative, you may also be offered the option of an annuity. Annuities are not the same as life insurance, so be sure you fully understand what it is you’re signing up for. 

Nationwide

Most Options for Seniors

Nationwide traces its roots back to 1926 when the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company started in Columbus, Ohio. Over the years, this brand has expanded and branched into many different areas, including most forms of insurance as well as lending, retail banking, and more. The company has been known as Nationwide since it changed its name and began expanding rapidly in 1955.  In the realm of life insurance, Nationwide is known for pioneering the practice of simplified underwriting, significantly improving convenience for customers in the early 2000s. It continues to prioritize convenience and service, especially since it offers 11 policies that seniors are eligible for, making it the brand with the most senior options. 

Overview of Nationwide Life Insurance Policies 

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


11


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 70


Whole: 80


Universal: 85


Death Benefit Range


Term: $25,000-$100,000+


Whole: $10,000-$250,000+


Universal: $100,000+


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


About $81+


Nationwide’s Ratings 

  • A.M. Best: A+ (superior)
  • S&P Global: A+ (strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 783 (among the best)

Nationwide’s ratings reflect a solid financial outlook and a high level of customer satisfaction. The J.D. Powers rating is particularly impressive, with Nationwide ranking in the top seven companies. 

How to Get a Quote From Nationwide

Nationwide has a robust product line for life insurance, but potential customers should be aware that the brand offers very limited policy information on its main consumer-facing website. Moreover, Nationwide’s quote tool for term life policies does not work for those over 65.  The company encourages seniors to reach out for a custom quote from an agent. 

Nationwide’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

YourLife Guaranteed Level Term (Term Life)

Nationwide’s standard term life policy is the lowest cost option for most seniors who want coverage for a specified number of years. Seniors who have not yet turned 66 can get up to 20 years of coverage, while those aged 66-70 are eligible for a ten-year term. Typical policyholders need to purchase a minimum of a $100,000 death benefit, though seniors in some regions may be able to opt for a lower $25,000 death benefit instead. 

YourLife Simplified (Whole Life)

Seniors who already have homeowners’ insurance or automobile insurance from Nationwide will be pleased to know that they get exclusive access to this low death benefit whole life option. This policy, which has a maximum death benefit amount of $50,000, can be obtained with a simplified underwriting process that requires no medical exam. This easy application process is available to seniors up to age 80, making it an excellent option for taking care of final expenses for those who might have trouble qualifying for other kinds of life insurance. Applicants should be aware that the full death benefit is not available within the first two years of purchasing the policy. Furthermore, this policy does not offer guaranteed cash value that increases over time, unlike most other whole policies. 

In addition to the above two policies, Nationwide has a large selection of universal life policies of every type. It also offers two other whole life options. 

Northwestern Mutual

Best Customer Service

Northwestern Mutual is one of the oldest and most stable life insurance companies around. It was founded in 1857 in Wisconsin, and as a mutual company, it has been paying dividends to its policyholders since the mid-1800s. This company now has its headquarters in Milwaukee, and it serves the entire United States with over 6,400 agents. While life insurance has always been a mainstay, this company has also branched into investing in technology startups and other ventures in the past few decades. It continues to offer exemplary life insurance customer service, and in 2019 the company was ranked number one for customer satisfaction in the 2019 J.D. Powers Life Insurance Study with a score of 810 out of 1,000 possible points. 

Overview of Northwestern Mutual’s Life Insurance Policies 

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


4+


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 70


Whole: 85


Universal: 85


Death Benefit Range


Term: $100,000+


Whole: $50,000+


Universal:$50,000-$500,000+


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


NA


Northwestern Mutual’s Ratings 

  • A.M. Best: A++ (superior)
  • S&P Global: AA+ (very strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 810 (highest)

Northwestern Mutual’s scores are outstanding by all accounts. This brand got the highest possible ranking from A.M. Best, and it received the highest score of any company on the J.D. Powers Study.

How to Get a Quote from Northwestern Mutual 

Northwestern Mutual focuses far more on developing its personal customer service than it does on building its online platforms and partnerships. As such, consumers often have trouble finding the answers to their Northwestern Mutual questions online. This brand does not offer quote estimate tools online, nor does it list all of its policies. Reaching out to an agent will always be the most productive way to learn what you need to know.

Northwestern Mutual’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Term 10 

Northwestern Mutual offers a fairly standard term option that is suitable for a wide range of ages. Like most other companies, Northwestern Mutual limits the number of term years that a senior customer can purchase. Those between the ages of 40 – 70 can only get a ten-year term policy, and their death benefit must be $100,000 or greater. Typical riders and terms are available, and customers can decide whether they want level or increasing premiums during their term.

Whole Life Plus

For those who want a permanent policy, Northwestern’s whole life policy is a great choice. This policy is fairly straightforward and can be purchased by/for those ages 0 to 85. Customers can choose whether they’d like to pay premiums until the policy matures at age 100 or whether they’d like to opt for higher premiums that will be considered “paid-up” within a certain number of years. Paid-up periods available could include 15, 20, or 25  years, but availability may vary by age and other factors, so it’s best to ask your local agent about your specific eligibility. Death benefits for this policy start at $50,000 and may be significantly higher if desired.

Transamerica

Best Final Expense Policy

Transamerica, which focuses on insurance and a variety of financial products, traces its roots to the founding of a bank in San Francisco in 1904. This company has always been associated with the heritage of Italian immigrants, and it prides itself on making financial resources accessible not only to the wealthy but also to the average, working-class American. This company is now part of a global brand called Aegon N.V. and is led by CEO Mark W. Mullin. Among its competitors, Transamerica stands out due to the quality of its Final Expense policy. This policy offers a great blend of convenience and a higher than usual death benefit, making it ideal for seniors who want to use a whole life policy to set aside funds for their final arrangements. 

 Overview of Transamerica Life Insurance Policies 

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


6


Maximum Issue Age


85 for all major policy types


Death Benefit Range


Term: $25,000-$2,000,000


Whole: $1,000-$2 million,


Universal: NA


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


$98


Transamerica’s Ratings 

  • A.M. Best: A (Excellent)
  • S&P Global: A+ (strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 732 (the rest)

Transamerica had a somewhat lackluster rating compared to some top competitors. Still a popular and stable company, it struggled the most in the J.D. Powers category where it ranked in the bottom fourth of the ranked companies, a category that J.D. Powers labels “the rest.”

How to Get a Quote from Transamerica 

Transamerica offers its policies through its own knowledgeable agents, but before contacting agents you can learn a decent amount about the company through the website. The website has a quote tool that will give you approximate pricing for term life policies. Note that the quote tool is buried in the FAQ section of the term life page. You’ll need to click on the question “How much does term life insurance cost?” in order to find the link to the tool. 

Transamerica’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors

Trendsetter Living Benefit (LB)

Trendsetter LB, one of two Transamerica Term Life options, is available to issue ages 0-85 and comes in death benefit amounts of $25,000-$2,000,000. The maximum death benefit for this policy used to be significantly lower, but in recent years Transamerica has expanded the options in response to demand. This policy is available in 10, 15, 25, and 30-year terms, though some seniors may not be eligible for the longer term lengths. Although this policy does have a simplified issue (non-medical) underwriting option, those over age 60 do not qualify for it in most cases. 

The living benefit part of this policy means that seniors who experience certain chronic, terminal, or severe and disabling conditions will be eligible to receive a certain amount of the death benefit early in order to pay for necessary care that isn’t covered by other forms of insurance. This living benefit option provides greater peace of mind, but may also have more costly premiums than the basic term policy that Transamerica offers. An agent can provide price comparisons and fully explain all riders available. 

Final Expense 

The Final Expense option from Transamerica is a special, low-death benefit whole life policy designed specifically to cover things like funeral expenses or end-of-life medical bills that your relatives may otherwise need to cover. This policy, available to those up to age 85, typically offers between $1,000-$40,000, and seniors can choose the amount that fits them best. Premiums are fixed, so increasing costs is not an issue. This policy is also easy to qualify for since it doesn’t require medical exams and can be approved on the same day as application.  

As a whole policy, final expense insurance may be more costly than term life, although its small benefit amounts will keep its costs reasonable. Quotes for this policy need to be obtained through an agent, and premiums will be influenced by the customers choice of “Easy Pay” (graded death benefit for lower costs), “10 Pay” (paid up in ten years with higher premiums), or “Immediate Solution” (traditional whole life). 

In addition to the above popular options, Transamerica offers some other whole life options and some universal life/indexed universal life options as well.

New York Life

Longest Company History

New York Life, which initially operated under the name Nautilus Insurance Company, began in 1845 as a brand offering fire and marine insurance. This brand has grown tremendously in the past 175 years and now serves the entire United States. New York Life has diversified and now has a line of premier services in which it helps customers with estate planning, small business problem solving, and much more. Throughout its history, New York Life has been a strong life insurance provider, and it stands out as an early adopter of the life insurance business model. New York Life’s long and successful history provides reassurance to customers that it has the expertise and stability they need. 

Overview of New York Life Insurance Policies 

Number of Policies Available to Seniors


9+


Maximum Issue Age


Term: 75


Whole: 90


Universal: 90


Death Benefit Range


Term: $10,000+


Whole: $10,000+


Universal: $25,000-$250,000+


Estimated Lowest Term Life Premium for Seniors


NA


New York Life Ratings 

  • A.M. Best: A++ (superior)
  • S&P Global: AA+ (extremely strong)
  • J.D. Powers: 770 (among the best)

New York Life’s ratings are quite good overall. This company received the highest possible rank from A.M. Best, and its J.D. Powers score is also particularly good, indicating high customer satisfaction. 

How to Get a Quote from New York Life 

New York Life policy quotes are generally not available online, though you may find some policies through online brokers. AARP members may also be able to obtain online quotes since New York Life partners with that organization on a few different plans.  The New York Life website offers a fairly limited amount of information, but speaking with an agent can help you understand more.

New York Life’s Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors 

Term Level Premium Convertible

This policy, available to seniors up to age 75, offers a predictable, low-cost plan. Like all term policies, this coverage is only good for a specified period of time- in this case, 10 or 20 years. However, policyholders have the option of converting the policy to a whole one down the road if they don’t want to lose the coverage. Converting a policy usually changes its costs but can still be affordable.

This policy features a premium that stays the same for the whole term, but New York Life also offers a similar term plan that has yearly premium increases and is good for short-term needs. The death benefit for term policies starts at $10,000 and can be much higher if desired, depending on age and other factors.

The AARP Life Insurance Program

The suite of life insurance options that New York Life offers in partnership with AARP is perhaps its most well-known set of policies. These policies, which are only available to AARP members and their spouses, come in both whole and term options. All of these policies feature a simplified underwriting process, and they offer between $10,000-$100,000 in death benefits, depending on the policy. Those aged 50-74 can apply.

The AARP life insurance policies currently available are Level Benefit Term Life Insurance, Permanent Life Insurance (whole life), and Easy Acceptance Life Insurance (guaranteed acceptance for all but the terminally ill). Due to the relaxed underwriting standards of all of these AARP policies, the prices may be slightly higher than they would be on similar New York Life policies that have more strict underwriting. You can always ask a New York Life agent to help you compare both AARP and regular New York Life policies.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Select a Life Insurance Policy

Buyer’s Guide: How to Select a Life Insurance Policy

Step 1: Discuss Your Reason for Seeking Life Insurance

Life insurance gives many Americans a sense of security about their families’ financial prospects, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re looking for life insurance as a senior, you may want to start by asking yourself why and discussing it with those close to you.

Common reasons to buy life insurance:

  • To replace your income so that dependents will be able to maintain their lifestyle
  • To cover debts in case you pass away before paying them off
  • To plan for a specific small goal, such as paying for your funeral arrangements and final medical bills
  • To provide for a larger goal, such as the education of a child or grandchild
  • To have to opportunity to both provide a death benefit and to have your money earn dividends while you’re alive

If it helps, during this early phase you may wish to explore your state’s insurance department website for any pertinent information on rules and consumer protections specific to your state. Some state websites offer resources for avoiding insurance scams. During times of economic or other crises, these sites may also list bulletins related to grace periods for paying premiums and crucial matters.

Step 2: Decide Between Whole, Term, and Universal Policies 

In general, people use term or whole life options if they want simplicity and if they primarily need to provide a death benefit for a specific purpose. Those who aren’t deterred by more complex products that come with risks can explore the market of universal life products, including variable universal life and indexed universal life. Most policies fall within one of these three general categories, so knowing the basics can help with shopping. The table below provides information on each type, although there are often more details involved, particularly if you add any riders (modifiers).

Type of Life Insurance Policy


Coverage Lasts for… 


Perks Often Include...


Downside Can Be...


Term


A specific number of years, such as 10


-Low premiums that remain the same (level) the whole term


-Quotes available online 


-The ability to convert to a permanent policy later 


-The ability to enhance the policy with riders


-Nothing remains when the term is over if the insured is still living*


-No cash value or borrowing potential


Whole


Your whole life as long as premiums are paid 


-The ability to grow a cash value that you can borrow from


-Level premiums


-The ability to enhance the policy with riders


-Account fees


-Inflexibility


-High premiums, especially if acquired late in life


-Borrowing from cash value can reduce the death benefit if not paid back with interest


Universal


Your whole life as long as premiums are paid 


Depending on the type (variable, indexed, regular):


-Market exposure for potential growth 


-The ability to grow a cash value that you can borrow from


-The flexibility to make some changes to the policy


-The ability to enhance the policy with riders


-Lower premiums than whole life


-High issue ages


-Very high account fees


-Confusing rules


-Caps on growth as well as on loss


-Tendency of agents to downplay the risks of these policies


-Mismanagement can cause to the loss of the death benefit and/or a premium increase 


*Unless you pay for a “return of premium” rider.

If you spend time researching the various options, you’ll quickly find that many people disagree about which kind of policy is the most sensible and cost-effective. While we cannot offer a definitive answer on which is the best, it is important that you weigh the pros and cons of each policy for yourself. Speaking with a trusted financial advisor, especially one that’s not selling you a policy, may help as well. 

Step 3: Consider Riders and Other Variations Cautiously

While most policies fall into one of the basic categories above, the basic policy types only scratch the surface of the features that are available. Many policies fall into further subcategories that have to do with the method of underwriting, the way the death benefit is disbursed, and more. Sometimes these customizations will be created via a rider (an addition to a basic policy that changes it significantly) at additional cost, but other times the special terms will be written directly into the policy.

Popular Subcategories and Customizations

Guaranteed Issue

A guaranteed issue policy is usually a policy that you can get with no health questions or tests as long as you are the correct age for the policy. A simplified issue policy is a close cousin of guaranteed issue, but simplified issue usually includes a health questionnaire and a health records check. Both are easier to qualify for than a fully underwritten policy, but they usually have higher premiums. Many policies that aren’t fully underwritten have a graded death benefit. That means that if you pass away within the first two years, your beneficiaries will have your premiums returned but may not get the full death benefit amount.

Convertible

A convertible policy is a term policy that the company will let you change easily into a whole policy before the term ends. There are usually a few restrictions, such as a time frame within you must make the change, but the perk is that you will already be qualified for the whole policy without taking tests or jumping through other hoops. Oftentimes getting a convertible policy means paying a little extra. You are never obligated to convert the policy; it’s just an option.

Accelerated Death Benefit

While there are many variations on this rider, all this really boils down to is that you may be eligible to get some of the death benefit while you are still alive. Usually, an event, such as a severe injury or the onset of a chronic illness, will trigger this option. Accessing part of the death benefit early in order to pay for your medical care will reduce the amount of death benefit that your family will receive.

Paid Up, Limited Pay, or Single Pay

A traditional whole life policy charges you premiums until you pass away or until you reach a certain high “maturity” age such as 100 (terms differ, always read the fine print and find out what happens if you outlive maturity). However, some people like the idea of paying a set amount of higher premiums for a limited number of years in exchange for a guaranteed death benefit. This option is called paid up, limited pay, or even single pay if the payment is made in a lump sum. 

Return of Premium

Some term policies come with the option of a return of premium rider. This rider guarantees that if you do not pass away during the term, then at the end of the term the company will give you back all of the premiums that you paid. The company is able to afford to do this because you have allowed them to invest your premiums profitably in the meantime. Return of premium always means that your premiums will cost more, so in some cases, it may make sense to simply invest a similar amount of money on your own. Return of premium appeals to very risk-averse individuals who don’t mind spending more upfront.

Ultimately, the list of subcategories could go on indefinitely. The category of universal life policies in particular has a dizzying array of subcategories and customizations. If you come across a type of customization that you’ve never seen, it’s always best to take your time reading the fine print, as many customizations include potential premium increases or the possible loss of part of the death benefit if not handled correctly. 

Step 4: Seek Out Several Quotes 

Once you know the general kind of policy you want and perhaps some specific riders that you’d like to add, then it’s time to compare quotes. You can often get several quotes from one insurance broker or agent, as they have the tools to search for many policies at once. Typically someone who goes by “agent” may be directly employed by one insurance company, whereas a broker may be in a better position to provide information about several different companies’ policies. Either way, make sure that you compare similar policies from multiple insurance companies.

If you have a specific health concern that you know will affect underwriting, you may wish to ask a broker about which company, in their experience, gives the best rates for people like you. Companies use different methods of classifying health risks, and some are more forgiving than others.  

While shopping, it’s a good idea to collect as many detailed policy overview brochures as possible. These brochures aren’t always available online, but you can ask for them at local offices or ask an agent to have them emailed to you. Having the policy details in writing can really help you when you take your time to review suggested policies on your own or with your loved one or advisor.

Step 5: Be Prepared for the Underwriting Process

When you select a policy, the agent you work with will let you know about the next step in the underwriting process. Oftentimes, the agent will start by giving you some sample quotes for the policy but will caution you that the rate could change if something important comes up during underwriting.

But what is underwriting? Many people aren’t familiar with the process, and it can help to know what to expect. A fully underwritten policy may require you to go get a blood and urine test, to undergo a short physical exam with a physician, and to answer a fairly long list of health questions. Many policies also require that you consent to an electronic health records search conducted by a third party company. Based on your height, weight, health, and tobacco use, the underwriters will be able to label you with a health class. Your health class tells the company how likely you are to live a long life, and they set your rates accordingly. 

As mentioned earlier, many policies use a simplified approach to underwriting now. Instead of tests and exams, you may just need to answer questions or agree to a health records check. There may even be no questions at all. As you narrow your search down and want to start applying for policies, just make sure to ask about the underwriting process so you know what to expect.

Frequently Asked Questions     

Does My State Require Unisex Life Insurance Rates?

In most states, men and women pay different rates for insurance even when all other factors like age, health, body mass index (BMI), and tobacco use are otherwise equal. Women often pay less than men for auto and life insurance, but more for health insurance and some other products. The gender differences in insurance are related to a variety of factors, but for life insurance, the primary factor is that women tend to live longer than men- an average of 6-8 years longer. So far, the only state that has mandated unisex pricing has been Montana, where using gender to set rates has been illegal since 1985. 

Can Genetic Testing Results Affect My Life Insurance Rates?

Yes, a genetic test has the potential to negatively affect your premiums. While health insurance companies have been denied the right to use genetic testing to set premiums, life insurance companies are still permitted to do so. Some companies will ask about testing or will learn about it in a health background search. At-home genetic test kits have become popular in recent years and are even given as gifts to those who are curious about their ancestry or about their genetic risk for certain conditions. If you’re thinking of voluntarily getting a test done, you may want to consider delaying it until after you get life insurance, since you may become legally obligated to disclose results if you have them.

Should I Get a Guaranteed Acceptance Policy?

Guaranteed Acceptance (also called guaranteed issue) policies all have one thing in common: no medical underwriting. In other words, no health exams, tests, questions, or background checks are required prior to signing up for coverage, or at any point later. In some cases, the fine print may reveal that there will be some background checking or a couple of questions, but the overall idea is that the health portion will be either nonexistent or extremely easy to pass. For example, as long as you do not currently have a terminal disease, you’ll be accepted.

These policies can seem very appealing, particularly to older seniors who have chronic conditions. However, their rates can be twice as high since they are much more financially risky for the insurance company. The consensus is that you should always try to qualify for lower rates at a few different companies before turning to guaranteed life as a last resort. 

Is Life Insurance an Investment Product?

Financial experts tend to argue over whether or not life insurance is truly an investment product. First and foremost, life insurance has always been about protecting your family in case you go before them. It’s about replacing the income that you would have provided, or covering a debt that you don’t want them to have to pay for on a limited income. However, life insurance has grown beyond this simple task of providing a death benefit. Many policies now promise the accumulation of cash value that can be borrowed against, and many also are tied to indexes such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Universal policies that boast the chance for growth via an index or some other means always have caps on both losses and gains. It’s the caps on gains, combined with the high fees and cumbersome complexity of these policies, that make many professionals say they are not a true investment product. These policies can be beneficial if handled correctly, but they are often not as profitable as their “illustration” tables and charts make them seem. Each customer should carefully consider whether the investment possibilities of life insurance are right for their current needs.

Where Can I Find Online Tools to Get Quotes On Life Insurance Policies?

Most life insurance companies provide quote tools on their own websites. By entering your birth date, gender, height, weight, basic health status, and tobacco use habits, you can usually get at least a rough idea of how much a term policy will cost you per month. However, some companies will not allow you to get a quote online and will instead direct you to an agent or ask for your full contact information 

If you want to look at several life insurance quotes at once, you can find a local insurance broker or you can use an online brokerage service to look up term life insurance quotes. Some websites will require your contact information before showing you any quotes.  Make sure you know whether or not your information will be sold if you do choose to share a phone number or email address. 

Works Cited

  1. “GrandFacts.” AARP,  circa 2010, https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/relationships/friends-family/grandfacts/grandfacts-national.pdf. Accessed 29 September 2020. 
  2. “Facts + Statistics: Life insurance.” III, 2020, https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-life-insurance. Accessed September 29 2020.  
  3. “About Us.” A.M. Best, 2020, http://www.ambest.com/about/.  Accessed 29 September 2020.
  4. “S&P Global.” S&P, 2020,  https://www.standardandpoors.com/en_US/web/guest/home.  
  5. “Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric but Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds.” J.D. Power, 2019,  https://www.jdpower.com/system/files/legacy/assets/2019208%2520U.S.%2520Life%2520Insurance%2520Study.pdf. Accessed  21 September 2020. 
  6. “Industry Directory.” III, date unknown, https://www.iii.org/services/directory/company-categories/state-insurance-departments. Accessed 29 September 2020.  
  7. “Female Life Expectancy.” WHO, circa 2020, https://www.who.int/gho/women_and_health/mortality/situation_trends_life_expectancy/en/.  Accessed 17 September 2020. 
  8.  Reid, T.R. and Schwartz, Jason. “Montana Implements Policy Of ‘Unisex’ Insurance.”  Washington Post, 1 October 1985, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1985/10/01/montana-implements-policy-of-unisex-insurance/c8897a22-a667-4d6e-acb2-b695702e1b31/. Accessed 18 September 2020.  
  9. “Can the results of direct-to-consumer genetic testing affect my ability to get insurance?”  NIH, 12 August 2020,  https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/dtcgenetictesting/dtcinsurancerisk. Accessed 29 September 2020.