Money Matters

Top 10 Largest Life Insurance Companies in the U.S.

While many companies offer life insurance to Americans, some are bigger than others. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) 2023 “Life and Fraternal Insurance Industry Report,” New York Life Group, Northwestern Mutual Group, and Metropolitan Group topped the list of largest companies in terms of direct amounts written.

But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Here’s a look at the 10 largest US life insurance companies and suggestions on how to find the right one for you.

1. New York Life Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $13,287,777,787
  • 2023 market share: 6.86%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $2,000,000,000
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 794/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A++

Founded in New York City in 1845, The New York Life Insurance Company is a long-standing mutual company. It offers a variety of life insurance products, along with disability insurance, long-term care, annuity, and financial planning.

New York Life landed the spot as the largest life insurance company in 2023 with more than $13.2 billion in direct writing and a market share of 6.86%. It also paid $2 billion in dividends in 2023.

2. Northwestern Mutual Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $13,061,706,856
  • 2023 market share: 6.74%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $6,750,000,000
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 790/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A++

With roots dating back to the 1850s, Northwestern Mutual is a long-standing mutual company serving more than five million customers. It offers financial planning services, disability insurance, long-term care, and life insurance along with annuities.

On the life insurance front, Northwestern Mutual is the second-largest insurer in 2023 with a total of more than $13 billion in direct written premium and a market share of 6.74%. The insurer also paid an impressive $6.75 billion in dividends to its policyholders. That’s three times the dividend paid by any other competitor.

3. Metropolitan Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $12,284,718,024
  • 2023 market share: 6.34%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $0
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 802/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A+

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, also known as MetLife, opened for business in 1868. It is currently a publicly traded company with more than 49,000 employees in more than 40 countries.

MetLife no longer sells life insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, or disability insurance to U.S. residents. These offerings have been separated and are now offered through Brighthouse Financial, which has become an independent company.

MetLife still offers group life insurance with coverage for vision, dental, pets, accident, disability, hospital indemnity, critical illness, and cancer.

4. Prudential of America Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $10,923,713,601
  • 2023 market share: 5.64%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $0
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 779/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A+

“Prudential Insurance Company of America” was founded in 1875. Today, it is a publicly traded company serving more than 50 million customers in more than 50 countries. In the US, Prudential offers individual life insurance policies including term life, whole life, universal life, and more. In addition, the group provides life insurance, individual health insurance, retirement solutions, and investment management services. Prudential earned its spot as the fourth largest life insurer in the US after writing more than $10.9 billion in direct premiums in 2023.

5. Mass Mutual Life Insurance Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $9,204,566,734
  • 2023 market share: 4.75%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $2,150,000,000
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 809/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A++

Mass Mutual Life Insurance Group was founded in 1851 and remains a mutual insurance company more than 170 years later. The company offers various life insurance policies including whole, universal, and variable options. Additionally, it provides annuities, disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, brokerage products, and financial planning services. In 2023, it directly wrote more than $9.2 billion in life insurance premiums and paid out more than $2.15 billion in dividends.

6. Lincoln National Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $8,322,502,167
  • 2023 market share: 4.30%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $0
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 788/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A

Lincoln National Group, also known as Lincoln Financial Group, is an American financial services company founded in 1905 and publicly traded since 1969. Lincoln offers life insurance, annuities, employee benefits, and retirement planning services. In 2023, it was the sixth largest life insurer with over $8.3 billion in direct premiums written and a market share of 4.30%.

7. Nationwide Corporate Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $5,802,222,162
  • 2023 market share: 3.00%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $0
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 840/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A

Nationwide is an insurance company that dates back to 1926 and has been publicly traded since 1997. It offers a wide variety of insurance and financial products, including life, auto, and property insurance. Nationwide also provides businesses with employee benefits, vehicle insurance, liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and more. The insurer ranked seventh with $5.8 billion in direct premiums written and a 3.00% market share in 2023.

8. State Farm Group

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $5,754,456,473
  • 2023 market share: 2.97%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $725,000,000
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 843/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A++

State Farm was founded in the 1920s as an auto insurance company. By 1929, it expanded to include life insurance. Today, the company offers term, whole, and universal life insurance, along with disability, liability, home, property, and business coverage products. State Farm is the eighth largest life insurer with more than $5.7 billion in direct premiums written in 2023 and a market share of 2.97%. It also paid $725 million in dividends to life insurance policyholders last year.

9. Aegon USA Holding Group/Transamerica

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $5,103,997,736
  • 2023 market share: 2.64%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: $0
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 757/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A

Aegon is an international financial holding group with wholly owned entities in the United States and the United Kingdom. Although the fund was founded in 1844 as a funeral fund, it has grown to serve more than 29.5 million clients worldwide. In the US, Aegon operates primarily as Transamerica and offers life insurance and annuities along with retirement, investment, and employee benefit solutions. In 2023, the company directly wrote more than $5.1 billion in life insurance premiums and achieved a market share of 2.64%.

10. Minnesota Mutual Group/Securian

  • 2023 direct cash amount written: $4,954,030,541
  • 2023 market share: 2.56%
  • 2023 Policyholder Dividends Paid: NA
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: 793/1000
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A+

Minnesota Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Securian Financial Group, was founded in Minnesota in 1880. It offers a range of products for individuals, financial professionals, financial institutions, and financial services companies. On the personal front, Minnesota Life Insurance provides life insurance, accident and sickness insurance, annuities, and credit protection policies. In 2023, it wrote more than $4.9 billion in direct life insurance and achieved a market share of 2.56%.

What to look for in a life insurance company

When shopping for a life insurance company, look beyond the size of the insurer. Here are the main factors to consider:

  • Types of policies available: Insurers may offer one or more of the following life insurance plans: term life, whole life, universal life, indexed universal life, and variable universal life.
  • Death benefit maximum amount: Insurers differ in the maximum death benefit amount they offer.
  • Eligibility: Insurers may limit who can purchase a life insurance policy based on age, health, location, and other factors.
  • Policy price: Policy premium amounts vary from one insurer to another.
  • Riders: Riders add to your life insurance policy, for example, child term coverage, premium waiver, accidental death benefit, and living benefit. Availability varies by insurer.
  • Exam requirements: Some life insurance policies and providers require a medical exam, while others do not.
  • Dividends to policyholders: If the insurer is a mutual company, they may pay dividends to policyholders. Publicly traded insurance companies pay these dividends to their shareholders instead.
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index: J.D. Power provides a customer satisfaction index that helps understand the satisfaction of former policyholders.
  • AM Best Financial Strength Rating (FSR): AM Best provides an independent view of insurers’ ability to meet their ongoing insurance financial obligations.
  • Complaint index of NAIC: The NAIC complaint index helps understand the number of complaints received by the insurer.

The best life insurance company for you is the one that best meets your needs, from policy type and price to financial strength and customer service. It can be helpful to determine your needs before shopping so you can rule out insurers that aren’t a good fit. From here, collect and compare quotes to find the overall best fit.

Big vs. Small Life Insurance Companies

While each life insurance company is unique, the size of the insurer tends to affect certain aspects of its offerings. For example, larger companies tend to have longer lifespans and higher levels of revenue. As a result, they often have better financial strength, serve larger geographic areas, provide more benefits, and have a wider selection of products.

On the other hand, smaller operations can provide you with more personal service and offer more flexibility. For example, they may be more flexible about their underwriting requirements and policy options. If you’re having trouble getting life insurance from the big players, a smaller company may be able to offer you coverage that’s customized for your situation.

In either case, you should definitely check insurers based on the above factors, specifically a company’s AM Best FSR, J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating, policy options, and pricing.

Main Metrics for Measuring the Performance of a Life Insurance Company

You can determine the performance of a life insurance company by checking its direct premiums written over the past year and the percentage of market share it has held. The change in market share percentage over the year also helps to understand the development trend of the company by showing whether it is growing or losing ground to competitors.

Another factor to consider is how the company is rated in the recent J.D. Power rankings for US individual life insurance companies. J.D. Power provides a customer satisfaction index ranking based on a 1000-point scale (1000 being the best). By checking the latest report, you can see how a life insurer’s customer service compares to competitors and the industry average.

AM Best’s Financial Strength Rating (FSR) is also a helpful metric. It provides an independent opinion on the financial stability of insurance providers and their ability to meet their financial obligations.

What is Life Insurance and What Does it Cover?

Life insurance allows you to leave your death benefit to a chosen beneficiary when you die, in exchange for paying premiums during your lifetime. The death benefit can be used by your beneficiary as desired. Common uses include paying funeral and burial expenses, replacing your income, and paying off remaining debts (e.g., mortgage, car loan, etc.).

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost?

The cost of life insurance depends on various factors such as your age, health status, type of coverage, amount of coverage, and more. For the average person in perfect health, a $500,000, 30-year term life policy would cost anywhere from $25 to $125 a month, depending on age and sex, according to quotes from Quotacy.

A permanent life policy usually has a guaranteed death benefit and cash value component, making it significantly more expensive than term life policies.

What is the Largest Life Insurance Company in the United States?

New York Life Group is currently the largest life insurance company by direct amounts written, with a market share of 6.86%.

Conclusion

The 10 largest insurance companies have been around for a hundred years or more, with a few even dating back to the 1800s. In addition, they all have strong customer service and financial strength ratings.

One differentiating factor is whether the company offers dividends. Some are mutual companies owned by their policyholders, while others have chosen to go public. The benefit of going with a mutual company is the potential to earn dividends on your policy each year. Beyond that, the right answer will depend on reviewing the fine print of each insurer’s offerings and comparing quotes to find the one that best suits your particular situation.

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