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The Best Whole Life Insurance Offers of 2020

Life insurance isn’t a topic people like thinking about. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that the death of a family’s financial pillar can leave their dependents struggling to get by. While there is no way to predict the unthinkable, there are ways to protect your loved ones from a financial fallout. That’s where the best whole life insurance options come in.

If you wish to leave behind a tax-free inheritance, fund a trust for your children or grandchildren, accumulate cash value within a life insurance policy, or secure the funds for your family to cover your funeral expenses, the only thing left to do is choose the right provider.

If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry; we’re here to help you make your way through the life insurance market.

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The Best Whole Life Insurance Companies - Top 3 Picks

Top 3 Picks

Penn Mutual

Accelerated death benefit at no additional cost

High dividend rate

Excellent customer service

Get a Quote READ REVIEW

New York Life

Multiple options for whole life insurance

Customizable payment schedule

User-friendly website

Get a Quote READ REVIEW

MassMutual

Wide variety of whole life policies

High dividend rates

Easy online premium payments

Get a Quote READ REVIEW

5 Best Whole Life Insurance Offers

1. Penn Mutual

Accelerated death benefit at no additional cost

High dividend rate

Excellent customer service

Coverage amount:

$50,000-$1,000,000

Get a Quote

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Founded in 1847, Penn Mutual is one of the oldest life insurance providers in the country. Nowadays, this high-dividend-paying company offers a broad selection of life insurance policies to individuals, families, and businesses.

Read full review

Whole life policy type

Participating

Coverage length

up to age 121

Issue ages

0-90

Health classifications

Standard and preferred

Cash value access

Yes

Dividend rate for 2020

6.1

A.M. Best rating

A+

2. New York Life

Multiple options for whole life insurance

Customizable payment schedule

User-friendly website

Coverage amount:

$10,000-$1,000,000

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New York Life is an insurance company that has been in the business for more than 170 years. It offers a great selection of life insurance products, as well as a number of add-ons and customizable options.

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Whole life policy type

Participating

Coverage length

up to age 121

Issue ages

0-90

Health classifications

Standard and preferred

Cash value access

Yes

Dividend rate for 2020

6.0

A.M. Best rating

A++

3. MassMutual

Wide variety of whole life policies

High dividend rates

Easy online premium payments

Coverage amount:

$25,000-$1,000,000

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MassMutual is a dividend-paying life insurance provider that has been operating for more than 160 years. Its most sought-after products are whole life policies, which come in a number of forms. The company offers one of the industry's highest dividend rates and has a superior financial rating.

Read full review

Whole life policy type

Participating

Coverage length

up to age 121

Issue ages

0-90; 18-85 for survivorship policy

Health classifications

Standard and preferred

Cash value access

Yes

Dividend rate for 2020

6.2

A.M. Best rating

A++

4. Transamerica

Wide range of face amounts

Tax-deferred cash value component

Coverage options for companies and individuals

Coverage amount:

$2,000-$3,000,000

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Transamerica was founded in 1904 on the premise that financial services should be accessible to everyone. It offers a wide range of life insurance options to companies and individuals and have already served in excess of 13 million customers.

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Whole life policy type

Non-participating

Coverage length

up to age 121

Issue ages

0-80

Health classifications

Standard

Cash value access

Yes

Dividend rate for 2020

N/A

A.M. Best rating:

A

5. Guardian Life

Policies for healthy people living with HIV

Survivorship policy option

Dividend-paying company

Coverage amount:

$25,000-$1,000,000

Get a Quote

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Guardian Life is a mutual financial company based in New York. It was founded in 1860 and today offers an array of financial and insurance products, including one of the best options for whole life coverage.

Read full review

Whole life policy type

Participating

Coverage length

up to age 121

Issue ages

0-80

Health classifications

Standard and preferred

Cash value access

Yes

Dividend rate for 2020

5.65

A.M. Best rating

A-

How We Pick the Best Companies for Whole Life Insurance

At Fortunly, we believe you should never go shopping for a financial product unprepared. Understanding all the features that a certain service provides is of the utmost importance, especially when you’re debating whether you should commit to purchasing whole life insurance.

Before we dive into our comprehensive reviews, here’s an overview of our methodology to help guide you through the process of picking the best whole life coverage.

Financial Strength

When it comes to determining what is the best whole life insurance carrier, looking at each company’s financial stability rating is one of the most important steps. Keep in mind that whole life insurance is a lifelong financial commitment, so you shouldn’t settle for a company that might not be able to pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries in the long run.

Policy Features

Whole life policies come with a set of specific benefits that usually include guaranteed lifelong protection (this means the policy won’t expire before your death), an accumulating cash value component, predictable premiums, tax-free loans, and a financial safety net for your beneficiaries in the form of a tax-free death benefit.

Depending on the carrier, the best whole life insurance for seniors and younger individuals comes with a long list of policy riders (also referred to as add-ons).

These include the accelerated death benefit, disability waiver of premium, accelerated and enhanced paid-up additions, long-term care, overloan protection benefit, children’s term life insurance, estate protection, index participation feature, surrender value enhancement, and guaranteed insurability option. In some cases, add-ons such as the accelerated death benefit can come free of additional cost.

Policy Type and Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates

Depending on the business model of the insurance company offering whole life coverage, policies can be participating and non-participating.

Participating policies are issued by mutual insurance companies and come with dividend-earning opportunities. Although the annual dividend rates are not guaranteed, and policyholders can only expect payouts if the company does well, this is still a great way to improve your overall financial situation.

When comparing carriers, keep in mind that the best rates for whole life insurance dividends aren’t necessarily the ones that were the highest last year, but those that have been stable for a longer period of time.

Cash Value Component

The guaranteed cash value that increases over time is one of the primary advantages of whole life insurance. So, how does the cash value component work? The deal is simple – each time you pay a premium, a portion of the payment goes towards building the cash value at a guaranteed interest rate.

Unlike the interest rate on a savings account, the cash value interest rate isn’t affected by market changes. Once enough cash value has been accumulated, you can borrow the money from your cash value life insurance. Just remember that if you don’t pay the loan back, the carrier will reduce your death benefit.

Health Classifications

Over the course of applying for life insurance, even the best whole life insurance providers will ask you to take a medical exam. The results of this examination will be crucial for policy underwriting as they will set the guidelines for your insurance rates. There are two main health classifications: the standard and the preferred risk category.

If you fall into the standard category, your health isn’t great. That means you have minor health issues, take multiple medications, and have a family history of serious diseases.

Those who take almost no medications, have a good health history, and hardly any critical disease cases in their family history should fall into the preferred category. The best whole life insurance company should accept applicants in both health risk categories.

5 Top-Rated Whole Life Insurance Companies

Penn Mutual is one of the oldest and most reputable life insurance carriers in the United States. The company sells a broad selection of life insurance policies through a nationwide network of advisors. It’s well-known as one of the best dividendpaying whole life insurance carriers.

History and Financial Strength

Penn Mutual life insurance company was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1847, and it paid its first death benefit the following year. This carrier is a mutual company, which means that if you purchase a whole life policy from Penn Mutual, you can expect a dividend payout each year the company does well.

For 2020, the company set its total dividend payout amount at $100 million. Penn Mutual received an A+ rating from A. M. Best in the most recent round of updates.

Coverage and Policy Features

Undoubtedly one of America’s best whole life insurance carriers, Penn Mutual offers its services to individuals, families, and businesses. As a part of whole life coverage, you are guaranteed cash value accumulation, fixed premiums, and, of course, a death benefit that will be paid to your beneficiaries.

One of the best things about this type of life insurance is the tax-deferred growing cash value, which can be a valuable contribution towards your overall financial plan.

Apart from standard individual whole life insurance, Penn Mutual offers second-to-die policies that protect two individuals. This company’s whole life options come with an accelerated death benefit rider at no additional cost.

Penn Mutual is one of the best-rated whole life insurance companies when it comes to optional policy riders. These include the accidental death benefit, accelerated and enhanced paid-up additions, disability waiver of premium, children’s term life insurance, overloan protection benefit, and surrender value enhancement.

Why Choose Penn Mutual?

Not many whole life insurance providers offer the accelerated death benefit rider free of charge. Penn Mutual is one of them. This type of benefit guarantees you access to a portion of the death benefit and can be invaluable if you get diagnosed with a chronic, critical, or terminal disease.

Penn Mutual is one of the most popular whole life insurance providers not only because it offers competitive coverage options, but also because its dividend rates are stable and among the best on the market.

As far as options to make the most of the 6.1 dividend rate go, you can use the money for premium reduction, loan repayment, paid-up additions, term insurance purchase, dividend accumulations. You can even withdraw the funds as cash.

Penn Mutual is among the top-rated whole life insurance companies in terms of customer support. You can get in touch with phone support agents on weekdays from 8:30 am to 6 pm EST. Alternatively, if you need to make a payment or manage your account, the company’s online customer center is the place to turn to.

Bottom Line

If you‘re in the market for whole life coverage provided by a trustworthy carrier, you should definitely request a quote from Penn Mutual. Not only has the company been in business for over 170 years, it’s also one of the most financially stable options out there.

Reasons to Buy:

Accelerated death benefit at no additional cost

High dividend rate

Excellent customer service

With a market share of approximately 6%, New York Life is one of the largest life insurance carriers in the United States. Headquartered in New York, the company offers a variety of life insurance products to businesses and individuals. It’s well-known for providing some of the best-rated whole life insurance options.

History and Financial Strength

Founded in 1841 as Nautilus Mutual Life, the carrier’s initial focus was on marine and fire insurance. Four years later, the company changed its name to New York Life and started selling life insurance. This carrier was the first to issue life insurance policies at the same price to both women and men.

Today, New York Life is a mutual insurance company that offers some of the industry’s best whole life insurance policies. Although annual dividends are not guaranteed, the company has been paying them to its policyholders for 164 years in a row.

It’s expected that New York Life will pay $1.9 billion in dividends in 2020. This company’s exceptional financial strength also shows with its A++ from A.M. Best.

Coverage and Policy Features

New York Life offers a huge selection of life insurance products. When it comes to whole life insurance plans, customers are presented with three different options: standard, value, and custom whole life coverage.

The value whole life policy is meant for those who are getting close to retirement and want to maximize their coverage, while the custom option is perfect if you want to schedule premium payments for a specific period to fit your budget better.

A coverage calculator and document processing are available online. However, you’ll need to get in touch with New York Life’s agents to get whole life insurance quotes.

According to the information provided online, each whole life policy comes with a lifetime coverage period, a tax-deferred cash value component accessible during the policy owner’s lifetime, and the eligibility to earn dividends.

As far as options to customize your coverage go, New York Life offers a few policy riders. These include the disability waiver of premium, the option to purchase paid-up additions, chronic care, living benefit, and the accidental death benefit option.

Why Choose New York Life?

As one of the top-rated whole life insurance companies, New York Life offers many convenient policy features, including a customizable payment schedule. This feature comes with its whole life policy and gives the insured the option to eliminate their premiums in later years by paying the coverage off early.

Another great thing about this carrier’s policy options are the add-ons, which will ensure that you’re protected if you become disabled or get diagnosed with a terminal illness.

New York Life offers flexibility when it comes to the death benefit payout, too. The face amount can be paid in a lump sum, or alternatively the beneficiaries can purchase an annuity and get paid in installments.

As one of the best whole life insurance carriers that pay dividends, New York Life provides several options to make the most of the funds. You can use them for paid-up addition purchases, premium payments, and dividend accumulation, or you can use them to withdraw cash.

Bottom Line

Thanks to its wide range of life insurance products, New York Life has been among the most popular carriers for over 170 years. Its user-friendly website, highly-rated customer support, and almost unmatched financial security make this provider a strong choice for anyone looking for the best whole life insurance policy.

Reasons to Buy:

Multiple options for whole life insurance

Customizable payment schedule

User-friendly website

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company – commonly known as MassMutual – is one of the largest and most trusted life insurers in the United States. It offers a full range of financial services and products, including some of the best whole life insurance plans.

The Company’s History and Financial Strength

MassMutual was founded in 1851 and its headquarters are located in Springfield, Massachusetts. Not only is this carrier one of the oldest insurers in the nation, it’s also among the most financially stable. MassMutual holds an “A++” rate from A.M. Best, which gives its users peace of mind knowing that the carrier will be able to service any policy.

Given that the company has been in the business for more than 160 years and has never missed an annual dividend payment to its policyholders, it’s safe to say that this is one of the best dividend-paying whole life insurance companies in the United States.

Coverage and Policy Features

The list of MassMutual’s whole life insurance products includes the Legacy 100 (a policy that pays until age 100), the Legacy 65 (pays until age 65), the Legacy 20 Pay (a policy that is meant to be fully paid after 20 years of premium payments), the Legacy 10 Pay (paid in 10 years), and the High Early Cash Value (a policy that pays until age 85).

MassMutual also offers a survivorship whole life insurance plan that comes in two versions: the Survivor Legacy 100 (pays until age 100), and the Survivor Legacy 20 (fully paid in 20 premium-paying years).

All policy options have come with cash value, guaranteed level premiums, and lifetime coverage periods. As far as policy riders go, MassMutual offers survivorship benefits, accelerated death benefits, estate protection, and disability benefits.

Keep in mind that all MassMutual policies require medical underwriting and are provided through the company’s insurance agents.

Why Choose MassMutual?

MassMutual offers some of the best whole life insurance policies in the industry. Apart from the wide range of policy types, its coverage options come with a number of useful features and add-ons, including the option to convert a term life policy to a permanent one.

When it comes to online tools, MassMutual offers an easy way to set up premium payments and view your bills. You can also use the online insurance calculator to choose the best policy type, determine the right coverage amount for your needs, and calculate your whole life insurance cost.

As far as dividend options go, you can withdraw them as cash or use them to reduce premiums, reduce loans and loan interest, purchase additions, or use them for dividend accumulation.

The company also offers a number of convenient options when it comes to the health benefit payout. Beneficiaries can get the face amount in a lump sum, or opt for monthly payments or investments.

Bottom Line

MassMutual offers one of the best whole life insurance rates and a wide range of policy types. Whole life insurance is the core of this carrier’s portfolio, and its best selling product type. Given its high dividend rates and exceptional level of financial strength, MassMutual is a smart choice for absolutely anyone.

Reasons to Buy

Wide variety of whole life policies

High dividend rates

Easy online premium payments

Transamerica is a privately held financial company that provides its services to businesses and individuals. The list of its products includes mutual funds, retirement services, annuities, workplace benefits, and an array of life insurance policies.

As far as life insurance options go, Transamerica sells variable universal, index universal, term, and whole life insurance. Although availability details can vary by service, the company offers its insurance products in all 50 states, as well as Washington DC.

History and Financial Strength

Transamerica was founded in 1904 on the premise that financial services should be made affordable and accessible to everyone. Since its launch, the company has served more than 13 million customers nationwide. As far as its financial stability goes, you can rest assured that Transamerica life insurance carrier is one of the safest choices out there. The company has an A from A.M. Best rating, which means that its financial strength is very good.

Coverage and Policy Features

As one of the best whole life insurance companies, Transamerica offers whole life policies with death benefit amounts ranging from $2,000 to $3 million. As far as policy options go, this carrier offers individual and group whole life coverage.

Individual whole life insurance provides face amounts from $25,000 to $2 million. This type of insurance also comes with a cash value component that you can access in the form of a loan in case of an emergency. Group whole life policies can’t be purchased individually – they are provided as a voluntary benefit through your employer. To become eligible for up to $25,000 in guaranteed whole life coverage, you’ll just need to answer a few simple health-related questions.

Transamerica’s whole life coverage comes with a cash value component that is tax-deferred and increases over time. In other words, the longer you pay premiums, the more the cash value on your policy builds up. You can access the cash value any time in the form of a loan. To make sure loans don’t affect your total death benefit amount, you need to repay what you owe on time.

One of the downsides is that you can’t get a quote for whole life insurance online. The only way to confirm your pricing options is through an insurance agent.

Why Choose Transamerica?

If you decide to go for Transamerica’s whole life options, you’ll get the benefit of a tax-deferred cash value as well as a tax-free death benefit. Also, you won’t have to worry about premiums increasing due to age or having to wait for a certain period before the coverage begins.

As one of the best whole life insurance policy providers, Transamerica offers an additional policy that comes with accelerated death benefits (also referred to as living benefits) in cases of chronic or terminal illness.

When it comes to payment methods, the carrier accepts checks, credit cards, and bank drafts. You can also set up autopay. Premiums can be paid on a monthly basis, as well as quarterly, every six months, and annually.

Bottom Line

Unlike most of the companies on our list, Transamerica isn’t a dividend-paying whole life insurance provider. On the other hand, it offers one of the widest face amount ranges on the market. Its financial stability and longevity make this life insurer a smart choice for businesses and individuals alike.

Reasons to Buy

Wide range of face amounts

Tax-deferred cash value component

Coverage options for companies and individuals

Guardian Life is an insurance company that specializes in a few different financial products and services. These include life insurance, wealth management and investments, disability income insurance, critical illness and dental insurance, individual vision and dental insurance, and annuities.

History and Financial Strength

Founded in 1860 as a mutual company, Guardian Life is among those whole life insurance providers that are owned by its policyholders. It has been paying annual dividends to its customers every year since 1868, and it’s estimated to pay a record amount of $982 million in dividends in 2020.

When it comes to financial strength, Guardian Life holds an A- rating from A.M. Best, which makes this insurance carrier a safe choice for anyone.

Coverage and Policy Features

Guardian Life offers an array of different life insurance options. Its standard whole life policy comes with permanent guaranteed life insurance, dividend payment potential, cash value that grows over time, a tax-sensible asset for loans, and tax benefits.

This carrier also offers a whole life survivorship policy named Guardian EstateGuard. Also referred to as a second-to-die policy, this type of insurance covers multiple people – usually spouses – on one policy. What makes any survivorship policy different from regular whole life coverage options is that the beneficiary is paid the death benefit after the second person dies.

The Guardian EstateGuard whole life insurance policy comes with a few unique features, such as an increase in cash value after the first person passes away and the option to add more coverage in the early years of the policy.

Guardian Life is also among the very few carriers that offer whole life insurance policies to healthy people living with HIV. Eligible applicants must be aged between 20 and 60, free of AIDS-defining illnesses, on highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) for at least two years with favorable lab results, and under the care of an HIV-specialist doctor.

The list of riders available for whole life policies can vary by state. However, it usually includes the waiver of premium, index participation feature, paid-up additions, long-term care, and guaranteed insurability option.

Why Choose Guardian Life?

As we’ve already mentioned, this insurance provider works as a mutual company, which means it’s owned by its policyholders who get paid dividends each year. As far as dividend options go, you can accumulate them or use them to reduce premium and loan amounts, purchase paid-up additions, and offset premiums.

It’s the above-average overall customer satisfaction score that makes Guardian Life one of the best whole life insurance companies. You can get in touch with the carrier’s support via phone Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST on Fridays.

You can also fill out a contact form on the company’s website, or send a letter to Guardian Life’s PO box.

Bottom Line

As one of the nation’s oldest life insurance providers, Guardian Life is also one of the largest carriers that provides reasonably priced life insurance. One of its biggest downsides is that its whole life insurance rates are not available online. However, you can purchase policies or get quotes through an insurance agent.

Reasons to Buy

Policies for healthy people living with HIV

Survivorship policy option

Dividend-paying company

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the average premium for whole life insurance?

The annual cost of whole life insurance is between $5,000 and $10,000 on average. If you compare life insurance rates, you’ll see that term life coverage is much more affordable than the whole life option. However, it’s important to bear in mind that whole life insurance is a much more complex financial product that consists of a life insurance policy and an investment account.

2. Which whole life insurance company is best?

Here’s a list of the best rated whole life insurance policies of 2020:

• Penn Mutual: the best whole life insurance for living benefits at no additional cost.
• New York Life: the best whole life insurance for customizable payment schedules.
• Mass Mutual: the best whole life insurance for high-dividend rates.
• Transamerica: the best whole life insurance for high death benefits.
• Guardian Life: the best whole life insurance for survivorship options and people with HIV.

3. What is a survivorship policy?

If you’re not sure whether you should buy whole life insurance on your own, maybe you should consider a joint policy. The survivorship policy (also referred to as the second-to-die policy) is a type of joint life coverage that pays the death benefit after the death of the second policyholder.

This type of coverage is a great option for a high-net-worth married couple who plan on transferring a business or an estate to their heirs without creating a huge inheritance tax burden.

4. What does it mean to be a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person or entity named by a policyholder in a policy of life insurance (whole life, term life, or universal life) to receive the death benefit. The beneficiary can be one person, two or more individuals, a trustee of a trust set up by the policyholder, a charity organization, or the estate of the policyholder.

After the policyholder’s death, the beneficiary gets paid the face amount of the death benefit in a lump sum, or in another form offered by the insurance company.

Every life insurance policy should have two levels of beneficiaries: primary and contingent. If the primary beneficiaries can’t be found after the death of the policyholder, the contingent beneficiaries should receive the death benefit. If neither primary nor contingent beneficiaries can be located, the face amount will be paid to the policyholder’s estate.

5. What is the difference between whole life and term life insurance?

One of the biggest differences between the two life insurance options is the length of coverage. Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage that doesn’t expire, while the term option has an end date and usually expires after 10, 20, 30, or 45 years.

Apart from that, whole life insurance carries a cash value component. This unique feature works as an investment account that you can borrow against and it’s exclusive to whole life policies.

Another huge difference is cost-related. If you decide to purchase life-long coverage, keep in mind that even the most affordable whole life insurance options are at least six times more expensive than term policies.

Lastly, if you decide to purchase a whole life policy from a mutual company, you can expect an annual dividend each year the company does well.

6. What are the disadvantages of whole life insurance?

Whole life coverage comes with a number of upsides and downsides. Although they provide lifelong protection and accumulate cash value, even the most affordable whole life insurance policies are still very expensive. Also, they are usually not as flexible in terms of changing the amount of coverage as other permanent options. Depending on the market, they can be a bad investment option.

7. Is whole life insurance worth it?

If you’re a relatively young, high-income-earning individual looking for a way to eventually pass on the money to your family, a whole life policy is one of the best life insurance products to consider. However, keep in mind that even the best whole life insurance offer won’t be a great choice if you don’t need lifelong coverage.