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Last updated on Jan 07, 2020

The Best Term Life Insurance

Our top picks for best term life insurance with robust coverage and strong financial backing ​
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How We Found the Best Term Life Insurance Companies

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50 hours of research

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19 companies considered

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3 top providers

The Best Term Life Insurance Companies

The best term life insurance companies should issue robust coverage, plenty of riders, level premiums, and term-to-permanent conversion options. The financial advisors we consulted agree which is why we kept all this in mind when putting together this rundown. We whittled down a starting list of 71 life insurance companies to a shortlist of 19, before deciding on the three with the best term life insurance policies. Everything was taken into account from the number of states served to the financial strength ratings of each, in what amounted to 50 hours of solid research. After all, we wanted to be thorough when recommending the most-widely available term life insurance companies which also had the financial clout to settle any claims. However, this is just a starting point. The final step, finding the cheapest premium, will be up to you.

The 3 Best Term Life Insurance Companies

    The Best Term Life Insurance Companies: Summed Up

    State Farm New York Life Transamerica
    Our review Our review Our review
    The best
    Customer service For flexible terms For affordable policies
    States served
    47 50 50
    S&P Global financial strength rating
    AA AA+ AA-
    A.M. Best financial strength rating
    A++ A++ A
    Moody’s financial strength rating
    Aa1 Aaa A1
    30-year term?
    J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study score
    5/5 4/5 2/5
    Compare rates Compare rates Compare rates

    Best Term Life for Customer Service: State Farm Life Insurance

    Best Customer Satisfaction
    State Farm
    State Farm


    Award-winning customer satisfaction
    Impressive financial strength
    Range of term lengths


    Lacks Accelerated Death Benefit

    Why we chose it

    Award-winning customer satisfaction

    Prior to the most recent J.D. power survey, State Farm held the highest customer satisfaction rating for five years running until Northwestern Mutual jumped ahead to the #1 spot. That being said, State Farm comes in a very close second as the only other provider, besides Northwestern, to earn a rating of five out of five stars in overall customer satisfaction. We take these customer rankings into strong consideration and so should you: When it comes to a product as personal and weighty as life insurance, you want to find a provider that offers great coverage and makes the insurance process go as smoothly as possible.

    Impressive financial strength

    State Farm also boasts some of the best financial strength ratings in the industry: A++ from A.M. Best, AA from S&P Global, and Aa1 from Moody’s. Financial strength is especially important when it comes to life insurance. Such contracts can last anywhere from five years to the rest of your life. Your provider needs to remain solvent for many years down the road, and top financial strength scores are the best way to guarantee it won’t go under.

    Range of term lengths

    State Farm allows you to convert your term policy to a permanent one through age 75, “regardless of health” (meaning no second medical exam). Terms between 10 and 30 years can only be bought in increments of 10 years, which does limit flexibility. However, a 20-year policy, which State Farm offers, remains the most popular option and “will do the job for 90%-plus of Americans,” according to one life insurance expert.

    Points to consider

    Lacks Accelerated Death Benefit

    The biggest drawback to State Farm’s term life insurance is that it doesn’t offer an Accelerated Death Benefit rider for terminally ill policyholders. While the relative merits of this particular rider can be debated (using it automatically depletes the death benefit amount for your beneficiaries), State Farm stands out as the only provider that doesn’t offer it. And while State Farm does offer a Flexible Care Benefit rider, the provider clearly states that this is for chronic illness which does not necessarily overlap with terminal illness as defined by an accelerated death benefit. If you are suffering from a terminal illness, this rider will not apply nor will it even be an option for California and New York residents.

    Best Term Life for Flexible Term Lengths: New York Life Insurance

    Most Flexible Terms
    New York Life
    New York Life


    Flexible policies
    Consumer education


    Limited term adjustment

    Why we chose it

    Flexible policies

    With New York Life, you can choose any term length between 10 and 20 years (although there’s no longer-term, 30-year option). You could buy a 16-year policy to coincide with the exact time your last child will graduate from college, or, say, an 11-year policy to match the age when your spouse’s pension kicks in. About the only thing that kept New York Life from sharing the top spot was its conversion privilege stipulation: If you decide to convert to a permanent policy after the first 10 years of your term, you’ll need to purchase a separate rider.

    Consumer education

    New York Life excels at consumer education. Its site has impressively easy-to-read explanations of tricky subjects, like the investment theories backing term insurance versus those in favor of permanent life insurance. It might not seem worthwhile to dive into the philosophy behind insurance policies on your first go-around — but we’re all only getting older (and therefore more expensive to insure). Now’s the time to figure it all out.

    Points to consider

    Limited term adjustment

    New York Life only offers term limits between 10 and 20 years. While its Policy Purchase Option does allow you to buy a new replacement term policy at several set dates (like when you hit a certain age or experience certain life events) without a second medical exam, the premium will increase based on your current age.

    Best Term Life for Affordable Policies: Transamerica Life Insurance

    Most Affordable Policies


    Flexible term life policies
    Generally more affordable than competitors


    Below-average customer satisfaction

    Why we chose it

    Flexible term life policies

    Transamerica offers term limits between 10 to 30 years in five-year increments. That’s not as variable as New York Life’s, which gives you any limit between 10 to 20 years, but it’s still a wide enough range that customers should be able to find a policy with the term lengths and amounts ideal for almost life situation.

    Generally more affordable than competitors

    Transamerica’s starting death benefit of $25,000 is one of the lowest entry points we’ve seen in the market thus far. And, best of all, a low death benefit usually means lower premiums, making Transamerica potentially one of the most affordable options for term life insurance policies of our top picks.

    Points to consider

    Below-average customer satisfaction

    Transamerica doesn’t have the highest ratings from J.D. Power. It received a two out of five in overall satisfaction, with one of the major pain points being annual statements and billing (which refers to the ease and helpfulness of statements and online billing options). Another area where Transamerica scored low was in interactions and communication – something you might want higher marks in when it comes to handling matters as complex as term life insurance. While this does not guarantee that your experience with Transamerica will be a bad one, it’s still a red flag compared to the high scores of State Farm and New York Life. That said, the company still offers some of the most flexible and affordable policies for term life insurance, so it’s definitely worth a phone call to get a quote and test out the customer service yourself.

    How We Chose the Best Term Life Insurance Companies

    We started by vetting 71 providers for their nationwide availability, financial strength, and ability to sell individual policies. Nineteen life insurance companies met our initial criteria. These are all reputable providers with the resources to offer great coverage — meaning variable term lengths, easy ways to extend your coverage, guaranteed level premiums, and a robust selection of riders.

    Flexible term policies

    Our favorite life insurance companies offer two important policy options: guaranteed renewability and term-to-permanent conversion without a medical exam. These give you the option to extend your coverage out as far as your family needs it without jacking up your premium too much.

    A guaranteed renewable policy (aka a policy with a Guaranteed Insurability Rider, Renewal Provision, or Additional Purchase Option) ensures that you can renew your coverage when it’s about to expire. This could be important in light of major, unexpected life events. For instance, if a child opts for grad school, you may choose to extend your coverage until their schooling is finished. Whatever the circumstance, you’ll want to be sure your coverage is in place until your beneficiaries would no longer be in need of it.

    “A ‘guaranteed renewable’ policy is very important because without it, reduced health could render you uninsurable. Nobody wants to pay a higher premium, but if you still need life insurance, expensive coverage is preferable to no coverage at all.”

    Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE Author and Insurance Literacy Advocate, Creator, The Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights

    We also required the option to convert a term policy into a permanent one — again, without a medical exam. A conversion option adds flexibility to your policy. You may, for instance, have a special-needs child who requires care into adulthood. Or perhaps you come into some money later in life and have more complex estate-planning needs. Scenarios like these may call for a permanent life insurance policy that never expires and provides a channel for passing an inheritance on to your family.

    We cut any insurance providers from the running that do not offer both of these options. While you may end up not needing to renew or convert your policy, it’s important to have those safeguards in place — life is unpredictable, and your life insurance should accommodate.

    Variety of available term lengths and riders

    After narrowing down our list based on availability, financial strength, and term flexibility, we were left with three serious contenders for the best term life insurance company.

    Because life insurance is so personal, it’s important to choose a provider with robust features that let you tailor your coverage to your needs. In policy terms, this means the ability to choose an appropriate term length, comprehensive coverage, and any add-ons that protect against the contingencies you’re worried about. Some companies also offer certain “living benefits,” which can add value to your policy even if you never need to access its death benefit.

    Rider options to customize your policy

    Life insurance add-ons (also known as “riders”) can make your policy extra-flexible and increase your financial security. Some riders protect you in the event that you’re unable to pay your premiums: The Waiver of Premium rider, for example, forgives your payments if you become permanently ill or disabled and can no longer work. Some, like the riders, allow to you extend coverage to your family members for a small fee.

    Other riders are considered “living benefits” — they may be valuable to you while you’re still alive. As financial advisor Gordon Conwell puts it, “you don’t have to die to get benefits from your life insurance policy anymore.”

    The Accelerated Death Benefit rider, for example, allows a portion of your death benefit to be used for medical and end-of-life expenses. This can help alleviate your family’s financial burden and in some cases pay for a potentially life-saving treatment.

    Reasonable premiums

    Because life insurance is so incredibly personal, there’s no way we could evaluate which is the cheapest — you’ll need to shop around for the best premium prices when choosing a policy. Carriers price policies according to a variety of risk factors, which differ from company to company. They all take into account things like age, physical build, medical history, heredity, driving record, and “risky” hobbies (BASE jumping, anyone?).

    Transamerica New York Life State Farm
    Profile A: Female, 25, Nonsmoker
    Profile B: Female, 30, Smoker
    Profile C: Female, 40, Nonsmoker
    Profile D: Male, 25, Nonsmoker
    Profile E: Male, 30, Smoker
    Profile F: Male, 40, Nonsmoker

    While these prices certainly are a small sample, there is one clear takeaway from our quote experiment: While some companies will cut you a better deal, the best way to save is by reducing your “risk factor” as much as possible. Within any given group, prices varied only slightly from company to company — but they doubled in every smoker/nonsmoker comparison. In order to get the best price possible, take steps to minimize your risk factors prior to your initial medical exam.

    How to Build the Best Term Life Insurance Policy for You

    Amount will depend on your dependents

    The industry rule of thumb is to multiply your annual income by 10, but that’s not a very precise method for calculating something so important. Our insurance guru, Tony Steuer, recommends following something called the economic life cycle theory of planning. This theory claims that the earnings-multiple method is insufficient for planning how your family’s finances are going to pan out over the long run. You don’t have to buy insurance to provide for a luxury future, you just want to provide for a steady continuation of your family’s quality of life.

    A more accurate figure takes into account how much your spouse and children will need to maintain their standard of living, whether any of your children will need help with college, and your mortgage and other debt — not to mention inflation. You should also factor in “hidden income” that isn’t part of your gross wages (like matching contributions to your retirement fund) as well as any end-of-life expenses.

    And life insurance isn’t necessary for everyone. If your primary goal is simply to leave a monetary gift for your beneficiaries, you’re likely better off with a different investment vehicle, such as an IRA or a 401(k).

    Lower your premiums with medical exams

    When you apply for a life insurance quote, you’re asked a slew of questions regarding your physical health (age, height, weight, etc.) as well as lifestyle and medical history. When you’re ready to see if you qualify, you can sometimes opt for filling out a similar questionnaire, but more often you’ll need a medical exam. These are performed by a paramedic in your home or office at the insurance company’s expense.

    Your health right now determines your premium for your entire term. If you sign up at 25, the insurance companies will use your health at age 25 to project your health at age 55. Companies don’t share their risk formulas, but most will look for similar red flags. A urine analysis can reveal diabetes risk as well as liver and kidney function. A stress test will disclose heart health. But unless you have reason to believe that these test results wouldn’t look good, know that without a medical exam. And conversely, policies that don’t require an exam usually have higher premiums or a smaller benefit. “These insurers have to allow for something they would have caught on an exam,” Steuer says.

    But because “insurability” is only measured at the beginning of your term, this means that even if you develop a serious illness a few years after purchasing the policy, the insurance company will continue to charge you based on your (healthier) medicals at the time of application. And remember: To insurance companies, younger means healthier. The later in life you start the policy, the more expensive the annual premiums will be.

    Cut back on bad habits

    No matter when you undergo an exam, preparation will help ensure that you’re well-representing your health.

    • Detox — For the week leading up to your exam, swap out salt for leafy greens and guzzle as much water as you can hold. Reducing sodium and upping hydration can help lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
    • Fast — Eight to 12 hours before the exam. It’s a good idea to schedule your exam in the morning for this reason. Eating before having bloodwork done can give inaccurate results and perhaps even paint a bad picture of your glucose levels and liver function.
    • Avoid anything that might skew your results — alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, strenuous exercise. All of the above can cause aberrations in your results or simply draw the truth in harsher strokes.
    • That said, staving off cigarettes for a brief spell before your exam won’t do much good if you’re a longtime smoker. The exam doesn’t test for nicotine, which actually disappears from the body fairly swiftly. Instead, it looks for cotinine, which shows up in blood, urine, and saliva and leaves traceable amounts for about 10 times as long.

    No prep can erase long-term bad habits, but it’s akin to riding a C average throughout the semester but then taking a good look at your notes the night before the final. It won’t bring you to the top percentile, but it may scrape you a low B.

    Term Life Insurance FAQ

    Our Other Life Insurance Reviews

    We’ve been digging into all kinds of life insurance policies and have published additional reviews for specific needs. Check them out below:

    Editor’s Note (Oct. 25, 2019): TIAA Life, our previous top pick for Easily Convertible Policies, recently announced it is no longer accepting new life insurance applications. While it continues to service existing policies and pending applications, we’ve removed TIAA from our list of recommendations.

    About the Authors

    Maggie Overholt

    Maggie Overholt Contributor

    Maggie is a former lead insurance editor at Reviews.com. She's written more than 70 insurance articles covering homeowners, auto, life, motorcycle, travel, and more.