By Maggie Overholt, Senior Insurance Editor
Editor's Note:
  • March 30, 2018 - Since originally publishing this review, MetLife has discontinued its Rapid Term (no-exam) insurance, which allowed for individual policy purchasing. We’ve updated this review to reflect the fact that MetLife is now only available through employers.
  • January 12, 2018 - We’ve updated this review with the most recent financial strength scores and customer satisfaction ratings for MetLife. It remains among the highest-scoring life insurance companies in both categories. We’ve also taken a deeper dive into MetLife’s policy parameters and riders to give a better analysis of its life insurance offerings.

Our MetLife Review

The first thing to know about MetLife is that it only sells life insurance through the workplace — policy types, coverage options, and term limits all depend on the package chosen by your employer. To help you understand what's being offered if your employer carries MetLife, we’ve gathered information on MetLife’s insurance offerings and industry ratings. Ultimately, it will be up to you to parse through your workplace plan, see what’s available, and select the level of coverage that’s most appropriate for you.

The good news? MetLife is a strong provider. It offers both term and permanent life insurance, and employers can select from a wide range of supplemental coverage for their employees. There are options for disability insurance, accidental death payouts, long-term care, and more. In addition, MetLife has some of the best financial ratings we’ve seen, and customers surveyed by J.D. power ranked it second out of 24 companies for quality of service.

There’s just one downside: MetLife’s online learning and support tools leave a lot to be desired. First-time customers that are unfamiliar with life insurance won’t find the shopping experience very accomodating. That said, MetLife is currently rolling out a new financial wellness program called PlanSmart, which will help educate group plan participants about their finances (including insurance) and may bolster MetLife’s support offerings. And considering the company’s financial strength and excellent service, it’s still a solid choice when offered by your employer.

MetLife's Claim

Although they’re not sold on an individual basis, MetLife claims that its policies can be tailored to fit individual needs. According to its website, MetLife offers thorough, user-friendly insurance solutions for employees. The company boasts a “comprehensive suite of services” and emphasizes the ease and affordability of signing up for insurance through the workplace.

Is it true?

That depends.

Price and policy options hinge on your workplace plan, so not every customer will have the same experience. However, we can say that MetLife ticks the most important boxes for coverage and offers a variety of policies for employers to choose from (we’ll go into the specifics below). In short: It’s up to your employer to actually provide the right coverage, but we’re pleased with the options that MetLife brings to the table.

Other Considerations

As far as coverage options, MetLife keeps up with other top companies. It carries 11 of the 16 most common policy add-ons (or “riders”) — a good selection by industry standards. Our other favorite life insurance providers, like New York Life and State Farm, have similar offerings. A wide rider selection means customizable policies, and we appreciate that MetLife’s insurance can be expanded to cover you in any number of circumstances, like disability or long-term illness.

But there’s a catch: Most of MetLife’s extra coverage options are contingent upon your employer’s plan. With standard insurance companies, options like long-term care and disability coverage can usually be tacked onto your life insurance policy for a small additional fee. With MetLife, you must purchase them as standalone policies — and only if your employer elects to offer them. This makes it difficult to directly compare MetLife’s policies with other companies’. To gauge your best options, you’ll have to evaluate your employer’s specific plan.

We also put a lot of stock in customer satisfaction scores. Since life insurance can last for decades — maybe even your whole life — it’s important that your provider is reputable and easy to work with. In this regard, MetLife stands head and shoulders above the competition. J.D. Power respondents ranked the company second place out of 24, praising its low price, smooth billing process, and robust policy offerings.

It’s worth mentioning that life insurance is often cheaper when you sign up through your employer. Some companies will even provide coverage for free (typically a no-frills death benefit worth one-to-three times your salary). Of course, the benefits you recieve from your policy are workplace-dependent, so there may be some tradeoff between affordability and range of coverage. Before signing on, we recommend weighing your employer’s MetLife coverage against a few other providers to see how premiums and coverage options stack up.

A Closer Look at Features

Types of Life Insurance Available Term, Universal, and Variable Universal Life
Annual Premium Quotes will vary
Important Coverage Options
  • Guaranteed level premiums*
  • Accelerated Death Benefit rider
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage
  • Disability coverage
Term Lengths 5-30 years, depending on your employer's program selection
Financial Strength
  • A.M. Best: A+
  • S&P Global: AA-
  • Moody’s: Aa3
J.D. Power 2017 Customer Satisfaction Score 812/1000
"Better than most"
Ranked 2 out of 24 companies surveyed
NAIC Customer Complaint Ratio 2015-2017 Average: 0.44
Well below average
(National Median: 1.00)
Customer Resources
  • Phone number and email contact form
  • FAQ
  • Insurance Blog
  • Disability Insurance Calculator
Best For Customizable workplace insurance plans
Flexible group Universal Life policies
Not For Highly specific life insurance needs (certain coverage options may be limited by employer)

*With Term Life policies

Our Deep Dive

Below, we’ll take a closer look at MetLife’s specific features and policy options. If you need a refresher on life insurance terminology before jumping in, check out our review on the Best Life Insurance, where we compare the various types of life insurance and define some need-to-know terms.

Group Term Insurance

MetLife offers pretty standard term life insurance. Term length options will vary by employer, but most provide 10 to 30 years of coverage in increments of five or 10. This is typical across the companies we’ve looked at — only New York Life allows more customizable terms. Like most providers, MetLife also sells term insurance as an add-on for permanent policies, which allows policyholders to double down on coverage during the most critical years: say, while the kids are living at home or while you have a large mortgage.

Note that MetLife offers a product called “Dependent Term Life,” which allows policyholders to purchase additional coverage for their spouse, partner, or children. Other life insurance providers offer add-ons called “Spouse Insurance Rider” and “Child Term Rider,” which are essentially the same coverage. However, MetLife groups the two under one umbrella and sells it as a separate policy. If you’re interested in extending coverage to your family, check with your employer to see if they offer Dependent Term Life.

Variety of Universal Life Insurance Options

We like that MetLife has a few different universal life options. Customers who want a permanent policy can choose between universal or variable universal life. Both policies are more flexible than traditional whole life insurance, as they allow policyholders to adjust premium payments according to their current needs. If you’re flush with cash one month, for example, you could pay a larger premium and accrue greater savings. In tighter months, you could choose to pay nothing at all (as long as the policy’s cash value is sufficient to cover the minimum payment). This means you can customize your payment structure without worrying about the policy lapsing.

The main difference between these options is how their cash value gets handled. Variable universal plans allow for strategic investing; policyholders can choose from a variety of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other channels to grow their savings. With a universal life policy, the cash value is invested in a standard, interest-bearing savings account. This method might be less lucrative than a strategic investment plan, but it’s also less risky. Your cash balance is guaranteed to never drop below a set minimum.

Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

The Accelerated Death Benefit rider is one of the few that MetLife offers as an add-on without purchasing a separate policy. We appreciate the inclusion, as the experts we spoke with generally consider this rider to be the most important one. What’s more, MetLife’s ADB is exceptionally generous; it allows you to use up to 92% of the total death benefit to cover medical care, treatments, and other expenses associated with severe illness or impairment. By comparison, some companies allow as little as 25% — which may not go very far towards covering ongoing medical expenses.

Short and Long Term Disability Insurance

MetLife, like most companies, sells disability insurance as an add-on for term life policies. But MetLife also offers disability as a separate policy for those that don’t qualify to buy it as an add-on. If your employer opts to provide disability insurance, MetLife covers it in both short- and long-term. Short term disability is meant to replace a portion of your income for three months to one year after an injury. It can be used to cover medical costs and rehab while you get back on your feet.

Long term disability, on the other hand, is intended to provide a steady, lasting income in the event that you become permanently disabled and can no longer work. Like short term, it can be used to pay for medical expenses and recovery costs. But it’s also meant to cover living expenses, including food, utilities, and rent or mortgage payments. It’s up to you to select the amount of disability insurance you need — the more money you’d receive from your policy, the more it costs. We recommend using MetLife’s disability insurance calculator to figure out how much coverage would be necessary to maintain your family’s quality of life after an accident.

One Year Term Insurance

Aside from its term and universal policies, MetLife offers a unique one year term insurance, a product we’ve only seen elsewhere with New York Life. MetLife’s one year insurance starts at $25,000 and carries seriously affordable premiums — as low as $13.75 annually. Some of these policies are underwritten by MetLife and some by the General American Life Insurance Company. The main difference is that MetLife’s policies are guaranteed renewable for five years, whereas GenAm requires full underwriting to renew at any point. Other than that, both versions are handled through MetLife, so the carrier won’t affect your signup or payout process.

It’s best to consider one year term insurance for extra coverage during a crucial period, either as a standalone or as a supplement to a longer-lasting policy. Unlike regular term insurance, it doesn’t lock you in for multiple years — so you can make a cheap, one-time payment for enhanced protection. On the downside, going through underwriting each time you renew means higher premium payments. If you expect to need the coverage for an extended period of time, consider a traditional term policy or a supplemental one on top of your permanent policy instead.

Subpar Online Resources

MetLife falls short of the competition when it comes to learning tools. Customers looking to educate themselves about insurance won’t find much help on the company’s website; it has a scant 12-question FAQ and little else. Its insurance blog does has some articles on the subject of life insurance, but they’re circumstantial (like: “When should I reevaluate my life insurance portfolio?”) and won’t be very helpful for beginners.

Granted, it’s difficult for MetLife to provide comprehensive resources because its policies vary by employer. However, it’s still important to have basic learning tools so that shoppers can make an informed purchase. We appreciate companies like Geico, which provide insurance calculators, glossaries, and robust learning centers to inform customers about their product.

Lacks a Mobile App for Life Insurance

MetLife does offer a mobile app, but so far it only works with auto, home, vision, and dental policies — not life insurance. Companies that have a life insurance app (like The Globe) make it easy to get quotes, manage your account, and pay premiums. We’re still waiting for MetLife to catch up. That said, we appreciate that the company’s website is mobile-friendly; it has pared-down pages that work well on a phone screen and load quickly. It’s just a bit less convenient than the one-touch access that an app provides.

MetLife vs. The Competition

As we’ve said, MetLife only offers life insurance through the workplace. If you’re shopping for coverage on your own, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Just remember that the best provider for you depends on what type of insurance you need and where you can find the most affordable premium. We suggest requesting quotes from a few of these companies to see where you can find the right coverage at the right price.

MetLife vs. State Farm

State Farm is a cut above MetLife in many ways. It’s the only company that tops MetLife for customer satisfaction, ranking number one in J.D. Power’s 2017 life insurance customer survey. It also carries slightly better financial strength scores: A++ from A.M. Best, AA from S&P Global, and Aa1 from Moody’s. The two companies have a similar selection of riders, but keep in mind that most of MetLife’s riders have to be purchased as a separate policy. With State Farm, they can be tacked on to any term or whole life insurance policy.

We highly recommend State Farm for anyone buying life insurance individually. If your employer offers coverage through MetLife, though, it's likely still your best bet. MetLife comes in close second to State Farm ratings-wise and has a similar range of coverage. On top of that, it may be more affordable when purchased through the workplace.

MetLife vs. Northwestern Mutual

If you prefer a traditional whole life policy to a universal one, then we suggest starting your search with Northwestern Mutual, which took first in our review of the Best Whole Life Insurance. We like Northwestern Mutual for a few reasons. To start, it has perfect financial strength ratings: A++ from A.M. Best, AA+ from S&P Global, and Aaa from Moody’s. It’s also ranked fifth out of 24 companies by J.D. Power. Although that’s not as high as State Farm (#1) or MetLife (#2), we still prefer Northwestern Mutual for whole life when you tack on its list of riders.

NWM carries a whopping 15 out of the 16 total add-ons we considered. Some of these we didn’t see with other top companies, like the Cost of Living rider (which adjusts your death benefit to keep pace with inflation) and the Paid Up Additions rider (which lets you use dividends to increase your policy’s cash value). All told, Northwestern Mutual’s life insurance is more customizable than MetLife or our other top picks’. We appreciate the wide range of protection, since any number of life changes could affect your insurance needs throughout the duration of a whole life policy.

MetLife vs. New York Life

New York Life is one of our favorite providers for term life insurance. It stands out for having some of the most flexible terms in the industry, with options to purchase insurance year by year or select any term length between 10 and 20 years. This range of choices lets customers pick the exact amount of coverage they need (say, for 22 years until their child graduates college) and avoid paying for years they don’t need covered. Neither MetLife nor any other provider we considered could match New York Life for its term flexibility.

New York Life also gives MetLife and Northwestern Mutual a run for their money with perfect financial scores. It does ranks a little lower than both companies for customer satisfaction, taking 12th in J.D. Power’s survey, likely because it doesn’t have the strongest customer support. When we reached out, New York Life’s reps were less patient and less helpful than other companies’. Still, robust and flexible policy options make New York Life a strong player in the life insurance industry. We’ve also found that it’s one of the most affordable life insurance providers, so it’s worth getting a quote to see how New York Life’s premiums measure up.

What Others Are Saying

BusinessWire commends MetLife’s new commitment to insurance education.

Although MetLife has scant resources online, it’s taking extra measures to educate employees about insurance and finance in the workplace. BusinessWire reports that MetLife is rolling out a new initiative called PlanSmart Financial Wellness to help group plan participants improve their financial wellbeing. This venture, which partners with workplace consulting firm Ernst and Young, will build on MetLife’s 20-year-running PlanSmart program. In addition to seminars on subjects ranging from Investing 101 to Tax Strategies to Estate Planning, the company will now use EY’s advanced technology and counseling to help employees set and meet financial goals.

The PlanSmart Financial Wellness initiative comes as a response to MetLife’s in-house research, which showed that 49% of employees are “concerned, anxious, or fearful about their current financial wellbeing.” This could have an effect on the way those employees plan for the future — including selecting life insurance. Financial status determines whether someone will sign up for a term or permanent policy, what size death benefit they’ll select, and whether they opt in for additional coverage. These decisions should be well-informed and need-based, not made from a place of financial uncertainty. We appreciate that MetLife is working to better educate employees and help them choose the right plans for their current and future needs.

The Bottom Line - MetLife Life Insurance Review

If your employer offers life insurance through MetLife, you and your family will be in good hands. In order to get the most out of your MetLife policy, be sure to do your research and learn all that you can about what riders, term lengths, and supplemental coverage options are available before signing up. Although you may have to do some digging — MetLife’s learning tools aren’t conducive to easy research— your work will pay off with a robust policy.

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