• January 12, 2018 - We’ve updated this review with the most recent financial strength scores and customer satisfaction ratings for Northwestern Mutual. It remains among the highest-scoring life insurance companies in both categories. We’ve also taken a deeper dive into Northwestern Mutual’s policy parameters and riders to give a better analysis of its life insurance offerings.

Our Northwestern Mutual Review

Northwestern Mutual ranks among the top life insurance providers in the industry. With a full range of coverage options and add-on riders for term, whole, and universal insurance, its policies can be custom-designed to fit the individual needs of any family. Northwestern Mutual also has good cash value offerings and a strong dividend history, making it one of the best whole life insurance providers out there.

Outside of its excellent policy offerings, Northwestern Mutual is backed by strong financial ratings and a customer satisfaction score that is “Better than most,” according to J.D. Power’s 2017 survey. The only place we find Northwestern Mutual lacking is online resources — its site lacks the support and learning materials that are so useful, especially for first-time life insurance buyers. This company relies heavily on its agents for customer support, so make sure you speak with someone about all of your options in order to build the best policy.

The Claim

FORTUNE ranks Northwestern Mutual “Number One for Quality of Products and Services” — meaning, in other words, that it should trump the competition in both coverage and customer experience.

Is it True?

Partially.

Northwestern Mutual is among the best in the industry as far as coverage goes, with life insurance policies that can be tailored to fit any family’s needs. Between customizable term limits, renewal opportunities, cash value options, and policy add-ons, your insurance will be as unique as your life. This company also has rock-solid financial backing. It consistently earns the highest possible ratings from the independent agencies A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s, so you can rest assured that your policy is in good hands.

Where this company lags a little behind the competition is in its quality of services. Northwestern Mutual lacks some of the amenities that we look for with life insurance companies, like online quote tools, learning resources, and mobile apps. These can help alleviate the stress of life insurance shopping and make managing your account a little easier. Ultimately, you’ll likely be able to build a great life insurance policy through Northwestern Mutual, but the process isn’t quite as seamless as with other companies.

A Closer Look at Features

Financial Strength Ratings A.M. Best: A++
Standard & Poor’s: AA+
Moody’s: Aa2
2017 J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Rating 802/1000
“Better than most”
Policy Offerings Term
Whole
Universal
Term Limits 10 or 20 years, or up until you turn 80 (renewed annually)
Important Coverage Features Guaranteed Level Premiums*
Guaranteed Renewability**
Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
Disability Waiver of Premium
Convertibility Guaranteed term-to-permanent conversion
Customer Tools Find a Financial Advisor directory
Basic life insurance FAQ

*With term life insurance policies
**Annually, until you turn 80, with the Term 80 Plan

Our Deep Dive

  • Industry-Leading Financial Ratings: When shopping for a life insurance company, it’s critically important to choose a company with solid financial stability and a strong credit outlook. Northwestern Mutual life insurance excels on both of these counts, boasting some of the best financial ratings in the industry. Top national rating agencies such as Moody’s, A.M. Best, and S&P all place Northwestern Mutual at or very near the top of their ratings scales. While there are plenty of other factors to take into account when making a policy decision, Northwestern Mutual’s superior financial ratings offer you the confidence and peace of mind that comes with trusting that a company will be with you for the long haul.
  • Comprehensive Coverage Options: Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole, and universal life policies, as well as a robust list of coverage options — so you can build just the right policy to meet your unique insurance needs. A cash surrender option enables you to end your policy early, while a conversion option gives you the opportunity to extend your policy beyond its original term. With a return of premium option, you can even get your premiums back if you outlive a temporary policy. If you have a whole life policy, you can choose a vanishing premium option to reduce your payments later in life. A mortgage life option will take care of any outstanding mortgage debt in the event of your death, providing security for your family just when they need it the most.
  • Full-Featured Policies: Northwestern Mutual’s policy features rank among the industry’s very best. It offers plenty of flexible riders, so that your policy will protect you and your family no matter what life throws your way. With cash value access and partial surrenders, you’re able to tap your whole policy’s accumulated value if life demands it. An interest rate guarantee offers dependable growth, while waivers on policy deductions and premium payments offer flexibility if you’re injured and can’t afford to make your payments. Expiration and lapse guarantees provide protection should you miss a policy payment, while guaranteed term renewals and no-exam conversions give you the flexibility to extend your temporary coverage when your term is up. With many policies, you can choose between level or flexible premiums and death benefits, and with universal life policies you can even choose the amount and timing of your premiums.

Other Considerations

  • Lacks a Mobile App for Convenient Account Management: Northwestern Mutual does maintain a mobile website, but it offers very little functionality for life insurance customers apart from an agent search tool. We really prefer companies with a mobile app that lets you easily access and manage your account. All things considered, this ranks as a pretty minor concern — but given that mobile apps are so common these days, the omission is hard to ignore.
  • Disappointing Learning Materials: Since there are so many policies, options, riders, and features to consider, access to clear information and effective learning materials is key to the life insurance buying process. Northwestern Mutual does give some basic FAQ, but it fails to provide comprehensive educational resources. Most notably, it’s missing effective beginner’s guides, which are indispensable for first-time life insurance buyers. Northwestern Mutual also lacks an online quote tool, requiring you to call a Northwestern Mutual agent for help with the quote process.

The Bottom Line

Northwestern Mutual brings an impressive array of policy options to the table. Its life insurance is highly customizable and can be tailored to fit the needs of any family. Its cash value, lending options, and dividends also make it one of our favorite providers for whole and universal life insurance policies. What it lacks in resources and customer support, it makes up for with a long history of financial security ensures that your Northwestern Mutual policy will be soundly backed for as long as you need it.

Similar Products