ByMaggie Overholt Contributor

Maggie is a former senior content strategist at Reviews. She’s covered everything from smart hubs and stand mixers to home insurance and mortgages.

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.

Why Trust This Review?

Since 2013, has helped millions of people find the best of the best when it comes to all sorts of products and services, including term life insurance. We’ve put together a starting list of 71 life insurance companies, whittled it down to 19, compared the offerings from the best three policies we could find, and updated this review regularly in order to bring you the most current information. The author of this review does not own stock in any of the products or companies mentioned.

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
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 for
Customer Service
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

Best for
Flexible Term Lengths
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

Best for
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.

Premium prices will increase Even without an additional medical exam, the price of your premium will always go up when you renew or convert your policy, simply because you're older. In the eyes of insurers, that means higher risk.

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."

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 Spouse Insurance rider and the Child Term rider, 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 undergoing an exam can usually secure a lower premium. 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

Is it worth it to get term life insurance?

Term life insurance is the most affordable type of life insurance and definitely worth considering if you have a family that is largely dependent upon your salary. Having a term life insurance policy in place can provide a valuable financial safety net for your loved ones. And, with the ability to select from a variety of term lengths, you could choose a length that will cover the time it takes for your children to get into college and start living their lives.

What is term life insurance?

There are two major types of life insurance to consider: Term and Permanent.

  • Term life insurance provides coverage for a set time frame — anywhere between 10 and 35 years. If you outlive it, the policy expires with no cash value.
  • Permanent life insurance never expires, so long as you keep paying the premiums. This option guarantees a payout to your family, but the trade-off is that it’s much more expensive — up to 10 times the price of term.

Of these two, most people will be best off buying a term life insurance policy. The main reason? Term is cheaper and simply more practical. It allows you to purchase coverage during the most critical period — say, during the 20 or so years that your kids are dependent on your salary — at a price that won’t break the bank. Think $20 to $30 per month, rather than $300.

John Espenschied, Agency Principal at Insurance Brokers Group, also points out that “over time, things [like a mortgage] will get paid off and savings will generally increase, reducing the need for life insurance.” In other words, after 20 years, you will have built greater assets. Your family will no longer be dependent on your salary alone, so life insurance becomes less crucial.

Some people choose permanent life insurance over term for its cash value component. In short, permanent premiums are higher because part of what you pay gets invested and grows into a savings account that you can later borrow from and earn dividends on. However, this should be a last-recourse savings option for most people. The financial advisors we spoke with generally agree that you’ll be better off paying for a less expensive term life insurance policy and investing all you can into traditional savings channels, like an IRA or 401(k).

“[Generally] by investing money in other places such as the stock market, people will end up with a much higher return on their investment than they will with a whole life policy,” says Thomas Rockford, financial advisor, retirement planner, and creator of

That said, if you’ve already invested heavily in typical retirement funds, permanent life insurance can be an additional avenue for passing down money to your family tax-free. Just make sure that you’re in a financially comfortable position before doing so. A whopping 20% of whole life insurance policies lapse in their first year due to policyholders’ inability to pay the steep premiums that come with this coverage.

How can I find the best term life insurance policies?

The best advice we can give for finding the best term life insurance policy is to shop around. Think about it like any major purchase: You shop around and compare prices. The same is true when looking for the best term life insurance. Get as many quotes from as many providers as you can. Our top three picks are a great place to start:

  • Best Term Life Insurance for Customer Satisfaction: State Farm
  • Best Term Life Insurance for the Most Flexible Terms: New York Life
  • Best Term Life Insurance for the Most Affordable Policies: Transamerica

How we found the best term life insurance:

  • Flexible term policies: We omitted any providers that didn’t offer the option of a guaranteed renewal policy and term-to-permanent conversion.
  • Quality of coverage: Once we had our initial list of candidates, we evaluated each provider’s available term lengths and coverage options.
  • Rider options: Term life insurance add-ons are known as “riders.” These can include Waiver of Premium, which forgives your payments if you can no longer work, and Accelerated Death, which lets you use a portion of your death benefit for end-of-life expenses. We tallied up the number of riders each company provided and compared available options.

To find the best term life insurance for you, try starting with our handy quote tool.

Should stay-at-home spouses get life insurance?

In 2014, surveyed more than 15,000 stay-at-home moms and found that their 10 most frequent responsibilities (which included daycare, driving, tutoring, and cooking) amounted to an annual market value of $118,905 — the amount a household would have to pay if that work was hired out. So yes, it absolutely does make sense for stay-at-home spouses to have their own life insurance policies.

What happens if I outlive my term life insurance policy?

The funds you pay will be forfeit. If you think about term life insurance as a metaphorical bank, then think of all the people with term life insurance policies as different clients all depositing funds into the same bank as you. If you don’t die during the term length of your policy, then your funds will be put toward the payouts of those that do.

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

Generally, it can be summed up like this: Premiums you pay into a term life insurance policy provide a death benefit to your beneficiaries should you pass away during the life of that policy. So, if you signed up for a five-year term life policy and passed away within those five years, your beneficiaries would receive the death benefits from the premiums you paid. Whole life insurance builds up over time and lasts for as long as you do, allowing you to draw from these funds at a later time or continue to increase your death benefit payout.

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.

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