TIAA Life Insurance Review

First things first: Although it’s called the “Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association,” TIAA isn’t exclusive to educators. Anyone can apply for TIAA life insurance (although some of its other financial products are restricted to employees of nonprofits).

Of the 71 life insurance providers we’ve evaluated over the years, TIAA is one of the best for term life insurance. Policies range from 10 to 30 years in length, start at a standard $100,000, and include generous conversion allowances in case your insurance needs to change part way through your coverage period. What’s more, TIAA is one of the most affordable term life companies we’ve evaluated — though prices are personal, so you’ll have to compare a few providers to see whether it’s the cheapest option for you.

It’s worth noting that TIAA’s permanent coverage options are more limited. Unlike most companies, which offer both whole and universal life policies, TIAA only carries universal life. Universal life insurance is worth considering if you’re looking for permanent coverage at a lower cost, but anyone looking for traditional whole life insurance (with robust cash benefits) will have to choose a different company.

The Claim

Finding the life right insurance policy for you and your loved ones can be stressful. TIAA claims to “make it easy for you.”

Is it true?

Yes.

TIAA provides an excellent online tool called “Life Wizard,” which knocks out your coverage analysis, quote, and application all in one place. In just a few minutes, you’ll find out how much insurance you really need, about how much it will cost, and — if the price is right — how to apply for coverage. Note that this resource is only for term life insurance. If you want a quote for permanent coverage, TIAA (like all providers) requires you to work directly with an agent.

If you do need to contact the company, TIAA makes that painless, too. Its agents are responsive (our phone call was picked up on the second ring) and incredibly helpful. We especially appreciate that the rep we spoke to answered all of our questions before asking whether we were looking to buy a policy. It felt like our knowledge and comfort with the product took priority over the company’s sales — a rare find with insurance providers.

The other thing that makes buying a policy easy? Knowing that your 10- to 30-year investment won’t break the bank. TIAA is one of the most affordable companies we’ve tested for term life insurance. It quoted us consistently low premiums across all gender, age, and health groups, and for a variety of policy sizes (from $100,000 to $500,000 of coverage).

Of course, insurance prices are incredibly personal. The cheapest provider for one person could be the most expensive for the next. That’s why it’s so important to compare quotes from multiple companies before choosing a policy. If you’re looking for term insurance, we recommend including TIAA Life in that comparison.

Product Overview

Best for

Affordable term life insurance

Not for

No-exam life insurance or whole life insurance

Features

States served
50
Financial strength ratings
A.M. Best: A++
Moody's: Aa1
S&P Global: AA+
J.D. Power customer satisfaction score
Not rated
Insurance types offered
Term life insurance
Universal life insurance
Variable universal life insurance
Does not offer
Whole life insurance
No-exam life insurance
Term length offered
10, 15, 20, or 30 years
Standout coverage
Guaranteed level premiums*
Accelerated death benefit rider
Term-to-permanent conversion options
Customer tools
Life Wizard life insurance calculator
Online quotes for term life insurance
Term vs. permanent comparison chart

*During your initial term

Reliably low premiums

We’ve compared life insurance quotes for a number of scenarios (male and female, older and younger, healthy and unhealthy, smoker and nonsmoker), and TIAA consistently offers some of the lowest prices across the board. A healthy 25-year-old, for example, could secure $100,000 for as little as $10.22 per month — the same price as a Spotify subscription. By comparison, State Farm quoted us $12 per month for the same policy. That may seem like a miniscule difference month-to-month, but it adds up to $640 over the life of a 30-year policy.

Of course, it’s important to remember that life insurance premiums are individual. There’s no guarantee that TIAA will be the cheapest company for you — you’ll have to compare personal quotes from a few providers to find out. Fortunately, TIAA offers an online quote tool that makes price comparison quick and painless.

Standout conversion options

TIAA has an unusually generous term-to-permanent conversion allowance. The company will let you convert to any of its permanent policies at any point in your original term. By contrast, many companies limit the the time period during which you can convert (as with New York Life) or restrict the type of permanent policy you can switch to (as with Transamerica).

While most people are likely to live out their term insurance without converting, it’s reassuring to know that this allowance is available. Should your coverage needs change later in life — for example, if you have a family member that requires long-term care or develops a serious illness — the opportunity to secure a guaranteed death benefit may become important.

Free accelerated death benefit rider

If you become terminally ill during your term life policy, TIAA will let you access all or part of the death benefit early to cover medical bills and treatment. Experts generally agree that this allowance — called an accelerated death benefit rider — is one of the most important life insurance add-ons. It can relieve the insured and their family of huge financial burdens in the event of a serious diagnosis.

What’s more, TIAA includes this rider with its term life insurance free of charge. Most companies will tack on an additional fee if you opt into this benefit. With TIAA, you get the extra peace of mind and financial security without the extra cost.

Excellent customer service

Calling a life insurance company can be intimidating. It’s a complicated product that’s often hard to talk about, and the last thing you want is an agent putting the sell on when you just need some basic information. That’s why we appreciate TIAA’s customer service so much.

In our experience, TIAA’s agents are patient, helpful, and refreshingly non-pushy. They answered all of our questions before even asking whether we were in the market for a policy. We got the distinct sense that TIAA puts the customer’s needs and peace of mind first and sales second. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re considering a TIAA policy or just want to learn a little more about life insurance in general.

Easy application process

TIAA’s integrated application process makes insurance shopping easy. The company’s Life Wizard tool is a life insurance calculator and application rolled into one. Start by entering some basic information (like age, income, property, and dependents) and Life Wizard determines the right amount of coverage for your needs.

Based on the data you entered and your desired coverage level, Life Wizard also generates a personalized quote. If the price looks right, you can apply for a policy directly after. While many companies offer similar tools, TIAA is the only company we’ve seen that offers all three steps in one place — making it ultra-easy to shop for term life insurance online.

Keep in mind that Life Wizard only works with term life insurance. Permanent coverage is a bigger investment and requires in-depth financial planning, which is why TIAA (like all providers) requires you to speak with an agent about quotes.

Possible drawbacks

Uninformative website

The portion of TIAA’s website dedicated to life insurance is disappointing. It offers very basic definitions of term and permanent life insurance, plus a brief table comparing the two, but it has almost no information on the company’s actual offerings. For instance, the site doesn’t list minimum coverage requirements or available policy riders. It also lacks a learning center to help customers build their insurance knowledge and choose the right policy.

In short: If you want to learn anything about TIAA life insurance policies, you’ll have to call and chat with an agent. While TIAA reps are consistently helpful and non-pushy over the phone, one in three customers prefer to do their life insurance shopping online — in this regard, the company’s website won’t be much help.

Does not offer whole life insurance

In the market for a permanent policy? Be aware that TIAA only offers universal life, not traditional whole life insurance. Universal life can be a smart choice, as it offers a guaranteed death benefit at a lower cost. It’s also our top recommendation for life insurance for seniors.

That said, the cash value benefits of universal life are less robust. Those looking to build their financial portfolio and protect their assets by investing in whole life insurance will have to look at companies other than TIAA.

The Competition

TIAA Life
Transamerica
State Farm
New York Life

Our review
Our review
Our review
Our review
Best for
Cheap life insurance
Range of policy sizes
Term life insurance
Universal life insurance
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A++
A+
A++
A++
J.D. Power overall customer satisfaction score
N/A
3/5
5/5
3/5
Policy options
Term, universal
Term, whole, universal
Term, whole, universal
Term, whole, universal

TIAA Life vs. Transamerica

Like TIAA, Transamerica is among the top companies for affordable term life insurance. Both providers carry policies between 15 and 30 years in length, with guaranteed level premiums throughout your term and options to convert to a permanent policy. Transamerica does have a few more riders than TIAA — like accidental death, disability income, and spouse insurance — so it may be a better option if you have specialized coverage needs.

That said, since quotes are so personal, we’d recommend checking policies and prices with both companies to see who can offer the coverage you need at the best price.

TIAA Life vs. State Farm

State Farm is another excellent choice for term life insurance. Although TIAA took the cake for affordability, State Farm offers a wider range of policies to suit different financial plans. For example, its mortgage term life insurance provides a decreasing death benefit (and thus, decreasing premium) that mirrors your home loan as you pay it off. State Farm also offers a guaranteed no-exam policy, “Instant Answer term insurance,” which is an option that TIAA lacks.

TIAA Life vs. New York Life

New York Life is our provider of choice when it comes to life insurance for seniors. The company offers flexible death benefits and generous no-exam options that make it possible for seniors in any health bracket to get coverage. New York Life also provides traditional whole life insurance — which TIAA doesn’t — so it’s a good place to start looking if you’re in the market for a whole life policy.

TIAA Life FAQ

How is TIAA life insurance rated?

TIAA Life holds some of the strongest possible ratings for financial stability: A++ from A.M. Best, Aa1 from Moody’s, and AA+ from S&P Global. Top scores from these agencies mean that TIAA will be able to pay out on your life insurance policy, no matter what.

TIAA was not included in J.D. Power’s customer survey, which is the mainstay for evaluating a company’s customer satisfaction. We’ve had very positive interactions with the company’s customer support — but of course, our own experience does not serve as a guarantee.

Is TIAA life insurance good?

Yes, especially if you’re looking for low-cost term life insurance. TIAA’s affordable premiums and wide range of term lengths make it an approachable option for most people, regardless of budget. The company also has singularly generous term-to-permanent conversion options, which means customers have a little extra flexibility if their insurance needs change later in life.

Note that, unlike most providers, TIAA does not offer traditional whole life insurance. Take a look at our review of the best whole life insurance companies if that’s what you’re leaning toward.

Can anyone join TIAA?

Anyone can apply for TIAA life insurance — there are no special eligibility requirements. That said, some of the company’s financial products (like retirement and annuities) are only available to limited groups: people who work for nonprofits, government employees, those in certain medical professions, and more.

If you’re wondering about your eligibility for TIAA’s financial services, we’d recommend reaching out to the company directly. TIAA agents are straightforward and helpful with these types of questions.

Does TIAA have auto insurance?

No, the only form of insurance that TIAA carries is life insurance. In addition to life insurance, the company offers a variety of investment and banking options — like IRAs, retirement annuities, mutual funds, and home loans — as well as financial advising services.

The Bottom Line

If you’re shopping for term life insurance, we recommend considering TIAA. Its policies are well-rounded and tend to be very affordable. Plus, it’s quick and easy to assess your coverage needs and get a quote through TIAA’s Life Wizard tool.

It’s important to note that TIAA does not offer whole life insurance. Its sole option for permanent coverage is a universal life policy. We recommend speaking directly with an agent or financial planner if you’re considering permanent insurance.