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Best Life Insurance for Seniors

New York Life offers financial stability and dividends to older applicants

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Shopping for life insurance as a senior can be daunting. To make the best choice, there are a number of things you should pay attention to. Is the life insurance company financially stable? Does it have good customer service? How easy or difficult is it to apply for a policy? Does it have the type of policy and the features you need?

To make your task easier, we researched 91 companies and ranked them according to these and other features, including maximum issue age, availability of living benefits, and how many complaints each company received.

Best Life Insurance for Seniors in 2022

  • Best Overall: New York Life
  • Best for Financial Stability: Guardian
  • Best for Living Benefits: Nationwide
  • Best for Fewest Complaints: Pacific Life Insurance
  • Best Term for Seniors: John Hancock Life Insurance
Why Trust Us We collected over 5,000 data points from 91 life insurance companies to measure financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, and the overall buying experience. We then evaluated each company based on 55 metrics to develop unbiased, comprehensive reviews. Read our Full Methodology
91 Companies reviewed
55 Features considered
5,005 Data points analyzed

Best Overall : New York Life

Investopedia's Rating
4.8

New York Life
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Get A Quote
Pros
  • Policies available to 90-year-old applicants

  • A++ AM Best rating

  • Long history of dividend payments

  • Few customer complaints

  • Broad selection of riders

Cons
  • Must talk to an agent to get a quote and apply

  • Limited policy information online

Why We Chose It


New York life ranks as having the overall best life insurance for seniors for a number of reasons. It’s one of very few companies we reviewed that issues policies to applicants up to age 90 (most companies cap applicant age at 85). And considering that it’s more than 170 years old itself, the company has weathered many financial storms, including multiple recessions and the Great Depression. Its strong financial position has earned it an A++ rating (the highest available) from AM Best. An A++ rating means AM Best believes the company has a superior ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

The company receives few complaints, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Plus, whole life policyholders are eligible for life insurance dividend payments, and have been receiving them every year since 1854. This is one of the longest records for consistent dividend payments of all companies we reviewed.

New York Life also offers an array of riders with which to customize your policy, including a disability income rider, which only one of our other top senior companies offer. The downside is that you’ll need to provide your phone number and other personal information to get detailed policy information and a quote. Not surprisingly, there’s no online application option either.  

Read the full New York Life Insurance Review

Best for Financial Stability : Guardian

Investopedia's Rating
4.7

Guardian Life Insurance
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Get A Quote
Pros
  • A++ AM Best rating

  • Very few customer complaints

  • Policies available to 90-year-old applicants

  • Pays dividends on whole life policies

Cons
  • You can’t apply without an agent

  • Hard to find policy-specific information online

Why We Chose It


In business since 1860, Guardian Life received an A++ rating from AM Best for financial stability. Fewer than 10% of the companies we reviewed received this rating; New York Life is the only other one on this list. Also like New York Life, 90-year-old applicants to Guardian are eligible to apply for coverage, and whole life insurance policyholders are eligible for dividends.  

Guardian also has a very low incidence of customer complaints, according to the NAIC. Based on three years of complaints, Guardian received an exceptionally low number for a company of its size. In fact, it had the 6th-lowest number of complaints (based on its size) out of the 91 companies we reviewed.

And while you can find copious educational material on the company’s website, finding policy-specific information is difficult to impossible. You’ll need to reach out to an agent for that. You’ll also need to contact an agent to apply.

Read the full Guardian Life Insurance Review

Best for Living Benefits : Nationwide

Investopedia's Rating
4.7

Nationwide
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Get A Quote

You generally can't get an online quote for permanent coverage from any life insurance company. Call 1-800-848-6331 to get a quote for permanent coverage (whole life and universal life) from Nationwide.

Pros
  • No-exam coverage available to some seniors

  • High customer satisfaction rating

  • Three living benefits included

  • Online term applications are available

  • Accepts credit card payments

Cons
  • Doesn’t offer dividend-paying whole life

  • Simplified whole life policies are only available to existing policyholders

Why We Chose It

Nationwide stands out as the only company on this list that includes chronic, critical, and terminal illness accelerated death benefit riders at no additional cost on most of its policies, which is one reason it's also our top pick for best life insurance companies overall. Also known as living benefits, these riders let you access the death benefit early, before death, to help pay for expenses (or anything you want) if you experience a qualifying condition.

Besides that, the company ranked #2 out of 21 companies in J.D. Power’s 2021 customer satisfaction survey, and received fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size, according to the NAIC. To boot, it’s easy to find policy-specific information online without having to contact an agent, and Nationwide is one of the few life insurers that accepts credit cards and the only one in this list to let you apply online without an agent (for term coverage).

The company is also the only one on our list to offer final expense insurance, or burial insurance. These are small whole life policies that don’t require an exam and ask few health questions. However, they're only available to existing Nationwide customers (auto or homeowners policyholders).   

Read the full Nationwide Life Insurance Review 2022

Best for Fewest Complaints : Pacific Life Insurance

Investopedia's Rating
4.6

Pacific Life
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Get A Quote
Pros
  • Extremely few customer complaints

  • Policies available to 90-year-old applicants

  • Term coverage available to 70-year-old applicants

  • Many accelerated death benefits and riders available

Cons
  • No online quote or application on the website

Why We Chose It


Pacific Life had the second-fewest number of complaints relative to its size of all 91 insurance companies we reviewed. The company is especially good for seniors because it offers term coverage for applicants up to 70 years of age and permanent coverage for those up to 90 years old. Only six other companies of the 91 we considered offer coverage to 90-year-old applicants.

Additionally, Pacific Life offers a whole suite of accelerated death benefits, many at no additional cost, including riders for chronic and terminal illnesses and long-term care. (Many insurance companies charge extra for some or all of these riders.) Like some other insurance companies on this list, the online offerings at Pacific Life are limited. You can’t get a quote or apply without calling the company or applying through a third party agent or broker.

Best Term for Seniors : John Hancock Life Insurance

Investopedia's Rating
4.4

John Hancock
  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Get A Quote
Pros
  • High maximum age for term insurance applicants

  • Offers insurance for diabetics

  • Optional critical illness rider doesn’t reduce the policy’s death benefit

  • Wellness program

Cons
  • Most accelerated benefit riders cost extra

  • No online quote, application, or live chat for applicants

Why We Chose it


John Hancock offers the most compelling term life insurance offerings of our top-ranked companies for seniors. It issues term policies to applicants up to age 80, while many competitors have cutoffs at age 75 or younger. Its maximum issue age for other types of insurance is also high, at 90. 

In addition, we like that John Hancock offers a critical illness rider that isn’t an accelerated benefit, so the death benefit doesn’t get reduced if the rider is used. That’s uncommon. The company also caught our eye for its insurance for diabetics as well as its Vitality rewards. Vitality provides incentives for policyholders to live a healthy lifestyle, including potential discounts on life insurance premiums. 

John Hancock’s main weaknesses are that accelerated death benefit riders cost extra, and, like others on this list, it doesn’t allow you to get a quote or apply online without an agent. 

Read the full John Hancock Life Insurance Review

Compare the Best Life Insurance for Seniors in 2022

Overall Rating Best For
AM Best Rating
AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “F.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.
Term Life Sample Cost
Policy Types
Accepts Credit Cards
Reset All
New York Life
4.8
Best Overall A++ N/A Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole No Get a Quote
Hide, not for me
Guardian
4.7
Best for Financial Stability A++ $27.47/month Term, Universal (UL), Whole No Get a Quote
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Nationwide
4.7
Best for Living Benefits A+ $26.25/month Final Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole Yes Get a Quote
Hide, not for me
Pacific Life Insurance
4.6
Best for Fewest Complaints A+ $23.64/month Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole No Get a Quote
Hide, not for me
John Hancock Life Insurance
4.4
Best Term for Seniors A+ N/A Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Variable Universal (VUL) No Get a Quote
Hide, not for me

*Quotes above are examples of what a 40-year-old in excellent health might pay for a 30-year $250,000 policyGet life insurance quotes from multiple companies to find your best rate.

Final Verdict

The best life insurance company for you will be determined by what type of coverage you’re looking for and your personal preferences. If you want a rock-solid company with a long history of financial stability, look to New York Life and Guardian. They have the added benefit of being the only two companies on this list that pay dividends. 

And while both of those companies have a low incidence of customer complaints, the very best for seniors in that category is Pacific Life, which also offers coverage to 90-year-old applicants (as do Guardian and New York Life).

For term policies, consider John Hancock and Nationwide. With Nationwide you can get life insurance quotes online and can apply online without an agent’s assistance. You’ll need to talk to an agent at John Hancock, but can apply for a term policy if you’re north of 75 years old. Not so with Nationwide (or other carriers on this list).

For living benefits, consider Nationwide: most policies include three living benefit riders free of charge that allow you to access your death benefit early in the event of a chronic, critical, or terminal illness.

What Is Senior Life Insurance?

Senior life insurance simply refers to regular life insurance policies that seniors are eligible for, such as some term insurance policies, final expense insurance (also called burial insurance or funeral insurance), guaranteed-issue policies, and traditional forms of permanent coverage like whole life and universal life insurance. 

Final expense insurance may be most commonly considered senior life insurance because it frequently has a minimum age requirement of 45 or 50. Some final expense policies may qualify as guaranteed issue life insurance as well. The main differences between these types of policies and regular life insurance are the application process, the cost, and the death benefit. Most burial insurance policies have a death benefit of $50,000 or less, require no medical exam and few health questions (if any), and cost more per dollar of death benefit than coverage that requires a medical exam.

What Is the Average Cost of Life Insurance for Seniors?

Life insurance gets progressively more expensive as you get older. For example, a 60-year-old might pay between $100 and $200 per month for $25,000 worth of guaranteed issue whole life insurance coverage, while a 70-year-old might pay $160 to over $300 per month for the same coverage.

The good Breaking News Updates | Latest News Headlines | Photos & News Videos is that if you're willing to answer health questions on your application and undergo a medical exam, that cost could decrease substantially, especially if you're in good health. This is one reason why it's crucial to contact multiple insurance companies to compare life insurance quotes before buying.

Term or Whole Life Insurance for Seniors?

Whether you purchase term or whole life insurance as a senior depends on how much coverage you need, for how long, and how much coverage you can afford. For example, if you're limited by budget, a term (temporary) policy will be more affordable than a permanent one. A term policy may also be a good idea if you only need coverage for a limited amount of time, such as the last few years of making your mortgage payments.

But if you want a policy that's there for your loved ones whenever you pass, you'll want to look into a permanent whole life insurance policy. If budget is a concern, apply for a fully-underwritten policy that requires a health exam to get the best possible rate. Also, consider reducing the death benefit amount so you can afford it. For example, you can get a burial insurance policy with a death benefit as low as $2,000.

How Does a Graded Death Benefit Work?

A policy with a graded death benefit has a waiting period, usually two or three years. If the policyholder dies within the waiting period, the beneficiaries don’t get the full death benefit. Instead, the insurance company typically provides a return of premium plus a specified percent for death from natural causes. For example, if the insured person dies during the first two years of coverage, the policy might pay a return of premiums plus 10%. At three years of coverage, or for accidental death at any time, the policy would pay the full death benefit. 

A graded death benefit is a feature of certain types of no-medical-exam life insurance, such as guaranteed issue, simplified issue whole life, final expense, and funeral or burial insurance policies. 

The reason insurance companies have graded death benefits is so they can afford to offer coverage to high-risk applicants at affordable premiums. Otherwise, insurers would need to charge much larger premiums to cover their costs or they’d simply deny coverage. This is because life insurance premiums are based on when the insured person is most likely to die—and the highest risk applicants (the type that guaranteed issue policies are designed for) are most likely to die sooner rather than later.  A graded death benefit helps the company soften this risk so that it can offer affordable coverage.

It’s important to compare graded death benefit periods and payouts between companies if you’re buying a permanent life insurance policy that doesn’t ask health questions or require a medical exam.

How To Choose the Right Life Insurance Company

The best life insurance companies offer the type of policy you need at a price you can afford and meet the following criteria: An A or above rating from AM Best, few customer complaints, the policy features you want, and a manageable application process.

  1. An A or above rating from AM Best: AM Best gives A ratings and above to companies it considers to have an “excellent” (A-, A) or “superior” (A+, A++) ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations. All companies in our best life insurance for seniors list have at least an A+ rating.
  2. Few customer complaints: You can see how many complaints a life insurance company has received using the NAIC’s Consumer Insurance Search tool. Look at the insurance company’s “complaint index” for life insurance. An index greater than 1.0 means the company received more complaints than expected for its size, an index less than 1.0 means it received fewer. Avoid companies with indexes much higher than 1.0. All companies in our best seniors life insurance list have NAIC complaint indexes better than 0.50.
  3. The policy features you want: Some companies automatically include value-added benefits or riders in their coverage, while other companies charge extra for you to add them. This is particularly the case with accelerated death benefit riders like chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders. Make a note of which companies and policies offer the best living benefits.
  4. A manageable application process: Once you’ve determined which companies you like, it’s time to get life insurance quotes and apply for coverage. It’s likely you’ll talk to an agent, which can give insight into how transparent or accessible service may be in the future, so pay attention to the agent’s behavior in your communications with them.

Low-coverage no-exam policies, like guaranteed issue and final expense, are best suited for people dealing with health issues. If you’re in good health, you could pay a much smaller premium or get a higher death benefit amount by undergoing a medical exam during the application.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

In order to compile our list of the best life insurance companies for seniors, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We started off by researching what consumers want from life insurance companies, and for that, we looked to third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA.

With those findings in mind, we gathered more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, as well as information about years in business, online tools, no-exam options, policy types and features, maximum issue age, and available riders.

Our review process gave preference to companies with superior financial stability, few customer complaints, and a high maximum issue age for policies. In particular, we valued the availability of accelerated death benefit riders and whether they’re included in policies free of charge. Companies received ratings boosts if they provide educational materials, accept credit cards, and make large coverage amounts available. We ranked each company according to the following categories and weights.

  • 30%: Maximum issue age
  • 24.5%: Financial stability 
  • 24.5%: Consumer complaints and customer service features
  • 16%: Policy features and riders
  • 5%: Maximum coverage amount

To finalize our list, we considered third-party customer satisfaction ratings, and compared individual offerings between top companies by delving deeper into product specifics and the application process. We used this research to determine the best life insurance for seniors.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. AM Best. "New York Life Insurance Company - AM Best Rating."

  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "NAIC Rating for New York Life."

  3. AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Guardian Life Insurance."

  4. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "NAIC Rating for Guardian Life."

  5. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "NAIC Rating for Nationwide."

  6. J.D. Power. "Pandemic and Tax Code Change Spur Interest in Life Insurance, J.D. Power Finds."

  7. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "NAIC Rating for Pacific Life."

  8. AM Best. “Guide to Best’s Financial Strength Ratings (FSR).”