Best Life Insurance Companies

Northwestern Mutual life insurance review and ratings 2023

Northwestern Mutual comes in third place in Insure.com’s Best Life Insurance Companies rankings, receiving positive scores for its ease of service.

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Our take

Northwestern Mutual ranks third in Insure.com’s Best Life Insurance Companies rankings and received a 3.7 star rating out of five. 

The score is supported by Northwestern Mutual’s strong ratings for being trustworthy, and its policyholders find the company easy to work with. 

Below is Insure.com’s review of the company. It’s based on third-party metrics and an in-depth survey of insurance customers. Find the full methodology here, including an explanation of our survey scores.

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Northwestern Mutual Ratings
Overall Rating: 3.7
Ease of service: 4.2
NAIC: 0.05
Customer Satisfaction: 3.7
AM Best Rating: A++

Pros and Cons

Pros:
  • Most customers trust Northwestern Mutual
  • Customer find the company easy to work with
Cons:
  • Rates for term policies are a bit above the average
  • Scored in the middle of the pack for policy offerings

How Northwestern Mutual scores on customer satisfaction

Almost 75% of customers gave Northwestern Mutual high marks for customer satisfaction. Several competitors scored better here – with State Farm leading the category. However, J.D. Power, in its satisfaction ranking, rated the company well above its average score of 774.

Insurance company Percent of customers that are satisfied J.D. Power overall satisfaction score (out of 1,000)
Northwestern Mutual 74% 794
State Farm 91% 839
Prudential 81% 773

How much does Northwestern Mutual cost?

Northwestern Mutual’s premiums are higher than most other insurers surveyed by Insure.com. However, one company does fare higher — Farmers. While Insure.com data show that most insurers offer premiums below $500, Northwestern’s rates for 35-year-old non-smokers purchasing $500,000 in coverage for a 20-year-term are $501. The industry average premium is $481. Compared to the annual average premium of life insurers surveyed by Insure.com, Northwestern Mutual’s rates are a bit higher – by about 4%

Insurance company Average annual premiums
Northwestern Mutual $501
New York Life $465
AAA $473

How Northwestern Mutual scores on ease of service

Policyholders don’t want a hassle when dealing with their insurance company, so ease of service is key. Northwestern Mutual’s 84% rating puts it in a three-way tie for second among the companies we ranked. State Farm led this category.

Insurance company Percent of respondents that are satisfied with ease of service
Northwestern Mutual 84%
State Farm 91%
New York Life and Mutual of Omaha 84%

How Northwestern Mutual scores on policy offerings

Many policyholders expect a wide range of policy offerings from their insurance company. 

The percentage of those satisfied with Northwestern Mutual’s policy offerings is 79%, which is near the middle of the pack among companies in the survey.

Insurance company Percent of respondents satisfied with the company’s policy offerings
Northwestern Mutual 79%
Mutual of Omaha 87%
New York Life 82%

How trustworthy is Northwestern Mutual?

Trust is essential to a good relationship between an insurer and its policyholders. Northwestern Mutual earns a 79% mark for being trustworthy, which was tied for the second highest score among the companies we ranked.

Insurance company Percent of survey respondents who find the company trustworthy
Northwestern Mutual 79%
Mutual of Omaha 79%
State Farm 86%

Do Northwestern Mutual customers plan to renew?

Customer loyalty keeps policyholders with their insurance company. In all, 95% of customers plan to stick with Northwestern Mutual, which puts it near the middle compared to other companies in the survey. One-hundred percent of customers of Prudential and some other insurers say they’ll renew.

Insurance company Percent of survey respondents who find the company best for renewing a policy
Northwestern Mutual 95%
Prudential 100%
Mutual of Omaha 100%

Northwestern Mutual life product details

  • Term life insurance
  • Whole life insurance
  • Universal life insurance
  • Variable universal life insurance

Other services offered

  • Disability insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Investment services
  • Annuities

States where Northwestern Mutual offers coverage

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Table
States where Northwestern Mutual offers coverage
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington D.C.
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DC DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY
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Company background

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Ranked highly on the Fortune 500 list, Northwestern Mutual provides financial services and is a mutual company. While the company offers life insurance services, it also provides estate planning, retirement and investment products.

Northwestern Mutual has been around for more than 160 years. Today, it is headquartered in Milwaukee. The company says it expects to pay $6.8 billion in dividends to policyholders during 2023. It has paid dividends every year since 1872.

The company is also known for its network of more than 6,400 financial advisors and professionals throughout the country, who help clients with insurance protection, investments, and business and estate planning.

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

Northwestern Mutual. “Invest in your best life.” Accessed December 2022.

Northwestern Mutual. “Protection for today, and every day after.” Accessed December 2022.

Northwestern Mutual. “When people feel good about their money, good things happen.” Accessed December 2022.

J.D. Power. “Individual Life Insurance Study.” Accessed December 2022.

Methodology

Insure.com in the fall of 2022 surveyed more than 1,500 people with auto, home, life and health insurance (540 with life insurance). The survey was conducted by online market research company Slice MR. Respondents were asked to name their insurer and the editors then selected – based on the number of responses – the top companies for this year’s Best Life Insurance Companies ranking. Insure.com needed 20 or more of a company’s customers to respond to the survey for that insurer to be included in the ranking, although in some categories the editors did consider companies with 18 or 19 responses. 

Respondents were first asked to grade their insurer in the following categories – customer satisfaction, claims satisfaction and policy offerings. The percentage of respondents who said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their insurer is presented in the results.

Survey score calculation: Respondents were then asked to rank their insurer’s top three attributes out of more than a dozen presented – including customer satisfaction and policy offerings. For a number one choice, five points were given; for a second choice, three points; and for a third choice, a single point. The total points for each choice – first, second and third – were then divided by the number of each company’s customers who responded to that survey question to create a percentage. Those percentages are presented in the results as scores. 

Respondents were then asked if they would recommend their insurer to someone else. The percentage who said yes is presented in the results.

They also were given the statement “I trust my insurance company” and asked if they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement. The percentage of those who said they agreed or strongly agreed is presented in the results.

The editors compiled the survey results and then collected National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ complaint data, which ranks a company by the number of customer complaints it receives, and AM Best data, which measures financial strength.

They also collected insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services (for auto and home insurance), Compulife (for life insurance) and the public health marketplace (for health insurance).

With the help of Prof. David Marlett, Ph.D., managing director of the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center at Appalachian State University, the editors created a rating system to determine which insurance companies were best in each sector. For life insurers, we used the following weights to calculate the overall score for each company: 

  • AM Best: 25% of total score
  • NAIC: 15% of total score
  • Survey: 60% of total score (10% customer satisfaction, 10% recommended, 10% renewal rate, 10% ease of service, 10% trustworthiness and 10% policy offerings)

To find the industry average annual premium, insure.com weighed the rates from 9 companies: AAA, Farmers, Guardian Life, John Hancock, Lincoln Financial, MassMutual, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual and Transamerica. Rates are based on premiums for 35-year-old males and females who are non-smokers and in good health. Rates are for a 20-year-term policy that provides $500,000 in coverage. 

No insurer in our star ranking received less than 1 star and the highest possible ranking is 5 stars.

author image
Chris Kissell
Contributing Researcher

 
  

Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.

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