The 10 biggest life insurance companies grabbed almost 55% of the market share in the U.S. in 2021. And Northwestern Mutual was the biggest life insurer of them all.
Last year, Northwestern Mutual wrote more premiums in the U.S. than any other insurer, according to recently released data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Northwestern Mutual is followed by New York Life, MetLife, and Prudential.
The full list of top 10 largest life insurance companies, which is based on the dollar amount of direct premiums written, is below:
- Northwestern Mutual: $14.3 billion
- New York Life: $13.3 billion
- Metropolitan: $11.5 billion
- Prudential of America: $10.6 billion
- Mass Mutual Life Insurance: $10.1 billion
- Lincoln National: $8.3 billion
- State Farm: $5.3 billion
- John Hancock: $5 billion
- Aegon U.S. Holding: $5 billion
- Minnesota Mutual: $4.8 billion
Major insurance companies like MassMutual have the financial strength that allows them to be especially adept at serving their customers’ needs, says Paul LaPiana, head of MMUS product at MassMutual and senior vice president at MassMutual Financial Advisors.
“We need to have access to capital and be strategic about our investments so that we are financially strong and secure,” LaPiana says. He adds that this solid financial footing allows MassMutual to deliver on commitments decades into the future and to pay dividends to policyowners.
Breaking down the largest insurance companies in the U.S. by company, here is what each offers:
1. Northwestern Mutual
This Milwaukee-based insurance company was the largest life insurer last year. It has roots that stretch all the way back to 1859 and says 96% of its clients stay with the insurer year after year.
Northwestern Mutual sells term, whole life, universal and variable universal plans.
2. New York Life
For more than 175 years, New York Life has sold life insurance to Americans. It is the largest mutual insurer in the U.S. The company takes pride in its financial strength and has paid a dividend every year since 1854.
New York Life is based in New York. It sells term, whole life, universal and variable universal life insurance policies.
Founded in 1863, MetLife began offering policies to Civil War sailors and soldiers who had wartime-related disabilities. The New York-based company now has a much wider client base — it operates in more than 40 countries.
MetLife sells term, group variable universal accidental death life insurance policies.
4. Prudential of America
Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential began life in 1875. A year later, the company hired Julia Babbit, the first female life insurance agent.
Prudential sells term, indexed universal, universal and variable universal life insurance policies.
5. Mass Mutual Life Insurance
Like many of the largest life insurance companies, MassMutual has a long history. Founded in 1851, it has consistently issued dividends since the 1860s.
The company based in Springfield, Massachusetts, sells term, whole life, universal and variable universal life insurance policies.
“More than 170 years ago, we were a handful of people helping people,” LaPiana says. “Today, we’re still people helping people — just many more people helping many more people.”
6. Lincoln National
Radnor, Pennsylvania-based Lincoln National is a relative newcomer compared to some of the insurers on this list.
Founded in 1905, Lincoln National sells term, universal, indexed universal and variable universal life insurance policies.
7. State Farm
The nation’s biggest property and casualty insurer also is a major player in the life insurance market. The Bloomington, Illinois, company celebrates 100 years in business this year.
State Farm sells term and whole life policies, as well as universal, survivorship universal and joint universal life insurance policies.
8. John Hancock
Founded in 1862, Boston-based John Hancock serves 3.5 million life insurance customers.
John Hancock sells term, universal, indexed universal and variable universal life insurance policies.
9. Aegon U.S. Holding
Based in The Hague, Netherlands, Aegon primarily does business through Transamerica in North America, which has been in business since 1906.
Transamerica sells term, index universal, whole life and final expense life insurance policies.
10. Minnesota Mutual
Minnesota Mutual is the parent holding company that has a mutual ownership model operating under the name Securian Financial. Life insurance companies that fall under this umbrella include:
- Minnesota Life Insurance Company
- Securian Life Insurance Company
- American Modern Life Insurance Company
- Southern Pioneer Life Insurance Company
It offers term and whole life insurance policies, as well as fixed, indexed and variable universal life insurance policies.
The 10 biggest life insurance companies can provide financial stability, a large death benefit, and excellent customer service. If that’s what you’re looking for, these are the insurers for you. But life insurance needs are often unique, and you should always do some additional research to find an insurer that offers what you need.
Frequently asked questions
What is life insurance?
Life insurance is a type of coverage that pays a benefit to your survivors or other beneficiaries upon your death.
Most people earmark life insurance proceeds for a spouse or other family members, but some purchase this coverage to leave money to a charity, or even to simply provide funds for burial expenses.
What are the different types of life insurance?
There are two major categories of life insurance: Term and whole life.
Term life insurance coverage lasts for a certain period of time, then expires at the end of that time frame. If you die within the “term” that your policy is still active, your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit. However, if you do not die within this period, the policy simply expires without a benefit being paid out. Whole life insurance also pays a benefit at your death. However, some of the money you contribute to premiums is invested and is available for you to withdraw while you are still living. Unlike a term policy, a whole life policy remains active as long as you pay the premiums.
How does life insurance work?
In most cases, life insurance pays out a benefit upon your death to beneficiaries you designate. This is the sole purpose of a term life insurance policy.
However, whole life insurance offers other benefits. For example, some of the money you pay in premiums builds cash value and may be available for you to withdraw while you are still alive after a few decades.
What to consider when buying life insurance?
There are many factors to consider when buying life insurance. If you have a young family, it often makes sense to buy a term policy that remains active only as long as your financial responsibilities for raising the family are great.
Term life insurance tends to be cheaper than a whole life insurance policy. With term insurance, once the kids leave the nest and you no longer have the need to support them, you can simply let your term policy expire.
However, whole life insurance can make sense if you want a policy that lasts the rest of your life and if you want an additional investment account. However, remember that whole life insurance is costlier than term life insurance.