a mostly complete list of whole life insurance companies that issue participating whole life insurance policies

The Ultimate Guide to Whole Life Insurance Companies

Whole life insurance companies or life insurance companies that offer whole life insurance comprise a much smaller pool of insurers versus universal life insurance.  However, a lot of these companies have extraordinary capitalization and profitability.

Today we're going to detail the whose who among life insurers with whole life insurance products.  We're going to focus exclusively on “participating” whole life.  This means only companies with products that earn dividends made the list.

The List of Whole Life Insurance Companies

Ameritas

Ameritas is a moderately sized life insurer with a solid balance sheet.  The company manufactures a solid whole life product that focuses a lot on the pre-final expense and grey collar market place.

The company sometimes markets it's whole life product as a “no-load” life insurance product, which is a reference to the lack of a paid-up additions load.  This does not mean that the company issues no expense life insurance.  Confusion exists over this much to Ameritas' benefit.

You might also find products issued at one time under the Union Central name that now fall under Ameritas.  Union Central merged with Ameritas around 2013.  For a short while, the company continued using the Union Central name but dropped it a few years ago.

Ameritas does not have a wide range of whole life products available, but the limited options do tend to be high quality.  This lack of product breadth limits the unique planning circumstances Ameritas can accommodate.

Assurity Life

Assurity is a smaller life insurer with a big focus on whole life insurance.  For years the company regularly updated a case study comparing its whole life product to other fixed asset options.  To our knowledge, the company stopped updating this several years ago.

Product options are limited, but some agents appear to love the company.  We continue to fail to identify exactly what it is about Assurity that breeds such loyalty among this small group of independent agents.  This could purely result from our working in a different market from the Assurity sweet spot.

COUNTRY Financial

COUNTRY is one of two odd insurers on the list that provide whole life insurance despite focusing the majority of its business on the car and homeowners' market place.  COUNTRY uses an exclusive career agency force to sell its insurance products.  The products are not open to independent agents.

The company gained notoriety when Blease Research ranked the whole life product highly in a few competitive analyses.

Foresters

Foresters is a fraternal.  Like most fraternals, the company is mostly focused on the final expense marketplace.  This makes Foresters a slightly strange company to look at for whole life insurance, but they do have a product.  It's competitiveness with the rest of the whole life insurance market place places the company in the middle of the pack for most situations.

Foresters is a rather conservative underwriter.  This makes them a no go for most people with a storied health history.  This is likely a result of their high exposure to the final expense market place.

Guardian Life

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America is a large mutual life insurer with, quite possibly, the largest arsenal of whole life insurance products available for sale.  If there's a problem whole life insurance can solve, there's a good bet Guardian has a product available to solve it.  This can make learning the product offerings a tad intimidating, but it's worth the effort.

Guardian also has an equally large number of available whole life insurance riders.  This makes its products further unique and robust.  The company also has a penchant for innovation and has several creative approaches to product features.

It's one of very few companies to offer both a direct and non-direct recognition option to policyholders.  The company further affords long term policyholders several enticing loan cost discounts to boost benefits when accessing policy cash values.

Being a big name in the whole life space, Guardian certainly shows up in our annually updated dividend analysis.  The dividend history at Guardian proves very solid from our review.

Knights of Columbus

Another fraternal on the list and this one is uber niche.  Knights of Columbus sells life insurance products exclusively to Knights of Columbus members.  The the group is large and tends to possess attributes insurers deem favorable for positive mortality.

The company has impeccable financials and holds the highest ratings achievable by a U.S. insurance company.

I can't speak very specifically about the product, however, because it's so exclusive not much information exists about it.  It's not like the Knight of Columbus is trying to conceal some big secret about the whole life product.  There just isn't much information available to those who aren't part of the group.

The focus for the company is mostly on smaller death benefits.  We've never run into anyone looking at them for cash accumulation focused whole life insurance.  I seriously doubt they have any capacity to accommodate such a whole life insurance purchase.

Lafayette Life

Part of Western and Southern Life, Lafayette Life is a small life insurer with an extremely conservative approach to business.  If you run in the Bank on Yourself® circles, you've no doubt heard about the company.  Lafayette enjoys a near exclusive relationship with Bank on Yourself advisors.

The company offers a handful or so of whole life insurance products geared towards the most common whole life insurance applications.  The product uses a non-direct recognition loan option.

Lafayette's smaller internal retention limit places them at a slight disadvantage when it comes to underwriting flexibility.  For health applicants, this is a non issue.

From a competitive standpoint, this company shines mostly on the guaranteed side of the ledger.  Projected values tend to lag most major competitors.

MassMutual

MassMutual is a huge mutual life insurance company with a large offering of whole life insurance products.  The company has a rather dated approach to whole life insurance, but they also have an exceptional dividend performance history.  I suspect they feel this buys them leeway regarding product innovation.

Most products compare very favorably against the competition.  While lacking in ingenuity compared to some other life insurers, MassMutual hits a lot of high points right.  Direct and non-direct recognition loans are both an option.

The company isn't known for its forgiving nature when it comes to underwriting, but it has the clout and option to bend on underwriting matters when it matters.

Additionally, MassMutual put a lot of work into approachable informational resources on the subject of whole life insurance and its many uses.

Minnesota Life

Now known by its parent company name Securian Life, Minnesota Life is a company much better known for its indexed universal life insurance products.  The company still, however, issues whole life insurance.

It's not a very robust product.  It's likely that Minnesota's whole life product compares mostly unfavorably in most situations.  But the product still exists.

Mutual Trust Life

Mutual Trust Life fancies itself as the “Whole Life Insurance Company” and it has a few different whole life products available.  These products focus on slightly different strategies for whole life insurance.

Sadly, the whole life insurance company isn't well known for any spectacular when it comes to its whole life insurance offerings.

The company is small and the financial ratings are less than stellar.

Somehow, Mutual Trust Life enjoys a favored status among a lot of Infinite Banking® advisors.  This is especially odd given MTL's use of direct recognition for policy loans.

Mutual Trust Life also has relationships with other whole life insurance marketing organizations.

National Life Group of Vermont

Much like Minnesota Life, National Life Group focuses more on indexed universal life insurance than whole life insurance, but they do have a product availability.  Unlike Minnesota Life, the product can be a good match for a few whole life insurance strategies.

Underwriting is middle of the road.  Sometimes the company has more flexibility than others.

Dividend history is squarely in the middle of the industry when it comes to movement in the dividend interest rate.

National Life Group uses a direct recognition loan on its whole life insurance products.

Northwestern Mutual

It's nearly to talk about whole life insurance without mentioning Northwestern Mutual at some point.  This extraordinarily large mutual life insurer has an unrelenting focus on the product.  Northwestern doesn't have nearly as large an arsenal of whole life products as some of its peer competitors.  But that doesn't stop Northwestern agents from selling whole life insurance in almost any circumstance available.

Northwestern sells its products through a proprietary sales force.  This means the product is not available for independent agents to sell.

Northwestern adopted blended whole life insurance long before many of its competitors did.  The product that makes use of blending is quite strong when one seeks a lot of cash value extremely early on.  This comes at a pretty significant cost in cash value as the policy ages.

Whole life products issued by Northwestern use a direct recognition loan.

The crown jewel at Northwestern is impeccable customer service offered by the Home Office to policyholders.  Current policyholders enjoy what we identify as industry leading customer service practices.

The products might lag competitors a bit, but the customer service Northwestern provides does not.

New York Life

New York Life is another extremely large mutual life insurer like Northwestern Mutual, but lacks the same focus on whole life insurance.  That's not to say they have no focus on the product.  New York Life simply takes a different approach.

The products are extremely simple.  And that simplicity also comes with strong competitiveness.  The one problem plaguing New York Life is a policy approach almost exactly opposite to something I mentioned above about Northwestern Mutual.  New York Life tends to favor lesser cash in the beginning for much stronger cash performance longer term.  This tends to place them at a disadvantage for applicants worried about liquidity risk in the beginning.

Despite this, the company has very strong whole life insurance offerings including a special product that earns an enhanced dividend over its normal whole life option.

The company uses non-direct recognition loans.

One America

One America (actually sold under the company name American United Life), is the real quiet one.  The quiet one you have to look out for.

The company plugs along without much pomp or circumstance about itself quietly acquiring new clients with it's surprisingly good whole life insurance product.

One America doesn't have the career agency force, nor the massive adoption from the independent agent market to have remarkable name recognition.  Instead it works mostly with a small group of loyal agents who sing its virtues.

We don't have tons of data on product history.  One America doesn't publicly release dividend interest rate data so we do not include them in our analysis.

The company uses a non-direct recognition loan on all whole life products.  It also has extremely impressive ratings and profitability.

Penn Mutual

Penn Mutual is a moderate sized mutual life insurer that for years talked about pretty much every life insurance product except whole life insurance.  We could never figure this out as we've always found the company's whole life offerings great.

Focus shifted at Penn Mutual a few years ago and now the company loves talking about whole life insurance, specifically their whole life insurance product.

The company uses a direct recognition loan with a unique feature to eliminate the loan spread for longer term policyholders.

Underwriting is reasonably fair in most cases and customer service tends to impress in most situations.

Penn Mutual also touts solid financial ratings and operational profitability.

Saving Bank Life of Massachusetts

Saving Bank Life of Massachusetts (commonly referred to as SBLI) pegs itself as the “No Nonsense Company.”  For years, agents recognized SBLI for it's stellar performance in Blease Research's historical dividend performance.  That whole life product was certainly no nonsense.  It lacked a lot of features many whole life products tend to offer.  SBLI changed things up a handful of years ago and substantially revamped its whole life offerings.

Still the company has a much higher reputation for low cost term life insurance than for anything else.  Underwriting is tougher than most.  This most likely comes from all of the term life exposure.

The company uses direct recognition for policy loans and has acceptable financial ratings.

State Farm

Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there to sell you life insurance.  The behemoth in Home and Auto Insurance also offers whole life insurance, but you might do well to look elsewhere.

The product took top spots in old dividend analyses performed by AM Best during the late 80's/early 90's.  There's reasonably good reason to assume it still performs well.  The problem is the product is incredibly old school simple with very little options for customization.

State Farm sells through a proprietary career agency sales force.  The whole life product uses a direct recognition loan.

Thrivent

The company began as a fraternal benefit society for Lutheran's and continues to have a tight connection with them.

The company is relatively obscure, but did place well years ago in some of Blease Research competitive analyses.

Thrivent has stellar financials and is a well managed company.

Woodmen of the World

Yet another fraternal company in the business of participating whole life insurance.  Woodmen focuses on a blue to grey collar marketplace usually seeking out life insurance purchases under $100,000.

The whole life insurance product is decent and especially excels as a small permanent death benefit option for those looking for that exact thing.

Financials are very solid.

Other Whole Life Insurance Companies

As noted above we focused this list only on dividend paying whole life insurance companies.  There are many life insurers that issue non-dividend paying whole life insurance.  As you can see this is a diverse group of life insurers.  Some are bona-fide life insurers while others are fraternal societies that operate much like life insurance companies.

Some companies have a diverse approach to product distribution by using independents, while others stick to a proprietary agency sales force only.

We want this list to be comprehensive and we worked hard to include everyone possible.  It is possible, however, that we forgot someone.  If you know of a company that issued dividend paying whole life insurance that we overlooked, please feel free to mention it in the comments or send us an email.  We'll be happy to make additions.

About the Author Brandon Roberts

Brandon launched the Insurance Pro Blog in July of 2011 as a project to de-mystify the life insurance industry. Brandon was born in Northern New England, and he currently calls VT home. He attended Syracuse University and graduated with a triple major in Economics, Public Administration, and Political Science.

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