How can ratings help you decide which life insurance company is best for you?

Best insurance companies

Calling something the “best” often has a subjective quality to it. Was Chicago really the “Best Picture” of 2002? The Motion Picture Academy said so; this amateur film critic says it was Punch-Drunk Love. Bruno Mars may have won this year’s Grammy for Best Album, but the Pulitzers gave its music prize to Kendrick Lamar (a first for a rapper.) You get the idea.

But when it comes to life insurance companies, it’s not a subjective, er, subject at all. Most established insurance companies are rated by a variety of third parties, each with varying purposes and degrees of analytical rigor that can serve as a useful (albeit, not definitive) tool in your search for coverage.

Third-party rating agencies like A.M. Best Company, Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings subject companies to rigorous analysis in order to assign a rating based on their independent opinion on the financial strength of an insurance company and assess its ability to pay claims, a forward-looking indicator. Factors considered include a company’s balance sheet (essentially, how well funded it is); its operating performance; its overall business profile and its enterprise risk management. Each rating agency uses its own scale, and while they may be similar, they are not identical so ratings will differ across agencies.

Other groups offer ratings, scores or reviews, too. However, they are usually based primarily on customer or complaint experience rather than an analysis of financial strength. You can refer to both when determining which insurance company to choose.  So, with all that in mind, this article will focus on financial strength ratings for some well-known insurance companies. We’ve listed them in alphabetical order, just to show we’re not playing favorites.


A century-old insurer, founded by an American in China, that has since provided coverage in more than 80 countries. Ratings are as of 3-9-2018.

  • A.M. Best: A
  • Standard & Poor’s: A+
  • Moody’s: A2
  • Fitch: A+

John Hancock

The company was founded in 1862, long after its namesake patriot had died. We’re told that having a humongous signature is not a requirement for applicants. Ratings are as of 11-9-2017.

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • Standard & Poor’s:  AA-
  • Moody’s: A1
  • Fitch: AA-


A life insurance company first established in 1851, and with more than five million clients and counting. It also happens to be the parent company of us, Haven Life, and the issuer of each Haven Term policy. Ratings are as of 8-1-2018.

  • A.M. Best: A++
  • Standard & Poor’s: AA+
  • Moody’s: Aa2
  • Fitch: AA+


Before 2016, the country’s largest life insurance company reportedly paid $12 million a year to license Peanuts characters for its ads. Its former Manhattan headquarters was the tallest building in the world from 1907 through 1913. Ratings are as of 4-30-2018.

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • Standard & Poor’s: AA-
  • Moody’s: Aa3
  • Fitch: AA-

Mutual of Omaha

The Nebraska-based insurer has been providing coverage since 1909, and later was among the first to provide supplemental coverage for people enrolled in Medicare. From 1963 to 1988, sponsored Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, a television show about animals and nature. Ratings are as of 8-3-2018.

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • Standard & Poor’s: AA-
  • Moody’s: A1
  • Fitch: not listed


The insurer formerly known as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company was founded in 1926, making it a relative youngster on the insurance scene. The company’s memorable jingle has been sung by songbirds ranging from A-list actresses to, um, retired pro football quarterbacks. Ratings are as of 7-1-2017.

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • Standard & Poor’s: A+
  • Moody’s: A1
  • Fitch: not listed

Northwestern Mutual

The Milwaukee-based insurer has been around since 1857, and rose to national prominence shortly after that, when its co-founders personally borrowed the money needed to cover the policies of two clients killed when a train derailed. (It had collided with an ox.)

  • A.M. Best: A++ as of 4-1-18
  • Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings: AA+ as of 6-1-18
  • Moody’s: Aaa as of 1-1-18
  • Fitch: AAA as of 6-1-18

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The Newark-based insurer has been around since 1875; its founder, John F. Dryden, later became a U.S. Senator. The company’s logo uses a proprietary font, Prudential Roman, designed in 1996. Ratings are as of 8-1-18.

  • A.M. Best: A+
  • Standard & Poor’s: AA-
  • Moody’s: A1
  • Fitch: AA-

Now, this is just a starting point. To determine which insurance company is right for you, you’ll want to consider everything from what products they offer to what the experience itself may be like. Price of a policy is also a great determining factor because, of course, you want to have affordable coverage. You can also consult groups like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), whose aim is to promote ethical business practices, and assigns ratings based on factors like the business’s complaint history, its time in business, and the quality of its service. Or sites like Nerdwallet, which have done their own independent research into what companies get the most (and most concerning complaints). Armed with this information, you’ll be in a better position to make an informed decision when choosing the Life Insurance company to buy your policy from. So… you’re very welcome.


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Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children. This article is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency. Opinions are his own.


Fine print

Please note that the ratings shown here are from each respective company’s website, and are as of the dates noted at the time of this article’s publication (August 2018). Rating information in this article is limited and intended for reference only. Ratings are subject to change. Please refer to each company’s website for full information on each Company’s ratings and for the most current ratings.

Financial Strength Ratings for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111, and its subsidiaries, C.M. Life Insurance Co. and MML Bay State Life Insurance Co. (Enfield, CT 06082) are:  A.M. Best Company: A++ (Superior; top category of 15); Fitch Ratings: AA+ (Very Strong; second category of 21); Moody’s Investors Service: Aa2 (Excellent; third category of 21); Standard & Poor’s: AA+ (Very Strong, second category of 21). Ratings are as of August 1, 2018 and are subject to change. These ratings do not apply to Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC.

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In New York, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.

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