New York Life Insurance Company vs. Northwestern Mutual

In this article...
  • New York Life and Northwestern Mutual offer various term and permanent life insurance options. Learn which company provides the most suitable option for you.

When purchasing life insurance, choosing a reputable company with policy options to suit your needs is essential. Two of the most well-known institutions are New York Life and Northwestern Mutual, and deciding between them can be difficult because of their similar product ranges. Below, we'll explore the New York Life Insurance Company vs. Northwestern Mutual debate to help you pick the most suitable option for your needs. 

What Life Insurance Products Do New York Life and Northwestern Mutual Offer?

At first glance, New York Life and Northwestern Mutual offer broadly similar life insurance products. Both companies specialize in term, whole, universal and variable universal life insurance policies. 

Term Life Insurance

New York Life offers convertible term life insurance policies with level terms of 10 or 20 years. These products let you secure consistent monthly premiums for a set period and convert to a permanent policy at the end of the term. Alternatively, you can choose not to convert, at which point your coverage ends. 

It also offers a Yearly Convertible Term product with lower monthly premiums in the first year than a fixed-term policy. Premiums increase yearly, so this policy type is ideal if you intend to convert to a permanent policy relatively soon. People requiring higher coverage amounts may also wish to consider a Million Plus Level Term 10 policy, which offers 10 years of level premiums for $1 million coverage amounts or higher. You can only convert to a permanent policy within the first 5 years of the term.

Mutual Northwestern also offers 10- and 20-year term life insurance policies, and you can also purchase term products that last until you're 80 years old. All term life insurance customers can convert their policy to a permanent policy with guaranteed approval.

Whole Life Insurance

Northwestern Mutual and New York Life offer whole life insurance products that provide lifelong coverage, regardless of age at death. These products accumulate cash value via a savings element on a tax-deferred basis and pay annual dividends. Meanwhile, you'll also secure a guaranteed death benefit for your beneficiaries when you pass away. 

Northwestern Mutual's whole life insurance products have level premiums, which means your monthly or yearly premiums remain the same until your death. While the same generally applies to New York Life products, the company also offers a Custom Whole Life policy. This policy type lets you adjust how you pay your premiums. For example, you could pay higher premiums to fully fund your policy over 5 years or more to maximize cash value accumulation.

Universal Life Insurance

Northwestern Mutual offers universal life insurance products that work similarly to whole life insurance. While these products provide cash growth and a death benefit, you can often adjust your premium payments and death benefit amount to reflect any changes in your financial circumstances. However, your policy must have sufficient cash value to allow you to make certain changes. 

New York Life offers more universal life insurance products than Northwestern Mutual. Its basic products build cash value and allow premium and death benefit adjustments if your policy accumulates enough interest. Alternatively, you could lock in a guaranteed death benefit and level premiums for a set period by choosing a Custom Guarantee policy. New York Life also offers universal life policies lasting for a set period up to age 90 if you need a death benefit of $1 million or more. 

Variable Universal Life Insurance

Northwestern Mutual and New York Life offer similar variable universal life insurance policies. These policies offer permanent coverage and provide many of the same benefits as regular universal life insurance, such as adjustable premiums and cash value accumulation. 

One of the primary advantages of variable universal life insurance is that customers have more control over how they invest the savings element, increasing the potential for returns. However, your policy's value could also decrease, making it one of the riskier options. 

New York Life Insurance Company vs. Northwestern Mutual: Riders

When it comes to riders, New York Life offers a broader range than Northwestern Mutual. It's also worth noting that the Spouse's Paid-Up Insurance Purchase Option rider is unique to New York Life. This rider is only available for term life insurance products and allows your spouse to purchase a fully-paid life insurance policy with the death benefit without a medical exam. 

The table below shows the riders offered by both insurance policies. Please note that the availability of riders depends on which product you choose. 


New York Life

Northwestern Mutual

Spouse's Paid-Up Insurance Purchase Option 


Disability Waiver of Premium



Living Benefits



Additional Purchase Benefit


Option to Purchase Paid-Up Additions



Chronic Care Option



Accidental Death Benefit


Return of Premium


Money Back Option


Are New York Life or Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Policies More Accessible?

You can't apply online for a New York Life or Northwestern Mutual life insurance policy. Instead, you'll need to connect with a life insurance agent to get started. Northwestern Mutual has an online tool that matches you with the most suitable financial professional for your goals. Meanwhile, you can speak live to a financial advisor through New York Life's chat service to help you select the right product and start your application. 

New York Life offers a streamlined process to help you complete your application, known as a TeleApp interview. During your consultation, an advisor collects information about your health, age, lifestyle and financial situation. You may be asked to complete a medical exam depending on the findings of your TeleApp interview. 

While most Northwestern policies require you to complete a health questionnaire or in-person exam, the company offers some policies without a medical exam. While this could be a significant advantage if you have a serious medical condition that makes finding life insurance challenging, you'll typically pay higher premiums. 

New York Life Insurance Company vs. Northwestern Mutual: Company Ratings

Northwestern Mutual holds a higher Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of A- compared to New York Life, which has a B- rating. This suggests that New York Life may receive a higher volume of customer complaints and could indicate that it doesn't resolve disputes as effectively as Northwestern Mutual. 

Both New York Life and Northwestern Mutual hold an A++ (Superior) rating with A.M. Best. This rating verifies that both companies have strong balance sheets and are exceptionally financially stable. 

Which Is Better: New York Life or Northwestern Mutual?

Whether you should choose New York Life or Northwestern Mutual depends on your needs and circumstances. Both companies could be a good option if you want to purchase permanent or term life insurance from a financially strong company. 

New York Life could be the better choice if you want the broadest possible rider selection or require flexible universal life insurance options. Meanwhile, Northwestern Mutual's Custom Whole Life policies could give it the edge if you want to maximize cash accumulation and can afford higher premiums over a shorter period. 

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