As one of the oldest and most respected insurance companies in the United States, it’s no surprise that New York Life consistently ranks among the top 10 best life insurance companies according to brokers and experts.
However, since life insurance is a unique product that requires individuals to qualify based on a variety of factors, it’s essential to understand the types of products offered by New York Life. By doing so, you can determine whether they are not only one of the best insurance companies in the world but also the best life insurance company for you.
In this article, we will take a closer look at New York Life, its products, and its offerings, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right life insurance company for you.
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About New York Life
New York Life is not only one of the oldest but also one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States. The company was founded in 1841 as Nautilus Mutual and later changed its name to New York Life in 1845. Throughout its history, New York Life has experienced consistent growth, thanks to a well-developed network of agents and local branch offices that helped the company expand across the country. Even today, New York Life operates general offices in nearly every state, which demonstrates its continued commitment to serving customers across the nation.
One of the things that sets New York Life apart from other large mutual life insurers is its steadfast commitment to remaining a mutual company. This means that the company is owned by its policyholders and is not beholden to shareholders. Eligible policies can receive regular dividend payments, and New York Life has an impressive track record in this regard. The company has issued dividends every year since 1854, which covers almost its entire 175-year history. While dividends are not guaranteed, New York Life’s consistent track record should provide policyholders with a degree of confidence in the company’s financial stability.
In 2021, New York Life will pay out over $1.8 Billion in total dividends to policy owners. Source.
New York Life markets a range of life insurance and other financial products directly to consumers. However, unlike some other insurance companies, the company does not offer an online application process. Instead, potential customers need to work with one of its 12,000 in-house or local captive agents to purchase a policy.
New York Life’s marketing campaign focuses on “helping people act on their love.” This message is intended to convey the company’s commitment to helping individuals and families plan for their future financial security. New York Life operates in all fifty states and has a strong presence throughout the country.
New York Life Financial Ratings
A.M. Best: A++
Comdex Ranking: 100
New York Life is undoubtedly a financial powerhouse and one of the highest-rated life insurance companies. With over $370 billion in assets, the company’s financial resources are greater than the GDP of all but 30 countries worldwide. Furthermore, New York Life earns around $35 billion in annual revenue, ranking it among the top 100 earning companies in the United States.
New York Life’s financial ratings are exceptional, providing policyholders with confidence in the company’s stability and security. The company is well-known for its conservative investing practices, which have enabled it to weather numerous financial downturns.
Remarkably, New York Life has emerged relatively unscathed from both the Great Depression of 1929 and the 2007 financial crisis. During these periods, the company minimized its exposure to the stock market and focused on investing in bonds, real estate, and treasuries. These strategies have enabled New York Life to remain financially stable and secure.
New York Life Consumer Ratings:
New York Life has a fairly good reputation for customer service compared to other insurers its size. While consumer reviews tend to be hard on large insurers, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that New York Life receives notably fewer consumer complaints than an average carrier its size.
The company gets an A- score from the Better Business Bureau, meaning it generally responds to consumer complaints but could do better.
In J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, which included 23 companies, New York Life came in a respectable 6th place for overall life insurance customer satisfaction (up two spots from 2019). In the customer satisfaction rankings for annuities, New York Life tied for the top spot.
With a company that’s as large and has as many customers as New York Life, there are inevitably plenty of negative consumer reviews online. The most frequent critique of New York Life seems to be that its premiums are often on the high side.
What Products Does New York Life Offer?
New York Life offers all three of the major forms of life insurance—term life, whole life, and universal life—with multiple varieties of each category.
The company also offers long-term care coverage and financial-planning products and services. Investment options offered by New York Life include annuities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and 529 college savings plans.
For “premier clients” and small businesses, New York Life provides a host of financial-planning and wealth management services—such as employee benefits programs, succession planning, estate planning, and investment advice.
Life Insurance from New York Life:
Compared to most other carriers, New York Life has a very large assortment of life insurance policies available for consumers. Term, whole life, and universal life are all on offer, and there are at least two (usually more) policies available in each category.
Most of New York Life’s policies are fully underwritten, though younger applicants with no major health issues can often qualify for an exam waiver, aka accelerated underwriting.
Term Life from New York Life:
New York Life has a standard level-term policy (“Level Premium Convertible Term”) and an annual renewable term (ART) policy it calls “Yearly Convertible Term.”
The level-term life policy provides fixed-premium coverage starting at $100,000 for initial terms of ten to twenty years.
Applicants can be up to 75 years old. When the term ends, the policyholder can renew coverage annually (for a higher premium) until the insured reaches age 90.
All term life policies include a conversion option allowing the policyholder to swap the term policy for permanent coverage within the first ten years.
New York Life’s ART policy is available for new insureds up to age 79. Policies provide annually renewable coverage up to age 80, with premiums increasing every five years.
The policy also includes a conversion rider, but otherwise most riders are not available with the ART coverage.
Whole Life from New York Life:
Because New York Life is a mutual company, whole life is one of its featured products.
All whole life insurance policies have guaranteed-for-life death benefits, fixed premiums, and accumulate cash value.
Participating life insurance policies are eligible for dividends, and an optional rider lets policyholders add paid-up additions (fully paid-up mini-policies that increase coverage and cash value), which can be purchased using dividends.
New York Life’s standard Whole Life policy is available for new insureds as old as 90 years. Coverage amounts can be anywhere from $25,000 to $5 million, and premiums are scheduled to stretch out throughout the insured’s entire life.
Custom Whole Life
Custom Whole Life works similarly, though the premium payment period is shortened to as little as five years—which means premiums are higher, but coverage is paid-up earlier. Custom Whole Life has a minimum coverage amount of $50,000.
Value Whole Life
Value Whole Life differs from the standard policy in that it is designed to emphasize the guaranteed, long-term death benefit more than cash value. This design allows for lower premiums but less cash-value accumulation.
Final Expense Whole Life (AARP)
New York Life also sells two different final expense insurance policies marketed under the AARP brand.
The AARP Simplified-Issue policy provides coverage from $5,000 to $50,000 for new insureds up to age 80.
The AARP Guaranteed-Issue policy (which does not have any medical screening and includes a two-year waiting period) provides up to $25,000 in coverage for applicants up to age 85.
Both policies are only available for AARP members over age 50 and their spouses.
Universal Life from New York Life:
New York Life offers three standard universal life policies and a variable universal life (VUL) policy. The policies vary in the relative focus places on death benefit versus cash-value accrual. New York Life is not currently offering an indexed universal life option.
- Basic Universal Life focuses on a guaranteed, long-term death benefit more than cash-value, though cash value does accrue and grow tax-deferred at guaranteed minimum rates.
- Custom Guaranty Universal Life also emphasizes death benefit and includes a guaranteed death benefit and premiums. An optional rider allows a policy to be surrendered in exchange for a refund of all premiums paid to date.
- Protection Up to Age 90 is designed for wealthy executives who need high coverage but don’t need it to be guaranteed for life. Coverage levels start at $1 million, and cash value accumulation is more of an emphasis.
- Variable Universal Life is intended for policyholders who want life insurance but also want to focus more on the investment aspect of a cash-value policy. Policyholders apportion cash value among various available investment options, and growth is linked to investment performance. Return potential is significantly higher, but VUL policies also have a risk of loss if investments perform poorly.
New York Life Insurance Riders:
New York Life offers numerous rider options that can be added to a policy for an additional premium. Not every rider is available with every policy or for all ages.
- Children’s Insurance: provides supplemental term coverage to the insured’s children that can be converted to permanent coverage at age 25.
- Waiver of Premium: waives or reduces premium obligations if the insured becomes totally disabled.
- Living Benefits: allows access to policy proceeds if the insured is diagnosed with a terminal illness with less than 12 months to live.
- Chronic Care: allows access to policy proceeds if the insured is diagnosed with a qualifying chronic illness.
- Accidental Death: provides a supplemental death benefit if the insured’s death results from a qualifying accident.
- Convertible Term Rider: extends convertible term coverage to a family member or business partner of the insured; available in five-year and annually renewable options.
- Spouse Paid-Up Option: lets a deceased insured’s surviving spouse use policy proceeds for a fully paid-up policy insuring the surviving spouse, with no underwriting required.
- Policy Purchase Option: gives the policyholder the right to purchase another policy covering the insured at specified dates, without additional underwriting.
At the end of the day…
While New York Life is undoubtedly a top-rated and financially stable life insurance company, it’s essential to remember that everyone’s insurance needs and preferences are unique. What works well for one person may not be the best option for another. While considering New York Life as a potential insurer, it’s important to shop around and compare policies, coverage options, rates, and customer service with other companies. Ultimately, the best life insurance company for you will depend on your individual needs and budget, and the only way to know for sure is to research and compare your options carefully.