Best Life Insurance With Living Benefits

How to choose the best policy in case of serious illness

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Life insurance with living benefits can provide you and your family with essential resources should you become terminally ill or die. No one likes to think about how their death would impact their family, but if you’re not prepared with a life insurance policy, your dependents could be left to cover your debts and funeral expenses without the help of your income. That’s why a robust life insurance policy is so important. 

Some life insurance policies can even provide you with benefits while you’re still alive. These living benefits can be accessed if you face a qualifying illness or need long-term care. They’re available with term, universal, and whole life policies, and the benefits and payout vary across companies. 

To find the best life insurance companies with living benefits, we compared two dozen providers based on affordability, variety of options, financial strength, customer satisfaction, and ease of qualification. Read on to see our list of the best life insurance companies that provide living benefits. 

The 8 Best Life Insurance With Living Benefits of 2021

Best Overall: Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

 Mutual of Omaha

Why We Chose It: Mutual of Omaha offers affordable term life and permanent life insurance options, and many policies include an accelerated death benefit at no additional cost. There are multiple options for add-ons, and the company is also highly rated for customer satisfaction and financial strength. 

What We Like
  • Affordable policies

  • Multiple riders provide living benefits

What We Don’t Like
  • Fewer options when purchasing online

  • Getting coverage can take around one month

Mutual of Omaha is best overall because it offers an accelerated death benefit that pays out up to 92% of your benefit amount should you become terminally ill and have less than 24 months to live. That’s a higher payout and longer period than many other companies, and this rider also comes with many Mutual of Omaha policies at no additional cost. The company also offers chronic illness and critical illness riders, which are included in some policies.

Founded in 1901, Mutual of Omaha has an A+ financial strength rating with both AM Best and S&P Global. The company notes that it pays out 85% of whole life insurance claims within 24 hours. The provider ranked fifth for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study, well above the industry average, and also has favorable reviews on ConsumerAffairs. 

Mutual of Omaha writes policies in all 50 states, though product offerings may vary depending on where you live, and the policies are known to be affordable. For example, quotes for a 20-year, $250,000 policy include:

  • $25 per month for a 35-year-old female nonsmoker
  • $86 per month for a 50-year-old male nonsmoker

You can get a quote and purchase coverage online or over the phone. 

Read our full Mutual of Omaha review for more details.

Best for Whole Life Policies: MassMutual

MassMutual

MassMutual

Why We Chose It: MassMutual offers a whole life insurance and long-term care insurance combination package that provides excellent flexibility with regards to how you can use the benefits, making it our choice for best for whole life policies.

What We Like
  • Long-term care riders on whole life policies provide flexible living benefits

  • Eligible for dividend payments

  • Mobile app and online account management

What We Don’t Like
  • Medical underwriting required

  • No online quotes for whole life policies

  • Limited details about terms online

MassMutual’s Care Choice One and Care Choice Select plans are whole life insurance policies with long-term care riders. There are three ways you can use these benefits:

  • Receive payouts to cover long-term care while you’re living
  • Cancel the policy and receive the surrender value while you’re living
  • Receive a tax-free death benefit for your dependents after your passing

If you don’t need that much flexibility but still want funds in case of a terminal illness, you can also add an accelerated death benefit rider to a regular whole life insurance policy with MassMutual. That will provide you with an advance if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and are expected to die within 12 months. Either way, you’ll get a policy that accumulates cash value and may be eligible for dividends, which MassMutual has paid every year since 1869. 

Founded in 1851, MassMutual has an A++ financial strength rating with AM Best and has above-average customer satisfaction ratings in J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study. While you can’t get a quote for a whole life insurance policy online, quotes for term policies are affordable. For example, for a 20-year, $250,000 policy, a 35-year-old female nonsmoker would pay $15 per month and a 50-year-old male nonsmoker would pay $51 per month. 

MassMutual writes policies nationwide, but product offerings may vary by state. 

Read our MassMutual life insurance review for more details.

Best for Term Policies: Haven Life

Haven Life

 Haven Life

Why We Chose It: Haven Life offers affordable term policies with living benefits riders and a suite of free tools designed to help your health and finances, which is why it is our best for term policies winner.

What We Like
  • Haven Life Plus features are included at no extra cost (not available in all states)

  • Get a quick online quote and purchase coverage online

  • Accelerated death benefit and disability waiver of premium rider

What We Don’t Like
  • Not available in every state

  • No whole life insurance policies

  • Not ideal for seniors or people with health issues

Haven Life offers an accelerated death benefit rider with its term policies that provides 75% of the face value (up to $250,000) if the insured becomes terminally ill and is expected to pass away within 12 months. This is paid in a lump sum. In addition to this rider, Haven has reimagined living benefits with the Haven Life Plus rider, a suite of tools that provide a free online will, a subscription to a fitness app, discounts at MinuteClinic, and more, although it is not available in all states.

Haven is a new player in the insurance industry, but it has expanded to offer term policies in 42 states since it was founded in 2014. It’s backed and owned by MassMutual and has an A++ financial strength rating with AM Best. Quotes for a 20-year, $250,000 policy are affordable, especially for younger folks. Haven Life estimates that a 35-year-old female nonsmoker would pay between $15 and $26 per month, and a 50-year-old male nonsmoker would pay between $56 and $89. 

One of the best parts about using Haven is that it’s quick and easy to get coverage online without a medical exam. It’s also possible to talk to an agent or use their online chat for support.

Best for Impairment: New York Life

New York Life

 New York Life

Why We Chose It: Whether you face temporary or permanent impairment, you can access a portion of your death benefit when you choose New York Life’s living benefits option, the best coverage for impairment in our review.

What We Like
  • Accelerated death benefits that cover chronic illness

  • Convertible term policies available up to age 75

What We Don’t Like
  • No online quotes

While many life insurance companies offer riders to assist with terminal illnesses, fewer provide options for temporary impairment. But New York Life has a chronic care rider (note that the name may vary by state, and it isn’t available everywhere) that allows you to access up to 50% of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a qualifying chronic illness. You can use the payout however you want, and the remaining benefit will be available to your dependents when you die. 

Founded in 1845, New York Life has an A++ rating with AM Best, above-average customer satisfaction ratings in J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study, and fewer complaints than would be expected for its size. You can’t get a quote online, and you’ll need to talk to an agent to purchase coverage, but plans are rumored to be affordable. There are agents available to help you secure coverage in every state. 

Read our New York Life review for more details.

Most Affordable Option: Nationwide

Nationwide

 Nationwide

Why We Chose It: Nationwide offers very affordable term policies with an accelerated death benefit rider as well as a long-term care rider on its universal life insurance policies.

What We Like
  • Some of the most affordable term policy quotes in the industry

  • Online quote and application for term policies

  • Ranked third in J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study

What We Don’t Like
  • No online quotes for permanent life insurance policies

  • No chronic illness or long-term care rider on term policies

Nationwide offers a couple of options for living benefits and is the most affordable option in our review. You can get a universal policy with a long-term care rider, which provides you with a monthly benefit should you need long-term care, or you can get an accelerated death benefit on Nationwide’s term, whole, universal, and variable life insurance products. This provides a portion of your death benefit as a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and expected to pass away within 12 months or less. 

Nationwide was founded in 1926 and has an A+ financial strength rating with AM Best. The company is ranked third in J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study. Online quotes for a 20-year, $250,000 policy were very affordable: Nationwide estimates that a 35-year-old female nonsmoker would pay as little as $15 per month, and a 50-year-old male nonsmoker would pay $43 per month. 

It’s easy to get a quote and apply for a term policy online, but you’ll need to call an agent to get a quote for any of Nationwide’s permanent life insurance policies. 

Nationwide writes policies in all states, but the availability of riders may vary. 

Read our Nationwide review for more details.

Best for Qualifying Easily: Fidelity

Fidelity

 Fidelity

Why We Chose It: Fidelity offers term and permanent policies with no medical underwriting, and you can get approved and buy coverage online.

What We Like
  • Terminal illness rider available at no additional cost with select policies

  • No medical exam required

What We Don’t Like
  • Lower maximum death benefit on permanent policies

  • Higher premiums than some other providers

None of Fidelity’s policies requires a medical exam and many plans offer same-day approvals, making it the best for qualifying easily of all the companies we reviewed. Fidelity’s Final Expense, Guaranteed Issue, and Express Term policies all include a terminal illness rider at no additional expense; you’ll just need to add the rider when you purchase your policy. The terms of the rider vary, but it allows you to access a portion of your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and expected to pass away within 12 to 24 months. 

Fidelity Life has been providing life insurance products since 1896 and has an A- financial strength rating with AM Best and was recognized for excellent customer service by Newsweek. The company is licensed in all states except Wyoming and New York, and you’ll be able to get a quote and buy a policy either online or by phone. Rates are also affordable, with Fidelity estimating that a 50-year-old male in great health would pay $60 per month for a 20-year, $250,000 term policy or $43 per month for a $10,000 final expense policy. 

Read our Fidelity Life Insurance review for more details.

Best for Seniors: Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

Why We Chose It: Northwestern Mutual offers a range of options for seniors with an accelerated care benefit available on its permanent policies. The provider is also expected to pay $6.2 billion in dividends in 2021—just part of why we chose it as best for seniors.

What We Like
  • Offers all types of life insurance

  • Accelerated care benefit available on permanent policies

What We Don’t Like
  • No online quotes

  • No guaranteed issue or final expense policies

Northwestern Mutual is ideal for seniors seeking a whole life insurance policy with an accessible cash value plus an accelerated care benefit. Convertible term policies are also available for seniors. 

Permanent policyholders can access the cash value of their policies at any time, and Northwestern Mutual also offers an accelerated care benefit rider. While the details provided about the rider are vague, the benefit is designed to help pay for potential long-term care costs. Up to 90% of the face value of the policy can be accessed in advance if you qualify. There’s also an early pay benefit that you can add, which will allow you to access up to 50% of your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. These options aren’t available in all states, but Northwestern Mutual does offer policies nationwide. 

The company was ranked fourth in J.D. Power’s 2020 Life Insurance Study and has an A++ financial strength rating with AM Best. Northwestern Mutual has been around since 1857 and has an excellent history of paying dividends to permanent policyholders. 

Read our Northwestern Mutual review for more details.

Most Comprehensive Coverage: Ameritas

Ameritas

Courtesy of Ameritas

Why We Chose It: Most Ameritas policies include the Care4Life rider, which provides living benefits for critical illness, chronic illness, and terminal illness.

What We Like
  • Living benefits with 18 qualifying triggers included in most policies

  • Affordable term policies, whole life, and universal life policies available

What We Don’t Like
  • No online quotes for permanent policies

  • Limited customer service reviews available

Ameritas is our choice for the most comprehensive living benefits coverage in our review, and its riders are available at no cost to most policyholders. Ameritas writes policies in all states except New York. 

The Ameritas Care4Life rider gives you living benefits in three circumstances:

  • Up to 25% of your benefit (up to $125,000) for critical illness, such as life-threatening cancer or a major heart attack
  • Up to 50% of your benefit (up to $1 million) for chronic illness, or when the insured is unable to perform two out of six activities of daily living
  • Up to 75% of your benefit (up to $1 million) for terminal illness, which includes any diagnosis expected to end in death within 12 months

Founded in 1887, Ameritas has an A financial strength rating with AM Best. The provider offers some of the most affordable term policies. For a 20-year, $250,000 term policy, a 35-year-old female nonsmoker would pay between $14 and $24, while a 50-year-old male nonsmoker would pay between $44 and $82, depending on health status. You can get a quote online for term policies but not for permanent ones. 

If you want to purchase coverage, you’ll need to contact an agent. It’s possible to get coverage without a medical exam, and convertible term policies are available that also won’t require an exam later on, but there are limits to the benefit amount unless you get an exam. Once you’re a policyholder, you can reach customer service by phone or email.

Read our Ameritas review for more details.

Final Verdict

Many life insurance companies offer living benefits, but the right provider for you will depend on factors such as the type of policy you need, the level of coverage you want, your health, and your budget. Mutual of Omaha stood out to us because of the variety of policies that include living benefits, the high payout for the accelerated death benefit, and the company’s high financial strength and customer satisfaction ratings. 

We recommend using this list as a starting point and comparing personalized life insurance quotes across providers. 

Provider  Why we chose it Living benefits Cost for a 20-year, $250,000 term policy (50-year-old male nonsmoker) Financial strength rating
Mutual of Omaha Variety of policies with living benefits at no cost Accelerated death benefit, critical illness, and chronic illness riders $86/month A+
MassMutual Offers a life insurance and long-term care combo Long-term care benefits, accelerated death benefit $51/month A++
Haven Life Quick, exam-free insurance with living benefits riders Accelerated death benefit, health/financial benefits $56–$89/month A++
New York Life Offers benefits for temporary or permanent impairment Accelerated death benefit, chronic care rider N/A A++
Nationwide Some of the least expensive policies with living benefits Long-term care rider, accelerated death benefit $43 A+
Fidelity Easy online application for any policy Terminal illness rider $60 A-
Northwestern Mutual Excellent options for seniors with living benefits Accelerated care benefit for long-term care, terminal illness rider N/A A++
Ameritas Living benefits available at no cost for three circumstances Terminal illness, chronic illness, and critical illness benefits $44–$82 A

FAQ

Can Life Insurance Be Paid Out Before Death?

It’s possible to access some or all of your life insurance death benefit while you are still alive. There are generally three ways to get money from your life insurance policy before you die:

  • Taking out a loan or withdrawal from the cash value of a whole or universal policy
  • Surrendering a whole or universal policy and keeping the cash value minus any fees
  • Taking advantage of an accelerated death benefit rider

If you added an accelerated death benefit rider to your term or permanent policy, you may be able to access a portion of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a qualifying health condition. 

What Are the Benefits of a Permanent Life Insurance Policy? 

A permanent life insurance policy covers you for life, which makes it up to 10 times more expensive than a comparable term life policy. But with the added premium, you get several key benefits:

  • A cash value that grows with time and can be accessed to cover expenses
  • The possibility to earn dividends
  • A guaranteed, tax-free death benefit paid to your beneficiaries no matter when you die

What Happens If I Live Past My Term Life Insurance? 

If you live past the term for which you purchase a policy, you won’t get any of the death benefit. That’s one reason why term life insurance policies are so much more affordable than permanent life insurance policies, which have a guaranteed payout. You should purchase a term length that meets your family’s needs, whether that’s a 10-year term to cover you until your mortgage is paid or a 20-year term that will cover you until your kids graduate. 

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance With Living Benefits

We evaluated more than two dozen life insurance providers before choosing the best options with living benefits. We considered the variety of policy options, the affordability of term policies, the ease of qualification and application, financial strength, and customer satisfaction ratings. We also paid attention to when and how much each company paid with a living benefits rider attached to a policy, and whether riders were included at no additional cost. 

All of our top choices offered affordable and comprehensive policies from companies with excellent financial strength, were easy to apply for, and provided a variety of life insurance options.