New York Life Insurance Review

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New York Life Insurance Company

New York Life Insurance Company

overall rating

Our Take

New York Life Insurance has a reputation for great customer service, and uses local advisors to work with you offering personalized service. They have a history of paying dividends to policyholders and a good selection of plans. New York Life is a top pick when you are looking for permanent life insurance with level premiums and a good option for anyone on a budget looking for life insurance.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
  • Money back option on some plans

  • Offers accelerated death benefits, critical illness options

  • Convertible term life options available up to issue age 75

  • Level premium guarantees

  • “Guaranteed Cash Value Growth” plans available

  • Accelerated death benefits, including chronic illness

  • Strong track record of paying dividends to policyholders

  • Website does not offer details about age limitations (if any)

  • No online quoting

  • Premiums can increase after set terms

Key Takeaways
  • New York Life whole life plans are eligible for dividends, if you have a participating plan this means you may share in the dividends. 
  • Accelerated death benefits for situations such as chronic illness give you access to funds while alive.  
  • Permanent life insurance with a guaranteed growth rate for cash value helps you sleep better knowing your money is working for you.  
  • The ability to purchase convertible term life up to age 75 gives policyholders a lot of flexibility to have insurance later in life.  
  • As one of the largest life insurance companies in the world, New York Life makes it easy to work with them with agents across the country.
  • Year Founded 1845
  • Kinds of Plans Term life, whole life, universal life, variable universal life
  • Number of Plans 10
  • Official Website

New York Life Insurance Company is a nationally recognized brand that offers both term and permanent life insurance. It sells policies through local agents who help educate clients on the best life insurance choices they can make. We reviewed New York Life’s financial stability, policy plan options, riders, and customer satisfaction rankings to help you compare life insurance policy options.

Company Overview

New York Life Insurance is the #1 mutual insurer in the U.S. which means the company is owned by the policyholders. As a result, New York Life pays dividends to eligible policyholders and has done so for 175 consecutive years. New York Life Insurance is also the third-largest life insurance provider among all company types. 

Headquartered in New York, New York Life has been providing insurance for 175 years and is available in all states. It has a Better Business Bureau rating of A- and sells its plans through agents.

New York Life Whole Life plans are eligible for dividends, if you have a participating plan this means you may share in the dividends.

Available Plans

New York Life Insurance offers four different types of plans on its website, including term life, whole life, universal life, and variable universal life insurance. These are built into 10 various policy combinations. Additional plans may be available by contacting one of its agents for a personalized quote.

Term Life Insurance

New York Life Insurance offers two main term insurance plans and both have convertible features, meaning you can take some or all of the term benefits and convert it into permanent life insurance. The maximum coverage period for the term life insurance plans with New York Life is 20 years. This is in line with industry standards, however, there are other life insurers who do offer term insurance for 30 to 35 year periods with coverage amounts as low as $10,000.

Level Premium Convertible

The New York Life Level Premium Term insurance policy allows you to lock in the premium rate for either 10 or 20 years. The plan premium will increase yearly after the term ends, however, you do have the option to convert to a whole life policy. The ability to convert a policy allows you to take advantage of your good health at the time of the original purchase without having to take a new medical exam later. The convertible term does have a higher minimum death benefit of $250,000.

One-Year Non-Renewable Term

New York Life also offers a One-Year Non-Renewable Term plan, however, the details are not available on their website. This would be a short-term policy designed to fill any gaps in insurance that could happen due to something like losing employment benefits.

The maximum issue age for New York Life’s term life insurance products is 75 and the maximum issue age for permanent life is age 90, with starting values at $10,000 up to several million.

Whole Life Insurance

New York Life Insurance has three options for whole life insurance, including a “customizable” plan. Whole Life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance policy. A nice advantage of the New York Life's whole life insurance plans is that you may receive dividends. Although dividends are not guaranteed, New York Life has a good track record of paying, being one of the few companies that have continuously paid them (dating back to 1854). In 2020, New York Life paid out 1.9 billion dollars in dividends to its policyholders.  

Value Whole Life Insurance

Value Life Insurance is a whole life insurance policy geared for people who are closer to retirement age. The premiums are level with a guaranteed death benefit but without the same guarantees of cash that most whole life policies have. This helps those quickly approaching retirement get the protection that fits into a budget. The level premium avoids having to worry about seeing your insurance rates increase over time. The minimum death benefit is $25,000.

Whole Life Insurance

The Whole Life Insurance plan is a standard plan that allows you to balance cash-value accumulation with the death benefit. This is a step up from the Value Whole Life plan where cash value accumulation isn't prioritized. This option is helpful to people who want to lock costs without worrying about increases over the term of the policy while providing loan options down the road. Policy minimum death benefits are $25,000.

Custom Whole Life Insurance

The Custom Whole Life plan offers the option to pay premiums for a limited time (often referred to as limited-pay); you can completely pay your policy over as few as five years with coverage remaining for life. This whole life option works similarly to the standard Whole Life Insurance plan except it gets paid up sooner and builds cash value faster. Custom whole life has higher minimum policy death benefits, starting at $50,000.

Because there are so many types of insurance that New York Life offers, be sure to talk to an agent to narrow down choices based on your needs. 

Universal Life Insurance

New York Life Insurance offers several plans for universal life insurance, another type of permanent insurance that builds cash value. To get the full details you will have to speak to an agent, however, they do mention on their website that many of the plans come with optional riders (some of them are even free). Depending on whether you want to focus on a guaranteed death benefit, have stable monthly premiums, or want access to more cash-value, the universal life plans offer several options to work with.

Universal Life Basic

The Basic Universal Life plan with New York Life is geared toward someone looking for a long term policy with cash values on a budget-friendly plan. You can customize the plan to manage your costs. The minimum face value (death benefit) for universal life policies is $25,000.

Custom Universal Life Guarantee 

Custom Universal life is for those looking for a guaranteed premium and death benefit payout. This plan comes with a Money-Back Option Rider, so you can get your premiums back if, at some point, you decide to cancel the policy.

Protection Up to Age 90

The Protection Up to Age 90 plan is recommended by New York Life for business owners or people who need a significant amount of life insurance for a limited amount of time, up to age 90. The minimum coverage for this plan is $1,000,000.

There are several options for death benefit payouts in any of the universal life insurance plans:

  • Level death benefit: Provides a death benefit equal to the face value of your policy.
  • Fluctuating benefit: Pays out an amount based on the death benefit face value plus any existing cash value. It is a “variable benefit” that depends on how much cash value you have at the time of payout.  
  • Return of premium rider: Receive a death benefit at face value plus the total adjusted premiums paid into the policy. 

Variable Universal Life Insurance

Variable life combines a permanent death benefit value with a cash value option that you can invest in the market. Because you are investing, there is a certain amount of risk since cash value may go up or down based on market performance. With the variable life policy, you can either choose the investments yourself, or you choose investment combinations built by their experts in managed portfolios. 

Several riders are available for this plan, including a Guaranteed Minimum Accumulation Benefit, which can protect your rate of return if the stock market falls. This is only available after 12 years of your policy being in force and has certain conditions.

New York Life Insurance Riders

A life insurance rider is an add-on or an endorsement to an insurance policy usually available at an added cost. Riders can provide you with extra coverage for family members, give you added flexibility with the cash-values of the policy, or protect your policy in the event of a disability.

In many cases, when budgeting for life insurance, a spouse or children’s rider can also save you money by allowing you to extend or add coverage for family members. 

The following is a sampling of New York Life riders that may be available depending on your state and type of plan you purchase.

Policy Purchase Option

The policy purchase option gives you the option to add additional coverage at a later time without having to take a new medical exam. This is a useful tool if you want to secure life insurance now – but do not need a lot at the moment. You can increase your life insurance amounts in the future.  

Spouses Paid Up Option

Allows your spouse to take some of the proceeds of the death benefit (in the event of your death) to purchase a life policy for themselves without a medical exam. 

Accidental Death Benefit Rider

This is the option to add additional compensation to your beneficiary if your death is the result of an accident. This is only available for whole life policies.

Option to Purchase Paid-Up Additions

This option allows you to purchase more coverage for your plan at a later time. It allows you to increase your death benefit or increase cash values during the course of your policy as you need to or if you decide you can afford more later. 

Chronic Care Option

The Chronic Care Rider (CCR) is available on whole life insurance plans and the Custom Guarantee Universal Life policy. It provides a tax-free accelerated payout of part of your death benefit if you become chronically ill.

Customer Service: Great Track Record

New York Life Insurance works through agents. To get in touch with a representative, call (800) 225-5695 from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST or search for a local office or agent to connect with via the website. New York Life also offers helpful online tools for policy management once you have a policy.

Although there are no online quotes, it has comparison forms of different products that are explained in simplified terms. This helps you understand the options when doing research on policies. Everything is written in a very easy-to-understand language.

Complaints: Very Low

New York Life Insurance Company scores well on the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s (NAIC) National Complaint Index report, with a low complaint rating of 0.16 in 2021. This is well below the expected average for its size. 

Customer Satisfaction: In the Top 10 Ranked Better Than Most

New York Life scored eighth out of 25 life insurance companies for Customer Satisfaction Overall in the 2019 J.D. Power Life Insurance Study, which ranks life insurance companies for customer experience and satisfaction. Here is the breakdown by the customer each service category: 

Customer Service Category Rank
Overall Satisfaction Better than most
Product Offerings Better than most
Price Better than most
Statements About average
Interaction About average
Communication About average
Application and Orientation Better than most

Financial Strength: Highest Ranking A++ (Superior)

New York Life Insurance Company has a financial strength rating of A++ Superior by A.M. Best – the highest possible rating. They are cited as having a conservative product portfolio and being a top leader in the U.S. Market Life Insurance industry. The company is a leader in the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) with continuous membership since 1956. MDRT is recognized as a standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services industry.

New York Life Insurance Cancellation Policy

At the time of applying for insurance, ask what happens if you cancel your life insurance policy. Permanent policies usually have surrender values, meaning you pay a penalty to take out the money and cancel the policy. 

Price of New York Life Insurance Plans

New York Life Insurance ranks as having a price that is “Better Than Most” by J.D. Power. There are no online quotes or pricing samples available online, quotes are individualized and must be obtained through an agent.

If you can’t afford permanent life insurance, buy convertible term to start with and convert what you can later.

How New York Life Stacks Up to the Competition

We compared New York Life with John Hancock, another very large, established life insurance carrier so you could get an idea of how they stack up against each other.  

New York Life vs. John Hancock

Both companies are diverse in what they offer, however, John Hancock has the most options between the two providers, especially for those who want to have more hands-on investment involvement. 

New York Life offers dividends, whereas John Hancock does not. However, John Hancock provides the benefit of what they call the "Vitality Program". This program includes discounts on the cost of your life insurance with tools to be active and healthy. 

John Hanock has incentive plans to help you get in shape or stay fit along with support plans for diabetics and smokers. These plans only reduce premiums based on your performance or commitment to the health goals required to get reduced rates, or discounts. 

At the end of the day, New York Life offers a superior product due to their conversion options. For people without health issues and also for non-smokers, New York Life is the better pick for service and the opportunity for policyholders to collect dividends.

  New York Life John Hancock
Market share Third largest in U.S., 5.7% Sixth largest in the U.S., 3.6%
Number of Plans 10 14
Dividends for 2021 $1.8 billion Not applicable
Wellness Program Discounts/ Quit Smoking Incentives Not applicable Yes
Service Method Agents Financial Advisors and Agents
Customer Satisfaction (J.D. Power) Score 770 out of 1000 (8th out of 25) Score 739 out of 1000 (18th out of 25)
Price Rank Better than most About Average
Complaints Trend 0.16 Excellent 0.14 Excellent
Final Verdict

If you are shopping around for life insurance options New York Life Insurance is a strong choice. Besides being top-rated for financial strength, and providing life insurance since 1845, they also have convertible and customizable plans, money-back options, and a full range of life insurance policy types and riders to choose from. 

New York Life is a good choice for people interested in both term and permanent life insurance coverage with guaranteed options, and flexibility in premiums that will fit into a budget. For those seeking a lot of coverage later in life, New York Life is a no brainer to get a quote from.


All of our reviews of life insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company based on offerings, customer service, financial stability, cost, and more. For over two dozen companies, we compared the life insurance products offered, as well as available features, and reported customer experiences. For the full breakdown of what we evaluated, visit our life insurance review methodology.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Better Business Bureau. "New York Life." Accessed August 21, 2021.

  2. NAIC "New York Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed Aug. 21, 2021.

  3. J.D. Power. "U.S. Life Insurance Study – Individual Life Insurance (2019)." Accessed Aug. 21, 2021.

  4. A.M. Best. "New York Life Insurance Company." Accessed Aug. 21, 2021.

  5. A.M. Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of New York Life Insurance Company and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed Aug. 21, 2021.