Northwestern Mutual: An Overview

Is Northwestern Mutual a good insurance company for you?

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Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual was founded in 1857, and offers a variety of life and disability insurance policies, long-term care, annuities, and financial planning services. Here’s what you need to know before deciding if Northwestern Mutual offers life insurance coverage that’s right for you.

Is Northwestern Mutual Right for You?

Northwestern Mutual is a good insurance choice if you’re hoping to have a wide variety of options to choose from regarding life insurance, want to investigate Northwestern Mutual’s financial planning offerings, are considering disability coverage, or hope to buy a life insurance policy with cash value.   

Where Is Northwestern Mutual Offered?

Northwestern Mutual is available in all 50 states, although there may be differences in the services and products that are offered in each state.  

Pros and Cons of Northwestern Mutual Insurance


  • Owned by policyholders

  • Financial advisors available

  • Ability to convert term life insurance to permanent


  • No online quotes

  • Medical exams required for life insurance

Pros Explained

  • Owned by policyholders: As a mutual company, it’s privately owned by policyholders. Policyholders can vote, and many insurance and annuity policyholders receive dividends.
  • Financial advisors available: Northwestern Mutual has “fiduciary and fee-based financial advisors” who can offer financial advice and guidance. Ensure you understand the difference between fee-based and fee-only investment advice, and compare Northwestern Mutual’s account fees with other potential advisors’ fees.
  • Ability to convert term life insurance: You can convert term life insurance into a whole life insurance policy during specific conversion periods.

Northwestern Mutual expects to pay close to $6 billion in dividends to policyholders in 2020.

Cons Explained

  • No online quotes: If you like to do everything online, including getting quotes for life insurance, then Northwestern Mutual is not for you—it doesn’t offer online policy or product quotes. You’ll have to do this in person with an agent or advisor.
  • Medical exam requirements: If you’re concerned about passing a medical exam or have pre-existing medical conditions, Northwestern Mutual doesn’t appear to have life insurance options that don’t require a medical exam. The premium you pay may be tied to your health details.

Northwestern Mutual Products

Northwestern Mutual offers a variety of life insurance and supplemental health policies, as well as annuities and investment vehicles. Insurance coverage and premiums are based on your specific situation and health details, and may vary by state.

Life Insurance

  • Term life insurance: With rates that may increase over time, allowing you to pay less while your young, and the option to convert to a whole life insurance policy.
  • Whole life insurance: With the opportunity to earn dividends and borrow the cash value of your policy.
  • Universal life insurance: With the flexibility to change insurance protection amounts over time, subject to policy conditions.
  • Whole Life Plus Series: Includes waivers of premium if you’re disabled, or the ability to start a whole life policy at lower values and increase or adjust it over time as needs change, among other features.

Supplemental Health

  • Long-term care insurance: With a calculator to help you understand what the cost could be if you ever experienced a long-term event.
  • Disability insurance: Various policies available, with specific options for dentists and doctors, as well as coverage for stay-at-home spouses and part-time workers.


  • Investments: A financial services professional can offer information on annuities, retirement accounts, education savings plans, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and more.

Between 1998 and 2009, Northwestern Mutual’s investment arm was repeatedly censured and fined by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA.

Other Notable Offerings

Northwestern Mutual also offers an early payment benefit. In some states (the benefit is not offered in all), terminally ill insureds with six months or less to live can use a portion of the death benefit. 

Other services offered under the Northwestern Mutual umbrella include business services, estate planning, and wealth management.

Northwestern Mutual Ratings and Reviews

Northwestern Mutual was awarded the highest overall rating in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study, a customer-experience survey of the largest U.S. life insurance companies. 

In 2019, A.M. Best awarded Northwestern Mutual with the highest possible Financial Strength Rating of “A++ (Superior).” Northwestern Mutual also received top ratings from Fitch (rated “AAA”), Moody’s (rated “Aaa”), and S&P Global Ratings (rated “AA+”).

Northwestern Mutual’s mobile app is rated 3.2 out of 5 stars in the Apple App store, and 4 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store. 

The Bottom Line on Northwestern Mutual 

Northwestern Mutual may be good if you’re interested in various life insurance plans and investment vehicles, and would enjoy the guidance of a financial services professional. These can be helpful if you think you would like to borrow money from your life insurance policy later on, although this does carry certain risks, as Northwestern Mutual points out. 

Article Sources

  1. Northwestern Mutual. "Who We Are." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  2. Northwestern Mutual. "Northwestern Mutual To Pay Policyowners Largest Ever, Industry-Leading $6 Billion Dividend Payout." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  3. Northwestern Mutual. "Directory of Financial Advisors and Representatives." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  4. Northwestern Mutual. "Term Conversion." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  5. Northwestern Mutual. "Life Insurance." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  6. Northwestern Mutual. "Term Life Insurance." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  7. Northwestern Mutual. "Whole Life Insurance." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  8. Northwestern Mutual. "Northwestern Mutual Reimagines Life Insurance With New Series." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  9. Northwestern Mutual. "Long‑Term Care Cost Calculator." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  10. Northwestern Mutual. "Disability Insurance." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  11. Northwestern Mutual. "Investment Solutions." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  12. Northwestern Mutual. "Life Insurance FAQs." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  13. Northwestern Mutual. "Company Fact Sheet." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  14. J.D. Power. "Life Insurance and Annuity Providers Are More Customer-Centric but Gaps Remain, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  15. Northwestern Mutual. "Who We Are." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  16. App Store. "Northwestern Mutual." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  17. Google Play. "Northwestern Mutual." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  18. Northwestern Mutual. "Universal Life Insurance." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.