The Top 5 Life Insurance Companies

Each of the top five life insurance companies offers insurance products that are suitable for people of all ages, income levels and insurance needs. Whether a person needs term or permanent life insurance, he or she will be able to find the policy that best suits his or her needs at AXA Equitable, Metropolitan Life (MetLife), New York Life, Prudential or USAA. While USAA is the best choice for active members of the military, New York Life may be the best choice for someone who wants to purchase a life insurance or investment product from a non-public company.

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Mutual Companies Versus Public Companies

The top insurance companies are classified as either mutual companies or publicly traded companies. A mutual company is one that is owned by its policyholders, not by shareholders. While it has a chairman and a board of directors, is regulated by a state insurance board and must meet established capitalization requirements, it does not issue shares of stock that trade on either a domestic or foreign stock exchange. A publicly traded company, on the other hand, issues shares of stock and must issue quarterly 10K financial statements.

While some prefer to purchase life insurance from a mutual company because it does not have to concern itself with short-term profits, others take comfort in having analysts and financial advisors issue ratings on the profitability and stability of a public company. Whether a life insurance company is mutual or publicly traded, it is rated by the leading credit rating agencies so that all who purchase the products can judge the company’s ability to meet its future financial obligations.

Each of the top life insurance companies has expanded into additional financial products such as annuities, mutual funds and in some cases, commodities trading, over the past several years. This may be helpful for those who wish to maintain accounts with one company. It may also be helpful for some people to work with one financial advisor from a single company who will understand both their insurance and investment needs and provide advice about suitable insurance and financial products.

AXA Equitable

Established in 1859, the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company is considered to be a premier underwriter of life insurance policies in the United States even though it is based overseas. AXA Equitable sells life insurance and financial products to individuals, wholesale customers and corporations. AXA Equitable serves several geographically diverse areas including North America, Europe and Asia.

AXA Equitable offers a number of insurance and financial products, including annuities. It is publicly traded and pays a yearly dividend that is determined by the board of directors. The dividend amount fluctuates based on annual earnings but is usually a percentage of net revenue.

Metropolitan Life

For over 140 years, MetLife has been providing insurance products to individuals and corporations. Known to a new generation as the company with the Snoopy blimp, MetLife was started in 1863 by a group of businessmen. Its original intention was to insure soldiers and sailors against wartime injuries during the Civil War. From there, the company began selling individual policies to ordinary working people who needed to protect their assets and provide for their families. In 2000 the company was demutualized, meaning it was changed from a mutual company to a publicly traded company. The stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange trading under the symbol MET.

New York Life

New York Life Insurance Company is one of the oldest and most stable insurance companies in the United States. It was the first to pay its policyowners a cash dividend in 1847. It remains a mutual company to this day. It has consistently received the highest ratings from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services for financial strength and stability.

New York Life focuses on overall the overall financial health and well-being of its policyholders. Products include life insurance, annuities, long-term care insurance and mutual funds. The New York Life website is replete with a number of different financial and insurance calculators to help investors make sure they are adequately insured and saving enough for retirement. New York Life also provides life insurance and financial products to AARP members.

Prudential

Prudential prides itself on its diversification of businesses and balanced portfolio. It is also a publicly traded company with over $693 billion of assets under management as of the end of March 2010. Its website offers a number of educational articles so that a potential customer can compare the products that provide the best value and protection for his or her individual situation. Prudential offers a range of life insurance products, from standard term insurance to permanent policies that include universal, variable and survivorship insurance.

Businesses and corporations can also benefit from Prudential. Along with offering insurance and financial solutions for individuals, Prudential provides group insurance, defined contribution management and even commercial real estate services. Prudential Mortgage Capital Company is known as one of the country’s leading commercial mortgage lenders.

USAA

USAA was started in 1922 when 25 United States Army officers met to insure each other’s vehicles. Today, the goal of USAA is be the insurer of choice for members of the military and their families. USAA is a mutual company and is therefore not publicly traded. Therefore, the products it offers are not subject to the whims of short-term profits. It also provides an important service for active military as most other life insurance companies have a “war clause” that allows them to disallow a claim that occurs due to the death of a military member on active duty.

USAA products are open to the following military members and their families:

  • Active and retired members of the military
  • Those in officer candidate training programs
  • Adult children of current USAA members
  • Widowed and former spouses of USAA members

In addition, some USAA products, like life insurance and credit cards, are available to the general public. USAA also offers of investment products like mutual funds, college savings plans, Certificates of Deposit and annuities.

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