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Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company Review

This insurer lives up to its reputation of quality life insurance, backed by strong financials and top-notch customer service.
Pro Bullet Term
Pro Bullet Universal
Pro Bullet Whole
Licensed Life Insurance Agent/Staff Writer
Published on November 25, 2019

Northwestern Mutual is a reputable, nationwide financial services company that sells several types of insurance, including life, long-term care, and individual disability insurance. As a mutual company, each policyholder owns a small piece of the company and may receive annual dividends.

This insurance provider is known for its excellent customer service and financial strength, making it one of the best life insurance companies. This is especially true when it comes to whole life insurance.

Who might choose Northwestern Mutual for life insurance?

  • People who want both whole and term life: Northwestern Mutual offers a unique product, CompLife, that combines these two types of coverage.
  • People willing to call an agent: You can’t get product details or pricing on the Northwestern Mutual website, so you’ll need to speak with an agent.
  • People who don’t mind taking a medical exam: Northwestern Mutual doesn’t offer no exam life insurance.
  • Seniors and smokers: Northwestern Mutual is known for having competitive rates for these shoppers

Northwestern Mutual life insurance policies

Northwestern Mutual offers the following types of life insurance and policy options:

Policy type


Term life

Level premium
Annual renewable

Whole life


Universal life

Custom Universal Life (CUL)
Single premium

Table created for illustration purposes only. Information available at,, and Data effective 8/15/2019.

Northwestern Mutual term life insurance

Northwestern Mutual’s term life insurance policies come with the ability to convert to whole life insurance without taking a medical exam. When you can convert depends on your policy.

Northwestern Mutual offers two term types. Level term policies have a consistent premium for the life of the policy. Annual renewable policies start with low premiums that increase as you age, while the death benefit remains the same.

Northwestern Mutual whole life insurance

This insurer offers level premium whole life, which means your premiums will never increase, and, as long as you pay them, you can have coverage for life. These policies also have a cash value that will never decrease and grows tax-deferred. Some policies offer options for paying premiums only to a certain age (like 65 or 90) but allow you to receive coverage as long as you live.

This insurer also offers a product called CompLife, which allows you to choose how much how much of your death benefit is term life and how much is whole.

If you want a total of $500,000, for example, you could have $100,000 in whole life and $400,000 in term life coverage. Or visa versa. And, as your policy gains dividends, you can use them to convert a part of your term coverage to paid-up whole life coverage. This feature is beneficial for people who want low-cost term life now while building up permanent coverage for later.

Northwestern Mutual universal life insurance

Northwestern Mutual sells two types of universal life insurance. Its Custom Universal Life (CUL) Accumulator allows you to choose your premiums and death benefit—and adjust them throughout the life of the policy. Coverage is designed to last a lifetime (provided you pay enough premiums).

Northwestern Mutual also offers a single-premium option, which may be ideal for people who have access to a large sum of money now. You could pay a lifetime's worth of premiums all at once and not have to worry about a monthly bill. Even better, you’d have an instant estate that’s likely tax-free so your loved ones receive an inheritance.

Northwestern Mutual life insurance rates

Northwestern Mutual is known for having low rates for seniors and smokers, although its other rates are competitive too. Unfortunately, you won't be able to find prices tailored to your situation on the Northwestern Mutual website. You'll need to work directly with a Northwestern Mutual agent to find out how much you might pay for coverage.

If you’re not ready to talk with an agent, check out the best life insurance rates by age or learn how companies price life insurance.

Things to consider about Northwestern Mutual

This insurer offers quality coverage, but buying a policy isn't as easy as it would be with some competitors. Northwestern Mutual’s website doesn’t have much policy-specific information, nor does this company offer any no exam options.

Limited information online

If you like to do lots of research before talking to an agent, your experience with Northwestern Mutual might get off to a rough start. While this life insurance company explains a bit about the types of life insurance it offers, mum’s the word when it comes to discussing policy or price specifics.

You can read reviews like ours to get a general idea of the company, but if you want details, you’ll probably need to speak with an agent.

Medical exam required

Many life insurance companies offer at least one no exam life insurance option. Some provide an explicit no exam policy. Others have a no exam option for people in specific situations, such as those in excellent health or who want a low death benefit.

Northwestern Mutual doesn’t offer any way to skip the medical exam, so be prepared to schedule one as part of the application process. If this will be a new experience for you, learn what to expect during life insurance exams.

How Northwestern Mutual stacks up

Northwestern Mutual has a reputation for quality insurance, which is partially built on the insurer's financial strength. This company earns top marks from three out of four trusted rating entities.

Is Northwestern Mutual financially stable?

AM Best (FSR)








Table created using information available at,,, and Data effective 7/18/2019.

Northwestern Mutual is pretty choice when it comes to financial stability. AM Best, which evaluates only insurance companies, rates the insurer as A++ (superior), it’s highest possible rating. Moody’s and Fitch also give Northwestern Mutual their highest marks, while S&P gives it its second-highest score.

Overall, Northwestern Mutual’s financial ratings are higher than most life insurance companies.

Northwestern Mutual claims and customer service

Northwestern Mutual is well known for having a strong claims history and excellent customer service.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), this insurer received 17 officially-filed complaints in 2018. Considering Northwestern also earned over $10.5 billion in premiums last year (which comes out to more than 8% market share), 17 complaints is a minimal number.1

When it comes to customer service, Northwestern Mutual earned second place in J.D. Power’s 2018 US Life Insurance Study—just behind State Farm. It scored 812 out of 1,000 points for overall satisfaction. To put that into perspective, the industry average sits at 779.2

Bottom line: Northwestern Mutual is a top-notch life insurance company

Financial strength and robust customer service make this insurer a solid pick, but you’ll need to speak with an agent for policy details—and take a medical exam.

Northwestern Mutual has a lot to offer. It sells term, whole, universal, and a unique term-whole hybrid policy. Its prices are especially competitive for seniors and smokers. But if you’re a research-first, call-second kind of shopper, you might gloss over this insurer’s sparse website. But if you’re willing to jump on a call—and submit to a medical exam—Northwestern Mutual could be the right choice for you.

Whether or not Northwestern Mutual seems like the right company for you, feel free to shop around. It never hurts to compare several life insurance quotes before buying a policy.

Northwestern Mutual FAQ

Does Northwestern Mutual sell products and services other than insurance?

Yes, Northwestern Mutual offers a variety of financial services, including wealth management, annuities, and estate planning. This company also sells investment products such as mutual funds, 401(k)s, and 529 college savings plans.

1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “Northwestern Mut Life Ins Co

2. J. D. Power, “Life Insurers’ Focus on Customer Experience Is Key for Increasing Satisfaction, J. D. Power Finds

Written by
Kathryn Casna
Kathryn Casna is a licensed insurance agent and life insurance specialist who has appeared on The Simple Dollar and Best Company. On a weekly basis, she dives into complex life insurance topics to wring out genuinely useful information. When she’s not wrangling big ideas into easy-to-understand articles, Kathryn nerds out on budget-tracking spreadsheets and tries to coax her leash-trained cat to take outdoor adventures.