New York Life is a rock-solid company that’s great for someone seeking permanent life insurance, especially if they prefer to work with an agent rather than gathering information online. New York Life’s whole-life policies have particular appeal because the company pays dividends to eligible policyholders—and has done so for the past 168 years. New York Life is also an excellent choice for seniors, with policies available to applicants up to age 90. However, if you want a robust online experience or a term policy for longer than 20 years, you might need to look elsewhere.
List of Contents
Company’s Overview: Website
Types of Coverage: Term, whole, universal, variable universal
Dividends for 2022: $1.9 billion
Online Application: No
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index (averaged over 3 years): 0.183
J.D. Power Ranking: 9
Founded in 1845 and headquartered in New York City, New York Life offers a variety of life insurance policies, which provide a greater likelihood of finding a policy that fits both your insurance needs and your budget. New York Life offers four different life insurance policy options: whole, term, universal and variable universal. When it comes time to choose the right policy, working with a licensed insurance agent can help ensure you make the proper selections and fully understand the differences between the various policy options in the context of your financial situation.
New York Life sells a handful of life insurance products. Here are the types of life insurance available and the specific policies you can purchase.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific number of years. If you pass away during the policy period, your beneficiary receives a death benefit, which is tax-free money that can be used for any purpose.
Below are the term life policies that New York Life sells:
- Level Premium Convertible Term 10-20
- Yearly Convertible Term
- Million Plus Level Term 10
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage, which means it protects you for your lifetime. Whole-life premiums remain consistent throughout the policy’s life and provide a guaranteed death benefit to your beneficiary when you pass away. These policies build cash value, which can be withdrawn or borrowed.
When you purchase whole life insurance from New York Life, you’re also eligible to receive dividends based on the company’s financial performance, which can accelerate the growth of your cash value and death benefit. As noted above, the company has consistently paid dividends for the last 168 years. Here are the whole-life policies available from New York Life:
- Whole Life Insurance
- Custom Whole Life Insurance
Universal Life Insurance
Universal life (UL) insurance is another type of permanent life insurance coverage. Like whole life, universal life builds cash value, but the premiums and coverage limits are adjustable. Universal life can be a good option if you want the flexibility to skip a premium payment or pay more one month than the next. You may also be able to change your policy’s death benefit, depending on your financial needs and the policy’s performance.
Some insurance providers (including New York Life) offer universal life policies that can be structured like a term life policy.
New York Life sells three UL policies, including:
- Basic Universal Life Insurance
- Custom Universal Life Guarantee
- Protection Up to Age 90
Variable Universal Life Insurance
Variable universal life (VUL) insurance provides permanent, lifetime protection with a fixed death benefit and flexible premiums. With VUL, you invest the cash value in subaccounts, which are like mutual funds that gain and lose value based on the fund’s performance. Variable universal life policies can be risky because your cash value is subject to gains and losses based on market conditions. Additionally, variable life policies often come with fees and tax implications that can make them more expensive to maintain relative to other types of life insurance.
There is one variable universal life policy you can purchase from New York Life:
- Variable Universal Life Accumulator II
One of the biggest benefits of New York Life is that the company offers a wide variety of riders. Life insurance riders are endorsements that can be added to your policy. Some riders are free, while others are available for a fee. Riders change the terms of your basic policy, and typically provide additional benefits that would otherwise not be covered.
Here are the riders that New York Life offers:
- Guaranteed Insurability Rider
- Child Rider
- Disability Waiver of Premium Ride
- Disability Income Rider
- Accidental Death Benefit Rider
- Terminal Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
- Long-Term Care Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
- Chronic Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
- Critical Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
- Paid-Up Additions Rider
- Money Back Option Rider
Pros & Cons
- Excellent financial stability
- Policies are eligible for dividends
- Broad selection of riders
- Policies available for 90-year-old applicants
- Very few complaints for its size
- Term policy periods capped at 20 years
- Difficult to find some information on the website
- No online quotes for term life insurance
- Does not have a mobile app
- Excellent financial stability: New York Life is the oldest insurance company we reviewed. It has an A++ (superior) rating from AM Best, which is the highest possible financial strength grade.
- Policies are eligible for dividends: Although not guaranteed, New York Life’s whole-life policies are eligible for annual dividends. The company has paid dividends for 168 consecutive years, which is the second-longest of the 91 companies we reviewed. This is one reason it’s our choice for the best whole life insurance company.
- Broad selection of riders: New York Life offers a variety of riders for policy customization, including multiple living benefit riders that let you access part of the death benefit early. It’s also one of our only top life insurance companies that sells a disability income rider, which provides income replacement if you become disabled and are unable to work.
- Policies available for 90-year-old applicants: New York Life is one of only six of the 91 companies we reviewed that considers applicants over 85 (for some policies). That’s one reason we named it the best overall on our list of best life insurance companies for seniors.
- Very few complaints for its size: New York Life received fewer complaints than expected for a life insurance company of its size, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
- Difficult to find some information on the website: When reviewing New York Life, we found that its website contains limited details about its offerings. For example, you won’t find coverage amounts available for term life. When we tried calling customer service, they referred us to a local agent.
- Term policy periods capped at 20 years: If you are in the market for life insurance, know that New York Life caps term lengths at 20 years. For comparison, most of our top-rated term life insurance companies offer term lengths of up to 30 or 40 years.
- No online quotes for term life insurance: New York Life does not have an online quote generator for term life insurance. Many competitors, such as Nationwide and State Farm, offer online quotes.
- Does not have a mobile app: If you want the convenience of paying your premium and managing your policy on the go, New York Life may not be the best choice. It does not offer a mobile app, which competitors such as MassMutual have.
New York Life received far fewer complaints than expected compared to other insurance companies of the same size. In fact, it ranked among the top quarter of the 91 insurance companies we reviewed, with fewer complaints than some other popular providers, like Mutual of Omaha and Transamerica.
How do we know that? We looked at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Complaint Index, which measures an insurance company’s customer complaints relative to its size. An index of 1 indicates that an insurer received exactly how many complaints would be expected, given the amount of policies it underwrites. Companies with a complaint score above 1.0 have more complaints than expected, and companies with a complaint score under 1.0 have fewer complaints than expected.
Over a three-year period, New York Life’s average NAIC Complaint Index was 0.183 for individual life insurance. That means it got well below the number of complaints expected for a company of its size.1
New York Life has fairly basic customer service. To get in touch with the company, you can call 1-800-225-5695 during business hours, which are Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also contact your agent directly (if you have one). Most agents have a phone number, email address, and physical address provided when you search New York Life’s agent finder database.
Is New York Life Insurance A Worth Insurance to Get?
New York Life is a great life insurance company overall, but it’s ideal for people who are shopping for universal or whole life insurance. Customers are eligible for yearly dividends on their whole-life policies, and there are lots of riders for customization for whole and other permanent insurance types. Because New York Life only offers term lengths of up to 20 years, it may not be the best option for individuals looking for a longer-term life policy. It’s also not best for folks who prefer to research policies on their own or apply for life insurance without picking up the phone to talk to an agent, as digital options are limited.
Insurance companies typically require a specific amount of financial reserves to ensure that they can make payouts in unfortunate economic conditions. Most life insurance companies buy reinsurance to ensure that claims will be paid even if the company goes bankrupt.
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