Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Review

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Contributor, Benzinga
October 31, 2022

Northwestern Mutual offers a variety of life insurance policies that are suitable for a wide range of people. Policies are available in all 50 states, although some policies and riders may not be available in every state. The company has strong financial strength ratings and an above-average rating when it comes to consumer complaints. 

To get a quote from Northwestern Mutual, you have to talk to one of its agents. However, you can browse information on its website and use the coverage calculator tool to estimate how much life insurance coverage is recommended for your family.

Best For
  • Affordable term life insurance that can be converted to a permanent life insurance policy later
  • Adding riders to a life insurance policy
  • Strong financial strength ratings and a low number of consumer complaints
  • Several types of life insurance policies available
  • Offers other financial planning, insurance and investment products and services
  • Lack of clarity about the product offerings on Northwestern Mutual’s website
  • Can’t get a quote or apply directly for a policy online

Northwestern Mutual Ratings at a Glance

Life Insurance Policy Options
Life Insurance Customer Service
Life Insurance Premiums
Application Experience

Are you in the market for life insurance? Before you choose a policy, it's important to understand your options - and find the right insurance provider. Below, you will find Benzinga's review of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Policy Options

Minimum CoverageNot disclosed
Maximum CoverageNot disclosed
Eligible Ages18 years old to 70 years old (options may vary depending on age)
Term Lengths10 and 20 years (or until you turn 80)
# of Rider Options3

Term life insurance: Term life insurance is the most affordable form of life insurance. It is designed to offer protection for a set period — Northwestern Mutual offers 10-year and 20-year term life insurance options. It also allows you to choose a term that will last until you turn 80 years old. Term life insurance is flexible and can be either partially or fully converted to a whole life policy.

Whole life insurance: Whole life insurance not only lasts for your entire lifetime, but it also provides additional benefits. The premium of a whole life policy stays the same, even as you get older. The premiums also contribute to the cash value of your life insurance policy. The cash value is available for you to access if you need to borrow money for any reason. However, it’s important to remember that accessing your cash value may affect aspects of your plan and will reduce the death benefit of your policy. The cash value growth and any potential dividend growth are tax-deferred, so you’ll only owe taxes on the growth if you surrender your policy and take out the money. If you borrow against your cash value, you won’t need to pay taxes on it as long as the loan is properly repaid. The death benefit and your premiums are also tax-free. 

Universal life insurance: Universal life insurance also provides permanent life insurance that will last for your entire lifetime. As a permanent life insurance policy, universal life insurance offers a cash value component that you can access and borrow from. Universal life insurance policies differ from whole life insurance because it offers flexibility when it comes to premium payments. You can change the amount and frequency of your payments, as long as they are still within the limits set by Northwestern Mutual and the federal tax law. Each month of your policy, Northwestern Mutual calculates the cost of insuring you and charges it to your policy. If you pay more than that amount, the surplus is accumulated as cash value. You can use this cash value to cover your insurance cost and it won’t reduce your death benefit. 

Accelerated care benefit: For an additional cost, you can add an accelerated care benefit rider to some Northwestern Mutual policies. It allows you to access a percentage of your policy’s value if you need long-term care. This rider can also protect a portion of your death benefit for your beneficiaries.

Additional purchase benefit: This benefit allows you to purchase additional life insurance coverage without submitting to another medical exam. The benefit is only available at certain times, such as after a major life event such as having a child or on some policy anniversaries.

Waiver of premium rider: With this rider, Northwestern Mutual will waive the premium payments of your policy if you are disabled for six months or longer due to an accident or illness.

>> Read more: How Life Insurance Works

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Customer Service

Northwestern Mutual assigns agents to customers, so you’ll always have a personal connection you can go to with your questions. Otherwise, if you need to reach customer service, you can speak to a representative by phone at 866-950-4644. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM CT. 

Additionally, Northwestern Mutual offers an FAQ section on its website and an answer bot that can point you in the right direction. You can also fill out a form to request that an agent reach out to you if you’re not a customer yet.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) gave Northwestern Mutual an annual complaint index of 0.05 in 2021. This complaint index number demonstrates the number of complaints a company received by consumers and compares it to the industry average. Northwestern Mutual’s rating is lower than the expected baseline complaint index of 1.00, indicating that consumers seem to be happy with the company.

There are a few ways to start the claims process with Northwestern Mutual. You can contact your agent, call Northwestern Mutual or begin the claims process on the Northwestern Mutual website. After Northwestern Mutual has been notified, you will receive a claims kit via mail or email within 2-3 business days. The claims kit includes forms and a checklist to help you complete the claim. You’ll also be able to select how you want to receive the death benefit or other benefit, depending on the type of claim you are filing. You can submit the claims kit back to Northwestern Mutual by fax, email or mail. After it is received, Northwestern Mutual will typically take 3-5 business days to complete its review of the claim. Payment is processed after the review process has been completed.

BBB RatingA+ 
AM Best RatingA++ (Superior)
NAIC Complaint Index0.05
Moody’s RatingAaa
J.D. Power Rating831 out of 1000

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Premiums

Unfortunately, Northwestern Mutual does not make it easy to get a life insurance quote online. You can start the process by providing information such as your goals, age, zip code and gender. But then you’ll need to provide your email address and phone number and wait for an advisor to contact you. Northwestern Mutual assigns advisors based on their familiarity with the area where you live and their expertise related to your goals.

That being said, Northwestern Mutual does offer a coverage calculator tool that can be useful. With this tool, you’re asked to provide information about your family, income, debts and household expenses. Northwestern Mutual uses this information to give you an idea of how much coverage you should consider purchasing. According to this tool, a 40-year-old male with a 40-year-old partner and 3 children (the youngest being 2-years-old) in Detroit, MI should have an estimated coverage amount between $2,800,000 and $3,300,000. 

For this quote, I used an annual income of $100,000 for the 40-year-old male and $0 for his stay-at-home partner. The family’s monthly expenses are $6,000 and the family has a mortgage with less than $100,000 left to pay off. The family has less than $50,000 in other debts and less than $50,000 in assets. 

Although I couldn’t get a quote online for the profile I created, I can give you an idea of pricing. Northwestern Mutual says that a healthy 35-year-old male who is purchasing the Term to Age 80 policy with $500,000 in coverage will have a premium starting at $306 per year. The premium would then increase annually. 

The price of your policy will depend on factors such as the type of policy you choose and your medical history. This includes whether you use tobacco and your height and weight Your age, gender and location will also be considered. The more coverage you have, the higher you can expect your insurance premium to be. 

>> Read more: What is Covered by Life Insurance?

Northwestern Mutual Application Experience

To apply for a life insurance policy from Northwestern Mutual, you have to go through an agent. You can find an advisor online and submit a request, but aside from getting a coverage amount recommendation, that’s about all you can do on your own. 

After applying, you can access your application status using Northwestern Mutual’s mobile app. You’ll also be able to access your policy information and any other Northwestern Mutual accounts using the app.

Some applicants will be required to undergo a medical exam to get a life insurance policy from Northwestern Mutual. The medical exam is usually about what you’d expect at a routine appointment with your primary care doctor. You’ll provide your medical history as well as your family’s medical history. The medical provider will listen to your heartbeat, take your blood pressure and get a blood or urine sample. The only thing that may be different is that you’ll be asked about your lifestyle habits, including your recreational drug use and if you partake in any high-risk hobbies.

Northwestern Mutual vs. Competitors

Northwestern Mutual is among a sea of companies that offer life insurance policies. But some things make it stand apart. The company offers policies in all 50 states, though not all plans and riders are available everywhere. Northwestern Mutual also stands out because of its excellent financial strength ratings and its status for having few consumer complaints.

Northwestern Mutual Overall

Overall, Northwestern Mutual is a strong contender when it comes to life insurance companies. The fact that it has such strong financial strength ratings should make any customer feel confident in the company’s ability to pay out claims. The low number of consumer complaints also makes this company an attractive option to work with.

The variety of policies and riders available through Northwestern Mutual also makes it a good pick. Whether you’re looking to start small with a term policy or jump right to a permanent life insurance policy, there’s bound to be something for you. The only downside is that you can’t get a quote online. But if you’re willing to work with one of Northwestern Mutual’s insurance agents, you can review your options and choose the policy that best fits your needs.

Northwestern Mutual: Additional Options

Northwestern Mutual offers more than just life insurance policies. There are other products and services that you can get from this company as well. If you’re considering using Northwestern Mutual for your life insurance needs, it may be a good idea to look into these options as well.

Planning services: Northwestern Mutual offers financial planning services for a variety of needs. This includes insurance planning, retirement planning, long-term care planning, college savings planning and estate planning. The company also offers investment services, business services and private client services.

Other insurance types: In addition to life insurance, Northwestern Mutual offers disability income insurance, long-term care planning and income annuities. 

Investment services: Northwestern Mutual offers investment solutions to help you build your ideal portfolio with the right investments to help you get to your goals. It also offers an advisory program that can provide customized strategies and private client services.

Frequently Asked Questions


Are life insurance agents financial advisors?


There is a difference between life insurance agents and financial advisors. Insurance agents should be thought of as salespeople. Their job is to sell you a product, even if it’s not exactly in your best interest. Financial advisors, on the other hand, are held to a fiduciary standard, so they are legally required to act in your best interest.  


How do Northwestern Mutual Advisors get paid?


Northwestern Mutual Advisors receive a commission from the premiums that you pay for your insurance policy.


Do term life insurance policies build cash value?


Term-life insurance policies do not build cash value. Only permanent life insurance policies such as whole life, build cash value.


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Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.