New York Life Insurance Review – Strong Customer Service with Even Stronger Financial Ratings

New York Life Insurance Company is a giant within the insurance world. And while it’s been around for 175 years, the focus on customer service and stable financial ratings hasn’t waned over the long history.
When it comes to planning for the future, there are numerous life insurance products and companies available. But how do you know which one is right for your future needs? This New York Life review gives you further insight into one of the main fixtures within the insurance world.

What is New York Life?

Not only is New York Life a cornerstone in the insurance world, but it operates as a mutual company. This means each year the profits are divided up between the shareholders, which is you if you’re a policyholder. The best part? The payouts have occurred in the last 167 consecutive years.
New York Life offers a wide variety of life insurance options as well as wealth and financial products, including:
  • Term life insurance
  • Whole life insurance
  • Universal life
  • Variable universal life options
  • Long-term care solutions
  • Annuities
  • Mutual funds
  • ETFs
  • 529 Savings for education
  • Estate planning
  • Wealth management
  • Small business assistance
Where New York Life stands out among a crowded field of competitors is with the customer service ratings. The JD Power 2020 Life Insurance Study for Overall Customer Satisfaction shows New York Life coming in sixth overall, well above the industry average. Not to mention the solid A+ BBB rating it brings in.
New York Life excels among the financial strength ratings too. An AA+ rating from Standard & Poor, a AAA Fitch rating is two major examples. Not only did the company receive the highest AM Best rating possible, an A++, but it’s also one of only two insurance companies to receive the highest financial ratings across the board. There are 800 insurance companies and only two achieved this, including New York Life.

How does New York Life work?

New York Life requires you to work with an insurance agent or advisor for all products, including both insurance quotes and policy management. If you’re interested in having an agent put together a proposal for you, then you can go online or call customer service to request the information. The agent network is over 12,000 strong across the country.

Term life insurance

A term life insurance policy provides a death benefit, or payout, to your selected beneficiaries if you pass away during the term selected with your policy.
A term life policy from New York Life allows you to lock in your immediate protection while giving you access to features like converting to permanent life insurance. Another convenient feature is the ability to purchase term life in yearly increments for the yearly convertible policies. Or you can purchase in 10- or 20-year terms if you want a level premium policy (where you maintain the same premium rate over time).
Unlike a whole life policy, term life does not build cash value but can provide a death benefit if you were to pass away during the designated term.
If you currently have a term life insurance policy from New York Life, you have the option to upgrade your term policy.
With a term policy, death benefits can be paid in a lump sum. Your beneficiaries also have the option to use the benefit to purchase an annuity for payments in installments.

Whole life policies

Whole life, also referred to as permanent policies, is for those who want to keep their policy benefits for their entire life — not a limited term.
A whole life policy from New York has three options:
  • Value Whole Life. This policy offers a death benefit starting at $20,000. The cash value grows at a slower rate compared to the other two whole life options.
  • Whole Life. This policy builds cash value and allows you payment and premium flexibility throughout the life of the policy. Death benefit starts at $25,000.
  • Custom Whole Life. A policy that features a custom period where you pay your premium but still has lifetime coverage from the policy. The premium can be paid in 5 years but can’t be after age 75. Death benefit starts at $50,000.
Whole life policies from New York Life provide a tax-deferred cash value for the policyholder that can be accessed throughout the life of the policy.
Even if you no longer maintain your policy, because of a cancellation or surrender, you still have access to the cash value of your policy.

Universal life policy

If you want a more flexible policy option, then a universal policy from New York Life may be a better fit for you. With this policy, you can make changes to your policy as desired, including adjusting your premiums and coverage over the years while you’re a policyholder.
The flexibility can be very helpful if your circumstances change, but it also means you have to stay involved with your policy and can’t let it run on “auto-pilot.”
Like the whole life policies, there are three main options for universal life:
  • Universal life basic, with customizable premiums and coverage, starts at $10,000.
  • Custom universal life guarantee, which has a level premium but you can choose your custom payment term.
  • Variable universal life insurance, where you can choose your investments and adjust based on your comfort level for risk over the course of your policy.
  • Add-ons to life insurance policies
If you need further customization, you’re able to add riders or add-ons. New York offers several add-ons for your life insurance policies, including:
  • Option to purchase paid-up additions
  • Accidental death benefit option
  • Disability waiver of premium option: This allows your coverage to continue as long as you’re disabled
  • Children’s insurance
  • Chronic care option
  • Living benefits: If you are terminally ill you’re able to receive an advance of your benefit
In addition to the life insurance options, there are several financial products too, such as annuities and college savings plans.

How much does New York Life cost?

Like other insurance and financial products, it’s tough to quote an exact cost for you. There are a multitude of factors influencing the cost of your policies or products based on age, health, coverages selected, and optional add-ons. If you have a budget in mind then it’s best to work with a New York Life agent to stay within your budget.


In addition to the life insurance policy features, you’ll find other qualities with New York Life to help you navigate the insurance world.

Flexible premiums within your budget

No matter your budget or retirement goals, New York Life is prepared to help you pick out the right product for your situation. There are numerous policy options to build your plan exactly as needed.

Online tools

For planning purposes, you have access to the Life Insurance Needs Calculator and Retirement Calculator online. Both ask you a series of questions and then recommend products.
There are also numerous articles for planning such as estate information, retirement, and small business needs.

A wide variety of policy options

Whether you choose a term life, whole life, or universal life policy, you have several options within each category to choose from. This allows you to customize a policy to fit your budget. The add-on options add another layer of customization, although they do add costs to your policies.

Who is New York Life best for?

If customer service and financial ratings are key

If you value customer service and the security of strong financial ratings, then New York Life is a top contender.

You like walking through several policy scenarios

If you are unsure about how much you need for your life insurance or retirement goals and you need someone to walk you through numerous options, then you'll appreciate the vast agent network.

You want options even on a limited budget

Whether you have a limited budget or if money is no object, if you want to know all your options then you’ll appreciate how much New York Life has to offer policyholders.

Who shouldn’t use New York Life?

If you prefer to work online or through an app

If you prefer autonomy with your insurance and financial selections and want to use an online quote system, then New York Life is not your best choice.

Pros and Cons


Strong financial ratings

The financial ratings of New York Life are one of the highest in the insurance industry plus a $27 billion company surplus.

Strong customer service ratings

Both the JD Power 2020 Life Insurance Study and the BBB rating support the emphasis on customer service with positive customer service ratings among insurers.

Variety of insurance products

No matter what your goals are or budget, there are several options for you to choose from.


Lack of online quote or application options

For those who like to research ahead of time, you’ll find the lack of online quotes or information frustrating.
If you want to apply online to get the process started then you’re out of luck. The only option you can complete online is a contact form. Once you fill it out, an agent will contact you within 48 hours to get further information from you.

Lack of digital assets

Although you can manage your policy online once you’re a customer, New York Life doesn’t have an app for policy management on the go.

New York Life competitors

New York Life offers several advantages over the competition, including the number of life insurance options compared to other insurance giants. The customer service ratings stand out as well.
InsurerLife insurance optionsCash payoutsOnline calculatorAM Best Financial RatingBBB customer service rating
New York Life7YesYesA++A+
Pacific Life5YesYesA+A-
Northwestern Mutual3YesYesA++A+
Chubb Insurance2YesNoA++D+


Do I need a medical exam for a life insurance policy?

Many people put off the process of purchasing a life insurance policy because of the medical exam. And depending on the permanent or term policy you choose, you may be required to get a medical exam for underwriting purposes.
If at the end of your term life policy if you want to convert to a permanent one, then you can do so without a medical exam. Although you should be aware there is a fee to convert to permanent.

Should I choose whole life or a term policy?

Choosing the type of policy is based on your retirement age, your family needs, and your financial circumstances. A whole life policy is usually quite expensive, but you may have access to other benefits. Term life policies are very affordable but only provide coverage for a select number of years.

How much money can I borrow from a whole life policy?

If you need to access money from your whole life policy, you are able to borrow the amount of cash value the policy has built up at that point.

The bottom line

There’s something to be said for a company that has survived — and thrives — after 175 years. And through the decades, it has maintained a strong portfolio of financial products designed to fit almost any budget and plan imaginable. While New York Life may force you to work with an agent for a quote and policy creation, in return you can get a highly customized policy along with dedicated customer service.

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