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Northwestern Mutual

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LAST UPDATED: December 10th, 2022

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Founded in 1857, Northwestern Mutual offers insurance products like life and disability as part of their integrated approach to financial planning — including financial services like wealth management, retirement planning, investment strategies, and more.

Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole, and universal life insurance. Its clients work with a financial adviser, which means that customers can receive help evaluating life insurance options and other products from a holistic financial planning perspective for both short-term and long-term financial goals.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Northwestern Mutual is a reliable, trustworthy company. It has received high financial strength ratings from Moody’s, A.M. Best, Fitch, and S&P.

View Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Customer Reviews

In 2018, Northwestern Mutual was recognized by Fortune as being one of the "World's Most Admired Companies." Its financial representative training program is said to be one of the country's best according to Training Magazine. Northwestern Mutual, through its foundation, has donated millions to childhood cancer research.

Top Ranked Companies


The Good

  • High Financial Strength Ratings
  • Quality Products and Services
  • Added Benefits
  • Work With A Financial Adviser
  • No Shareholders
  • Additional Insurance Products

High Financial Strength Ratings

Moody's, A.M. Best, Fitch, and S&P have all awarded Northwestern Mutual with the highest ratings for any insurer regarding its financial strength. In 2018, Northwestern was ranked first by Fortune in financial soundness among insurance providers.

Quality Products and Services

Fortune Magazine rated Northwestern Mutual number one for the quality of its life insurance products and services in 2018.

The Northwestern Mutual platform offers a number of life insurance products that help ensure financial stability. The death benefit can be used to pay for lingering debt, any final expense, or to provide financial support to the beneficiaries.

Northwestern Mutual offers three kinds of life insurance:

  • Term Life Insurance
  • Whole Life Insurance
  • Universal Life Insurance

These are some of the most common types of life insurance policies in the industry, so most people will be able to find the kind of life policy coverage they want at Northwestern Mutual.

Clients can select from different premium payment options. The premium rates for level term life insurance policies remain the same throughout the duration of the policy. Or, they can start with a lower premium that increase over time — so you pay lower premiums for your term policy when you're younger and more as your earning potential increases.

Term life insurance can be an especially good idea for people who only need coverage for a specific number of years. For example, people who have loans, like a mortgage or student debt, can benefit because it provides financial security to beneficiaries should the insured pass away. Permanent life insurance offers similar peace of mind; however, its coverage lasts an entire life time.

No matter what policy type you choose, the death benefit can be used to finish paying off debts and to pay for funeral expenses.

Northwestern Mutual also offers its clients the ability to convert their term insurance into a permanent life insurance policy during specific periods of time, known as a conversion period.

This option makes life insurance coverage more affordable because a term life insurance policy initially tends to be significantly cheaper than permanent life insurance.

The ability to convert a term life policy into a permanent one allows a policy owner to buy more affordable life insurance with cheaper payments and convert it later on when their financial situation changes.

For those interested in a permanent policy, Northwestern Mutual offers whole, universal, and variable universal life insurance. Northwestern Mutual’s whole life policies have level premiums, which means that they will never go up — similar to level term premiums.

Its universal life insurance and variable universal life insurance policies, like whole life insurance, can provide coverage that lasts a lifetime. However, these policies also allow for more flexibility with monthly premium payments, and the coverage amount can be adjusted within certain limits once the policy is in effect.

The main difference between a universal life policy and a variable universal life policy is how the cash value accrues. The cash value of both universal and variable universal life policies has the ability to earn interest, but variable policies allow you to invest the cash value in certain funds called sub-accounts, so cash value earnings are tied to investment performance.

Both whole and universal life insurance policies accrue cash value that clients can use during their lifetime. The cash value of whole life policies is guaranteed to grow over time, is tax advantaged, and can be used or borrowed against with a policy loan, at any time and for any reason. Because whole life policies, variable universal life policies, and universal life policies have this ability to accrue cash value, they can also be viewed as a flexible asset.

Permanent life insurance policies can offer greater flexibility, provide coverage for longer periods, and can accrue cash value. Premiums for permanent policies tend to be much higher than those of term policies.

However, as a mutual company, Northwestern Mutual has historically paid dividends back to policyholders to ensure that coverage comes at the lowest possible net cost. Those dividends can also be used towards paying premiums or used to purchase additional coverage called paid-up additions, which helps a policy grow.

While dividends are not guaranteed from year-to-year, Northwestern Mutual has been known for its consistency and industry-leading dividends on whole life insurance policies.

Added Benefits

Northwestern Mutual offers different policy options to meet your specific needs. Some policy types can offer living benefits and accrued cash value beyond a guaranteed payout when you pass away.

Northwestern Mutual also offers other products and services that can help you protect your income or plan for the future. Talking to an adviser can help you understand what options fit your needs and goals.

Work with a Financial Adviser

Northwestern Mutual focuses on financial planning services and approaches life insurance from this perspective.

Clients work with a financial adviser to determine their financial goals, assess life insurance coverage needs, evaluate insurance policy options, and receive specific advice for their circumstances and life goals. This unique, integrated approach across a variety of products and strategies ensures clients have a flexible plan designed to help them achieve their goals.

The ability to work with a financial adviser is a nice benefit of choosing Northwestern Mutual.

No Shareholders

Some insurance companies are owned by shareholders and traded on the stock market. Northwestern Mutual is different because it is not owned by shareholders. Instead, it is owned by policyholders. This feature shows that Northwestern Mutual’s decisions are driven by what helps its policyholders and clients.

Additionally, policy owners can be eligible to receive dividend payouts from Northwestern Mutual. A dividend payout is not guaranteed. However, Northwestern Mutual has a strong history of consistently paying dividends to its life insurance policyholders.

Additional Insurance Products

In addition to life insurance, Northwestern Mutual offers other insurance products, like disability insurance or long-term care insurance. These additional products are especially beneficial to life insurance shoppers who need other kinds of insurance. More information about these products can be found on Northwestern Mutual's website or by contacting a representative.


The Bad

  • Limited Online Information
  • No Online Quote

Limited Online Information

Northwestern Mutual's website has a great overview of its life insurance policy offerings. It also has a life insurance calculator that helps potential clients figure out how much life insurance coverage to buy.

However, the website does not have much information regarding the underwriting process, like whether or not a medical exam is required. Some life insurers offer no exam life insurance policies. Products and options can vary based on individual situations.

For more specific information regarding eligibility for life insurance plans, the underwriting process, and specific terms of Northwestern Mutual’s plans, potential clients are encouraged to contact one of Northwestern Mutual's representatives through the website for personalized details and recommendations.

No Online Quote

To receive life insurance quotes, interested consumers need to contact a Northwestern Mutual representative.

While it would be nice to have more information about monthly insurance premiums, these vary depending on several factors, like health history and the amount of insurance coverage purchased.

The inability to receive an online quote makes it difficult to get quick cost information, but working with a Northwestern Mutual adviser can help consumers determine what kind and how much life insurance to buy.


The Bottom Line

There are many insurance companies to choose from. Before you spend money on a life policy, it's important to find a trustworthy company. Northwestern Mutual is a life insurer worth considering. It has one of the most impressive reputations among life insurers. Northwestern Mutual is a reliable and financially stable insurer. It offers quality products and services.

Northwestern Mutual’s services include financial planning, wealth management, and investment services. These planning services help clients see their financial big picture and understand how the recommendations they receive fit in to a larger financial plan and help them achieve their financial goals.

Whether you want life insurance to cover a specific period of time or a lifetime, Northwestern Mutual has life insurance policies that can meet your needs. Its options include term, whole, universal, and variable universal insurance coverage plans.

Northwestern Mutual is owned by the policyholders, which means that all of the company’s decisions are for their benefit. Clients with life insurance policies also have the opportunity to be paid dividends. Though these aren’t guaranteed, Northwestern Mutual has a history of regularly paying dividends.

While Northwestern Mutual does not offer online quotes, the ability to work with a financial adviser allows customers to select the type of insurance policy that fits their specific needs and plan for financial goals. People interested in a term, whole, universal, or variable universal life insurance policy should consider purchasing life insurance from Northwestern Mutual.

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49 Reviews

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Eddie D Banks-Crosson Philadelphia, PA

I was connected with a broker via a colleague as I had expressed interest in obtaining sufficient insurance to protect my assets. The broker I met with was excellent. He maintained consistent contact through the process. The process on the other hand was an absolute train wreck. After 2 months, a two hour visit (which I was told would be an hour) from the nurse who showed up late, and a followup phone call from a "reviewer" who indicated the call would be 10-15 minutes (which ended up being 45 minutes). Made my first payment and was later contacted by a different agent stating that they needed to speak to my therapist (who IS NOT a medical professional) . I declined and asked that the policy be cancelled considering the length of time this had already taken. I later received a notice in the mail indicating they could not offer me a policy for XYZ reasoning (one was that I have ADHD [not diagnosed by my current PCP] conversation), which was totally inaccurate based on what underwriting stated they needed from me. The letter probably should have read something like..."since YOU decided to cancel." Unfortunately this company's practices seem incredibly discriminatory. I would not recommend doing business with this company.

3 years ago

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Keith Waxman Santa Rosa, CA

I am a full-time instructor at a community college. About 6 months ago, I was approached by an ex-student (now employed at NW Mutual) and his supervisor. They seemed to be very interested in helping me obtain a life insurance plan that would provide for my 9 year old son of whom I have 100% custody. The plan sounded great and was at a reasonable price. During the health screening process, I told the NP that I had been on Xanax for years to help me sleep due to a disorder. I told the NP that I got off the Xanax when I found out it was linked to dementia, instead taking a few drops of a legal marijuana/coconut oil tincture a couple times a week for sleep. The whole application process took about 4 months to complete and when I was approved and asked to make my first payment, they raised my premium over 25%! The company wrote a letter to me saying my premium was changed due to my “marijuana use” and that my premium may be lowered if I were in a “more favorable risk classification.” I would think that a risk of dementia is a “less favorable” risk as opposed to taking a marijuana tincture a couple of times of week. I actually think the whole thing was a ploy and that the application process takes so long, that they feel they can raise the rates at the last instant and a customer will capitulate. Northwestern Mutual is a shoddy, dishonest company.

3 years ago

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Patricia Copiague, NY

Along with my husband (now ex) I was a customer of Northwest Mutual for year. Recently I contacted our representative Henry C a minimum of 6 times, and he has never once answered me. While the account I'm calling about is under my ex-husband's name, I've left him messages that I want to establish a separate account since the divorce decree states I'm entitled to 50% of the account. No return calls. My recent message asked him to please have his assistant text me his fax number so I could start the process by faxing him a copy of the divorce decree. Still no reply! What's wrong with these people that they refuse to even acknowledge my calls and messages? I have even spoken with his assistant and explained the situation. Still nothing! How does someone like this have a license to deal with the public? His license should be revoked!

4 years ago

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Doug Osmera Omaha, NE

Took a new job which offered a 401k. So I signed up and met with my rep. He was more interested in the people I could send his way then taking care of my account. Then a couple of years go by I find out he put me in a annuity. I was 60 when I met with him. Can't get my money out for 8 years from when it was invested. They only look out for themselves. Called the company to complain they said they couldn't help me. Don't invest with Northwestern Mutual.

5 years ago

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Robert Michael Azar Birmingham, AL

After discovering my life policies were transferred without my authorization or knowledge,by the agent

3 months ago Edited December 12, 2022

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William Towler Keswick, VA

Do not buy a whole life policy from this company. The NAIC Illustrations are fictional and should never be shown to consumers. There is absolutely no relationship to whole life policy dividends and the company's financial performance. Dividends paid to policyholders are totally at their discretion and are not based on anything quantitative.

1 year ago Edited July 1, 2022

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JakeSpeed Everett, WA

Very untrustworthy and risky company. They utilize unethical business practices to assign policy and debt. Recommend that you chose another insurance company to trust in your insurance needs.

1 year ago


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Craig Orem, UT

I got a variable whole life policy from Northwestern Mutual a number of years back and regret everything about it. It seems like the agent was just trying to make a large commission rather than getting me into a product for my circumstances. Fees were astronomical and canceling the policy was difficult!

3 years ago