Best Term Life Insurance In California For 2024

Based on its quality coverage and competitive pricing, I found Transamerica to be the best cheapest term life insurance company in California.

min read
Updated: 19 March 2024
Written by
Bob Phillips
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Having lived in California for almost 20 years, I know how expensive everything is – including insurance. Homeowner’s insurance, if you can find it, is very costly, as is auto insurance. And the rates for both never seem to stop going up.

Life insurance is also a necessary expense for many families as a safeguard against financial devastation caused by the death of one or both of the family’s income sources. It’s arguably the most important type of insurance Californians purchase.

One of the ways that residents of The Golden State keep their life insurance premiums affordable is by buying term life insurance instead of permanent life insurance, like whole or universal life. As discussed below, term life isn’t always the best choice for everyone, but it makes sense for many people and can be a real money saver.

We’re going to review the top term life insurance companies in California, with an emphasis not only on who’s the cheapest (Transamerica) and who is best overall (New York Life) but who is the best in several other important categories (see the table below).

Taking a few minutes to read the following information can benefit you and your loved ones. Inadequate life insurance coverage could result in your family being unable to continue the lifestyle you want for them if you pass away unexpectedly. By obtaining life insurance, you demonstrate your devotion and loyalty to the significant people in your life.

Best Life Insurance Companies In California, 2024

newyorklifeicon-logo
Best Overall - New York Life
mutualofohamaicon-logo
Best For Seniors - Mutual of Omaha
nationwide-icon-logo
Best For Young Adults - Nationwide
transamerica-icon-logo
Best For Smokers - Transamerica
northwesternmutualicon-logo
Best For Families - Northwestern Mutual
lincolnfinancialicon-logo
Best For Marijuana Users - Lincoln Financial
Best Life Insurance, California, 2024

Compare The Best Life Insurance Companies In California

To help in your evaluation of the top life insurance companies in California, here is a table displaying our preferred companies across a few key criteria.

Overall Rating Best For A.M. Best Rating J.D. Power Rating Online Experience Get A Quote
Mutual of Omaha
4.8

Seniors

A+

801

9.7

Instant Quote
Haven Life
4.5

Online Purchasing

A++

780

9.9

Instant Quote
New York Life
4.9

Overall

A++

775

9.7

Instant Quote
Nationwide
4.6

Young Adults

A+

791

9.8

Instant Quote
State Farm
4.8

Customer Service

A++

839

9.7

Instant Quote
Transamerica
4.5

Cheapest Term Insurance

A

740

7.0

Instant Quote
Northwestern Mutual
4.9

Families

A++

794

9.5

Instant Quote
Transamerica
4.5

Smokers

A

740

7.0

Instant Quote
Lincoln Financial
4.7

Marijuana Users

A

764

9.5

Instant Quote
Guardian Life
4.8

Applicants With HIV

A

787

9.5

Instant Quote
Scroll to see comparisons

Our Methodology

My assessment considered several factors: customer service ratings, product offerings, pricing, and online experience. Moreover, my experience selling life insurance and interacting with agents from other firms in California gave me valuable insights into their products and services. The selection process did not solely rely on finding the cheapest life insurance, except for the "Best for Cheapest Life Insurance" category. Each of these companies is exceptional in their respective market niche, and price should not be the only factor to consider when selecting a life insurance policy or company.

30

Quotes Analyzed

24+

Research Hours

25+

Years Of Experience

23

Brands Reviewed

10 Best Term Life Insurance Companies In California


Best For Seniors

Overall Rating
4.8

Key Statistics

8/10 Affordability
10/10 Customer Reviews
8/10 Claim Payouts
10/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Many seniors have a strong connection to Omaha due to their upbringing or their experience of raising children while watching the TV show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”

Mutual of Omaha is aptly named because it is a mutual (policyholder-owned) insurance company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. I know it well, having spent five years with the company as an agent, trainer, and manager.

Mutual of Omaha is a company that sells life insurance to people of all ages through its subsidiary, United of Omaha. However, they mainly focus on Baby Boomers and their parents. Aside from life insurance, Mutual of Omaha is well-known for providing Medicare Supplement policies to seniors. You might have also come across their travel insurance kiosks at the airport.

Mutual of Omaha specializes in life insurance and offers a diverse range of policies, such as term, whole, and universal life insurance. While their term insurance prices are at the higher end of the spectrum, they remain competitive.

The company excels with life insurance for seniors. It has become well-known for its “no medical exam guaranteed issue” policy for seniors, available to people ages 45-80.

Though a medical exam is not required for their senior life policy, questions concerning your medical history must be answered for its “simplified issue policy,” which is not guaranteed to be issued.

Many seniors don’t buy life insurance because they believe that they’re either too old to qualify or it would be too expensive. Fortunately, some insurers do sell small face amounts at affordable rates to seniors age 80 and below.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Excellent customer service ratings
  • Superior financial strength
  • Understands the needs of seniors
Drawbacks
  • Term life insurance rates are higher than many competitors
  • Application and claims processing can be slow

Best Life Insurance Companies For Seniors In California

Company Monthly Cost
Transamerica $38.56
MassMutual $40.60
State Farm $44.08
Nationwide $44.19
Mutual of Omaha $46.14

*Based on $107,000 of coverage for a 60-year-old male non-smoker buying a 10-year term life contract.


Best For Purchasing Online

Overall Rating
4.5

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claim Payouts
8/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Haven Life may not be one of the oldest insurance companies in the market, but it has a strong background as it is owned by MassMutual. This company exclusively offers term life insurance, but it is an attractive option for tech-savvy individuals who prefer to purchase insurance from the convenience of their homes.

Their primary product is Haven Term, which provides a maximum death benefit of $3 million. Haven Term offers very competitive premiums and is considered one of the best term life insurance options in Los Angeles.

Haven Life makes it easy to purchase life insurance online. After providing some basic information about yourself and selecting the amount of insurance you require, you can complete a streamlined application in under 15 minutes.

Haven Life’s approach to doing business is fully digital, making it uncomplicated and user-friendly. From obtaining a quote to filing a death claim, all processes are conducted online, with clear instructions provided on the website.

Another significant advantage of Haven Life is that it does not require a medical examination. Approval is based solely on your medical history, and the underwriting process is known for its fairness. Therefore, no paramedics will visit your home or office, making it a hassle-free experience.

Most people buy a lot of products and services online, including life insurance. Insurance companies that make the online buying experience quick and straightforward are continuing to increase in popularity. Some people won’t ever meet with an insurance agent; they will only buy online.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • No medical exam required
  • Coverage ranges from $25,000 to $3 million
  • Terms range from 5 to 30 years
Drawbacks
  • No mobile app is available
  • Doesn’t offer permanent life insurance

Best Overall

Overall Rating
4.9

Key Statistics

8/10 Affordability
10/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claim Payouts
9/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

We chose New York Life as the best overall, not only because of its large market share in California but also because of its diverse product line, including term life insurance.

New York Life is a great option if you’re searching for term life insurance with a large face amount. Their Million Plus Level Term 10 policy provides a fixed rate for the first ten years and offers coverage of $1 million or more. Premiums will increase after the initial ten years. Additionally, many of their term life insurance policies are convertible to permanent policies.

The company provides a variety of whole life insurance policies in case you choose to convert your term life policy. One of these policies offers payment customization, which is beneficial for people who have changes in their income or want to pay off the policy sooner. The Secure Wealth Plus whole life policy is accessible for people aged 0 to 60 and can be fully paid off in 10 years.

“The Best” is a relative term in that what may be the best for you may not be the best for someone else. However, all of the companies reviewed here are a suitable choice for each of the demographics we’ve listed. It’s my subjective opinion that has determined my choice for this category.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Term and permanent policy options
  • High customer satisfaction ratings
  • Offers other financial products in addition to life insurance
Drawbacks
  • Premiums can be too expensive for younger adults and seniors
  • Doesn’t sell a variable life insurance policy
  • Policies only sold through New York Life agents

Best For Young Adults

Overall Rating
4.6

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
7/10 Customer Reviews
9/10 Claim Payouts
10/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Even though Nationwide had the fifth lowest rates for young adults, we still consider it the best option for them due to its flexibility in meeting with young life insurance buyers in person or online. Nationwide has numerous agents in California who can educate younger adults on various life insurance options and help them find the most suitable policy at an affordable rate.

Additionally, Nationwide has an impressive website that young adults find convenient and easy to navigate. The website allows them to quickly obtain quotes for different products and face amounts and complete an online application within minutes. The company understands that younger generations prefer to gather information online and has responded appropriately.

Life insurance companies face difficulty in appealing to younger buyers who may only consider purchasing life insurance after getting married or having children. However, despite this challenge, many life insurers still target this underserved demographic as they have lower mortality rates, which can lead to increased profits.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • You can buy term life insurance online
  • Policy face amounts go as high as $10 million
  • Bundle discount on auto insurance for life insurance customers
Drawbacks
  • Not as many local offices as some major competitors
  • Numerous negative reviews online concerning customer service

Best Life Insurance Companies For Young Adults In California

Company Monthly Cost
Transamerica $17.13
Mutual of Omaha $18.69
MassMutual $18.74
State Farm $23.01
Nationwide $23.41

*Rates are for a 25-year-old male nonsmoker that purchases a $360,000 20-year term life policy.


Best For Customer Service

Overall Rating
4.8

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
10/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claim Payouts
8/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

State Farm has consistently received high customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Powers for its superior policyholder service. This is because it has the largest number of agents in the field compared to any other insurance company in America.

State Farm’s commitment to having a strong presence in almost every neighborhood in populated areas has earned it a reputation for exceptional customer service. The company has many local neighborhood offices located all over, making it convenient for policyholders to meet with their local agent in person.

Californians are frustrated with insurers because of increasing rates, but life insurers continue to fare well in the state. Having top-notch customer service makes an insurer an attractive option in an era where many people feel customer service has become a secondary concern for insurance companies.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Has a much lower number of customer complaints than the industry average
  • Carries top financial ratings for claims-paying ability
  • More agents providing service than any other insurer
Drawbacks
  • Can only buy policies from State Farm agents
  • A limited number of riders are available

Best Cheap Life Insurance

Overall Rating
4.5

Key Statistics

10/10 Affordability
7/10 Customer Reviews
9/10 Claim Payouts
10/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Are you looking for affordable life insurance in California? Look no further than Transamerica. Their rates are highly competitive and affordable across all age ranges.

Transamerica only sells its life insurance products through independent life insurance agents, known as “brokers,” which helps keep premiums low. Their Trendsetter Super Policy is the anchor product and offers up to $10 million in term life protection. And if you’re in excellent health and purchase a policy with a face amount of $2 million or less, you likely won’t need to take a medical exam.

The Trendsetter Super Policy is also a convertible term life policy. This means you can start with a policy with a large face amount and low premium and then convert it to a whole or universal life insurance policy when your income is higher.

Foreign nationals, of which there are many in California, who are working in the US can also get life insurance through Transamerica as long as they come from one of 47 qualifying countries and have a global net worth of at least $1 million.

Like just about everything they shop for, Californians want low-cost life insurance. The cost of living here makes it a necessity. But keep in mind that cheap rates can come with a hidden cost – subpar customer service. Checking J.D. Powers and other consumer websites for company ratings and reviews can prove helpful.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Cheapest rates available for term insurance
  • Strong claims-paying ability
  • Sold by many independent agents
Drawbacks
  • A higher-than-expected number of NAIC complaints
  • Independent agents may not be well-trained on the products

Best Cheap Term Life In California

Company Monthly Cost
Transamerica $8.11
Nationwide $10.43
Mutual of Omaha $10.65
MassMutual $9.40
Progressive Life $11.79

 


Best For Families

Overall Rating
4.8

Key Statistics

8/10 Affordability
10/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claim Payouts
10/10 Coverage Level

Why We like Them

Northwestern Mutual was selected as the best company for families because of its financial strength and longevity and because it trains its agents to consider all family members, not just the primary earner. Spouses and children also need life insurance for their future security, and Northwestern Mutual has many customers who have had several generations insured with them.

Northwestern Mutual is the largest seller of life insurance in the United States, offering both term and permanent life insurance policies. One of the unique benefits of their term life insurance is that it can be converted to permanent coverage without needing a medical exam.

The company’s agents tend to stay with them for extended periods, resulting in a high policy retention rate and financial stability. This makes Northwestern Mutual one of the most secure companies in the insurance industry. In 2023, the company is projected to pay $6.8 billion in dividends to qualifying policyholders.

Families need life insurance protection, not just a parent. This ensures that not only are children insured by the company protected financially today, but they will also be owners of life insurance in the future no matter what happens to their health later in life.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Low number of complaints filed with state regulators
  • Diverse product portfolio
  • Exceptional claims-paying ability
Drawbacks
  • Rates are higher than most competitors
  • Products are only sold through company agents
  • Can’t get quotes or apply online

Best For Smokers

Overall Rating
4.8

Key Statistics

10/10 Affordability
7/10 Customer Reviews
8/10 Claim Payouts
9/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Though California is known to be health-conscious, many smokers still reside there. And if you’re a smoker in California looking for life insurance, Transamerica is a great option.

Its rates are just about 10% lower for smokers than its closest competitor (Nationwide), but you’re still getting a high-quality company with Transamerica. Many independent life insurance agents in California sell Transamerica’s policies because of its low rates and large face amounts of term life insurance that it offers.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • An extensive network of agents sells Transamerica policies
  • Offers a full complement of life insurance products
  • Sells large face amounts with no medical exam required
Drawbacks
  • No online applications for life insurance products
  • Website doesn’t offer much information about life insurance

Best Life Insurance Companies In California For Smokers

Company Average Monthly Cost
Transamerica $145.43
Nationwide $158.81
State Farm $172.20
Mutual of Omaha $176.34
MassMutual $176.61

*Rates based on $1,131,000 of 20-year term life for a 30-year-old male smoker

If you’re a smoker and want to purchase life insurance, your rates will be much higher than those for a non-smoker because smokers have a shorter life expectancy. However, you can reduce your rates to match those of non-smokers by showing that you haven’t smoked for 12-24 months (depending on the insurance provider). To do so, you’ll need to take a paramedical exam and a blood test to confirm that there’s no nicotine in your system.


Best For Marijuana Users

Overall Rating
4.7

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claim Payouts
8/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

California became the first state to allow medical marijuana use when voters passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996. Today, cannabis is legal in California for medicinal and adult (recreational) use.

For Californians who are marijuana users, whether daily or occasional, Lincoln Financial offers competitive non-smoker/non-tobacco rates. Many insurers only offer marijuana users smoker/tobacco rates, which can be substantially more expensive.

Cannabis has been legalized in California, but very few life insurance companies give marijuana users nonsmoker rates. Companies that do are an exception and can save cannabis users anywhere from 30% or more on their life insurance costs. In California.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Non-smoker rates for marijuana users, including daily users
  • Good for many existing health conditions, including depression and heart conditions
  • Terms range from 5 to 30 years
Drawbacks
  • No mobile app is available
  • Must purchase from company agents only

Best For Applicants With HIV

Overall Rating
4.7

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
10/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claim Payouts
8/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

From 2016 through 2020, the number of persons in California living with diagnosed HIV infection increased from approximately 133,126 to over 139,000. Many of these individuals are interested in buying life insurance but find themselves being declined by most insurers.

Guardian offers coverage for people living with HIV. To apply, you must be 20 to 65 years old and meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being on active antiretroviral therapy. Guardian’s level term coverage amounts start at $250,000 and are available in up to 30-year terms.

Unfortunately, HIV is on the rise in California and other states. Finding affordable life insurance by a quality insurer provides peace of mind to those with HIV, and their family members.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits
  • Offers term life coverage to people who are HIV positive
  • Term policies have terms between one and thirty years
  • Low number of NAIC complaints
Drawbacks
  • No mobile app is available
  • Must be free of any AIDS-defining illnesses to be approved

What Is Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that provides coverage for a specific period or term, typically ranging from 5 to 30 years. It is designed to provide financial protection to your beneficiaries if you pass away during the policy term. If you outlive the term, the coverage ends, and there is no payout or cash value.

What’s The Difference Between Term And Whole Life Insurance?

While term life insurance is designed to meet a temporary need, whole life will meet your life insurance needs for as long as you pay the premiums. Here’s a more detailed comparison between the two primary types of life insurance:

Term Life Insurance Whole Life Insurance
Coverage Duration Provides coverage for a specific term (e.g., 10,20, 30 years) Offers coverage for your entire lifetime
Death Benefit Pays out a death benefit if the insured passes away during the term of the policy Provides a death benefit regardless of when the insured dies
Cash Value Typically, does not accumulate cash value Builds cash value over time that can be borrowed against or withdrawn
Premiums Generally lower premiums, especially for younger individuals Higher premiums, reflecting the lifelong coverage and cash value component
Policy Changes Limited options for modifying the policy once it’s in force Allows for policy modifications, such as adjusting the death benefit or paying premiums with the accumulated cash value

Average Cost Of Term Life Insurance In California

The average cost of life insurance in California is $432 per year for a $1 million 15-year term life insurance policy. Prices will vary depending on the insurance company, gender, age, health history, and other factors. Here is a breakdown of ten leading companies and their annual rates:

Insurer Annual Rate
Fabric $120
Legal & General $120
State Farm $180
Amica $204
Northwestern Mutual $288
Ethos $300
Nationwide $312
Ladder $348
The Hartford $360
Transamerica $624

Factors That Impact The Cost Of Your Life Insurance In California

The cost of life insurance in California is influenced by several factors, including:

Your life insurance company: as shown above, rates vary by insurer based on its claims experience

  1. Age: rates rise every year you get older
  2. Gender: females pay lower rates because they statistically live longer than males
  3. Health status: you’ll pay more if you have had major health problems, such as cancer or heart surgery
  4. Smoking habits: smokers pay as much as 75% more than nonsmokers because they don’t live as long
  5. Credit score: people with lower credit scores pay more for life insurance in California

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need In California?

The necessary amount of life insurance is subject to personal factors. Homeowners typically require more coverage than renters, while individuals with dependents, like children, may need higher protection.

Insurance experts suggest securing coverage of 10 to 20 times your annual salary to provide sufficient security for your family. For example, if you earn $78,672 per year (the median salary in California), your recommended coverage would range from $786,720 to $1.58 million.

What To Know About California Term Life Insurance

If you are considering getting life insurance in California, it’s important to know that the state has specific guidelines in place to protect you as a policyholder. These laws include the following:

Contestable Period

In California, life insurance companies have the right to reject a claim if they find out that the policyholder provided incorrect or misleading information on their application within two years of the policy’s start date.

Free Look Period

Once you receive your life insurance policy from the company or agent, you’ll have 10 days to review it. If you decide you don’t want the policy during this period, you can return it without penalty and receive a full refund of any premiums already paid to the insurance company.

Grace Period For Missed Payments

If you miss a payment in California, don’t worry, as the law provides a 30-day grace period. During this period, you can still make the payment and keep your coverage without any loss.

Time Allowable To Settle A Claim

For beneficiaries to obtain benefits, they need to submit a claim to the insurance company. In California, all life insurance companies are required to resolve claims within 30 days.

California Insurance Department

The California Department of Insurance was established in 1868 and is charged with overseeing insurance regulations, enforcing statutes mandating consumer protections, educating consumers, and fostering the stability of insurance markets in California.

To contact the department to make a complaint or research an insurer visit www.insurance.ca.gov or call (800) 927-4357 if your inquiry is time sensitive.

FAQs

Which insurance company is best for term insurance in California?

If you want the cheapest term life insurance in California, Transamerica is the best in all categories listed.

What is a good policy amount for term life insurance?

Most agents will tell you that an adequate amount of protection is 10 – 20 times your annual salary.

Is term life insurance a good idea?

It is a good idea if you only need the coverage for a short time (i.e., 5, 10, or 20 years). Otherwise, compare it to permanent life insurance (whole life or universal life) while researching.

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