New York Life Insurance Reviews – Is There Better?

New York Life Insurance Review

This New York Life insurance review will give you all the details that you need if you are considering New York Life insurance to protect your family.  We will cover New York Life’s ratings downgrade, history, and life insurance products.

There are hundreds of life insurance companies operating in the United States, but is New York Life the right one for you? If you are considering purchasing life insurance with New York Life, do not move forward without reading this review.

Shall we begin?

New York Life Insurance Company History

The New York Life Insurance Company was founded in 1845 as the Nautilus Insurance in an office on 57 Wall Street New York, NY.  Shortly after in 1849 the company was rebranded as the New York Life we know of today. New York Life grew rapidly.  By 1846, New York Life’s assets under management exceeded $1 million.

During the Civil War, New York Life stood firm that they would honor legitimate death claims from both the Union and Confederate states.  Throughout the war, New York Life kept its promises to its policyholders even if it meant crossing battle lines under a white flag of truce to do so.

In 1906, a disastrous earthquake and fire leveled much of San Francisco.  Three resourceful New York Life agents had the foresight to bury their files in Golden Gate Park.  A few days afterward, the agents set up a temporary office to generate lend policy loans and pay out death claims to policyholders.

By 1923, New York Life’s assets surpassed $1 billion. The Great Depression hit the financial industry hard but not New York Life.  While other financial institutions were closing, New York Life remained open for business honoring its promises to its policyholders.

In 1959, New York Life celebrated its 50th anniversary.  New York Life completed its mutualization and was now owned by its policyholders.  New York Life, up to this point, had paid dividends to policyholders but 1959 marked the completion of the mutualization process.

Through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, New York Life experienced steady growth.  New York Life expanded its life insurance and investment product offerings as the industry innovated.  By 1990, New York Life’s assets have surpassed $50 billion.

1995 was a big year for New York Life.  It celebrated its 150th anniversary as a company in Madison Square Garden the world’s most famous arena. Also, mutual life insurance companies are included on the Fortune 500 list for the first time in history.  New York Life ranks number 84.

In 1999, New York Life decided to remain a mutual life insurance company that is owned by its policyholders, not shareholders, during a time when many life insurance companies were demutualizing.  New York Life’s Board of Directors releases a statement saying that they want to run the company with a focus on long-term success for policyholders, not a short-term outlook to satisfy equity markets.

After September 11th, New York Life announces that the will waive all war exclusions on their policies and were committed to paying out all claims swiftly and compassionately.  Also, New York Life followed its long history of philanthropy by contributing $3 million to the 9/11 Fund and instituting a matching-gift program that matches contributions of New York Life employees, agents, and retirees to the American Red Cross Natural Disaster Relief Fund.

In 2002, New York Life become the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States.  Even though the Great Recession of 2008, New York Life continues to grow with income annuity sales surpassing $1 billion in 2009.

Today, New York Life is a nationally recognized brand when it comes to life insurance with $10.6 billion in policy owner benefits and dividends paid in 2017. For over 170 years, New York Life has been keeping its promises to its policyholders through wars, pandemics, and financial crises never missing a dividend payments since 1854.

New York Life has grown to a whopping $586 billion in assets under management.  Additionally, New York Life continues to remain focused on their mission to provide financial security and peace of mind to their policyholders.

The New York Life Insurance Company Rating

New York Life’s balance sheet is iron-clad. New York Life is rated an “A++” (Superior) by A.M. Best.  A++ is an investment grade rating and their highest mark.  New York Life can be viewed as being in excellent financial health with the ability to meet its ongoing life insurance obligations.

If you want a second opinion, Standard & Poor’s has New York Life rated as AA+. Receiving an A rating is investment grade and indicates that New York Life has low credit risk.  The New York Life Comdex score is 100, which is a composite score averaging the ratings of the major insurance rating organizations.  Said another way, New York Life scores higher than 100% of all other insurance companies ranked on the Comdex scale.

New York Life Credit Rating Snapshot

Standard & Poor's A.M. Best Moody's Fitch Comdex
  • Standard & Poor's - AA+
  • A.M. Best - A++ (Superior)
  • Moody's - Aaa
  • Fitch - AAA
  • Comdex ranking - 100

New York Life Insurance Company received temporary ratings downgrade by Standard and Poor’s to AA+ in 2011, which is still an elite rating.  This move had little do do with New York Life’s company management and was more of a reflection of U.S. sovereign debt instability at the time since insurance companies are highly linked to government bonds. Today, domestic economic outlooks have stabilized, and New York Life has returned to the top ratings.

New York Life is not an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau.  However, New York Life does hold an A+ rating with the BBB, which is their highest rating. While no company can get it right 100% of the time, New York Life has demonstrated that negative customer experiences are the exception rather than the rule.

New York Life Insurance Solutions

New York Life offers term life, universal life, and whole life insurance.  They also provide other financial services products, such as New York Life annuities, investments, and New York Life long-term care insurance.  However, for the purposes of this review, we will focus strictly on their life insurance products.

New York Life Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a cost-effective way of achieving higher death benefits temporarily.  Term insurance is a great solution for replacing your income, covering your mortgage, or providing funds for higher education upon your passing.

New York Life offers term life insurance in 10-year, 15-year, and 20-year term options.  Your monthly premium will remain fixed for whichever term period you select. Additionally, there is no savings component or cash value associated with term insurance.

All of New York Life’s term term life insurance solutions are available with a conversion option. The conversion option allows you to exchange your term life insurance policy with a permanent life insurance policy, like whole life insurance, without having to requalify with underwriting.  This allows you great flexibility later in life if you want to maintain some life insurance coverage past your level-term period.

New York Life also offers simplified term life insurance that can be purchased without the hassle of a medical exam up to $150,000 of death benefits depending on your age.  However, one of the negatives of New York Life’s simplified term life insurance is that your premiums can increase every 5 years.  Therefore, if you are looking for no-exam life insurance, we would recommend looking at the best no-exam life insurance companies that specialize in this are of the life insurance market.

New York Life Whole Life Insurance

New York Life is known for its participating whole life insurance, which pays dividends to policyholders. Whole life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance. Whole life insurance is designed for permanent life insurance needs like final expenses and burial costs or estate planning. Whole life insurance provides lifelong death benefit protection with the most guarantees of any life insurance policy.

Whole life has guaranteed cash accumulation, guaranteed level premiums, and guaranteed death benefits.  The cash value can also be accessed through tax-advantaged loans in a pinch.

The policy may also receive non-guaranteed dividend payments.

Policy dividends can be used in the following ways:

  • Reinvested within the policy to as paid-up additions (additional paid-up death benefits)
  • Allocated toward your premium payments
  • Earn interest in a New York Life interest account
  • Pay down any loan balances or interest
  • Received as a cash payment

One standout feature about New York Life’s whole life policy is that you can customize when you want to pay the policy off. You can choose how long you want to make payments, and your premiums are guaranteed never to change.

Also, New York Life offers a survivorship whole life insurance policy.  Survivorship policies are also known as second-to-die life insurance or joint whole life insurance.  Their purpose is to provide cash liquidity upon the death of the second insured and are usually used in estate planning.

New York Life Universal Life

New York Life also offers universal life policies, which is another type of permanent life insurance policy. Universal life insurance was designed to offer permanent death benefit with flexibility.  For example, you can select the monthly premium that you wish to pay with universal life insurance.

However, these types of policies usually come with fewer guarantees than whole life insurance.  The owner of the policy assumes the investment risk of the cash value.  If the policy was not funded adequately, then the coverage could lapse.

As a general rule, mutual life insurance companies are known for and focus on their whole life products and public life insurance companies tend to have a great focus on their universal life insurance.  If you are interested in universal life insurance, we suggest checking out our Sagicor Life Insurance Review.  Sagicor has one of the best no-exam universal life insurance policies on the market today.

New York Life offers the following types of universal life insurance:

  • Universal Life Insurance
  • Indexed Universal Life Insurance
  • Variable Universal Life Insurance

New York Life Universal Life Insurance

New York Life offers a traditional universal life insurance policy.  These types of policies have decreased in popularity in recent years due to a low-interest-rate environment.  Universal life insurance has a fixed minimum interest rate, but the credited rate, which is not guaranteed, can fluctuate higher.

New York Life’s universal life insurance policy offers great flexibility.  It has a flexible death benefit, flexible premiums, and policy cash values.  However, you can purchase a secondary guarantee to prevent lapse for an additional fee.

New York Life Indexed Universal Life Insurance

Indexed universal life insurance is another type of universal life insurance.  New York Life’s indexed universal life insurance policy provides death benefit protection with the potential to grow your cash value with three index account strategies or a competitive fixed rate account.

The cash value in an indexed strategy increases based on changes in a market index such as the S&P 500.  Since your cash value is not directly invested in the stock market itself, your investment principal is protected from investment loss due to the decreases in the index.  However, you often have to sacrifice some upside investment return as a result.

These types of policies should be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that they are being funded adequately.  If the indexed investment strategy doesn’t perform as expected, the policy could potentially lapse.

New York Life Variable Universal Life Insurance

Variable universal life insurance offers people lifetime life insurance protection with the ability to build cash value through numerous portfolio strategies.  Your cash value grows tax-deferred based on the performance of the underlying stock, bond, or money market investment strategies in sub-accounts that you choose.

However, your cash value is directly invested within whichever sub-account investment strategy you select, unlike indexed universal life.  So if you invest in a stock sub-account strategy and the stock market declines, your cash value would decline with it.  However, if the stock market goes up, your cash value will increase with it.

Due to the investment risk, these types of policies should be carefully considered and monitored frequently.  If the investment strategy underperforms, the policy could potentially lapse due to lack of sufficient funding.

How Do New York Life Agents Work With their Customers?

New York Life has evolved since its founding into more than just life insurance. New York Life’s life insurance products are usually sold by their financial professionals  These New York Life financial professionals typically can sell securities, like mutual funds and variable annuities, in addition to traditional life insurance.

This approach to doing business may suit people looking for a more comprehensive service that includes investments and financial planning.  However, it does have some drawbacks.  A financial professional who is more of a generalist may not have the broader industry expertise than a broker who solely focuses on life insurance may have.

Besides, business models similar to New York Life’s career model have been scrutinized recently due to perceived conflicts of interest.  The concern is that career agents can be incentivized to offer higher-margin proprietary products even if another company or product was a better fit for your family. Before you work with any financial professional, be sure they are reputable and trustworthy.

If you are strictly looking for life insurance, we would suggest working with an independent broker who specializes in life and health products.  Independent brokers don’t work for any insurance company.  They work with insurance companies to find you the best deal period!

Life insurance is something you need to qualify for based on your health, lifestyle, and age.  By consulting with an agent, it ensures you receive an accurate quote as opposed to an unrealistic price that you may not even qualify for.

New York Life Rates

New York Life does not publicly display their rates on their website.  As a result, you would need to reach out to a New York Life agent in order to get a quote specific to you and your unique situation. However, we always recommend that you compare the rates of multiple life insurance companies before you.

Before you move forward and purchase a New York Life insurance policy, there is no harm in comparing the rates of other companies. Give one of our veteran agents a call or request a free no-obligation quote today. A simple phone call could potentially save you thousands of dollars on your life insurance.

The New York Life Insurance Company phone number is 1-(800)-225-5695, or you can visit them on the web at the New York Life website to request a quote.

The Final Word: Is New York Life Good or Bad?

Some people like the simplicity of having a financial professional that is a generalist.  A New York Life agent can offer you a blend of retirement planning and insurance solutions in a single financial professional.

However, while New York Life is great at a lot of things, they are not always the best solution out there.  Since New York Life agents work for New York Life, that may cause a conflict of interest when recommending what life insurance company is best to protect your family. If you have a pre-existing condition, want the rock-bottom lowest price, or no-exam underwriting, New York Life might not be the best company for you.

That being said, New York Life has a long company history of serving their policyholders. Today, New York Life offers life insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, and investment services to their policyholders.  Overall, New York Life’s life insurance is a solid option, but they are best known for their participating whole life insurance.

Joseph Cirillo of Good Life Protection

Joe is a lifelong learner with a passion for sharing what he has learned with others. Joe has publicly spoken on life insurance in the past to both colleagues at industry conferences and to consumers in educational settings and as a contributor to industry blogs.  Additionally, Joe is studying for certifications such as the CFP, CLU, and RICP to further his professional knowledge.