Updated Nov 29th, 2019

Top 7 Whole Life Insurance Companies For Cash Value

Let’s not waste any time; here are our ratings for the best whole life insurance companies for cash value:

Each of the companies from the previous list has an explanation as to why we picked them, so make sure you read all of the company reviews.

However, if all you would like to get is a quote click: we will get you the best whole life. 

In this article, we will not go over costs and prices of whole life. But if you want to get an idea of cost and prices then check out: Whole Life Insurance Rates

All of the companies we picked are Dividend Paying Participating Policies. We will go over why we picked participating policies. But first, we need to make sure you understand some of the basics.

Also, in our article, we will go over:

  • What Is Whole Life Cash Value?
  • What Builds Cash Value?
  • How Can I Access Cash Value?
  • Always Chose A Participating Policy
  • More Companies With Whole Life That Didn’t Make It 


Let’s look at some of the basics first, so we understand what the building blocks of a good whole life insurance policy are. 

What Is Whole Life Cash Value? 

Whole Life Insurance is permanent insurance with strong guarantees. It has a guaranteed death benefit, guaranteed premiums, and guaranteed cash value growth.

Cash Value builds inside of whole life insurance policies. Imagine this cash value portion like a savings account, that you can access at any time. We say it is a savings account because the cash value will only go up. It never fluctuates up and down.

Cash value is what makes every whole life insurance a desirable asset for many people.

Related: Whole Life Insurance For Dummies

What Builds Cash Value? 

There are two aspects on most whole life insurance policies that build cash:

  • The guaranteed rate of return
  • Non-guaranteed rate of return (or dividends)

The guaranteed rate of return is a fixed rate of return that each company guarantees to pay. This guaranteed rate doesn’t change for the life of the policy. As it doesn’t change, it helps limit your downside risk.

The non guaranteed rate of return is added on top of the guaranteed rate. And it is also known as dividends. You get a dividend when the company does well. Companies pay these dividends to participating policies.


MassMutual guaranteed rate is: 4% and their dividend is 2.2%.

This gives us a total dividend of 6.2%.

Also, this dividend helps the cash value inside of policy grow tax-deferred.

Get More Cash Value

Also, there are ways of getting more cash value out of every whole life insurance. This concept has been illustrated in-depth in books like Infinite Banking and Bank on Yourself.

You can get extra cash value by getting more paid-up additions on your policy.

All of the companies we from our top 7 list have this paid-up additions feature. Some companies call it “Paid-Up Additions” Rider or PUAR (see paid-up additions rider) other companies call it ALIR (additional life insurance rider).

Adding more cash value to a policy is called “overfunding” a policy. You will need to determine if getting an overfunded whole life insurance is the right fit for you. We go over overfunding and give samples here: Overfunded Whole Life Insurance. 

Without overfunding a policy, there are whole life products that are designed to grow cash value faster.

10 Pay and 20 Pay Products

10 pay and 20 pay whole life policies are great for building cash value quickly. When we say “10 pay,” what we mean is the amount of time you need to pay for the policy. So a 10 pay would be done in 10 years, and a 20 pay in 20 years.

This works because a whole life insurance policy can be paid up.

This means that after a certain period, you do not have to make more premiums, but you keep the life insurance and cash value forever.

Some of the best products out there for cash value accumulation are 10 pay or 20 pay. Which means you pay for 10 years and you are done.

These products are also known as Limited Pay Whole Life Insurance

How Can I Access Cash Value? 

One of the important things that you need to understand is how you can access your cash value. The cash value in whole life can be accessed in many ways:

  • Loans
  • Distributions
  • Take out dividends as cash

The most common way of taking money out of whole life is through loans.

These loans do not have to be paid back. Because the whole-life has a permanent death benefit if you die, your loan will be subtracted from your death benefit.

The reason that taking money out in loans is the preferred method is that when you take a loan out of a policy, you do not have to pay taxes on that loan.

Now that we understand some of the basics, let’s see how we created our top 7 list.

How We Compare Cash Values & Pick The Winners?

To find which company has the best whole life, we need to compare cash values properly.

We have run hundreds of illustrations to find out which company was the best. That’s how we build our top 7 list.

However, we cannot only compare the total cash value in a policy. There are many variables we need to consider to get the best whole life for cash value.

In our top 7 ratings, we compared all of the following variables:

  • Company Strength
  • Cash Value Performance
  • Current Dividend Rate
  • Income Performance
  • Direct vs. Non-Direct Recognition
  • Always Chose A Mutual
  • Historical Dividend Rate
  • Underwriting Standards

Some of the previous variables are easy to understand, but some others are not as obvious. So let’s go over a few.

Income Performance

In reality, you always need to see how much income your policy can generate.

Taking money out of the policy is one of the most important aspects to consider. The reason is that not all companies perform the same when you receive income out of the plan.

Using income as well, you truly see how a policy performs. So let’s look at something that can affect your income.

Non-Direct vs. Direct Recognition

There are two types of whole life insurance contracts:

  • Direct Recognition
  • Non-Direct Recognition

This is an essential concept that you need to understand when you pick whole life insurance.

This determines how loans in a contract affect a whole life policy. And as we mentioned before, taking income out of whole life is one of the best ways to test the performance.

Without getting overly complicated, Non-Direct recognition will pay the same dividend even if you take money out of a policy as loans.

This is why Non-Direct recognition will illustrate more cash (income) coming out of a policy.

So you shouldn’t compare cash values alone, because even if a direct recognition company has more cash value, you will be able to take out less cash.

Here is a list of direct recognition and non-direct recognition companies.

Direct RecognitionNon-Direct Recognition
AmeritasOhio National
Country FinancialNew York Life
Minnesota LifeMetLife
Mutual Trust LifeLafayette Life
Northwestern MutualForesters
Penn Mutual
Savings Bank Life of Massachusetts
Security Mutual
The Guardian

Non-Direct vs. Direct Example

Let’s use MassMutual, who (as far as we know) is the only company that can offer both direct and non-direct recognition contracts. This will help us understand how the cash value can change drastically when you pull money out of a policy.

 The following picture is a sample illustration. We used the following variables in the illustration:

  • Male
  • Age 35
  • $500,000
  • Ultra Preferred (Best Rating Possible)
  • Paid Up At Age 65 (No More Premiums)

Also, we illustrate taking maximum income from the whole life starting at age 65. 

Whole Life Direct vs Non Direct Recognition

Whole Life Direct vs. Non-Direct Recognition

If you look at the previous image, in the last rows, you will see the numbers of a whole life after 45 years.

What you need to notice is that there is more than a $95,000 difference between taking money out of a non-direct recognition vs. direct recognition.

Non-direct recognition is what generated more money in the long run, even though the cash values were the same before taking income out. 

Always Chose A Mutual 

In reality, the most valuable whole life insurance is sold by Mutual companies. Mutual companies will outperform the competition because the policyholders are part owners of the company.

Stock companies pay dividends to stockholders, and then the rest will go into the policies.

But mutual companies pay dividends directly to policyholders. These policies that get dividends are called participating policies.

So we always advise to chose mutual companies vs. stock companies.

From our top 7 list, all companies are mutual companies.

Top 7 Whole Life Insurance Companies For Cash Value 

We want to help you pick the best whole life insurance for cash value growth and accumulation. So we created this list to help you narrow down the field to a few of the best.

The battle for the top spot was very hard to pick, but someone had to win. Please note that this list changes every year, and even more often, as we gather or new data is released from the companies.

Our ratings are not only based on all the variables we described, but also on what company our clients pick as the best choice more often.

So here are our in depth reviews for whole life insurance for cash value accumulation:

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Best Whole Life For Cash Value

#1 MassMutual

MassMutual Logo

MassMutual regains our #1 spot.

We made our choice based on:

  • Cash Value Growth
  • Best Participating Dividend
  • Very Strong Company
  • Amazing Ratings

MassMutual is a Fortune 100 Company with very high-quality ratings and a long history of performance. They have been around for more than 160 years.

Also, they have the 2nd highest participating dividend in the industry and the highest average whole life dividend over the past 15 and 25 years.

MassMutual is growing very rapidly, which can only help their performance. They are committed to a small product base, and in particular, to their best selling whole life insurance.

They have a non-direct recognition and direct recognition, so they are the only company as far as we can tell that has both options available.

For more information, you can read our MassMutual Whole Life Review


  •  A.M. Best Company: A++ (Superior; Top category of 15)
  •  Fitch Ratings: AA+ (Very Strong; second category of 21)
  •  Moody’s Investors Service: Aa2 (Excellent; third category of 21)
  •  Standard & Poor’s: AA+ (Very Strong, second category of 21)
  • Comdex 98

Dividend History

The dividend history since 2000 is very impressive:


2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
8.20 8.20 8.05 7.90 7.50 7.00 7.40 7.50 7.90 7.60


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
7.00 6.85 7.00 7.10 7.10 7.10 7.10 6.70 6.40 6.40 6.20

For more information on MassMutual dividend go here

Best Products For Cash Value

Legacy 10

This whole life product you only have to pay for 10 years. After 10 years, the policy is paid up. Which means you keep the policy, and you do not have to pay premiums any more. Also you keep the cash value, death benefit, and they both keep growing.

This product has the least amount of death benefit, and it is very cash-rich. One of the main main reasons it grows so quickly is due to Paid Up Additions.

Legacy 20

Just like Legacy 10, it is a cash-rich product. However, premiums last for 20 years. This can be a great product if you are looking to get whole life insurance for kids. Also it is a great product for people in their 30’s considering whole life.

HECV (High Early Cash Value)

This is a product that is designed to have significant cash value early in the policy. This may play a vital role if you are using whole life for business planning.

Also, it reduces the agent commission significantly, so most agents will not want to show you this policy.

Read more on High Early Cash Value.

Our #1 Pick

MassMutual has a non-direct recognition whole life, excellent track history, and a dividend-paying 6.2%.

In addition, the average dividend for the past 15 years is the highest in the industry at 7.24%. You can’t go wrong with a MassMutual whole life policy.

#2 Foresters

Foresters Logo

After careful examination of many features we chose to go with a smaller, less known company with an amazing whole life product.

Foresters is our new #2 whole life insurance for many reasons. It has one of the highest participating dividends in the industry. Forester’s is expanding rapidly in the U.S. and becoming a significant player in the life insurance industry. They are a fraternal organization, and this has many benefits to policyholders.

Here is a snippet from Investopedia’s definition of a fraternal:

In order to do so, the organization must have a fraternal purpose, meaning the intent of membership is based on a common bond and have a substantial program of activities. The group must operate under the lodge system, which requires a minimum of two active entities, which include the parent organization and a subordinate branch. The branch must both be self-governing and chartered by the parent organization. The fraternal organization must also provide the payment of benefits to members and their dependents in the event of injury, accident, or other calamity.

For more information, you can read our Foresters Whole Life Review


  •  A.M. Best Company: A 

Dividend History 

Even-though Foresters dividend wasn’t competitive a few years back, nowadays, their dividend has maintained while other companies keep dropping their dividend significantly.

Here is Forester’s dividend history since 2009:

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
5.60 5.60 5.98 6.09 6.45 6.42 6.65 6.83 6.58 6.23 6.23

This ranks Forester’s dividend rate as the highest in the industry, and that is something that cannot be ignored. 

Best Products For Cash Value

Advantage Plus 

This whole life product is a participating whole life insurance product. It offers lifetime death benefit protection (to age 121), guaranteed cash values, and lifetime guaranteed premium.

However, to get the best out of this product, you need to know how to “overfund it.”

This is a concept that is discussed in depth in books like “Bank On Yourself.”

This product shines when it is correctly designed and overfunded with Paid-Up Additions Rider. 

Advantage Plus (20 pay)

It is the same products as Advantage Plus, but you only pay for 20 years. It has great cash value accumulation, and it is a simple policy to choose from. You can’t go wrong with this one.  

Amazing Benefits

Some of the features that come with a standard whole life insurance policy are not that impressive. However, Foresters is very different in this respect. You get many free benefits just by owning a policy like: 

In addition to having a policy, you get what are called member benefits. You get these benefits because Foresters is a fraternal company. So their purpose is to serve the community, and not to be a profit machine.

These member benefits include legal advice, scholarships, disaster relief, and much more.

This is straight from their brochure: 

As you can see, that is an impressive list of benefits that everyone should utilize.

Non-Medical Whole Life 

Forester’s gives you the option to get whole life insurance without having to do a medical exam. This can be a great choice for many clients. For one, you can avoid the hassle of doing a blood test and a urine test. Also, you can speed up the process of getting whole life insurance.

If your health is standard and you need less than $400,000 of coverage, then you a non-medical can be a great option for you.

Our #2 Pick

Forester’s has a non-direct recognition whole life with an industry-leading dividend-paying 6.23%.

In addition, this product is designed for cash value accumulation and growth. However, it needs to be properly designed by an expert agent that knows how to overfund policies. 

#3 Penn Mutual

Penn Mutual Logo


Penn Mutual could have been our number 1 pick very easily. But we had to have a winner. Penn Mutual has one of the highest dividends in the industry, and also one of the most stable dividends over the last 10 years. However, they did have a little bit of a decrease in their dividend.

One of the main reasons we couldn’t give them #1 was because their whole life is a direct recognition. This means that when you pull money out of the whole life, you could withdraw less than it if was a non-direct recognition company.

Check out our Penn Mutual Whole Life Review.


Penn Mutual has fantastic ratings:

  • A.M. Best A+ (Superior)
  • Moody’s Investors Service Aa3 (Excellent)
  • Standard & Poor’s A+ (Strong)
  • Comdex Life Insurer Financial Profile 92


Also, Penn Mutual has solid financials that can rival any company.

  • Total Revenue was $2.9 billion in 2017
  • Total Operating and Net Income of $594.0 million for 2017.
  • 2020 dividend of 6.10%
  • Life Insurance Sales for 2017 were $217.0 million, or 22% higher than in 2016. Sales in 2017 continue to have a balanced mix, with 40% coming from whole life.

Source: Penn Mutual


#4 New York Life

New York Life Logo

New York Life is a fantastic company with great whole life products, and a long history of amazing performance.

The dividend for 2019 is 6.0%, which is very strong.

However, New York Life is a captive company, so only their agents can sell this product on premiums under $25,000. This may limit your ability to compare quotes.

The performance of their whole life is fantastic, and they are in a position to be one of the leaders in the industry for some time. For more information, you can read our New York Life Whole Life Review.


  • In 2018, New York Life paid to participating policy owners a record dividend payout of $1.78 billion. This is the largest payout in company history.
  • New York Life has $586 billion in assets under management as of 2018.
  • New York Life has $923 billion of individual life insurance in force. 

Source full report here.


  • A.M. Best Rating: A++
  • Standard & Poor’s Rating: AA+
  • Moody’s Rating: Aaa

Dividend History

Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Rate 7.9 7.32 6.79 6.79 6.79 6.79 6.79 6.79


Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Rate 6.14 6.11 6.11 5.8 5.9 6 6.2 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.0


#5 Guardian Life

Guardian Logo


Guardian Life Insurance Company of America has a lot going for it, including a long history, strong dividend payments, and a variety of whole life insurance products. The current dividend and cash value performance is lower than some of the top whole life’s in the industry, so this makes their whole life underperform. For more information, you can read our Guardian Whole Life Review.


  • Ended the year with $8 billion in capital
  • $71.5 billion in assets under management
  • Operating income before tax and dividends was $1.6 billion

All financials are from Guardian here.

Dividend History

Guardian has a long history of a strong dividend; however, in recent years, its dividend has seen a significant drop.

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
8.50 8.00 7.00 6.60 6.70 6.50 6.75 7.25 7.30


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
7.00 6.85 6.95 6.65 6.25 6.05 6.05 5.85 5.85 5.85 5.65

#6 OneAmerica

One America Logo

American United Life Insurance Company, which is part of the OneAmerica organization, offers consumers a variety of whole life insurance policies. Overall, OneAmerica has a good whole life insurance.. However, the company is often overlooked as its brand is not as well known as many competitors.


  • Founded in 1877 and is currently headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • OneAmerica had revenue of approximately $1.5 billion in 2014.
  • OneAmerica has total assets of $45.6 billion as of 2014.
  • The company has approximately 1,900 employees.


  • A.M. Best rates OneAmerica A+ (Superior)
  • Standard & Poor’s rates OneAmerica AA- stable outlook 

#7 Ohio National 

Ohio National Whole Life Insurance Review

Ohio National has one of the best performing whole life policies in the market. For more than 100 years, the company has been one of the highest rated in the industry. In addition, Ohio National has paid dividends consistently each year since 1924.

Ohio National’s dividend rate had a significant drop, and their whole life performance suffered from it. It’s still a decent product, but there are better choices.

For more information, you can read our Ohio National Whole Life Review.


  • Total GAAP revenue (excluding realized gains and losses) increased 6.2 percent to $2.0 billion.
  • Core earnings were $176.7 million. The planned decrease from 2015 represented strategic investments in business and corporate technology assets.
  • For the 93rd consecutive year, Ohio National paid dividends to participating whole life policies. A total of $80.6 million was paid or credited to participating policyholders.


  • Standard & Poor’s: “A+” (December 2016) fifth-highest rating on a 21-part scale
  • A.M. Best: “A+ Superior” (August 2016) second-highest rating on a 16-part scale
  • Moody’s: “A1” (October 2016) fifth-highest on a 21-point scale

Dividend History

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
8.30% 8.30% 7.70% 7.70% 7.40% 6.90% 6.65% 6.65% 6.65% 6.40%
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
6.40% 6.15% 6.15% 6.00% 6.00% 6.00% 6.00% 5.75% 5.4% 5.4% 5.4%

Best Products For Cash Value

  • Prestige 10 Pay is a 10-year whole life, meaning after paying a level premium for 10 years, no additional premiums are required. It’s cash-rich and insurance poor. Fantastic for cash value accumulation.
  • Prestige 100 is a foundational whole life insurance policy. Premiums are paid to age 100; however, it can be customized to get significant cash value accumulation.
  • Prestige Max II is a “paid-up” at age 65 or 10 years after purchase. This policy maximizes its cash value and dividends to generate high cash value. However it requires a larger premium.
Historical Whole Life Dividend Rates 2020

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates

Whole life insurance dividends played a big part in our rating. Dividends vary tremendously each year from company to company. The reason this happens is because each company’s dividend is based on their performance and the investments they made. This is the data we used to back up our ratings.

Also check out all the whole life historical dividend data

Dividends for 2020

Foresters 6.2
MassMutual 6.2
Penn Mutual 6.1
New York Life 6.0
Guardian 5.65
Ohio National 5.4
Northwestern Mutual 5.0
MetLife 4.9

Historical Whole Life Dividend Averages

Company Name10 yr average15 Yr Average
General American5.255.51
John Hancock5.685.89
Mass Mutual7.077.14
New England Financial5.105.40
New York Life6.156.32
Northwestern Mutual5.836.29
Penn Mutual6.346.25
Sun Life6.316.71
Ohio National6.086.30

Whole Life Companies That Didn’t Make The List

It is important for us to list other companies that whole life as well. Because we get questions about comparing companies very often.

So we give you a quick analysis of other whole life companies for cash value that didn’t make our top 7 list.

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual Logo

Northwestern Mutual used to be the leader for many years in whole life insurance. However, their recent downturn in their dividend rate makes them not competitive anymore.

Their current dividend is 5.0%.

The dividend has fallen significantly and the performance of their whole life as well.

Also, their policy is direct recognition, and it will not illustrate as much income coming out.

You have much better options than Northwestern Mutual Whole Life.

Here is our full Northwestern Mutual Whole Life Review


MetLife’s Promise whole life was one of the best whole life’s in the market. However, you cannot purchase this product anymore, as they rebranded to Brighthouse Financial.

If you already have term insurance, then you can still convert term insurance into a whole life. For more information, you can read our MetLife Whole Life Review.

Dividend History

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
7.6 7.6 7.35 7.1 6.6 6.6 6.25 6.25 6.25
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
6.25 5.75 5.5 5.5 5.25 5.1 5.1 5 5 5

Liberty Mutual

Liberty mutual’s whole life is not a competitive product in the market.

Read our full review: Liberty Mutual Whole Life Review 


Another great company with a weak whole life insurance product.

Here is our full StateFarm review.

Final Word

Finally, you can see we put a lot of thought into our ratings, and we will be happy to change these as dividends, performance or company strength changes.

However, we want to stress that to get the best whole life insurance company for you, you should speak to an expert that will customize it for your own needs. You may value more company strength than the current dividend rate, or cash value growth more than death benefit growth.

So always remember to customize your whole life for your needs.

Good Reads:

How Much Does Whole Life Insurance Cost?

Whole Life Insurance For Dummies

Whole Life Insurance $1,000,000 Cost

  Premium Financing of Whole Life 


If you would like to get a quote, you can run one instantly on our main page, or visit here.

In addition, if you are considering a Index Universal Life instead of a whole life you should read the following:

Indexed Universal Life Cost

Index Universal Life vs Whole Life

Index Universal Life Quote

Stay tuned for our next article “Top 7 Whole Life Insurance Policies For Death Benefit”

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Best Whole Life & Cheapest

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Benjamin Taber says:

    I’m a Texas Independent Agent. How can I appoint with your group. I write some payroll, gl, and workers comp for a big group, and it opens door to write employees a good whole life. Presently I do not because my GA does not rep a good carrier and I dont write IUL. Any suggestions please who might appoint me ? Thanks

    • WholeLifeExpert says:

      Hi Benjamin, please email us directly at [email protected], and tell us what you are looking for and we can find you the best company for writing IUL. Are you looking to maximize for cash value, or death benefit?

  • Joseph Vitarelli says:

    Good morning,

    I am an independent agent as well. I am looking for well established solid insurance companies where I can place clients. Most of these clients are seeking maximum “protected from loss” cash accumulation with life insurance as a secondary concern.

  • William A. Gromley says:

    I am attempting to find the best whole life insurance companies as to be appointed. I do not know if I can only be appointed to one or not. . I received my life, health, and accident insurance license in May of 2019. I am 63. I am considering another whole life insurance for myself and I would like to appointed to at least one company and or have carriers that I can refer clients or customers to the whole life insurance policies for the 18 years and older people so they have the years to accummulate the cash value and work with the cash value and their bank accounts if this is possible. If not used, is the cash value added to the death benefit for any benficiary?

  • Phillip Hammett says:


    Very, very thorough investigation into the industry’s WL products. There is one more factor I like to consider in comparing contracts, which is the loan rate. There are of course many flavors out there on the market… variable, flat, provisional crediting rates to create the appearance of ‘wash loans’- why did you omit that factor, and do you feel its consideration may have changed the order of the Top 7?

    Top 7’s order notwithstanding, simply having that variable also tethered to the various historical dividend rates & loan recognitions on this page would be extremely useful!

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