Updated October 26th, 2018

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:

If all you would like to get is a quote just click: we will get you the best whole life. .

You may only want to get an idea of cost and prices then check out: Cost of Whole Life Insurance

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 go over 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 are the building blocks of a good whole life insurance policy. 

What Is Whole Life Cash Value? 

Whole Life Insurance is a 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 really attractive asset for many people.

Related: Whole Life Insurance For Dummies

What Builds Cash Value? 

There are 2 aspects on most whole life insurance that build cash, the guaranteed rate and non guaranteed rate. The guaranteed rate of return is fixed rate of return that the each company guarantees.

The non guaranteed rated includes dividends from participating insurance companies.

This dividend get’s added to the guaranteed rate.

Also the cash value inside of a policy grows taxed deferred.


MassMutual guaranteed rate is: 4% and their dividend is 2.4%.

This gives us a total dividend of 6.4%. 

Get More Cash Value

In addition 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 listed have this feature. Some companies call it “Paid Up Additions” Rider or PUAR (see paid up additions rider).

Also you will need to determine if getting an overfunded whole life insurance is the right fit for you. We go over this and some overfunded samples here: Overfunded Whole Life Insurance. 

10 Pay and 20 Pay Products

Whole life insurance can be paid up. This means that you will not have to make more premiums, but you keep the insurance 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? 

The cash value in a whole life can be accessed in many ways.

  • Loans
  • Distributions
  • Take out dividends

The most common way of taking money out of a whole life is through loans. These loans do not have to be paid back. Because whole life has a permanent death benefit, if you die your loan will be subtracted from you death benefit.

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

How We Compare Cash Values? 

In order to find which company is the best, we nee to compare cash values properly.  We have run hundreds of illustrations to find out which company was the best.

However, we cannot only compare the total cash value in a policy. In reality you always need to illustrate income coming out of a policy, taking money out of the policy is one of the most important aspects. This way you truly see how a policy performs.  

Non Direct vs. Direct Recognition

There are two type of whole life insurance contracts:

  • Direct Recognition
  • Non Direct Recognition

This is a very important concept that you need to understand, when you pick a whole life insurance. This determines how loans in a contract when you take money out of a whole life affect a policy.

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 do both direct an 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)

In addition 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 log run, even-though the cash values where the same before taking income out. 

Always Chose A Mutual 

In reality the most valuable whole life insurances are sold by Mutual companies. Mutual companies will outperform the competition because the policy holders are part owners of the company.

So mutual companies pay dividends directly to policy holders. These are called participating policies.

As opposed to stock companies where dividends and profits go to stock holders first, and then the rest will go into the policies. So we always advice 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.

Our ratings are based on performance, but also based on what company our clients pick as the best choice more often.

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

  • Company Strength
  • Current Dividend Rate
  • Historical Dividend Rate
  • Cash Value Performance
  • Income Performance
  • Underwriting Standards

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 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 #1 whole life insurance for many reasons including:

  • Cash Value Growth
  • Best Participating Dividend
  • Great Underwriting
  • Amazing Benefits
  • Non Medical Whole Life Option

Foresters has the highest participating dividend in the industry. Foresters is expanding rapidly in the U.S. and becoming a large player in the life insurance industry. They are a fraternal organization, and this has many benefits to policy holders.

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, now a days their dividend has maintained while other companies keep dropping their dividend significantly.

Here is Foresters dividend history since 2009:


This ranks Foresters 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 that offers lifetime death benefit protection (to age 121), guaranteed cash values and lifetime guaranteed premium.

However, in order to really 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 chose. 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 for 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 advise, 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 

Foresters gives you the option to get a 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 a 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 #1 Pick

Foresters has a non direct recognition whole life with an industry-leading dividend paying 6.58%.

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. 

#2 MassMutual

MassMutual Logo

MassMutual takes our #2 spot. 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:





For more information on MassMutual dividend go here

Best Products For Cash Value

Legacy 10

This product you only pay for 10 years. After 10 years the policy is paid up, which means you keep the policy and the cash value grows and death benefit grow.

This product has the least amount of death benefit, and it is very cash rich.

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 a whole life insurance for kids.

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 significant role if you are using whole life for business planning.

In addition 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 #2 Pick

MassMutual has a non direct recognition whole life, great track history, and a dividend paying 6.4%.

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.

#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 dividend in the industry, and also one of the most stable dividend 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. Which 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 amazing ratings:

  • 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 very strong 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.
  • 2019 dividend of 6.10%
  • Life Insurance Sales for 2017 were $217.0 million, or 22% higher than 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. Current dividend is 6.1% which is strong. New York Life is a captive company, so only their agents can sell this product on premiums under $25,000.

The performance on their whole life is fantastic, and they are 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.


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

Dividend History





#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 a 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 their dividend has seen a significant drop.




#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 was in our #2 spot, however their dividend rate had a significant drop and their whole life performance suffered.

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


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 Insurance Dividend Rates Graphic V2

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 2019

Penn Mutual6.10
New York Life6.0
Ohio National5.4
Northwestern Mutual5.0

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 on 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

Liberty Mutual


Liberty Mutual may be a one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S., but for whole life insurance for cash value, they do not perform very well. Their whole life is a very old school product that is made for permanent death benefit at a lower price.

So cash value growth look elsewhere.

Check out our: Liberty Mutual Whole Life Review

State Farm


State Farms still writes significant whole life insurance business. We believe that it’s mainly due to convenience, because their whole life, even-though not terrible, is not competitive with the best whole life companies out there.

Her is our StateFarm Whole Life Insurance Review.

American Income Life

With a 4.5% guaranteed rate, it may seem like a good choice for a whole life insurance. However, the competition has a dividend on top of guaranteed rates, so you can do better with any company in our top 7 list.

In addition, there has been concerns with American Income Life agent’s using strange sales tactics which do not promote trust.

To get a full review you can read it here: American Income Life Whole Life Review

Minnesota Life


Minnesota Life was founded in 1880. You may see a mention of Securian on their policies. However, Minnesota Life still operates under its own name, but under the larger Securian banner.

In reality, if you want to consider a policy from Minnesota Life, you should stay away from the whole life, and look into their Indexed Universal Life. Their whole life is more expensive and it underperforms our top 7 list.

Here is our Minnesota Life Whole Life Review.

Illinois Mutual


Illinois Mutual goes after the middle/lower income market, and they do have an interesting product base. Their whole life is very affordable, but it is not designed for cash value purposes.

See our: Illinois Mutual Whole Life Review

No new policies any more

MetLife Logo

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 whole life. For more information, you can read our MetLife Whole Life Review.

Dividend History


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 in order 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 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 in our main page, or you 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 2 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?

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