Updated January 28, 2024

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rate History

Whole life insurance performance is highly dependent on dividend rates. So we wanted to have an updated list of Whole Life Insurance Dividend History.

We also go back to give you average rates for the past 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. This can help you understand where each company ranks historically. We use all this data to get our seven best whole life companies every year.

The next table is only relevant for participating policies. Participating policies pay a dividend, and it is a huge part of the performance of the cash value. 

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What is participating policy? 

A participating policy is one that pays dividends to the policyholder. The most competitive participating policies are from mutual companies.

The reason mutual companies pay dividends is that they do not have stockholders. So the only dividend they pay is to policyholders.

Why is the history of whole life dividends important?

We can take the highest dividend companies from today and pick the best one. However, we prefer to use today’s rates and historical rates because it will give us a better idea of how the dividend will perform in the future.

Even though past performance doesn’t indicate future performance.

We took the following Historical Whole Life Table that has incredible data, and updated the numbers:

We will keep updating it, and feel free to contact us, so we add a company. 

John HancockDiscontinued4.
New England Financial
(Brighthouse Financial)
New York Life6.
Northwestern Mutual5.155.0
Penn Mutual5.755.755.755.756.16.16.346.346.346.346.34
Ohio National4.

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates for 2024

We are starting to get results on the 2024 announcements for dividends. So far there is a slight but positive increase with dividend rates. As they come in we will update the list. 


MassMutual 6.10
New York Life 6.00
Penn Mutual 5.75
Guardian 5.90
Northwestern Mutual 5.15
Foresters NA

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates for 2023

We are starting to get results on the 2023 announcements for dividends. All the dividends from the large mutual companies seem to have remained steady. As they come in we will update the list. 


MassMutual 6.0
New York Life 5.8
Penn Mutual 5.75
Guardian 5.75
Northwestern Mutual 5.0
Foresters NA

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates for 2022

Following are the dividend for participating policies in 2022. 


MassMutual 6.0
Foresters 5.8
New York Life 5.8
Penn Mutual 5.75
Guardian 5.65
Northwestern Mutual 5.0

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates for 2021

We are starting to get results on the 2021 announcements for dividends. As they come in we will update the list. 

MassMutual 6.0
Foresters* 5.8
New York Life 5.8
Penn Mutual 5.75
Guardian 5.65
Northwestern Mutual 5.0
Ohio National 4.7


*Foresters always announced dividend for the previous year. So their schedule is behind all other companies.

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates for 2020

At the end of the year, most companies start announcing their dividend rates for next year. Here are the whole life dividend rates for 2020 ahead of time. As we become aware of more, we will list them out. 

MassMutual 6.2
Penn Mutual 6.1
New York Life 6.1
Foresters* 5.8
Guardian 5.65
Ohio National 5.2
Northwestern Mutual 5.0


*Foresters always announced dividend for the previous year. So their schedule is behind all other companies.

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates for 2019

Here is the full 2019 whole life dividend list from the largest and most important carriers.

MassMutual 6.4
Foresters 6.23
Penn Mutual 6.1
New York Life 6.0
Guardian 5.85
Ohio National 5.4
Northwestern Mutual 5.0

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rankings for 2018

Here is a quick summary of the dividend rate from some of the largest/best companies that offer whole life insurance. 

Forester 6.58
MassMutual 6.4
Penn Mutual 6.34
New York Life 6.2
Guardian 5.85
Ohio National 5.4
Northwestern Mutual 4.9

Whole Life Insurance Dividend Rates Historical Averages

It can be hard to understand all the data, so we created a simpler way for you to look at the information. We have the 10 year and the 15 year averages for the whole life dividends. 

Company Name10 yr average (2024)15 Yr Average (2024)
General AmericanN/AN/A
Mass Mutual6.46.6
New England FinancialN/AN/A
New York Life6.036.01
Northwestern Mutual5.115.35
Penn Mutual6.066.15
Sun LifeN/AN/A
Ohio National5.055.41

Final Opinion

We used the previous tables, and in addition, we used the dividend analysis found at InsuranceProBlog to add more validation to our results (their report).

Our rating for current whole life dividend strength:

#1 MassMutual

MassMutual has increased their dividend rate for 2024 to 6.1%. Also, we ran a historical analysis and found:

  • 15 year average dividend rate of 6.60% which also ranks at #1
  • 10 year average dividend rate of 6.40% which also ranks at #1

That is why it is our best pick for the top whole life insurance dividend.

#2 Penn Mutual

Penn Mutual has a current dividend of 5.75% (unchanged from 2023), which ranks #3 for 2024. Also, Penn has always had a very stable dividend, even in a decreasing interest rate environment. They use direct recognition on their whole life contracts.

  • 15 year average dividend rate of 6.15% which ranks it #3
  • 10 year average dividend rate of 6.06% which ranks it #2

#3 New York Life

New York Life is one of the best mutual companies out there. They have a fantastic track record and their dividend is stellar. In addition, their ratings are second to none. With a 2023 dividend rate of 5.8% New York Life is a great option.

  • 15 year average dividend rate of 6.01% which ranks it #4
  • 10 year average dividend rate of  6.03% which ranks it #3


Do you have a dividend-paying whole life that you would like us to add? 

The dividend rate is not everything. However, it helps grow cash value in whole life.

To learn a little bit more about whole life insurance you should read:

Whole Life Insurance For Dummies

Overfunding Whole Life Insurance

How Much Does Whole Life Cost?

Comparing Insurers: The Mutual and Stock Difference?

Want To See How Dividends Affect Cash Value?

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  • Glenn says:

    What makes me laugh about this is that Dividends do NOT define the actual policy performance. Why don’t you pull a Blease Report and see who is on top when it comes to actual Cash Value Return. Many companies show the Dividend before expenses but if we are chasing the IRR and actual Cash Value then there is only one company that continues to exceed all other by a minimum of 35%. I’ll let your team not trick the consumer into just looking at the dividend rate.

    • WholeLifeExpert says:

      Hi Glenn,
      We stand by our analysis. The last Blease Report that we are aware of is in 2013. Please see the data here Blease Report 2013
      We are working on developing our own in for 2018. Who do you believe has the best dividend?

      • Patrick says:

        What Glenn says is accurate. Focusing on the dividend rate without accounting for the costs is misleading at best.

        • WholeLifeExpert says:

          Thank you for your input. There is nothing misleading about stating historical facts. This is an article on whole life dividend history, and we wanted to highlight dividends. It isn’t intended as a guide to pick the best whole life. However, dividend performance affects whole life performance, so we wanted to give an accurate historical analysis. Every consumer should still compare actual performance, but remember that current illustrations are based on current dividends. Some companies will have a higher dividend than today, and some will have a lower dividend.

  • Richard says:

    The Blease Report is a bit of a deceiving comparison in that it contains some very important footnotes. The premiums across the comparison are very different giving the lead horse (not so coincidentally, the carrier that funded the analysis) a much higher premium and thus more emphasis on cash value. If you increased the premium on each contract to match by using paid up additions, you’d see a much different IRR on cash value that summarized in the report… It also cherry picked the starting year. Using “best class available” in a year where the lead horse (again the carrier that funded the 3rd party, Blease) was the only carrier to offer preferred classes vs. standard non-tobacco being best available for all others until the following years where preferred tiers were rolled out. Statistical analysis can be 100% accurate, but be very misleading. Follow the money and you’ll see a major conflict of interest with one carrier pointing to Blease as an independent third party while being the sole source of revenue for Blease.

  • eric says:

    What about Lafayette Life?

  • Martin says:

    Thank you for this tool.
    Can you please add National Life Group, Transamerica and Security Mutual Life?

  • Kyle says:

    What a big lie, I get that you can pull dividend rates from everyone’s site, but comparing gross dividends to Net is a huge problem in this study. Very easy to see the asterisk next to the dividend percentage on company websites like Mass and NYL. You ever wonder why mass and NYL are doing more annuities now compared to life insurance? When you factor in expense ratio, mortality and lapse ratio Northwestern Mutual is head and shoulders ahead of the rest on this list. For every dollar NM brings in they only spend 19 cents on expenses, and Mass and NYL spend about 30 cents on the dollar. Match that with NM’s lower lapse ratio and better mortality, you will see why the total dividend payout for NM for 2020 will be 6 billion and Mass and NYL are at 1.6 and 1.8 billion. Want to compare an inforce policy that is 10-40 years old? Fake News

    • Hi Kyle, if you provide us with an illustration we would be happy to compare our choice with Northwestern Mutual. I agree that many companies calculate the dividend differently. Also as the total dividend has to do with how many policies are in force, not the strength of the dividend. Northwestern used to be the leader and the #1 life insurance company for a long time, but not anymore.

  • Ian says:

    “WholeLifeExpert” you are wrong. Kyle is 100% correct. While Northwestern Mutual does not have the highest dividend, their net dividend is the best and will continue to be the best. Their whole life insurance is unparalleled.

    Lets take a look shall we? In 2019 ( Northwestern Mutual v. Mass mutual)
    Lapse ratio (3.6 v 4.2-lower is better)
    Expense ratio (19.7 v. 25.8- lower is better)
    Investment yield (4.6 v. 4.8- Higher is better)
    Mortality ratio (18.6 v 32.7- lower is better)

    5 yr average
    3.6 v 4.4
    19.4 v 30.8
    4.4 v 4.1
    18.3 v. 25.7

    Northwestern Mutual is better across the board. Net Dividend should be used not gross dividend, as gross dividend essentially means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

  • Max J. Rooney says:

    Please get some helpful policy and company comparison data which specifically focuses on internal rates of return for cash value growth (most interesting) and death benefit. This would be clear and helpful information for real decision-making and comparison. Dividend scale interest rates don’t tell us much about actual policy performance and rates of return. Thank you!

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