In this guide to the best life insurance companies, we’ve reviewed the latest independent information to bring you our list of the best in the UK. Alongside this research, we’ve provided some simple explanations about how life insurance works and the different types of policies available.
Each year, our experts review the leading life insurance, paying particular attention to customer satisfaction and claim payout rates, to provide you with a summarised list of the best. Read on to find out which companies and policies stand out in the crowd for 2023, but please remember to speak to an insurance broker and get a comparison quote before you make a decision, as everyone is individual, and this guide shouldn’t be seen as financial advice.
Here is shortlist of the best health insurance currently available in the UK. Please click on each of the companies to read our more detailed reviews, and remember, you should always compare policies and speak with a financial adviser before making a purchasing decision.
*All policy information in this guide is accurate per the providers’ websites, last updated on 22nd March 2023. myTribe's rankings are based on customer ratings and historic claims payout data. You should always do your own research and speak with a broker before making a purchasing decision.
Each year, our experts review all of the leading life insurance, paying particular attention to customer satisfaction and claims payout rates, to provide you with a summerised list of the best of the best. Read on to find out which companies and policies stand out in the crowd for 2023, but please remember, speak to an insurance broker and get a comparison quote before you make a decision, as everyone is individual and this guide shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
LV= offers both Level of Decreasing Cover, so you can choose for your loved ones to receive a fixed amount should you pass away or for it to reduce in line with any outstanding commitments, such as your mortgage. With both policies, you can take out cover between your 18th and 84th birthdays, and the policy term can be anywhere from 5-50 years, so long as it ends by the time you turn 89.
Like most life insurers, you can add critical illness cover to your policy (for an extra monthly premium) so that if you are diagnosed with one of the stipulated conditions, LV= will pay out the befit.
LV= is one of the UK’s highest-rated insurers according to their over 61,000 reviews and a 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot. It’s important to note that these reviews are for the company as a whole and are purely for life insurance. However, still, it bodes well and demonstrates their exceptionally high levels of customer satisfaction.
The most recent numbers from LV= show that in 2021 they paid out 98.37% of all life insurance claims, totalling over £74m. As noted on their site, 1.48% of claims weren’t paid due to important information being missed off the application form, demonstrating the importance of being accurate and honest when setting up your policy.
Aviva offers level, decreasing and increasing cover life insurance, with the option to add critical illness cover for an additional premium. Cover is available to anyone between the ages of 18 and 77, with the policy having to end before you turn 91. Like most of the insurers mentioned here, you also have the option for your Aviva policy to be a joint one. However, it’s important to note that joint policies only pay out once, after the first death.
Aviva has amassed over 27,000 reviews on Trustpilot, boasting an Excellent rating of 4.4 out of 5. Again, please be aware this applies to the company as a whole, not just their life insurance but demonstrates widespread customer satisfaction.
In 2021, Aviva paid out 99.4% of their life insurance claims and 92.4% of their critical illness claims. This puts them close to the top in terms of payout rate, giving you significant peace of mind if you choose them.
Royal London’s Direct Life Insurance offering is very simple. Open to UK residents aged between 18 and 70, you can get level term cover (where premiums and the cover amount stay the same during the time period of your policy) or decreasing term (where the cover level reduces, so it’s handy for paying a mortgage).
You can add critical illness cover to your life insurance policy. However, it’s important to note that it only specifies six serious illnesses. Other insurers have a much longer list of illnesses that they cover.
Royal London has a 4.1 out of 5 star rating on Trustpilot. This is a ‘great’ rating and competes well with other insurers in the marketplace. Many have much lower ratings. As a result, you can be confident that you’re in good hands with Royal London.
In 2021, Royal London paid out 99.5 of all life claims, totalling more than £174 million. The average claim amount was £84,000. This high percentage is very reassuring if you’re considering taking out Royal London life insurance. It means your loved ones are very likely to receive a payout if the worst happens and you pass away, provided you are honest and accurate in your application.
VitalityLife delivers a wide range of policies, including term life insurance (which pays out if you pass away during a fixed period) and whole life policies (with a guaranteed payout). If you choose a term policy, you can choose a level term policy with a fixed payout, a decreasing term policy which is great for covering a financial commitment like a mortgage, or an increasing term policy which safeguards your payout against rises in inflation.
You can take out a VitalityLife life insurance policy if you’re aged between 16 and 74 inclusive. However, you can only benefit from coverage before your 90th birthday.
Being Vitality, your life insurance policy comes with many great extras, including discounted gym memberships, Apple Watches and Garmin fitness devices. It’s all to help you stay healthy.
Vitality currently has a 3.9/5 star rating on Trustpilot from more than 27,000 reviews. However, these reviews are for the Vitality company as a whole rather than purely for life insurance. But still, you can see from these reviews that customers rate VitalityLife highly and are happy to leave great reviews.
The most recent figures from VitalityLife show that in 2022, VitalityLife paid out 99.8% of life insurance claims. This is an extremely high payout level, higher than many other life insurers in the marketplace. If you choose VitalityLife, you can rest assured that your policy will likely pay out to your loved ones if you pass away.
With fixed monthly premiums starting at just £5, Legal & General has a life insurance policy for everyone. Choose from level term insurance (with fixed premiums and a cover amount) or decreasing term (where the cover amount goes down throughout the term, great if you want to cover your mortgage with life insurance). You can also add critical illness cover to your policy, which will pay out if you are diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.
The maximum age for buying a life insurance policy from Legal & General is 77, and the policy must end before you reach 90 years of age. The minimum purchasing age is 18.
Legal & General’s life insurance services have a 4.5/5 star rating on Trustpilot from 185 reviews. However, upon closer inspection, the company has a poorer overall score of 2.9/5, which implies customers aren’t as pleased with some of the other services the company provides.
In 2021, Legal & General paid out 98% of life insurance claims. The total number of claims was 12,405, and the total amount paid out was more than £475 million.
Zurich offers life cover to UK residents starting at only £5 per month. Choose from level cover (fixed premiums and payout amounts), decreasing cover (appropriate to cover mortgage repayments) or increasing cover (to safeguard your lump sum payout against inflation rises).
You can start purchasing life insurance cover from Zurich at the age of 16. The maximum purchasing age is 83. Cover can last until you’re 89. The maximum term length available is five years.
As with most insurers, Zurich allows you to add critical illness cover to your life insurance policy for an extra monthly premium. If you are diagnosed with a serious illness (from a specified list), Zurich will pay out part of your cover amount.
Currently, Zurich has a 3.9/5 star rating on Trustpilot, based on more than 1,600 reviews. However, it’s important to note that this rating is for Zurich’s entire insurance range, not just life cover. But you can glean from this rating that they treat their customers well.
In 2020, Zurich paid 98% of life insurance claims and 87% of critical illness claims. Zurich calls it ‘doing the right thing’. It’s reassuring if you take out a Zurich policy that it’s likely that it will pay out to your loved ones if you were to pass away. However, to avoid being one of the 2% that don’t achieve a successful claim, make sure you’re totally honest and accurate when you take out your policy.
AIG Life does not sell insurance directly. Instead, you need to speak to a financial adviser or insurance broker to make use of their products. You can also purchase AIG Life products through other companies like Churchill and Direct Line.
AIG term insurance is available to customers aged between 17 and 86. You can choose from level term with a fixed payout, decreasing term which helps to cover a repayment mortgage or increasing term where the payout amount increases in line with inflation. You can also choose from individual or joint life insurance cover.
The Trustpilot reviews for AIG Life are rated average - 2.9/5 stars based on 131 reviews. This isn’t a great rating, especially compared to other insurance providers in the sector. However, it’s important to note that the sample size is quite small, suggesting they aren’t actively collecting reviews. Also, 52% of customers who left a review gave AIG Life five stars.
The most recent report from AIG Life stated that in 2021, the company paid 98% of life insurance claims to 3,314 people, totalling £119 million. The average age of a person passing away was 66 years.
Scottish Widows offers the three standard term life insurance options. These are level term life insurance (where your premiums and cover amount stay the same throughout the length of your policy), decreasing term (to cover mortgage repayments) and increasing term (to ensure your payout retains its purchasing power in line with inflation). You can also get premium protection which means you don’t have to pay your premiums if you can’t work due to an accident or disability.
The oldest age at which you can take out a Scottish Widows life insurance policy is 79. The youngest is 18.
On Trustpilot, Scottish Widows does not have very good review ratings at all. However, having gone through it, it seems that every review is for their pension services and not life insurance. For life insurance only, Scottish Widows has a 5-star Defaqto rating, which is awarded by industry experts. On balance, you can be reasonably sure that Scottish Widows’ life insurance is a good choice and will provide the benefits you need.
In 2021, Scottish Widows paid out 99% of all life insurance policy claims from loved ones. There were more than 9,000 claims, and the total amount paid out exceeded £132 million.
Aegon offers both term life insurance policies (which run for a fixed period of time) and whole-of-life policies (which last until you pass away, guaranteeing a payout). You can also add critical illness cover, which pays you a lump sum or monthly income if you are diagnosed with a serious illness from Aegon’s specified list.
Policyholders also get access to Policy Plus, Aegon’s health and wellbeing support services. Features include the ability to book online medical appointments with professionals for a face-to-face second opinion.
The minimum age for an Aegon life insurance policy is 18. The maximum is 83.
Aegon has a score of 3.4 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, based on more than 1,500 reviews. However, it’s important to know that this score covers everything Aegon offers, including pensions and savings accounts, not solely life insurance.
The most recent figures show that in 2021, Aegon paid out 95% of life insurance claims. Of the claims that were refused, most were due to misrepresentation, including a large proportion of policyholders who were not honest about their alcohol consumption. To be sure your loved ones aren’t left without your payout if you pass away, please be 100% honest on your application forms.
Nationwide offers level cover (fixed payments and static cover amount throughout the policy) or decreasing term cover (cover amount reduces throughout the policy in line with the amount you owe on your mortgage). You can also add critical illness cover, which pays out a proportion of your cover amount if you are diagnosed with one of a list of conditions specified by the insurer.
To apply for level term life insurance cover from Nationwide, you need to be between 18 and 77 years of age.
One of the dangers of going by review sites like Trustpilot is that if a company offers a wide range of different products, it groups them all together and you can’t separate them out.
Nationwide has a poor Trustpilot of 1.8/5 stars based on more than 3,750 reviews. However, every review on the page is for a product other than life insurance. Nationwide has a Defaqto score of 4 out of 5 stars for level term life insurance, rated by experts, so you can be reassured that if you go with Nationwide, you will be looked after.
Payout statistics for Nationwide Building Society life insurance are currently unavailable.
To build these lists of the best life insurance policies and companies in the UK, we combined independent reviews from Fairer Finance on each company’s claims, complaints and transparency, alongside a score for how comprehensive each of their policies are. For the over 50s policies, we only looked at the comprehensiveness of each policy, because they are guaranteed to pay out, so an insurer’s claims record is not relevant.
Our aim is to help you identify the best life insurance policy based on quality indicators, not cost.
In another recent article, we’ve also ranked the best health insurance in the UK.
A life insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurance company which ensures your family or loved ones are financially secure if you were to die. Having life insurance will give you peace of mind that should the worst happen, your family will be taken care of and not end up financially destitute.
You pay monthly or annual premiums and the insurance company promises to pay out a cash sum if you were to die while the policy is active. That is provided that all of their terms and conditions are met.
Every company and policy provider has its own conditions and indeed exclusions, so it is vital to read the small print of your policy documents. For example, many providers won’t pay out if death occurs due to suicide, a drug overdose or a risky or reckless act. If you have any questions or concerns about the policy you are thinking of taking out, be sure to speak to the insurance company and get clarification.
There are a number of key questions you should ask yourself when considering how much life insurance you need.
The first question you should ask yourself is who else is financially dependent on you? Do you have a partner or children who rely on your income? Are there other family members who would face financial hardship if you were no longer around to support them?
If you don’t have any dependants, then there may not be a need for you to take out life insurance at all.
Some insurance companies will offer free life insurance to new parents, but this may not be enough to cover all of your costs if the worst happens to you, so it is well worth considering your options if you are expecting a baby.
Before you look at how much cover you require it’s important to understand what arrangements you already have in place, such as death in service protection from your employer or indeed your own savings. Even if you don’t have a life insurance policy, you may find that your employer will pay out a cash sum in the event of your untimely death. The value of this lump sum will vary from employer to employer, but often it is around four times your annual salary.
If you don’t have a mortgage or too many dependants, you may find that this cover is actually ample, and you don’t require additional life insurance protection. Just bear in mind that if you change jobs, or become self-employed, you could lose that benefit.
Often when a policy is configured, you will start with the size of your mortgage and any other debts you have, and look to have those paid off should you die. Generally speaking, debts reduce over time as you pay them off, which is why insurers have created policies such as decreasing term life insurance, which also reduce over time.
A rule of thumb is to cover 10 times the main breadwinner’s income; this is meant only as a guide though, and everyone’s circumstances will be different. It may sound like a lot of money, but you need to bear in mind that inflation will eat into the value of any payout over time.
The quotes you receive for life insurance will vary dramatically based on the amount of cover you would like. So when you compare life insurance companies and policies it’s vital to always use the same details of how much cover you would like and for how long.
Life insurance costs around £10 a month on average based on the quotes we received in April 2020, for a 36-year-old, with a clean medical history, who doesn’t smoke and is a light drinker.
The prices you receive will vary based on your own circumstances, such as your age, any pre-existing medical conditions you may have and also whether you smoke.
If you add critical illness cover to the policy it will increase the cost of the policy too, usually by as much as the cost of the original policy.
The good thing with life insurance is that most premiums are fixed and the monthly costs will never increase.
It is always worth shopping around when looking for life insurance as it will likely be a one-time purchase that will stay with you for most of your adult life.
There are various types of life insurance and therefore it’s important to not only seek out the cheapest option but also find the type of insurance that is right for you.
Here’s a list of the main types of life insurance, all of which we explore in more detail in this article.
Term life insurance, whether it’s level term or decreasing, can often offer the best value for those looking for a cheap life insurance policy. Term insurance insures you for the term of the policy, paying out if you die before the policy ends. If you don’t die before the policy ends, the premiums you’ve paid won’t be returned.
There are two main types of term insurance: level term and decreasing term, in the next section we explain the difference.
The key difference between level term and decreasing term life insurance policies is what they pay out if you die while the policy is active.
Level term life insurance pays out the same pre-specified cash lump sum if you die, regardless of whether you die at the start or the end of the term of the policy. The cover remains the same throughout the life of the policy and the premiums remain the same too. Level term life insurance is often a good choice for those looking to cover interest only mortgages, that are not covered by an investment vehicle or endowment policy.
UK comparison websites often use level term insurance as the foundation for their quotations, but it’s not always the best route to keep costs down.
Decreasing term life insurance is similar to level term inasmuch as the premiums tend to remain the same throughout the term of the policy. However, how it differs is that with decreasing term life insurance, the amount of cover decreases over the term of the policy. Meaning that if you die towards the end of the policy, the cash lump sum will be significantly less than if you were to die at the beginning.
This type of policy is often used to cover debt, such as a repayment mortgage, as the outstanding balance will get smaller over time.
Decreasing term life insurance is an excellent way to get a cheaper policy, assuming you understand that the cover will decrease over time. If you’re looking to get life insurance to cover your mortgage or other debt, this is an excellent choice. As well as providing mortgage cover, this type of policy can also be useful for inheritance tax planning purposes.
We obtained quotes in April 2020 for a level term policy for a 32-year old, non-smoker, with a clean medical history who is based in London. The prices we received back, ranged from £9.50 per month, up to £17 per month.
As will be the case with any types of insurance, costs can vary significantly based on your own personal circumstance and of course policy choice. It is always worthwhile doing independent research and also speaking to an independent expert, such as our FCA approved advisors, before you buy.
Generally speaking, life insurance costs rise with age, so the younger you are when buying a policy, the cheaper it will usually be across the term. If you suffer from any ill health or are a smoker, you can expect your life insurance premiums to be higher.
The great thing with life insurance is that getting quotes is usually quick and easy, so you can very quickly compare costs and benefits of the various providers. Just be mindful that comparison websites tend to be quite sparse in terms of information, so going direct to the providers or speaking to a life insurance broker are both sensible options.
Over 50s life insurance, also known as “lifelong protection”, is a specific type of policy created for those between 50 and 80 years of age. Rather than the usual health interviews and questions from doctors, everyone between 50 to 80 is guaranteed acceptance. It’s for this reason that over 50s life insurance is also referred to as “no-medical life insurance”.
With over 50s life insurance, premiums are usually fixed and stop at the age of 85 or 90, with cover then continuing for the entirety of the holder’s life.
Something to be careful of is that over 50s life insurance often has a qualifying period, between 12 and 24 months and if you die during this initial period your premiums may be returned without the cash lump sum being paid. Of course, all life insurance companies have their own rules, so be sure to read the small print before committing.
You can get over 50s life insurance for as little as £7 but bear in mind that you won’t get a huge amount of coverage for that so if you want more cover, you can expect to pay more. While you’re guaranteed to be accepted for “no medical” life insurance, costs can still vary depending on your age and how much cover you need.
Whole of life insurance provides cover for your whole life as the name suggests. As with other insurance, you pay your premium each month and, when you die the policy pays out a lump sum.
With whole of life policies, the insurance company invests your premiums into a life fund that spreads its investment across the stock market, bonds, property and cash. When you die, it then uses that fund to pay your cash lump sum.
The significant benefit of whole of life cover is that you are guaranteed a payout because the policy lasts the entirety of your life.
It’s important to remember though, that your cover is tied to the performance of the insurer’s investments and if that fund performs poorly, you could be asked to increase your premiums, even though you’ll still have the same level of cover.
In 2016, the financial ombudsman received thousands of complaints about whole of life insurance policies. Primarily, those complaints were due to companies slashing the levels of cover their schemes offer while asking customers to pay the same premiums. The reason for this is that premiums and sums assured are reviewed after 10, 15 and 20 years.
A lot of customers who had whole of life policies felt they were not properly informed about the reviews and thousands were understandably upset when they received letters informing them about their cuts to cover.
At the time, the Telegraph spoke to one customer, whose life and critical illness cover, was slashed from £113,500 to £36,950, despite paying Sun Life of Canada premiums for over 20 years.
As you can see, it’s incredibly important to understand how life insurance works before you take it out, so make sure you speak to potential insurers and seek out independent advice before committing to a policy.
If you’ve been hit with a reduction to your cover or an increase to your premiums, it may be worth shopping around for another provider to see if you can get better terms.
It’s possible to arrange whole of life insurance for as little as £10 per month, but many things, such as your age and medical history will affect the price you pay. If you’re a heavy drinker, smoker or have suffered medical issues in the past, you can expect to pay more than this for your cover.
Essentially, the higher the risk of you dying young, the more expensive cover will be. Women typically pay less as they often live longer.
The total cost of a policy also depends on whether payments stop at a set age or continue indefinitely. If you continue paying until you reach the age of 100, for example, you may find your cover has come at a very high price.
Online price comparison sites don’t always take this into account, so make sure you click through to read the full policy details for each insurance company.
The majority of people that pay for life insurance choose either level or decreasing term insurance that runs for a set period of time. Term insurance is usually cheaper than whole of life and most people in their later life have much less need to provide life cover for the ones they love.
The main reason people take out whole of life cover is to help reduce their family’s inheritance tax bill (IHT). If for instance, you take a whole life cover policy, you can write it into trust and your beneficiaries will receive a tax-free cash lump sum that they can use to pay the inheritance tax bill.
Tax planning is a complicated area and we’d always recommend taking specialist advice about how to put life insurance into trust.
Many people choose to take out critical illness cover at the same time as a life insurance policy. Critical illness pays out a lump sum if you die, become terminally ill, or are diagnosed with a serious illness. As soon as one of these happens, the policy ends and is paid out. Family life insurance with critical illness cover provides this type of protection for multiple people in a family.
Critical illness insurance policies will cover any of 35 specified illnesses and up to 150 for more comprehensive policies. Effectively the more you’re willing to pay, the more illnesses will be covered by the policy.
What is and isn’t covered also varies from provider to provider, so it’s important to look closely at the list of conditions. For example, some providers may not cover forms of cancer which are easily curable. Similarly, mild heart attacks and strokes might not be considered severe enough to justify the policy paying out. Reading the policy small print and exclusions will help you understand what is and isn’t covered.
Critical illness cover costs will depend on how likely you are to fall ill, alongside how many illnesses you would like cover for. Many providers ask applicants to complete health questionnaires or have a check-up with a doctor before providing a policy. If you want to reduce the cost of your policy you can do so by living a healthier lifestyle. Quitting smoking, reducing your weight and exercising frequently can all bring premiums down.
These are the 10 best best critical illness policies based on comprehensiveness:
Our own funerals aren’t something we often discuss, but they can be costly, so making some preparations for yours is sensible. Life insurance that specifically covers the cost of your funeral can be a simple way to ensure that there is at least no financially related stress associated with your death.
Here are a few of your options:
Whole of life insurance policies are a good option, but bear in mind they can take some time to pay out in the event of your death.
Another option is getting a funeral plan that will cover the cost of your funeral - just be sure to check what it covers and what is and isn’t included.
If you’re planning on your family using your savings to pay for your funeral just make sure the money is held in a joint account that a member of the family has access to.
For more information about funeral plans, check out this useful guide by Bought by Many.
Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.