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Life Insurance Companies

Companies need to be licensed by a given state's department of insurance in order to be permitted to sell life insurance policies in that state.

Life insurance companies can either be stock companies or mutual companies. Stock companies are owned by their shareholders, while mutual companies are owned by the policyholders themselves.

Independent firms such as A.M. Best, Moody's and Standard and Poor's rate the financial strength of life insurance companies. They typically use a letter grade scale, like what's used in schools. It's always a good idea to take a look at these ratings when shopping for a policy.

Many life insurance companies — whether they are stock or mutual — provide two types of products: Term Life and Permanent Life Insurance.

Term Life Insurance is a “death benefit only” product that is in effect for a specified period of time, usually 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. If the insured outlives the term, no benefit is paid out when they die. It may be possible to renew the policy or convert it to a permanent policy at the end of the term, but it varies.

Permanent Life Insurance, as the name implies, remains in effect for the policyholder's entire life, as long as premiums are paid on time. Permanent Life Insurance also differs from Term Life Insurance in that all forms of permanent life insurance accrue cash value. This cash value may be accessed in certain ways while the policyholder is alive.

Here are a number of well-known life insurance companies from around the U.S.:

AIG Life Insurance
United of Omaha Life Insurance
Hartford Life Insurance
Lincoln National Life Insurance
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
Physicians Mutual Life Insurance
Guardian Life Insurance
Nationwide Life Insurance
Sentry Life Insurance
Federated Life Insurance
Unum Life Insurance
Western Southern Life Insurance
Assurity Life Insurance
Standard Life Insurance
Symetra Life Insurance
Pacific Guardian Life Insurance
RiverSource Life Insurance
New York Life Insurance
Thrivent Financial Life Insurance
Globe Life Insurance

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