MetLife Life Insurance Review
How We Reviewed MetLife Life Insurance
3 policy types evaluated
4 independent ratings groups consulted
3 competitors compared
MetLife Life Insurance Review
The first thing to know about Metropolitan Life Insurance Company or MetLife, is that it only sells life insurance through the workplace — policy types, coverage options, and term limits all depend on the package chosen by your employer. We’ve gathered information on MetLife’s insurance offerings and industry ratings but, ultimately, it will be up to you to parse through your workplace plan, see what’s available, and select the level of coverage that’s most appropriate for you.
The good news? MetLife is a strong provider. It offers both term and permanent life insurance, and employers can select from a wide range of supplemental coverage for their employees. There are options for disability insurance, accidental death payouts, long-term care, and more. In addition, MetLife has some of the best financial ratings we’ve seen, and customers surveyed by J.D. Power ranked it fourth out of 23 companies for quality of service.
There’s just one downside: MetLife’s online learning and support tools leave a lot to be desired. First-time customers that are unfamiliar with life insurance won’t find the shopping experience very accommodating. That said, MetLife has rolled out a new financial wellness program called PlanSmart, which helps educate group plan participants about their finances (including insurance). And considering the company’s financial strength and excellent service, it’s still a solid choice if your job allows for this option.
Although they’re not sold on an individual basis, MetLife claims that its policies can be tailored to fit individual needs. According to its website, MetLife offers thorough, user-friendly insurance solutions for employees. The company boasts a “comprehensive suite of valuable services” and emphasizes the ease and affordability of signing up for insurance through the workplace.
Is it true?
Price and policy options hinge on your workplace plan, so not every customer will have the same experience. However, we can say that MetLife ticks the most important boxes for coverage and offers a variety of policies for companies to choose from (we’ll go into the specifics below). In short: It’s up to your employer to actually provide the right coverage, but we’re pleased with the options that MetLife brings to the table.
Customizable workplace insurance plans and flexible group universal life policies
Highly specific life insurance needs (certain coverage options may be limited by your workplace)
|Types of Life Insurance Available|
|Important Coverage Options||
Accelerated Death Benefit rider
Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage
S&P Global: AA-
|J.D. Power 2017 Customer Satisfaction Score||
"Better than most"
Ranked 4 out of 23 companies surveyed
Disability Insurance Calculator
*With Term Life policies
Group term insurance
MetLife offers pretty standard term life insurance. Term length options will vary by workplace, but most provide 10 to 30 years of coverage in increments of five or 10. This is typical across the companies we’ve looked at — only New York Life allows more customizable terms. Like most providers, MetLife also sells term insurance as an add-on for permanent policies, which allows policyholders to double down on coverage during the most critical years: say, while the kids are living at home or while you have a large mortgage.
Note that MetLife offers a product called “Dependent Term Life,” which allows policyholders to purchase additional coverage for their spouse, partner, or children. Other life insurance providers offer add-ons called “Spouse Insurance Rider” and “Child Term Rider,” which are essentially the same coverage. However, MetLife groups the two under one umbrella and sells it as a separate policy. If you’re interested in extending coverage to your family, check with your employer to see if they offer Dependent Term Life.
Variety of universal life insurance options
We like that MetLife has a few different universal life options. Customers who want a permanent policy can choose between universal or variable universal life. Both policies are more flexible than traditional whole life insurance, as they allow policyholders to adjust premium payments according to their current needs. If you’re flush with cash one month, for example, you could pay a larger premium and accrue greater savings. In tighter months, you could choose to pay nothing at all (as long as the policy’s cash value is sufficient to cover the minimum payment). This means you can customize your payment structure without worrying about the policy lapsing.
The main difference between these options is how their cash value gets handled. Variable universal plans allow for strategic investing; policyholders can choose from a variety of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other channels to grow their savings. With a universal life policy, the cash value is invested in a standard, interest-bearing savings account. This method might be less lucrative than a strategic investment plan, but it’s also less risky. Your cash balance is guaranteed to never drop below a set minimum.
Accelerated Death Benefit rider
The Accelerated Death Benefit rider is one of the few that MetLife offers as an add-on without purchasing a separate policy. We appreciate the inclusion, as the experts we spoke with generally consider this rider to be the most important one. What’s more, MetLife’s ADB is exceptionally generous; it allows you to use up to 92% of the total death benefit to cover medical care, treatments, and other expenses associated with severe illness or impairment. By comparison, some companies allow as little as 25% — which may not go very far towards covering ongoing medical expenses.
Short- and long-term disability insurance
MetLife, like most companies, sells disability insurance as an add-on for term life policies. But MetLife also offers disability as a separate policy for those that don’t qualify to buy it as an add-on. If your employer opts to provide disability insurance, MetLife covers it in both short- and long-term. Short term disability is meant to replace a portion of your income for three months to one year after an injury. It can be used to cover medical costs and rehab while you get back on your feet. “Two years is the maximum that is available,” according to Raymer Malone, Owner of High Income Protection Insurance Agency, “but you can find plans that pay benefits for as little as three months.”
Long term disability, on the other hand, is intended to provide a steady, lasting income in the event that you become permanently disabled and can no longer work. “[It] typically starts with benefit periods of two years (although some are as short as one year) and can pay benefits to age 65, 67, or even age 70,” says Malone. Like short term, it can be used to pay for medical expenses and recovery costs. But it’s also meant to cover living expenses, including food, utilities, and rent or mortgage payments. It’s up to you to select the amount of disability insurance you need — the more money you’d receive from your policy, the more it costs. We recommend using the Life Happens disability insurance calculator to figure out how much coverage would be necessary to maintain your family’s quality of life after an accident.
One-year term insurance
Aside from its term and universal policies, MetLife offers a unique one-year term insurance, a product we’ve only seen elsewhere with New York Life. MetLife’s one-year insurance starts at $25,000 and carries seriously affordable premiums — as low as $13.75 annually. Some of these policies are underwritten by MetLife and some by the General American Life Insurance Company. The main difference is that MetLife’s policies are guaranteed renewable for five years, whereas GenAm requires full underwriting to renew at any point. Other than that, both versions are handled through MetLife, so the carrier won’t affect your signup or payout process.
It’s best to consider one-year term insurance for extra coverage during a crucial period, either as a standalone or as a supplement to a longer-lasting policy. Unlike regular term insurance, it doesn’t lock you in for multiple years — so you can make a cheap, one-time payment for enhanced protection. On the downside, going through underwriting each time you renew means higher premium payments. If you expect to need the coverage for an extended period of time, consider a traditional term policy or a supplemental one on top of your permanent policy instead.
Extra options are based on your employer’s plan
Most of MetLife’s extra coverage options are contingent upon your employer’s plan. With standard insurance companies, options like long-term care and disability coverage can usually be tacked onto your life insurance policy for a small additional fee. With MetLife, you must purchase them as standalone policies — and only if your employer elects to offer them. This makes it difficult to directly compare MetLife’s policies with other companies’. To gauge your best options, you’ll have to evaluate your employer’s specific plan.
Subpar online resources
MetLife falls short of the competition when it comes to learning tools. Customers looking to educate themselves about insurance won’t find much help on the company’s website; it has a scant 12-question FAQ and little else. Its insurance blog does has some articles on the subject of life insurance, but they’re circumstantial (like: “When should I reevaluate my life insurance portfolio?”) and won’t be very helpful for beginners.
Granted, it’s difficult for MetLife to provide comprehensive resources because its policies vary by employer. However, it’s still important to have basic learning tools so that shoppers can make an informed purchase. We appreciate companies like Geico, which provide insurance calculators, glossaries, and robust learning centers to inform customers about their product.
Lacks a mobile app for life insurance
MetLife does offer a mobile app, but so far it only works with auto, home, vision, and dental policies — not life insurance. Companies that have a life insurance app (like The Globe) make it easy to get quotes, manage your account, and pay premiums. We’re still waiting for MetLife to catch up. That said, we appreciate that the company’s website is mobile-friendly; it has pared-down pages that work well on a phone screen and load quickly. It’s just a bit less convenient than the one-touch access that an app provides.
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|MetLife||State Farm||Northwestern Mutual||New York Life|
|A.M. Best financial strength rating|
|J.D. Power Overall Customer Satisfaction score|
|No-exam insurance option|
MetLife vs. State Farm
State Farm is a cut above MetLife in many ways. It’s the only company that tops MetLife for customer satisfaction, ranking number one in J.D. Power’s 2018 life insurance customer survey. It also carries slightly better financial strength scores: A++ from A.M. Best, AA from S&P Global, and Aa1 from Moody’s. The two companies have a similar selection of riders, but keep in mind that most of MetLife’s riders have to be purchased as a separate policy. With State Farm, they can be tacked on to any term or whole life insurance policy.
We highly recommend State Farm for anyone buying life insurance individually. If your job offers coverage through MetLife, though, it's likely still your best bet. MetLife is similar to State Farm ratings-wise and has a similar range of coverage. On top of that, it may be more affordable when purchased through the workplace.
MetLife vs. Northwestern Mutual
If you prefer a traditional whole life policy to a universal one, then we suggest starting your search with Northwestern Mutual, which took first in our review of the Best Whole Life Insurance. We like Northwestern Mutual for a few reasons. To start, it has perfect financial strength ratings: A++ from A.M. Best, AA+ from S&P Global, and Aaa from Moody’s. It’s also ranked second out of 23 companies by J.D. Power. Although that’s not as high as State Farm, we still prefer Northwestern Mutual for whole life when you tack on its list of riders.
NWM carries most of the 16 total add-ons we considered. Some of these we didn’t see with other top companies, like the Cost of Living rider (which adjusts your death benefit to keep pace with inflation) and the Paid Up Additions rider (which lets you use dividends to increase your policy’s cash value). All told, Northwestern Mutual’s life insurance is more customizable than MetLife or our other top picks’. We appreciate the wide range of protection, since any number of life changes could affect your insurance needs throughout the duration of a whole life policy.
MetLife vs. New York Life
New York Life is one of our favorite providers for term life insurance. It stands out for having some of the most flexible terms in the industry, with options to purchase insurance year by year or select any term length between 10 and 20 years. This range of choices lets customers pick the exact amount of coverage they need (say, for 22 years until their child graduates college) and avoid paying for years they don’t need covered. Neither MetLife nor any other provider we considered could match New York Life for its term flexibility.
New York Life also gives MetLife and Northwestern Mutual a run for their money with perfect financial scores. It does rank a little lower than both companies for customer satisfaction, taking sixth in J.D. Power’s survey, likely because it doesn’t have the strongest customer support. When we reached out, New York Life’s reps were less patient and less helpful than other companies’. Still, robust and flexible policy options make New York Life a strong player in the life insurance industry. We’ve also found that it’s one of the most affordable life insurance providers, so it’s worth getting a quote to see how New York Life’s premiums measure up.
Is MetLife a good insurance option?
There really is no simple and clean answer to this because there are a number of factors involved that will determine if MetLife is ideal. For example, if you want a customizable workplace plan and don’t mind that you might be barred from extra features your employer opts out of, then MetLife is right for you. However, if you need specific features that your employer hasn’t signed on for, you might be better served looking elsewhere. We cannot stress enough the importance of shopping for the best policy.
“When shopping for life insurance be careful not to just go with the cheapest option,” says Chelsea Ball, Licensed Life Insurance Agent and Marketing Manager on Termlife2go.com. “Sometimes this is the best coverage for you, but other times it may not be right for your individual situation. Considering the cheapest option is always term, you may want to consider if term will fully meet your needs, you may need a combination of policy types. Consulting a licensed life insurance agent is generally the best way to proceed with getting a life insurance policy.”
Does MetLife offer a no-exam insurance option?
Yes, however, it may not be your best option nor the most economical. “No exam policies have their place and are indeed very convenient,” says Anthony Martin, Owner and CEO of Choice Mutual. “However, you’re going to pay for this convenience.” He goes on to say that you can expect premiums to be as much as 20-100% more. And, if you’re in decent health, we have to agree with Martin that you might be better off getting a lower premium just by taking the medical exam.
The Bottom Line
If your job offers life insurance through Metropolitan Life insurance Company (MetLife), you and your family will be in good hands. In order to get the most out of your MetLife policy, be sure to do your research and learn all that you can about what riders, term lengths, and supplemental coverage options are available before signing up. Although you may have to do some digging — MetLife’s learning tools aren’t conducive to easy research— your work will pay off with a robust policy.