New York Life Insurance Co. is very strong financially, earning the highest possible grades at four ratings agencies and an A- at the fifth and most stringent financial rater, Weiss Ratings. However, its customer service ratings aren't quite as stellar as the top-rated insurers -- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. -- though they're still relatively high: The Better Business Bureau gives it a B+, but customers lodge few complaints against New York Life with their state insurance commissions. New York Life is the third-biggest life insurer in the U.S., and it sells a full range of life insurance products, so it's a good company to add to your short list when you're shopping for quotes.
To get a clear picture of New York Life's financial strength, we checked ratings at A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Weiss Ratings. For ratings based on customer feedback, we found reviews at the Better Business Bureau, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and FreeAdvice.com.
1. Better Business Bureau
New York Life's headquarters location earns a B+ rating at the Better Business Bureau (BBB). One reason for the slight downgrade is that the company failed to respond to one customer complaint in the past three years. The other 41 complaints people registered against New York Life were resolved or administratively closed, BBB says.
Review: BBB Reliability Report for New York Life Insurance Company, Editors of Better Business Bureau
2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners
NAIC reports are based on customer complaints filed with state insurance commissions nationwide. In its "closed complaint ratio report," New York Life's individual life insurance complaint index (based on the number of upheld complaints per market share) is less than one-fifth the national median.
Review: New York Life Ins Co, Editors of National Association of Insurance Commissioners
3. Weiss Ratings
Weiss Ratings has the strictest ratings criteria of the major ratings agencies, or so says one independent organization, and it doesn't accept payments from the companies it rates. New York Life rates an A- here, though you need to register (free) to use the site.
Review: Strongest and Weakest Lists, Editors of Weiss Ratings
4. Best's Review
New York Life is one of 14 life/health insurers to rate an A or higher at A.M. Best for 75 years, according to this report. New York Life gets A.M. Best's highest financial strength rating of A++.
Review: Standing the Test of Time, Editors of Best's Review, July 2009
5. Fitch Ratings
New York Life earns the highest AAA rating for insurer financial strength here -- one of only five companies to hold this rating when we checked. This indicates that New York Life has a "very strong capacity" to meet its financial obligations. The site requires free registration.
Review: Fitch Ratings, Editors of Fitch Ratings
New York Life is one of only three U.S. life insurers to earn Moody's highest financial strength rating, Aaa. Companies with this rating provide "exceptional financial security."
Review: Insurance Financial Strength Ratings, Editors of Moody's
7. Standard & Poor's
New York Life earns Standard & Poor's AAA rating for long-term financial strength. This places New York Life in S&P's top tier of companies. Like many financial rating sites, Standard & Poor's requires free registration before you can see the scores of the life insurance companies it rates.
Review: Insurance Rating List: Life, Editors of Standard & Poor's
Almost three-fourths of the customers who have reviewed New York Life here say they are "extremely satisfied" with it. That's a very large percentage for this website, which seems to attract customer complaints more than kudos. About 60 of the reviewers say they have life insurance policies with New York Life, and a few say they have health or other policies.
Review: Review: New York Life, Contributors to FreeAdvice.com