Updated: December 13, 2019

Guide to the UK’s Top Life Insurance Companies

Find out everything you need to know about life insurance providers and how to choose the right one in this guide

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Richard Angliss

Author: Richard Angliss - Finance Expert

Updated: December 13, 2019

Choosing the right life insurance provider is a major decision with potentially huge implications both for you and your loved ones, so you’ll want to be absolutely sure you’ve found the most suitable policy, premium and provider before you make this important purchase.

If you’re in the market to take out life cover and would appreciate some advice, the experts we work with can help you navigate the process of finding the best possible deal. Make an enquiry if you’d like to speak to a specialist advisor who can give you bespoke guidance on the best options for you, and we’ll find you a suitable expert.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the steps you can take to ensure you find the best policy for you and your family, at a fair price and on terms that will give you peace of mind. We’ll also look at the top life insurance companies in the UK and some lesser-known ones, along with a summary on what they have to offer.

What to look for in a life insurance provider

This will come down to personal preference and circumstances: perhaps you already have experience with an insurer and find them to be helpful and trustworthy for example. Equally there may be others you would want to avoid on the basis of past experience!

Providers will also have eligibility criteria that you’ll need to meet, which may limit your choices, and some products (such as ‘over 50s life insurance’) are only made available to older applicants.

Some insurers are also more generous than others in terms of the sum they can cover, so it’s vitally important that you have an idea of how much you will need to insure before you move on to selecting a provider.

This will usually be based on any significant financial obligations that are likely to continue over several years, such as mortgage repayments but there may be other factors to consider, such as childcare costs or seeing your children through their education.

An often-overlooked part of picking a provider is the benefits they offer. The majority of life insurance companies these days offer services and benefits above and beyond paying out a lump sum if you die.

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How to compare life insurance providers

Once you have a good idea of the type of life insurance you want, the amount of cover you need, the features you most value and of how much you are willing to set aside to pay the premium each month, you should have enough information to start drawing up a list of potential candidates, but don’t forget that some deals are not made available to the public.

You can use comparison sites to get a broad idea of which providers offer which types of insurance, and the providers’ own websites should give you a bit more detail on what they have to offer. You should be aware, though, that buying a policy without advice increases your risk of getting one that’s not suitable or doesn’t cover what you think it does.

Some providers will give you an ‘instant quote’ or allow you to use a calculator free of charge to give an idea of your expected premium – but don’t forget this is only an estimate based on limited data, and will not provide the accuracy you can expect from an expert advisor.

Why work with an independent life insurance broker?

There are many reasons why you might want to work with a professional advisor before making this potentially once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

A few of the reasons we hear most often include:

Convenience:
Access to the entire market:
Bespoke advice:
Knowledge and experience:

Your advisor will take on much of the ‘legwork’ that you’d otherwise have to do – such as researching deals, price comparison, checking paperwork and even negotiating with providers.

The independent brokers we work with are all-of-market meaning not only are they impartial when it comes to choosing a provider, they may have access to deals that aren’t available direct to the public, too.

Choosing a life insurance provider has major implications and can be a daunting task for a non-expert. A specialist advisor will know exactly what to look out for in a provider, and can apply their knowledge and experience to your unique circumstances.

If you’ve had medical issues or have a family history of any, the terms offered and differ greatly between providers. The advisors we work with have the knowledge and experience to know which providers will offer the best terms to you.

UK Life insurance providers

Different people want different things from life insurance, so there is no meaningful list of the ‘top 10 life insurance companies’ to refer to: the best provider for you will be the one that ticks the right boxes in your individual circumstances, and offers you suitable cover at a palatable monthly premium.

To give you a flavour of what’s currently available, we’ve taken a selection of UK life insurance providers and summarised what they’re offering at the time of writing. Don’t forget that these deals are subject to change, and this is only a snapshot of what’s currently on offer.

Royal London

Royal London offers three main types of life insurance from £7 a month: level cover, family income benefit and decreasing cover. Terminal illness cover is included at no extra cost and you have the option to take out joint cover. Royal London offers both term insurance and whole life cover.

The Royal London over 50 life insurance package is a popular product from this insurer, but please note that this is just one of the deals available.

Liverpool Victoria (LV)

LV life cover can be taken out with a level, increasing or decreasing sum assured, and as a single or joint policy. Terminal illness cover is included at no extra cost.

LV offers both life and critical illness cover, but the critical illness part needs to be taken out as an add-on. LV does not offer any whole life insurance policies at this time.

Beagle Street

Beagle Street life insurance can be purchased on a level or decreasing premium, with the options of adding critical illness cover (with a special plan for any children) and of switching to a joint policy. Terminal illness cover is included at no extra cost, however, Beagle does not offer whole of life insurance.

SunLife

SunLife is one of several dedicated over-50s life insurance providers in the UK. Providing life insurance for AXA and applicants are not required to undergo a medical examination or answer any questions about their health.

Post Office

Post Office life insurance offers term insurance with the option of a level, decreasing or increasing premium to applicants aged 18-70. Post office over 50s life insurance is also available for applicants age 50-80.

Post office life cover does not include critical illness as standard, but you have the option of adding it to your policy. The Post Office does not offer joint life insurance or whole of life insurance at this time.

Zurich

Zurich life insurance plans with the option of a level, decreasing or increasing premium, with or without critical illness cover. Zurich whole life insurance is also available for those who want the additional benefits associated with this type of plan, but this will usually attract a higher premium.

Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows life insurance can be purchased with or without critical illness cover, as a term or whole life plan. You can take Scottish Widows life cover with level, decreasing or increasing premiums, either as an individual or joint plan.

Friends Life

Friends Life insurance is now part of the Aviva group, and it no longer uses the Friends Life brand name for new policies. Existing customers’ plans have been moved across to Aviva.

Direct Line

Direct Line life insurance premiums start at £5 a month, with the option of level or decreasing payments as a single or joint policy. You can also add Direct Line’s critical illness cover for cancerheart attack and stroke. Direct Line does not currently offer whole life insurance. Its policies are available to customers aged 17 to 75.

Direct line over 50 life insurance is also available, with guaranteed acceptance for customers in the relevant age group who want to cover up to £15,000 with no medical needed.

Barclays

Barclays life cover offers two different products: a ‘Simple’ life insurance plan with level term premiums, and a plan designed for mortgage holders, with the option of level or decreasing premiums.

You can use the Barclays life insurance calculator free of charge on the site to get an idea of your likely premium, but don’t forget that these tools only provide a rough approximation.

HSBC

HSBC life insurance is available to UK customers between 17 and 70 years of age as a single or joint policy with either a level or decreasing term premium. Critical illness and income protection are also available as add-ons. The maximum possible payout with HSBC life cover is £2 million.

Halifax

Halifax life insurance is available for customers aged 18 to 74, with the option of individual or joint cover. Level, increasing or decreasing premiums are available. There is an option to take out critical illness cover as an add-on. Whole of life cover is also available from Halifax.

Aviva

Aviva life cover offers the option of taking out a joint or individual policy and the option of level, decreasing or increasing payments. Critical illness and over 50s plans are additionally available as a separate product.

Axa

Axa life insurance in the UK is provided by Sun Life (see entry above).

Nationwide

Nationwide life cover is available to its existing customers (‘members’) only, which means you’ll need to already hold a Nationwide mortgage, current account or savings account to be eligible. For those who qualify, its life cover is offered with a level or decreasing premium and the choice of two products: Life and Mortgage Life.

Nationwide’s mortgage life insurance plan is designed for those whose main concern is covering thair outstanding mortgage.

Other providers

There are of course many more providers of life insurance that you might want to consider, and the list is growing all the time.

Here is a further, but by no means comprehensive, list of life insurance companies in the UK:

  • BUPA
  • Cavendish
  • Age UK
  • Allianz
  • One Family
  • L&G
  • Scottish Friendly
  • Swinton
  • Bank of Ireland
  • Unite Union
  • Churchill
  • Reassure
  • RBS
  • AA
  • Age Concern
  • Direct Line
  • TSB
  • Marks & Spencers
  • Old Mutual
  • Royal Sun
  • Sun Alliance
  • Unison
  • London Life
  • Foresters
  • Engage
  • Fidelity
  • Endsleigh
  • Citibank
  • Abbey Life
  • St Andrews
  • Yu Life
  • Optimum
  • Countrywide
  • NFU
  • Guardian
  • Police Mutual
  • Direct Life
  • Wesleyan
  • Macmillan
  • Covea
  • Clydesdale
  • Yorkshire
  • Esure
  • Staysure
  • Shepherds
  • Metrobank

Speak to an expert life insurance advisor

If you’re thinking of taking out life insurance soon and want to ensure you choose the best possible provider for you and your family’s needs, the experienced, independent insurance advisors we work with will be happy to search the entire market to help you find the right deal.

Call us today on 0808 189 0463 or send an enquiry and we’ll be in touch soon to discuss your requirements free of charge, with a view to finding a suitable expert from our panel of highly-rated life insurance specialists.

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Richard Angliss

Richard Angliss

Finance Expert

About the author

Richard Angliss has made a career in financial services which stretches over 40 years.

His early career was spent learning about the various financial products and applying them to prudent advice, working for one of the largest life assurance and investment firms. After that he joined the financial services arm of a very well-known firm providing independent advice to their 8 million customers.

For the last 20 years he has been involved in building software solutions that help Advisers and clients work together to achieve good financial outcomes and helping to set up three independent advisory firms. He also has written many articles for financial services publications and provided commentary for newspaper journalists.

At an early stage in his career he realised the great satisfaction that comes with being able to help people achieve their goals and protect their families. “Regulation of financial services has hugely impacted on ensuring people get appropriate advice. The issue these days is access to that advice and just as importantly regular reviews to make sure that everything stays on track”.

With the growing development of online resources such as Online Money Advisor he sees a great future for people to access advice to make their pension and investment work harder for them.  Plus, of course, to ensure they have insurance products in place that will be required when unforeseen events happen.

He knows getting that balance right is crucial to prudent financial planning and the wellbeing of individuals and their families.

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FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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