UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Part of the huge surge in life insurance purchases in America during the latter half of the 1800s and early years of the 1900s, Mass Mutual joins the ranks of several other major U.S. life insurance companies to come out of that era and grow to an enormous size. In spite of some hard periods, the mutual company has paid out dividends every year since the 1860s, which is basically the entire time they’ve been in business.
Offering a full range of life insurance products and having expanded into mutual funds and other financial products, Mass Mutual is a popular choice for both employer-offered benefits as well as individual financial planning.
Mass Mutual Overview
An insurance agent looking to get in on the popularity of mutual life insurance companies founded Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1851. Modeled off Connecticut Mutual, the company was forced to start out as a stock company by Massachusetts law, but quickly shifted to a mutual company, making the change officially in 1867.
In the early 1900s, the company began offering disability benefits on their policies, including a waiver of premium for policyholders who had become disabled. As Mass Mutual weathered the Depression, they added new products including family income protection, and managed to come out on the other side still in business.
In 1946 Mass Mutual expanded into group benefits, and the company continued steady growth into the post-war years, with agents and offices spread across the nation. The company took a pioneering approach into the 1970s, becoming the first such company to offer flex-time to their employees and moving ahead into new technology as the computer era dawned.
Into the 90s, Mass Mutual continued its expansion and added more financial products. They began using the name Mass Mutual Financial Group in 1999, moving into record-setting growth in the 2000s with global expansion.
Mass Mutual today sells its flagship life insurance products along with annuities and other investments through a large network of agents across the country. Having survived some difficult economic times, including the loss of subsidiary offices in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, they remain one of the biggest names in the financial services industry.
Mass Mutual has offices in several states, but maintains its head office in Springfield, Massachusetts – the state it’s named for and where it was founded. Other locations include Phoenix, Arizona and Memphis, Tennessee.
A of 2015 numbers, Mass Mutual ranked as the 10th largest life insurance company in the United States based on assets. They were ranked at number 77 on the Fortune 500 list for 2016, confirming their position as one of the biggest and most influential financial services companies in the nation.
Mass Mutual has never positioned itself as a budget insurer, and most people looking for cheap insurance are unlikely to have this company at the forefront of the list. They do a lot of business through group benefits and general reputation, which makes that reputation a very important piece of the puzzle.
Mass Mutual started as a life insurance company, and that’s still where they do a good portion of their business. They also offer annuities and other retirement and investment products, creating a lineup of products that work together to help clients plan for their financial future in retirement and beyond.
Mass Mutual has a range of life insurance products, both permanent and term, with many different options to suit every need.
Mass Mutual’s whole life insurance offers permanent coverage with a guaranteed death benefit and steady premium. The policy also includes a cash accumulation account that can be added to the death benefit or borrowed against if needed. Like most Mass Mutual policies, whole life offers the opportunity to earn dividends.
Whole life can be purchased individually or as a group benefit through an employer.
Guaranteed Acceptance Life
This product is Mass Mutual’s simple whole life option that provides mainly for funeral costs and other final expenses. The product can be issued to those between the ages of 50 and 75 with no need for a medical exam, but offers lower death benefits than a standard whole life policy. The coverage ranges between $2,000 and $25,000.
Mass Mutual’s Guaranteed Acceptance policy offers level premiums and a guaranteed death benefit, but isn’t available in all states. This is the only product for which online quoting is available.
While Mass Mutual does not present itself as a low-cost company, this policy option represents a budget choice for people who are looking to get basic life insurance coverage. Not all of the major insurance companies offer this type of policy, particularly the big financial groups. This offering points to a company that has the interests beyond the more affluent clients, which is the target market of some other financial companies.
Mass Mutual offers term life insurance in a variety of term lengths, although they don’t specify on their website exactly what those terms are. They also don’t offer specific information on the policies themselves, other than the fact that they are designed to offer affordable coverage for a shorter period of time.
Mass Mutual’s term life insurance policies can be converted to permanent life without a medical exam or health questions, although the terms of conversion can vary.
Mass Mutual offers universal life insurance policies that provide flexible premium choices along with guaranteed death benefits. Like whole life, these policies include an investment aspect in the form of a cash accumulation account.
Policyholders can choose to increase or decrease premiums as needed.
Like the other life insurance policies, Mass Mutual’s site offers very little detail as to the specifics of the policy, which makes it difficult to get a clear picture of what they offer in comparison to their competitors. The policy appears to be a basic universal life product.
Variable Universal Life
This product offers all of the same benefits as a regular universal life insurance policy, but provides a variety of options in terms of how the cash value can be invested and grown. This policy leans a little more towards the investment side of things, but is still a permanent life insurance policy with flexible premiums and a guaranteed death benefit.
Because the different investment choices come with different levels of risk, they require a little more thought and research, and the assistance of a professional, to make the right choice. This means that there is potential to get more out of the cash accumulation account, but also more risk involved.
In addition to life insurance, Mass Mutual also writes a few other health and long-term care related products. These are available both for individuals as well as with workplace group benefits.
Disability Income Insurance
Mass Mutual offers disability income policies that help to provide income in the event that the policyholder is disabled and unable to work. As mentioned above, they also offer this product in combination with life insurance, for a policy that protects from several angles.
Long Term Care Insurance
Mass Mutual has a range of long term care products that vary from state to state. Due to differences in state laws, this is common across companies, and it’s best to investigate the policy offerings in your state to see what’s available. These policies can cover things like everyday care and skilled nursing during a long illness or recovery.
A popular choice for those looking to secure retirement income, Mass Mutual offers annuities in several different formats. These offer a variety of ways to create regular income for retirement. There are three choices available from Mass Mutual:
- Fixed Deferred Annuities, offering fixed, guaranteed interest rates, tax deferred investments, and income for retirement.
- Income Annuities, which offer varied guaranteed income options, including immediate or future income.
- Variable Annuities, offering greater growth potential for invested funds, as well as greater risk. These annuities also offer a choice of income options for retirement.
Mass Mutual offers a range of investment options to help plan for education, retirement, and any other financial needs.
Mass Mutual’s financial advisors can help customers select from a range of mutual fund options in order to invest for the future. These funds offer a variety of different risk levels to meet different risk tolerance levels.
Mass Mutual offers both Roth and Traditional IRAs to provide tax advantages for retirement investments.
529 College Savings
These popular college savings plans are available to provide varied options to provide funds for college tuition. They can be structured in several ways and can offer tax advantages depending on the state.
Exchange-Traded Funds. These investments are similar to mutual funds, but traded more like a stock.
In addition to their life insurance and investment products, Mass Mutual also offers wealth management services and trust services, including the setting up and maintenance of trusts.
They also assist employers with putting together workplace benefits packages for their employees, such as group life, disability, retirement, and more. Workplace benefits are a major part of the company’s business and many people first learn about Mass Mutual’s products through an employer-sponsored benefits package.
Prices and Premiums
Mass Mutual does not offer online quoting for their standard term life insurance policies, therefore we were unable to offer a price comparison based on our sample policyholder and our usual level of coverage.
Quotes are available for the Guaranteed Acceptance policy, which only offers coverage up to $25,000, and not the $1,000,0000 policy we usually quote. Additionally, it is not a term policy but a whole life policy and even less comparable. These simple whole life policies are issued without any medical exam at a low death benefit, so their premiums are difficult to compare to any other policy, whole or term.
Mass Mutual isn’t advertised as a cut-rate life insurance company, but they aren’t generally seen as catering to the wealthy either, which makes it difficult to guess where their premiums will fall in comparison to other companies. The fact that they offer simple issue life, as mentioned before, does point to a company with the budget customer in mind, but it doesn’t provide a solid picture of the company’s target market.
The very fact that the company does not offer online quoting places them in the category of insurance companies still relying heavily on agents and financial professionals, along with word of mouth, to bring customers in. They also have a heavy presence in workplace benefits, which brings them to the attention of customers who might not otherwise have sought them out.
While we like to see at least some online quoting for basic policies from major insurance companies, some companies, like Mass Mutual, seem to do well without the assistance of the modern approach to selling insurance.
Mass Mutual accepts life and disability claims via an online form, while other claims can be submitted through other means. This is an important option that we like to see from any major insurance company given the heavy use by insurance customers of the Internet when seeking information and assistance.
Claims can also be filed on the phone for life, long-term care, or disability policies at 1-800-272-2216.
There are also general inquiry phone numbers and an email form that will have a representative call or email you back for assistance, but they are not directed at claims in particular.
Claims information can be found under the “Claims” tab on the first page of the Mass Mutual website. The company gives a brief outline of what to expect during the claims process, payment options, FAQ’s. There is also a tab labeled as “Next Steps” which is a nice thing to see as its aim is to make some common resources available to those going through a difficult time.
There are three steps outlined with regards to claims. Initiate, where the website states you will receive a claims packet in three business days. Next, is submitting a claim and this can be done via mail, email, or fax. Once all of the required documents are received Mass Mutual states that payment will be processed within ten business days.
Consumer Feedback and Ratings
Mass Mutual has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, although they are not accredited. At the time of this review the company showed only 30 complaints in the past three years, ten of which were closed in the past 12 months. That’s an impressively low complaint volume considering the size of this company.
The 2016 J.D. Power survey of customer satisfaction with life insurance companies gave Mass Mutual a 3 out of 5 star rating, which ranks them as average. That’s a disappointing rating for such a large company, which was outranked in the ratings by a major competitor, Northwestern Mutual.
In particular, Mass Mutual rated a bit better with regards to their billing and interaction scores. In both categories the company was given a 4 out of 5 star rating.
Interestingly, the low rating with J.D. Power does not match up with the incredibly low number of complaints on the BBB site. This may be because more people will talk about their experience with a life insurance company when approached for a survey than will go out of their way to file a complaint or write a review.
This conjecture appears to be supported by the reviews on various sites that are often the go-to choice for insurance complaints. There aren’t a large number of them overall, and not a lot to raise red flags over within the reviews. Certainly nothing in the reviews would lead to the conclusion that there is a major problem with this company.
PissedConsumer.com has a total of 31 one reviews on Mass Mutual, which is a pretty low number. The overall rating on the website one out of five stars. There are a few complaints about customer service, which any large company will have, and a few complaints about benefits payouts and other issues. There is no clear issue that repeats itself in these complaints, and they certainly don’t cause a lot of concern.
Other review sites have a few similar complaints, but also several positive reviews as well. Overall, the picture that emerges from the existing reviews doesn’t cause any concern, in spite of the J.D. Power survey results.
One of Mass Mutual’s subsidiaries, Tremont Capital Management, was part of the huge scandal surrounding the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme in 2008. The company paid a billion-dollar settlement out as part of the recovery following the scandal. While this company is owned by Mass Mutual, the life insurance company itself was not involved in the Ponzi scheme and it doesn’t reflect on their reputation, although it does come up in any in-depth discussion of the company’s history and reputation.
Mass Mutual is a highly respected company with a very long history and brand recognition. They have a good lineup of products but not enough description of each product on their website to provide any real sense of what is offered. Since the company does not offer online quoting, we are unable to get an idea of what sort of good value their products provide.
In general, there is not much that raises concern in terms of the company’s reputation, and they seem to be pretty well respected, in spite of a low ranking by J.D. Power. The reviews do not seem out of line with what we see with all insurance companies, and there are actually fewer complaints and even some positive reviews.
Without more detailed information on the company’s website regarding their products we are unable to create a fully formed image of what this company really offers to make it stand apart from the rest, either in terms of products or in terms of price.
Mass Mutual has enough going for it to be worth obtaining a quote and a little more information regarding policy offerings. They’re also a strong contender in the group benefits market, and if you’re being offered Mass Mutual products through work they appear to be a safe bet. With limited information we can’t offer a full recommendation for this company, but they’re worth placing on your list.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.