Primerica Vs. Northwestern Mutual: Comparing Financial Services

When it comes to financial services companies, two big names often come up – Primerica and Northwestern Mutual. Both offer a range of financial products like life insurance, investments, and more.

But which one is better for your needs? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare Primerica and Northwestern Mutual on key factors to help you decide.

A Brief Comparison Table

CategoryPrimericaNorthwestern Mutual
Type of CompanyMulti-level marketingMutual company
Year Founded19771857
HeadquartersDuluth, GAMilwaukee, WI
Life Insurance FocusTerm lifeBoth term and permanent life
Investment OptionsLimited mutual funds and annuitiesWide range of stocks, bonds, funds
Advisor ModelPart-time independent repsFull-time dedicated advisors
Customer ServiceMixed reviewsConsistently highly rated
Financial StrengthA+ from A.M. BestA++ from A.M. Best (highest)
FeesLow for term life, high for investmentsCompetitive across products
Recommended ForTerm life onlyComprehensive financial planning

Company Overview


Primerica was founded in 1977 and is headquartered in Duluth, GA. It is a multi-level marketing company that sells financial products and services through a network of over 130,000 independent representatives. Primerica focuses on middle-income clients and offers term life insurance, investments, insurance, and other financial products.

Northwestern Mutual was founded in 1857 and is headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. It is a mutual company, owned by its policyholders. Northwestern Mutual offers life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, investments, estate planning, and employee benefits products. It has over 4.4 million clients and manages over $308 billion in assets.

Comparison Between Primerica And Northwestern Mutual

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a core product offering for both Primerica and Northwestern Mutual.

Primerica specializes in term life insurance, which provides death benefit coverage for a set period of time. This can be a lower-cost option for younger individuals looking for temporary coverage. Primerica offers term life plans with coverage terms of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years.

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual offers both term and permanent life insurance, including whole and universal life insurance. Permanent life insurance provides lifelong protection as long as premiums are paid. This can be a good option for longer-term coverage needs.

Most experts recommend term life insurance for temporary needs and permanent life insurance for lifelong protection. Primerica’s focus on term life gives them an advantage for cheaper temporary coverage. Northwestern Mutual offers more options for permanent protection.


Both companies also offer investment products and services.

Primerica offers mutual funds, annuities, managed accounts, and other investments. Most are managed by Primerica’s investment partner, PFS Investments. Primerica reps advise clients on setting investment goals and selecting suitable products.

Northwestern Mutual provides a wide array of investment options including stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, and annuities. Clients work with a financial advisor to develop a customized portfolio based on their goals and risk tolerance. Northwestern Mutual advisors have more flexibility in investments they recommend.

Independent reviews give Northwestern Mutual higher marks for breadth of investment choices, fees charged, and quality of guidance. Primerica’s investment lineup is more limited.


In addition to life insurance, both companies offer other insurance products:

  • Primerica sells home, auto, and umbrella insurance policies through third-party providers.
  • Northwestern Mutual offers disability income and long-term care insurance to protect income and cover elderly care costs. It also provides business insurance.

Northwestern Mutual has the edge for disability, long-term care, and business insurance options. Primerica’s other insurance offerings are more basic.

Also Read: Comparison Between Lendingtree And Credit Karma.

Advisor Model

There are also major differences in each company’s advisor model:

  • Primerica uses multi-level marketing with part-time life insurance agents. Many Primerica reps sell policies on the side for supplemental income. There are relatively low qualification requirements.
  • Northwestern Mutual has full-time, professional financial advisors who undergo extensive training and certification. Advisors are investment-focused and provide comprehensive financial planning services.

Northwestern Mutual’s advisors are generally seen as more knowledgeable and thorough in their approach. Primerica’s part-time sales model has received some criticism.

Customer Service

Primerica tends to get mixed reviews on customer service. Interactions are with local independent reps. Service experience can vary widely. Some reps are unresponsive after the initial sale.

Northwestern Mutual gets consistently high ratings for customer service. Clients work with a dedicated advisor who serves as an ongoing point of contact for all needs. Response time is prompt.

Financial Strength

Both companies are financially strong:

  • Primerica earned $350 million in net income in 2022 and has over $2.7 billion in capital and surplus. It is rated “A+” by A.M. Best.
  • Northwestern Mutual made $3.2 billion in total revenue in 2022 with over $33 billion in assets. It maintains the highest rating of “A++” from A.M. Best.

While both are strong, Northwestern Mutual gets top marks for financial stability from independent rating agencies.

Costs And Fees

Primerica’s term life premiums are generally inexpensive, but investment fees can be high, often 1% or more. There are many complaints about reps pushing expensive, high-commission products.

Northwestern Mutual’s life insurance tends to be moderately priced. Investment expense ratios range from 0.4% to 1.2%, depending on products selected. Overall costs are competitive.

Independent analysts give Northwestern Mutual an advantage for lower, more transparent fees in most categories.

Also Read: Comparison Between PHP Agency And Primerica.

Pros And Cons Of Primerica And Northwestern Mutual



  • Low-cost term life insurance
  • Large representative salesforce
  • Strong financial ratings


  • Limited investment selection
  • High investment fees
  • Inconsistent customer service
  • Pushy sales tactics

Northwestern Mutual


  • Permanent and term life insurance options
  • Wide range of investment products
  • Knowledgeable, full-time advisors
  • Top-tier financial strength


  • Permanent life insurance is more expensive
  • Requires high account minimums

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Primerica or Northwestern Mutual better?

For term life insurance, Primerica offers low rates. But Northwestern Mutual is the better choice overall for financial planning, investments, insurance, and service.

Who is Northwestern Mutual’s biggest competitor?

Northwestern Mutual’s top competitors are MassMutual, New York Life, and State Farm. These companies have similar business models with a focus on financial advising.

What is the downside of Primerica?

Downsides of Primerica include high investment fees, limited products, and inconsistent customer service since reps are independent agents. There have also been complaints about reps prioritizing commissions over clients’ best interests.

Why are advisors leaving Northwestern Mutual?

One reason some advisors leave Northwestern Mutual is the requirement to sell life insurance, which younger clients may not need. Advisors seeking greater investment product flexibility may also move to an independent model. But overall, Northwestern Mutual maintains an army of loyal advisors due to strong training, support and benefits.

Also Read: Comparison Between Family First Life And Symmetry Financial.


For term life insurance, Primerica often offers the lowest premiums. But for more comprehensive financial planning and investments, Northwestern Mutual is generally the better choice.

Northwestern Mutual has highly trained advisors, a broad range of products, excellent service, and competitive pricing. The company’s overall focus is on meeting long-term financial goals.

Primerica sells basic products through independent reps at low costs. But investment options and guidance are limited. Primerica is best for budget-conscious consumers who just need temporary term life insurance.

In summary, Northwestern Mutual comes out ahead for financial planning and products. Primerica works for inexpensive term life insurance only.

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