Northwestern Mutual

time icon 7 min read update icon Sept. 20, 2019
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Northwestern Mutual is a solid financial company that offers a basic long-term care insurance product.

When you think about retirement, you might just want to think about the fun things you want to do. But whether you want to admit it or not, there will also be hard times, and difficult decisions to make. If you have an aging parent or parents, you no doubt are aware of the financial and emotional stress that comes with making sure they are taken care of. It is better to face the future head on and make arrangements for the possibilities that may arise. It’s difficult to imagine what could be ahead, but having some financial resources set aside instead of using your nest egg is a good idea. 

Long-term care insurance can help you or your family pay for non-medical care needed for you or an aging spouse. Northwestern Mutual offers a long-term care insurance option that could be what you need to breathe easier as you move toward retirement.

Grandfolk Scoring
Cost 10/10
Ease 7/10
Coverage 8/10
Optional benefits 8/10
Limits to coverage 8/10
Years of coverage 4/10
Waiting period 8/10
Customer support 6/10
Accessing benefits 8/10
What is the monthly fee?
Cost is based on your age and health
Is it easy to enroll?
Must be completed through a licensed Northwestern Mutual agent
What does the policy cover?
Care for those who struggle with least two daily activities
Optional benefits
Are additional benefits available?
Survivorship benefit option,non-forfeiture benefits, and more
Limits to coverage
Are there any limits to coverage?
Benefits range between $1,500-$12,000/month
Years of coverage
How many years can be covered?
Either three or six years
Waiting period
Is there a waiting period?
90 days or 120 days
Customer support
How easy is it to reach the company?
You can email, call or speak with a licensed agent
Accessing benefits
How do I access coverage?
A medical professional will determine this
Age Score:
50-64 Years
65-74 Years
75-84 Years

Having a long-term care insurance policy is a good idea for a senior of any age. Younger seniors who do not have any health or physical issues will find that this is the best time to purchase a policy, if you don’t already have one. The cost of a policy will be lower if you sign up when you are well and younger. 

Statistics indicate that if you live to be 65, there is a 70% chance you will eventually need some kind of long-term care.That is a pretty staggering statistic. Given the numbers, it is best to enroll early. As you age and you find your mobility decreasing or your cognitive abilities starting to fail,your need for some care or support will increase.

Costs for these services can be expensive. Having a long-term care insurance policy to cover these costs will help you avoid having to use assets and investments to pay for them.

Health Score:
Great Health
Good Health
Fair Health
Poor Health

Unless you have had serious health issues in mid-life, you should be relatively healthy as you move into your senior years. It is at this point that you should be considering a long-term care policy. When you are in great or good health, your premiums will be much lower than if you wait until your health begins to fail. The value of such a policy cannot be understated for a senior in fair and even in poor health. 

If you are able to stay at home, costs for in-home assistance are more reasonable than those for a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, these can still add up to a large amount of money. Having a policy to rely on will help you rest easy knowing that your assets and your family’s assets are safe. And, having a policy available will help you get care more quickly.


  • Northwestern Mutual is owned by its policyholders, not stockholders.
  • Historically, the company has paid dividends to policyholders.
  • The underwriters for Northwestern Mutual tend to be more liberal compared to other companies that offer long-term care insurance.
  • The company has a history of being vigilant in controlling expenses and being prudent with its investments.
  • Policies through Northwestern Mutual offer tax benefits.


  • Northwestern Mutual has very little information about its policies online.
  • The company offers no preferred health discounts, unlike other companies.
  • Premiums are higher than those of many competitors. 
  • Although the company has a history of not asking for rate increases, it has recently done so.
  • The company recently switched to a gender-based pricing model, which charges women twice as much as men.
  • The elimination period is based on days of services performed, as opposed to calendar days.

Bottom Line:

Northwestern Mutual offers a basic long-term care insurance policy without a lot of bells and whistles. The policies cover the necessary items, such as assisted living, nursing home care, hospice care, adult day care centers and home health care (which is covered at 100%). In addition, Northwestern Mutual is a well-regarded company that has been in business for over 100 years. 

A.M. Best gives Northwest Mutual an A++ rating, as it has demonstrated superior overall performance and meets its obligations to policyholders on a consistent basis. The company does include automatic inflation protection at three, four or five percent, which increases the value of the policy over time. This is a very good starting point. However, the company does not offer preferred health discounts, which is not an advantage for younger, healthier people purchasing policies. 

In addition, the elimination period is based on days of actual service. That means that in order to fulfill a 90-day elimination period, the policy holder must pay for services that are provided, which may not be on a daily basis. It could take much longer than 90 days to fulfill the elimination period. Furthermore, the company only offers policies for three or six years. This gives very little flexibility to those trying to buy a policy. 

The company has strong financial footing, but the long-term care insurance is not its most popular product. You can certainly rely on the company, but you will have very little flexibility on options.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What elimination periods are offered? 

Northwestern Mutual has limited options on this score. It offers either 90 or 120 days. The number of days are actual days of service. Therefore, if you have home care three days per week, it will take a very long time to fulfill the requirement.

Please explain the optional benefits that are available. 

A survivorship benefit removes the premium requirement if one spouse dies. The company also offers a non-forfeiture benefit, which would allow you to stop making premium payments at some point in the future. This would keep the policy in place equal to the premiums you have paid.

What happens if I need to cancel the policy? 

If you decide you do not want the policy, you can stop making premium payments. However, any premiums you have paid already will be lost.

More Information:

Product Details

Overview: Northwestern Mutual provides coverage for long-term care should you need it. Its policies cover non-medical care either at home or in a facility or nursing home. 

Package Details: Policies can be tailored to each individual’s needs. Your agent can help you evaluate the possible costs of long-term care in your area. The cost will also be based on your age and health status when you enroll. Using this information, a daily care amount will be recommended. This figure, along with the number of years of coverage you desire, will provide the total benefit amount. It is advisable that you choose inflation protection, so the value of your policy will stay in step with costs.

Other Services: Retirement planning, asset income protection, education planning, estate planning, and investment advice. 

Additional Company Details

Contract Details: A contract with Northwestern Mutual will be for a specific benefit amount. This amount is calculated based on a per day rate, and the number of years of coverage requested by the policy owner. 

Warranty:  Most states require insurance companies to give you at least 30 days to examine a policy. If you decide you don’t want the policy, you should receive a full refund. Be sure to check with your state for details.

Accreditations: Northwestern Mutual is sold through agents around the country, so each office will have its own rating with the BBB. The main office in Wisconsin has an A+ rating, but is not accredited. The four main industry rating organizations have rated Northwestern Mutual highest or second-highest over the past few years. 

Company Details: Northwestern Mutual was founded in 1857 as the Mutual Life Insurance Company of the State of Wisconsin. For most of its history, the company offered life insurance. In the 1960s the company began offering disability income insurance, and then a few years later,it began to sell retirement annuities. In the 1990s, the company began offering long-term care insurance. 

Currently, Northwestern is one of the largest providers of long-term care insurance. The company consistently receives high ratings from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company has approximately 138,000 policies in force. The company tries to do the right thing for its customers, even retroactively. In 2002, the company gave all of its policies, including those in force, the ability to declare dividends. It has made other changes to its policy benefits over the past 15 years, to build and enhance its products and to develop long-term relationships with clients. 


Northwestern Mutual
720 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Tel: 800-388-8123

Donna McDurfee - Senior Advisor

Donna is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.