Policyowner Dividends

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Strong operating fundamentals, including careful underwriting and prudent investing, enables us to share the company’s success with you through annual dividends.


Dividends can be used to increase policy values or offset premiums. Some policyowners even take them in cash. 1

This short video highlights why Northwestern Mutual’s industry-leading dividend payouts add flexibility and value to any financial plan.

Though our dividend payouts aren’t guaranteed, we’re proud of our consistent record: We’ve made a dividend payout every year since 1872. In fact, we’ve paid more than $48 billion in dividends in the past 10 years alone.

Dividend Payout

  • Expected total dividend payout: $5.2 billion
  • Expected amount of total dividend payout on traditional permanent life insurance: $4.5 billion (about 85 percent)
  • In 2017, we expect to once again lead the industry in total life insurance and disability income insurance dividends.

Expected Payouts On Other Products

  • Disability income insurance: $360 million record payout
  • Term life insurance: $165 million record payout
  • Variable life insurance: $110 million
  • Annuities: $60 million record payout

Our total life insurance dividend payout is expected to be double our nearest competitor, and our total disability income insurance dividend payout is expected to be more than 10 times larger.

What sets Northwestern Mutual apart? Years of high policy retention among clients, low expenses, favorable claims experience and sound long-term investing.

In 2017, we expect to once again lead the industry in total life insurance and disability income insurance dividends.

Dividends Over Time in billions

Dividend Scale Graphic

Three separate components support Northwestern Mutual’s traditional permanent life insurance dividends: mortality, expenses and interest. The dividend scale interest rate, or DSIR, shown here only reflects the interest component. It does not reflect the mortality and expense components — the other approximately two-thirds of our dividend payout.


  1. IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT DETERMINING DIVIDENDS
    In regard to Northwestern Mutual’s dividend payout and dividend scale interest rate (DSIR), comments in this document pertain generally to life insurance policy dividends.

    The company’s DSIR for unborrowed funds for most traditional permanent life insurance policies reflects the investment performance of the applicable managed assets net of taxes and any contribution to surplus. This rate is used for the determination of the interest component of a policy’s dividend. The rate is applied to unborrowed funds for most traditional permanent life insurance policies after mortality and expense charges have been deducted from policy values. Depending on the terms of a particular policy, a different rate may be applied. For example, either a different rate is credited on borrowed funds to reflect individual policy loan activity, or all funds, both borrowed and unborrowed, are credited with a single rate that reflects the average level of borrowing for all similar policies.

    The DSIR is not the rate of return on a policy and is only one factor for determining the life insurance dividend. The majority of our life insurance dividend payment is a result of our industry-leading persistency, favorable mortality costs and diligent expense management. Decisions with respect to the determination and allocation of divisible surplus are left to the discretion and sound business judgment of the company’s Board of Trustees. There is no guaranteed specific method or formula for the determination and allocation of divisible surplus. Accordingly, the company’s approach is subject to change. Neither the existence nor the amount of a dividend is guaranteed on any policy in any given policy year. Some policies may not receive any dividends in a particular year or years even while other policies receive dividends.

    In its 2017 dividend scale resolution, the Board of Trustees has exercised its discretion to guarantee a minimum amount of dividends to be paid in 2017 to the policyholders as a group. If this guaranteed amount exceeds the aggregate amount of dividends actually paid to individual policyholders in 2017, that excess will be paid out in 2018 pursuant to the 2017 dividend scale resolution. The presence of a guaranteed minimum amount in the 2017 dividend scale resolution does not obligate Northwestern Mutual to declare a dividend in future years or to guarantee any portion of dividends that may be declared in future years.

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Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries. Life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits are issued by The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM). Long-term care insurance is issued by Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI, (NLTC) a subsidiary of NM. Securities are offered through Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, (NMIS) a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC. Fiduciary and fee-based financial planning services are offered through Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC), Milwaukee, WI, a subsidiary of NM and a federal savings bank. Products and services referenced are offered and sold only by appropriately appointed and licensed entities and financial professionals. Not all products and services are available in all states.