As evidenced by the positive sales results of universal life insurance recently published in National Underwriter, the product is undergoing a renaissance.
Everything, of course, is subject to change, and smart companies are the ones with enough diversity in their product portfolios, between fixed and variable designs, to take advantage of these popularity fluctuations.
In compiling the latest numbers for the first edition of Full Disclosure on universal life for the year 2002, we have been watching the proliferation of products within company portfolios as well as the increasing flexibility offered within a single product design.
We probably have more differentiation in the universal life market at this point than in any other since UL hit the scene in 1979. The ones poised for success are those with UL plans (or any other type) designed for particular purposes, and the communication skills to effectively position the product regardless of the distribution channel(s) they use.
Whether the goal is generating accumulation values (short or long-term), maximum death benefit for a low premium outlay, providing guarantees for life, or generating retirement incomes, companies with an arsenal of alternatives for the producer are the ones that will, in a “Darwinistic” sense, excel.
Twice a year, the editors of the Full Disclosure policy analysis software series collect universal life data from the leading insurers serving upper markets. And while this report features a record number of UL plans, you will notice that some companies usually featured in Full Disclosure are not present. Companies such as Transamerica and Sun Life were in the process of introducing new policies, while others, including New England Financial, pulled older designs without an immediate replacement. Companies new to our universal life list include the MONY Group and Equitable.