Ill admit it, I love statistics and Im nuts for rankings.
This has been true ever since I was a kid. Once I discovered an almanac I was in the equivalent of pre-teen heaven. My very favorite stats always have been population-related tables. And of these, rankings of the biggest cities in the world are right up there at the very top.
But lets not forget those stats that show population projections as well as past totals. I dont know about you, but I am riveted to learn that the population of Nigeria, for instance, which was 127 million in 2001, is projected to increase to 203 million in 2025 and then to a whopping 337 million in 2050.
This lifelong fascination with statistics and rankings made me feel quite at home in the insurance business when I arrived at National Underwriter some 24 years ago. For years the magazine had been publishing an annual statistical report on life and health insurers that ranked such categories as premiums, assets, in-force, etc.
Back in those days, the tables were compiled manually (this was before the age of computers) from forms that companies submitted annually. Someone in our Cincinnati office did this every year and it was a labor of love. But it wasnt quite the foolproof system you need in such an endeavor. I remember one year going over the list before publication and finding that a major company was missing. When I inquired about its absence I was told the company hadnt responded to NUs request for information (and so was left out). Needless to say, we did get the company in.
Things have changed a lot since then (thank goodness!) and computers have made gathering data relatively painless.
Since becoming editor I have brought several significant statistical features to the magazine. So, for years we have had the benefit of: Fred Townsends quarterly surplus reports as well as others from the former Townsend & Schupp; Rick Careys quarterly VARDS reports that rank the top variable annuity companies and contracts; Tillinghasts quarterly VALUE survey on variable life sales.
More recently weve featured Full Disclosure reports from Blease Research on several different life insurance products. And lets not forget the innumerable statistical reports from our friends at LIMRA International.
All of these, I believe, provide valuable information for readers in an industry that is unusually statistics-hungry.