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2006 Readers' Choice Awards

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In a first for Senior Market Advisor, we handed the reins over to our readers and asked for your choices in 13 categories. More than 300 of you voted, we tallied those votes and we present the top vote getters here. Allianz dominated the proceedings in the carrier categories. In another trend, several of the product winners and runners-up were combination policies – life insurance combined with long term care insurance, or annuities combined with LTCI. Make of that what you will. We begin opening the envelopes now…

Envelope 1 Which carrier offers an LTCI product with the most value for seniors?

Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America
Allianz begins its run of first-place finishes with our very first category. The company strikes a chord with financial advisors who work with seniors, including the men and women who sell long term care insurance. Allianz, in the long term care industry since 1990, says it “offers long term care products with innovative benefits to help you protect the wealth you have worked hard to accumulate and keep up with the rising costs of health care.”

John Hancock
John Hancock was an early entrant in the long term care insurance industry, for groups and individuals. The company issued its first policy in 1987 and has more than 850,000 long term care insurance policyholders. A combination of built-in benefits and optional riders address the needs of consumers no matter their personal needs, and John Hancock takes pride in the fact its policies cover individuals, couples and families. As LTCI becomes a bigger part of the U.S. health care solution, companies with long track records like John Hancock will be there to help.

Envelope 2 Which LTCI product offers the most value for seniors?

Generation Protector
Touted as long term care insurance that’s more than just nursing home insurance, Generation Protector (and its follow-up products) has been a hit for Allianz since its introduction. The product is meant to keep the consumer in control of where he receives care.

“Generation Protector was created so that consumers can be in complete control of their future long term care, including where they receive it,” says Vincent Vitiello, president and CEO of Allianz Life of N.Y. “Given a choice, most people would elect to remain at home rather than a long term care facility. This new plan gives them that option, as well as extra cash to pay for items not usually covered by a traditional policy, such as prescription drugs.”

Custom Care II
Custom Care II and its various iterations comprise John Hancock’s most comprehensive LTCI policies. The policies – Custom Care II, Custom Care II with Family Care II and Custom Care – entice advisors, and our readers, with benefits that include at-home care, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and adult day care. The Family Care benefit makes the policies multigenerational, covering all life stages. With the coming of the baby boomers, these policies are designed to be customizable.

Envelope 3 Which carrier offers an annuity product with the most value for seniors?

Allianz’s array of annuity products covers the spectrum from straight fixed to indexed to immediate and more, and advisors like the company and its products. Allianz uses an array of bonuses, crediting methods and allocation strategies to keep its annuities attractive to seniors. And with the popularity of indexed products high, Allianz has been busy introducing products that link to an index but still protect against risk.

AmerUs Group
AmerUs Group is more than 110 years old, and its AmerUs Annuity Group is a top dog in the fixed indexed annuity arena, with more than 290,000 annuity customers. Traditional fixed and fixed index annuities give advisors who work with AmerUs the opportunity to grow their clients’ retirement nest egg while protecting it from risk. While the company was popular enough with senior advisors to earn the runner-up position in this category, its products canceled each other out in the next.

Envelope 4 Which annuity product offers the best value for seniors?

For the eighth quarter in a row, MasterDex sat atop the fixed annuity sales heap, according to the latest industry sales figures from Beacon Research. This fixed indexed product caters to seniors who look for safety and the possibility for growth, and advisors clearly like it, too.

The MasterDex series now includes the original, MasterDex 5 and MasterDex 10, all of which provide certain upside guarantees and protect against risk with various crediting features. MasterDex 10 even allows customers to earn a 10 percent bonus on premium received for five years.

Annuity Care
Golden Rule’s Annuity Care policy allows policyholders to leverage funds to cover long term care expenses, a common worry among today’s seniors and older boomers. Annuity Care has an LTC rider that kicks in after LTC expenses are paid for three years by drawing down the annuity, and the rider can be purchased for 36-month coverage or lifetime. Golden Rule is known for it work with health savings accounts, but its life insurance/LTCI policies and annuity/LTCI policies are helping seniors plan for the future.

Envelope 5 Which carrier offers a life insurance product with the most value for seniors?

When the subject of life insurance comes up, most people tend to think of it as a way to protect their families when they are still working and earning an income, but life insurance is far more than that. The Allianz Web site says its products – universal life, single-premium life, term life and fixed index universal life – can protect against a wage earner dying too soon, but can also provide for distribution of retirement income you may not outlive.

Life insurance also is a popular tool for offsetting the tax bill that comes due when tax-deferred annuities are passed on to heirs. Allianz’s line of GenDex products is used for these purposes and more.

AIG American General
The companies of AIG have been around for almost a century, and that has put the company near the top when it comes to life insurance sales in the United States. Its products run the gamut from term to universal to whole to variable universal, with various policies under each of those categories. With net income of $6.39 billion for the first six months of 2006, the company is keeping its products relevant to the needs of 21st-century seniors, and advisors are recognizing that, giving the company the runner-up nod.

Envelope 6 Which life insurance product offers the most value for seniors?

Allianz’s line of GenDex products was already popular with advisors, but the company didn’t stop. The company introduced GenDex Survivorship earlier this year, a product that helps seniors plan for the future.

“GenDex Survivorship was designed to help consumers maximize the assets they leave behind and minimize the taxable impact,” says Jeffrey Suyematsu, senior vice president for the Life Insurance Product Division for Allianz. “[It] is really about helping to provide the resources to continue a business, cover estate taxes and provide financial resources for an heir.”

Offered by Lincoln Financial, the MoneyGuard series is another example of products for seniors that offer a long term care component. With MoneyGuard, a single-life, single-premium product, LTC expenses are covered, but if LTC is never needed, MoneyGuard pays a death benefit. The original MoneyGuard product has been expanded to include MoneyGuard Flex and MoneyGuard Reserve.

Envelope 7 Which marketing organization offers the best selling system?

Personalized Brokerage Services
Since 1986, PBS has offered advisors sales advice and help in the annuity arena. Now, through its 150 professionals, the company offers advisors industry training to sell more annuities, life insurance and long term care insurance. The Masters Academy training course gets a lot of the credit for PBS advisors’ success. And it must work, as our readers voted PBS to the top in this category.

Life Sales
The success of any advisor in this industry rests on the wide shoulders of his selling system, without which he has no prospects to convert to clients. Senior advisors have taken a liking to Life Sales’ selling systems, placing the company in second place in the category. They like the company’s direct mail even better, as you’ll see in the next category.

Envelope 8 Which marketing organization offers the best direct mail?

Life Sales
With the proliferation of do-not-call lists and the minimal returns on Internet-based marketing campaigns, direct mail is experiencing a resurgence – or, to hear some tell it, it’s merely a new appreciation for an old standby. When factors such as cost, quality, copy and distribution are all factored in, Life Sales’ direct mail pieces come out on top. The company took second place in the selling systems category of this competition, too.

Marketing organizations seek to help their advisors excel in every aspect of marketing, and PBS gets its second nod for this category, this time as the runner-up. Direct mail is an important marketing tool, and our readers think PBS does direct mail pretty well.

Envelope 9 Which marketing organization offers the best consumer seminar system?

Emerald Publications
Founded in 1986, Emerald started with one product, The Complete Financial Management Workshop. Now with 26 seminars available to choose from, Emerald does its best to cover as many topics as it can. Several of the seminars concentrate on retirement: retirement investment strategies, retirement income, long term care, income for life and estate conservation to name a few. The company promises one-hour, NASD-approved seminars that quickly engage the audience with color images and sourced scripts. Emerald tries not to forget its mission to provide marketing materials that produce results. Our readers think the company does that.

Following up on its win for selling systems and its runner-up finish for direct mail, PBS again take the runner-up spot for consumer seminars. The company offers turnkey seminar systems covering total wealth management, fixed annuities, life and long term care insurance. Seminars are still a large part of the prospecting process, so finding a good seminar template is important.

Envelope 10 Which education provider offers the best CE courses/programs?

Readers overwhelmingly voted WebCE as the top provider of CE courses and programs. Maybe it’s because of its nationwide availability on the Internet, or maybe it’s because its catalog is more than 100 courses strong, or maybe it’s because the company notifies any relevant state agency of a test taker’s passing grades and course completion. Either way, readers love WebCE, which still offers online and paper-based delivery of course materials to suit each person’s taste for learning. To keep up with trends, WebCE continually updates its courses and adds new ones to its catalog in order to serve its more than 100,000 insurance professionals.

The American College
The American College has been around for nearly 80 years, helping financial advisors enjoy prosperous careers. The College offers an array of designations, certificates and degree programs, all geared to make advisors stewards of people’s money and stalwarts of ethics.

Designations like the ChFC, CLU, CFP, CLAS and more are available through the College and its rigorous courses of study. As a sign of the times, the College offers distance learning programs so advisors can study in their own home and at their own pace, probably one of the reasons our readers voted it to a runner-up finish in this category.

Envelope 11 Which carrier offers the best suite of senior products?

It makes sense that the company voted as the best carrier for LTCI, annuities and life insurance would then win the overall category. Allianz appears in the winner’s circle again for its entire suite of senior-friendly products. With more than 240,000 independent agents, registered reps and financial planners writing with Allianz, the company enjoys a nationwide base through which its products are distributed. The proliferation of senior products the company offers helped it reach almost $14 billion in gross premiums in 2005.

Mutual of Omaha
Remember the old Mutual of Omaha advertising jingle? It went “Mutual of Omaha is people you can count on when the going’s rough.” Generation X members and their baby boomer parents remember that from watching “Wild Kingdom.” Now nearly 100 years old, the company has the products advisors like – from LTCI to annuities to Medicare Part D and more – bringing it a runner-up finish for its suite of senior products.

Envelope 12 Which company’s new products hold the most promise for growth?

The crowd favorite returns to the top spot. Allianz had a busy year on the product front, releasing new fixed index universal life policies in January and March, and a suite of three fixed-index annuities in February. The InfiniDex series includes InfiniDex, InfiniDex 5 and InfiniDex 10, all of which are designed to emphasize safety, growth and choice, according to the company. In addition, Allianz introduced LTCI products in New York and California.

The InfiniDex series joins the already popular MasterDex products that have sat atop fixed annuity sales for two years.

Genworth Financial
Serving the needs of 15 million customers, Genworth is a company that knows paying the costs of long term care could cripple the federal budget. Its own 2006 “cost of care” study found that the average annual cost of a private nursing-home room has risen to almost $71,000. The company is doing what it can to encourage private LTCI and to find ways to make public-private solutions work. Genworth is more than just LTCI, offering life insurance, annuities, investment services and employee benefits with its operations in 24 countries.

Envelope 13 Which product holds the best promise for growth?

GenPro II
A sister product to Generation Protector, GenPro II takes the philosophy of receiving care where you’d most like to receive it – in the home – and expands on it with more flexibility. Elimination periods extend from seven to 365 days, payment options are many and vary from full reimbursement to full cash benefits to a hybrid of the two, and the policy allows consumers to choose a caregiver from somewhere other than a home health care agency. It’s going to take choices to get consumers interested in LTCI, and Allianz is moving in that direction.

Total Living Coverage
New from Genworth this year, Total Living Coverage is a policy that combines universal life insurance coverage with LTCI. TLC covers the insured if he needs long term care, but if he never uses that part of the policy, his beneficiary receives a death benefit, putting to rest the argument that he doesn’t want to pay for LTCI because he may never use it. As tens of millions of baby boomers near retirement, advisors are going to be forced to have the long term care conversation with clients – products that combine life insurance and LTCI can make that conversation easier to start.


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