1Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, Mass., has announced it has approved the payment of approximately $1.35 billion in dividends to eligible participating policyholders in 2009. The total approved payout for 2009 reflects a dividend interest rate of 7.60% on new eligible participating life insurance policies1.

“MassMutual remains strategically committed to providing our policyholders with high value products and services, and this includes providing strong dividends to our eligible participating policyholders, even during these uncertain and turbulent economic times,” said Stuart H. Reese, chairman, president and CEO, MassMutual. “Our approved 2009 dividend payout reflects MassMutual’s commitment to help provide financial stability and security to our policyholders, and demonstrates the company’s continued strong financial position.”

As a mutual company, MassMutual is owned by its policyholders, meaning they share in the ownership of the company. Given this commitment to provide long-term value to its policyholders, the company has a strong track record of paying dividends to eligible participating policyholders. MassMutual has consistently paid dividends since the 1860s.

“To borrow from the company’s brand position, we view our dividend payout as the result of a ‘good decision’ by our participating policyholders in choosing to do business with MassMutual,” said William F. Glavin Jr., co-chief operating officer of MassMutual and executive vice president of the company’s U.S. Insurance Group.

Customers who purchase participating products from MassMutual receive an equitable share of a portion of the company’s divisible surplus in the form of dividends as approved by MassMutual’s Board of Directors each year. The dividends, which are not guaranteed, come primarily from three sources: investment results, mortality savings and savings on expenses. Dividends for a given policy are influenced by such factors as policy series, issue age, policy duration, policy loan rate and changes in mortality experience. The majority of MassMutual’s dividends are paid to those who have purchased whole life insurance.

“With a guaranteed death benefit and cash value that grows over the life of the policy, whole life insurance provides valuable benefits as individual needs evolve over time,” said Glavin. “Whole life insurance offers living benefits that provide flexibility and security, two attributes that people highly value as they seek to make good decisions about their financial future.”

Policyholders can use dividends from participating products such as whole life for a wide variety of purposes. Options include receiving dividends in cash, or using them to reduce premiums, purchase additional insurance coverage, accumulate at interest in the policy, or repay policy loans and policy loan interest.