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Two Insurers Give Back

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While some consumers (and advisors) are not overly fond of major corporations and some question the ethics of big insurers in light of the 2008-2009 markets and financial crisis, two major life insurance companies recently announced philanthropic initiatives that belies suspicions that being big means being insensitive to the needs of others.

On January 27, Sun Life Financial said it will award more than $1 million this year in grants, scholarships, and other resources to at-risk high school students who are committed to furthering their education and the 501(c) (3) nonprofit organizations that work on behalf of such students. The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program was inspired, Sun Life Financial says, by findings from a study it conducted which revealed that while 89% of parents expect their children will go to college, only 50% have actually spent any time researching college costs. The study also showed that 32% of parents believe their children will receive a scholarship to help offset college costs, though only 25% of college costs are covered by scholarships and grants. For more information on the program, and to apply for grants, visit

Separately, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. said that working with its agents across the country, MassMutual donated more than $150,000 in 2009 to breast cancer awareness causes, topping $500,000 in total contributions since 2005, as part of a nationwide effort to educate and advocate for financial preparedness among women.

During 2009, MassMutual sponsored a range of educational and awareness programs, including a seminar series, called Pearls of Wisdom, that teaches women about the importance of planning for their financial future and, in particular, for unexpected life events such as breast cancer. The company said its contributions were made on both a local and national level, with more than 40 MassMutual agencies in 28 states sponsoring the Pearls of Wisdom seminars during October 2009, which was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For each qualifying seminar, MassMutual made a $1,000 contribution, resulting in a total of $83,000 being donated to local charities focused on cancer research, prevention, or treatment.