WASHINGTON–Theodore A. Mathas and John Walters see some good happening for the life insurance business and its customers amid the wake of the economic crisis.
The two insurance leaders spelled out some of those things here during a wide-ranging opening session of the annual life insurance conference cosponsored by LIMRA, LOMA, Society of Actuaries, and ACLI.
Mathas is president of New York Life Insurance Company, New York, and Walters is president of Hartford Life Inc., Hartford, Conn.
This is an opportune time for life insurance companies and agents to help formulate the consumer psyche, said Mathas in his opening remarks.
There is no question that “people feel less power in their lives, less secure in their lives.” he said. “They are frustrated and angry at government, large corporations, and at so-called Wall Street.”
But he also said “there is opportunity here.”
This is the opportunity to foster a growing sense of accountability among customers, to remind people that “they have individual responsibility to do something on their own” about their financial and retirement security, Mathas said.
“You can’t wait to save for retirement when you’re about in retirement,” he observed.
He said that “everybody is starting to understand that the idea of taking on increasing levels of debt has to end at some point of time.”
This is leading to a return among consumers of prudence and responsibility, Mathas said.
The industry is also in a period of “great uncertainty,” he continued. But the life insurance industry “is about, and can be about, security and guarantees,” he said, “so that’s what we should be talking about.”
That’s important because “when people feel uncertain, you can’t predict the future, but you can provide stability and clarity with a sound financial plan and with the backing of a strong company providing guarantees,” he said.