Digital Insurance, Atlanta, Ga., has acquired Strategic Employee Benefits Services (SEBS) of the Midwest. The firm now operates under the banner of Digital Benefit Advisors (DBA), a division of Digital Insurance. Dean Haage, RHU, principal, and key staff members of SEBS of the Midwest have joined DBA and will continue to provide service to all clients.

Through the merger, employers will have access to a broader variety of carriers, tools, proprietary products and the ability to effectively navigate the complexities of health care reform. 

Dean Haage established SEBS of the Midwest about a decade ago. The firm serves some 250 small- and mid-sized employers and has connections to the financial planning community, partnering with numerous representatives to provide employee benefits support to their clients. 

In other industry news:

LIMRA has hired Paul DeSimone, as head of its compliance and regulatory services group, effective May 1, 2012.

In this new role, DeSimone oversees the management of LIMRA’s compliance products as well as the Regulatory Services Strategy Center, which was established in 2011 to assess global trends, regulations and issues that impact financial services companies and to drive industry thought leadership. In addition, DeSimone will be responsible for developing business growth strategies and innovative product development.

DeSimone has a long-standing history with LIMRA. He has been a regular member and vice chair of LIMRA’s Broker/Dealer Services Committee for 15 years. DeSimone is president and chief compliance officer of an SEC-registered broker/dealer and principal of a private equity firm. His career background encompasses financial services product development and distribution leadership roles in a variety of positions at LIMRA member companies, including: New England Financial, American Skandia, MassMutual and Prudential Financial.

 

Rob O'BryantThe Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, Horsham, Pa., has appointed Rob O’Bryant to sales manager of the Navigon Financial Group Inc. in Laurens, S.C.

Active in the industry, O’Bryant holds his FINRA Series 7, 24, 26, 65, and 63, and life and health insurance licenses.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Government from Wofford College. As a military veteran, he served as a Captain in the Marines and received the Navy Commendation Medal for service during Desert Shield/Storm.

 

American United Life Insurance Company, Indianapolis, Ind., has appointed Greg Kempton of One Team Financial Group LLC in Tampa, Fla. as general agent. Under Kempton’s leadership, the life insurance and financial services agency, which was formerly known as American Financial Group of Florida, will continue to offer the products and services of the OneAmerica companies, as well as financial guidance and support to clients in and around Tampa. Kempton has been with the OneAmerica companies since 2003 and has served as American Financial Group of Florida’s associate general agent under Richard Kaloust, who passed away in January 2012. Before joining OneAmerica, Kempton was a successful producer with New England Financial. Throughout his tenure, he has qualified at Million Dollar Round Table levels more than 20 times, was OneAmerica’s No. 1 life insurance producer in 2009 and has been a OneAmerica Chairman’s Council producer five times, meaning he ranked among the top 12 producers in terms of sales.

American General, Evansville, Ind., has released a new suite of tools custom-designed to help existing and prospective clients to capitalize on the federal gift tax exemption set to expire Dec. 31, 2012.

The consumer tools include a highly interactive, Web-based, 2012 gifting brochure and a reader-friendly printed brochure. The comprehensive, producer materials include an online playbook and a detailed white paper. All have been created to inform high-net-worth individuals and families about how much they can save in gift and estate taxes by giving large gifts this year. The unique estate planning opportunity in 2012 stems from an unusual intersection of circumstances. The federal gift tax exemption (the amount that can be given away without owing any federal gift tax) is the highest it has ever been: $5,120,000, while the top gift tax rate, on amounts above the exemption, is the lowest it has been since 1931: 35%. However, in 2013—if Congress decides not to act—the exemption will drop to $1,000,000 and the top tax rate will rise to 55%.

“This year may be the only time one can pass on so much to whomever they wish and pay so little or even nothing to the federal government,” said John Deremo, executive vice president and chief distribution officer, American General.

Gifting can be beneficial as part of an estate plan because the gift—and the growth on the gifted assets—is outside of the donor’s estate at the time estate taxes must be paid. This means more to heirs and less to the government.

 

Hallmark Insurance has selected IVANS Inc., Tampa, Fla., to help them automate communication with its agents. Using IVANS Transformation Xpress  software and services and IVANS ECS Services, Hallmark will be able to ensure accurate and consistent policyholder data is sent down to its agencies’ management systems on a daily basis and that agents are able to respond to customer inquiries with accurate information at all times.

IVANS Transformation Xpress synchronizes policy information on the carrier system with the agency’s system to ensure both are up-to-date. IVANS ECS is a single-point industry solution for one-to-many download communications relieving Hallmark of the support overhead. Using ACORD standards and integrated with 41 agency management systems, IVANS agency-company interface solution will help agents save time and improve operational efficiencies.