Photo: Lifehealthpro.com

New York Life Insurance Co., America’s largest mutual life insurer, is continuing its tradition of a strong, increasingly multi-cultural agent sales force propelling the company to record increases in the company’s core life insurance market.

New York Life agents recorded an increase of 18% in sales of recurring premium whole life insurance for the first half of 2012, the company announced on August 21. The increase contributed to the overall rise of 4% in recurring premium life insurance sales through agents.

The story of New York Life is always one that centers on its agent force. New York Life’s recruitment of agents is the best six-month start in agency history, with an increase of 14% over the first half of 2011, the company noted. It hired 1,763 new agents thus far in 2012. The full year 2012 goal for agent recruitment is 3,700.

Much of the agent recruiting is coming from Latino/a, Asian Indian, Chinese and other cultural markets. Of the agent recruitment total in the first half of the year, 44%  were from cultural markets, and 36% were women, according to a New York Life spokesman. In May, New York Life was named one of Working Mother Magazine’s 25 “Best Companies for Multicultural Women.” In order to promote the interests of women of color in corporate America.

Workplace diversity is something we foster because we recognize that harnessing the wealth of talents and perspectives of people from different backgrounds is not only crucial to our success as a company, it’s a part of our culture,” stated Joanne Rodgers, vice president and chief diversity officer, back in the spring.

The country’s largest mutual insurer also recorded double-digit numbers in long-term-care insurance sales, which increased 17% in the first half of 2012 compared with the year-ago first half.

“Our strong insurance sales – and in particular whole life – reflect the consumer’s desire for protection and safety in today’s economic environment, coupled with a desire to speak with a knowledgeable financial professional.  Our agents have become adept at conveying the New York Life value proposition of safety and soundness, delivered by an institution with a 167-year record of fulfilling on our promises,” stated Mark Pfaff, executive vice president in charge of agency for New York Life.

In the industry, all life combination product lines experienced growth in 2011 with universal life combination products becoming the paramount product with a 67% increase in premium year over year. Both whole life and variable combination premium grew 16% and 17%, respectively, according to LIMRA, Windsor Conn., in their 2011 Individual Life Combination Products Annual Review.

The company said that annuity sales are being propelled by income annuity sales. Income annuities increased 11% in the first half compared to the first half in 2011.  

In the industry overall, annuity sales perked up a bit in the second quarter, but purchases of the product were down from last year. Indexed annuities, however, showed the most growth, according to two Q2 reports, one from  LIMRA’s second quarter 2012 U.S. Individual Annuities Sales survey, and the other from a second-quarter report from AnnuitySpecs.com.

Mutual fund sales are being driven by consistent investment performance from the company’s investment boutiques in both income-oriented and capital appreciation funds.