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In case you missed them: Good-to-know news items from the life/health world

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In any given week, there’s a lot more going on in the life and health insurance world than you might think. The past week was a great example of this, when several interesting press releases caught my eye.

As I found them interesting, I thought you might as well, and I think the stories in the following bullet points are all worthy of some extra attention. Please read on, and make sure you cast your vote for LIFE Foundation cause listed below; it’s particularly close to our heart at LifeHealthPro.

8 in 10 consumers fail basic health insurance quiz

Recently, LIMRA asked more than 2,000 Americans a series of 10 true/false questions to gauge their understanding and basic knowledge of health insurance. The results were grim:

  • Nearly 8 in 10 consumers failed the test — answering five or fewer questions correctly.
  • Only 1 in 10 consumers correctly answered at least seven questions.
  • Uninsured consumers, on average, answered less than 3 in 10 questions correctly.

“Overall, Americans expressed a great deal of confusion about how health insurance plans work,” said Anita Potter, assistant vice president, LIMRA Group Insurance Research. “Not surprisingly, insured Americans had a better understanding of health insurance than those uninsured — but not by a large margin.”

LIMRA found consumers with low levels of health insurance knowledge more likely to be younger, less affluent, less educated, more likely to be a student, unemployed or uninsured. Many showed a tremendous lack of knowledge about plan features, the costs involved, and how various types of plans work.

The study found that few consumers (14 percent) understand how the public health exchanges, established by PPACA, will work. For uninsured consumers — who are most likely to use these exchanges — less than 1 in 10 know what types of plans will be available.

No one surveyed answered all 10 questions correctly. (Take the quiz and compare your knowledge.)

Consumers didn’t do much better with life insurance questions. Earlier this year, LIMRA released a similar study, where 70 percent of respondents failed a basic life insurance quiz.

Next page: AARP/New York Life deal; Advisors Excel expansion AARP re-ups with New York Life

New York Life announced July 11 that AARP has extended its agreement through 2022 for New York Life to serve as the exclusive provider of life insurance products to AARP’s 37 million members. New York Life has provided AARP members with life insurance for nearly two decades and is also the endorsed provider of lifetime income annuities to AARP members, under a contract begun in 2006.

More than two million AARP members are currently enrolled in the life insurance program.

Advisors Excel

Advisors Excel co-founders (from left) Cody Foster, David Callanan and Derek Thompson. (PRNewsFoto/Advisors Excel)

Advisors Excel growth leads to fourth move in eight years

In the company’s fourth move in just eight years, Advisors Excel, a national insurance and financial services marketing organization headquartered in Topeka, Kan., moved into its new home office on July 12, setting the stage to hire up to 150 new employees over the next five years.

The move will give the company room for expanded growth, offering more than 78,000 square feet, with approximately 65,000 square feet being occupied upon the initial move-in. Advisors Excel works with independent insurance producers and financial advisors across the country, and company officials say the ability to add capacity through the more spacious headquarters will allow the company to improve and add services for clients.

Next page: Watch and vote in LIFE’s scholarship contest Your vote counts in LIFE scholarship contest

Voting is underway for a nationwide college scholarship contest organized by the nonprofit LIFE Foundation for young adults faced with paying for a college degree after the death of a parent who had no life insurance. The LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program serves as a call to action to American families to protect the ones they love and include life insurance in their financial plans.

Voters will determine the winner of the scholarship contest. The two student finalists featured in the vote are among 24 students receiving scholarships in 2013 as part of LIFE’s LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program. The finalists have both already won awards of $7,500 for their touching video essays, which illustrate their personal struggles and perseverance after the loss of a parent and without the benefit of life insurance. Voters can view the videos and choose which student will win an additional $7,500, totaling $15,000 in scholarship funds.

Voting is open until July 31 on the LIFE Foundation Facebook page and can be accessed at Individuals wishing to cast a vote can do so once every 24 hours.

The students featured in the vote are:

  • Thea Jaucian, Long Beach, Calif. — When Thea was a senior in high school, her stepfather had a stroke and fell into a coma for two years. Thea made the difficult choice to delay her college plans after graduation in order to work two jobs to help support her family. When her stepfather passed away, Thea and her mother struggled to keep up with mounting bills and were forced to leave their home. Thea, now 20, has worked hard to continue to pursue her stepfather’s dream for her to graduate college. She is currently a sophomore and, with the help of scholarships and financial aid, hopes to achieve her goal.
  • Breann Loveless, Provo, Utah — As a 17-year-old high school graduate with a college acceptance letter, Breann should feel like she is about to embark on the best years of her life. Since both of her parents passed away three days apart without substantial life insurance coverage, she may be forced to put her dreams on hold. Breann and her siblings have had to move to less expensive housing, take on extra jobs, and rely on the help of relatives and friends to make ends meet. Breann is in need of a scholarship to alleviate the rising costs of a college education.

“When a parent dies without adequate life insurance, their children’s dreams of attending college are often the first to have to be put on hold. Thea and Breann are living examples of the financial struggles loved ones face when the people providing for them do not financially plan for the unexpected,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation. “We want to encourage people to support them with their vote and, in hearing their stories, think about the importance of including life insurance in their own financial plans.”

Next page: Knights of Columbus milestone Praise for the Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus insurance program passed a major milestone when total insurance in force exceeded $90 billion in June. The amount of life insurance in force has more than doubled from $40 billion since Supreme Knight Carl Anderson became CEO in 2000.

Established in 1882 as a Catholic fraternal benefit society, the K of C has worked to enable members to protect their families’ financial futures from the very beginning. What began as a “pass-the-hat” benefit program has grown into one of the nation’s premier insurers, offering a diverse portfolio of permanent and term life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, and long-term care programs to members and their immediate families.

The Knights of Columbus has more than $19.8 billion in assets under management and ranks among the Fortune 1000 list of America’s largest companies. Every year since 1975, the K of C has earned the top rating of A++ (Superior) from A.M. Best. There is no insurer in North America with a higher rating.

As a fraternal benefit society, the Knights of Columbus uses much of the proceeds from its insurance program to directly fund charitable projects and to provide support for the charitable work of its approximately 15,000 local councils. One of the most active charitable groups in the United States, Knights of Columbus members last year set records, despite the weak economy, by providing nearly 70 million hours of charitable service and more than $167 million in donations to charitable causes. During the past decade, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than $1.44 billion to charity and provided nearly 673 million hours of volunteer service in support of charitable initiatives.

Next page: Fitch: U.S. life insurance ratings stable U.S. life insurance sector ratings stable

Rating stability for the U.S. life insurance industry reflects the sector’s strong balance sheet fundamentals and improved liquidity profile, according to Fitch Ratings’ new U.S. Life Insurance Sector Update report.

These factors help mitigate ongoing concerns over challenging macroeconomic conditions pressuring industry operating fundamentals. The large majority of Fitch rating actions taken on its North American insurance portfolio in 2012 and into 2013 were affirmations with Stable Outlooks.

Fitch’s key rating concerns include uncertainty over macroeconomic conditions due to ongoing turmoil in Europe, sustained low interest rates and overall weak economic recovery both in the United States and abroad. Fitch expects sustained low interest rates over the next two years to negatively affect earnings growth rates, but they will not have a material effect on industry capital.

If interest rates remain low much beyond 2014, Fitch’s life insurer rating outlook would likely turn negative. The full U.S. Life Insurance Sector Update is available at The report provides full financial data and credit commentary for all of the issuers in Fitch’s North American insurance portfolio.

For more from Brian Anderson, see:

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