NAIFA, College for Financial Planning unveil curriculum for new LUTCF designation program

The College for Financial Planning (CFFP) and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) have joined forces to create an enhanced, dynamic and interactive curriculum for the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation. The program is designed for insurance professionals looking to expand their practice, insurance support staff and financial advisors seeking a broader understanding of the insurance industry.

At the helm of the new program is David Mannaioni, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CFP®, a CFFP associate professor with 30 years of experience working for large, national insurance companies and managing his own financial planning practice. The program will use the MyChoice platform, CFFP’s state-of-the-art virtual classroom. Students may also choose to attend a ground-based classroom version of the program hosted in their local area and moderated by adjunct professors.

Accenture named leader of policy administration deals in new Celent Research Report

Accenture (NYSE:ACN) was named the leader of policy administration deals for its Accenture Life Insurance Platform (ALIP) solution in Celent’s annual report: “North American Insurance Software Deal Trends, 2014 Life/Annuity/Health Edition.” The report analyzes deal data provided by software vendors active in insurance in North America.

In addition to being ranked as the leader in policy administration deals for Life/Annuity/Health providers in North America, Accenture has moved from 10th position to seventh in general distribution deals since 2012, and its industry deal volume increased by 47 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to Celent. The report breaks down deal activity by carrier size and type of deal in four broad meta-categories: core processing, distribution, infrastructure and financial and document/content management, as well as several subcategories.

American Equity expands contract owner offerings

American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company, an underwriter of index and fixed rate annuities, announced two new enhancements affecting crediting methods and lifetime income benefit payouts. Volatility Control Index is American Equity’s newest crediting method and is available on its top selling index products. It links to the S&P 500® Dividend Aristocrats® Daily Risk Control 5% Index. This method is expected to provide increased stability and control based on the returns of S&P companies with 25 consecutive years of increasing dividends. Unique to this particular method is that it’s a Total Return Index, which includes dividends.

Meanwhile, the Lifetime Guaranteed Income Benefit Rider – Gender-based Payouts makes American Equity the first indexed carrier on the market to offer gender-based payout factors on this type of rider.

Caremerge launches comprehensive online social network dedicated to seniors

Caremerge LLC, a communication and care coordination platform for the senior care industry, launched Community Social, a comprehensive online social network dedicated to helping seniors lead an active and social lifestyle. This easy-to-use web and mobile platform allows residents living in independent and assisted living communities to connect with friends, families and staff on a safe and secure online network.

Some of the features available to seniors on the new Community Social network are: senior can find others in and outside of their community with common interests, create groups, schedule events, track dimensions of wellness, blog about their interests, share pictures and videos, join forums to stay updated on various topics, as well as, find local retail and restaurant deals in and around their community. Residents can also invite family members to join and interact with them on the network, which will provide families with unprecedented access into the lives of their loved ones, to help keep track of their well-being and provide peace of mind.

GIAC adds new investment options to retirement lineup

The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc. (GIAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), announced the addition of 21 new investment options to The Guardian Choice® and The Guardian Advantage® investment option lineups. These enhancements increase the flexibility and breadth of asset classes for plan sponsors using these products to fund their qualified retirement plans.

The additions include offerings from new fund families such as American Funds, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Natixis Funds, OppenheimerFunds and Putnam Investments as well as ones from existing fund families, including Vanguard, MFS, Franklin Templeton Investments and Invesco. With these news funds, The Guardian Choice® now totals 138 funds while The Guardian Advantage® has 111. 

Telesofia Medical to partner with EXUSMED

EXUSMED™, a corporation offering affordable mobile health care solutions for both patients and providers, announced that they have signed a partnership agreement with leading personalized medical video company Telesofia Medical. Telesofia Medical, which operates to improve health literacy and patient engagement by clarifying medical information, will offer innovative and customized patient education videos through EXUSMED’s mobile health care platforms.

Telesofia Medical will be able to offer patients personalized videos on how to take medications, surgical procedure information, discharge instructions and more. EXUSMED’s mobile health care programs, currently in a pilot phase and launching full-scale in the fall of 2014, will initially have more than 300 participating physicians providing care to approximately 10,000 patients throughout Southern California.

Independence Blue Cross Wins a 2014 Digital Accelerator Award

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) won the 2014 Digital Accelerator Award in the Best Data Analytics for Digital Businesscategory. The Digital Accelerator Awards, sponsored by Apigee, is a global awards program recognizing innovative organizations and individuals accelerating and transforming digital business with application programming interfaces (API) and data. Independence chief informatics officer Somesh Nigam accepted the award at the Apigee “I love APIs” conference in San Francisco.

Independence has made considerable strides to unleash the power of big data and predictive analytics to help solve challenging health care problems and to better serve its customers. For example, working with Apigee, Independence applied cutting edge machine learning technology to identify its members who needed proactive outreach to resolve service issues before those members actually called Independence, improving customer satisfaction.

Knights of Columbus surpasses $95 billion of life insurance in force

The Knights of Columbus surpassed $95 billion of life insurance in force in August, marking the latest milestone for the company, which has experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade.

Established in 1882 by a young Catholic priest, the organization — which offers its line of products exclusively to its members and their eligible family members — manages $21 billion in assets and ranks among the largest life insurers in North America.

The Knights offers insurance to its members and their families through a network of 1,500 dedicated, professional agents in the United States and Canada — all of whom are members of the Knights of Columbus. In January, the Knights announced its 13th consecutive year of sales growth for their insurance business, issuing nearly $8.2 billion of business in 2013.

Also, the Knights of Columbus was named a 2014 “World’s Most Ethical Company” in March by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent center for research promoting best practices in corporate ethics and governance. It was one of two companies named in the “life insurance” category and one of fewer than 150 total companies worldwide to earn this distinction.

NAIFA National Council elects officers, trustees to board

In other news, NAIFA’s representative governing body, the National Council, has elected new officers and trustees at the 2014 NAIFA Career Conference and Annual Meeting, held in San Diego Sept. 6–8.

NAIFA’s new president is Juli Y. McNeely, CFP, CLU, LUTCF, of McNeely Financial Services in Spencer, Wis. Joining McNeely on NAIFA’s Executive Committee are: President-Elect Jules O. Gaudreau, Jr., ChFC, CIC, of The Gaudreau Group, Inc. in Wilbraham, Mass., Secretary Paul R. Dougherty, LUTCF, FSS, of State Farm Insurance Companies in Hyattsville, Md.; and Treasurer Matthew S. Tassey, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, of Principal Financial Group in Portland, Maine.

After serving his one-year term as president, John Nichols, CLU, MSM, of Disability Resource Group, Inc. in Chicago, becomes immediate past president, and will remain a member of NAIFA’s Executive Committee.

Elected to the board for the first time are: David A. Beaty, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, of Heartland Financial Services, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Brock T. Jolly, CFP, CLU, ChFC, CASL, of Capitol Financial Partners, Vienna, Va.; Charles (Chuck) M. Olson, CLU, ChFC, OCI Insurance, Omaha, Neb.; and James J. Van Ham, CFP, CLU, ChFC, Country Insurance and Financial Services, Lisle, Ill.

Remaining on the board as trustees are: Michael O. Brown, LUTCF, MassMutual Financial Group, Oklahoma City.; Thomas M. Cothron, LUTCF, of Southern Farm Bureau Life of Ocala, Fla.; John S. Holmes, III, LUTCF, of New York Life in Knoxville, Tenn.; Jill M. Judd, LUTCF, FSS, of State Farm Insurance Co. in Capitola, Calif.; Michael G. Nash, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, M.G. Nash Financial Solutions, Inc., Sioux City, Iowa; and Gregory T. Toscano, LUTCF, of Johnson Insurance Consultants in Duluth, Minn.

Appointed to a one-year term is R. Michael Condrey, CLU, ChFC, Northwestern Mutual, Raleigh, N.C.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions names Andrew Lake head of accident & health North America

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has named Andrew Lake as senior vice president and head of accident & health North America. He succeeds Jeff Argotsinger who is retiring after 24 years with the company. Lake will be based in Chicago and will lead the accident & health North America underwriting team, which provides employer stop loss and medical expense coverage to corporate and public entities, as well as excess products to managed care organizations in the United States.

Lake has more than 20 years of experience in the health care industry, most recently serving as senior vice president at HCC Life Insurance Company. Prior to that, he held leadership and underwriting roles at Coventry Health Care, Destiny Health, Federated Insurance Company and Rush-Prudential.