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The 16 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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From its humble beginnings 120 years ago to one of the largest women-led life insurers in the nation, Royal Neighbors of America continued a strong growth trend in 2014 and reports robust financial results for the year, according to a press release. It generated revenue in excess of $134 million; grew its assets by $36 million to $904 million; increased its life insurance in force from $2.8 billion to almost $3 billion; and has a surplus of $209 million, resulting in a surplus to assets ratio of 23 per cent and an industry-leading risk based capital ratio. These results highlight the strength and stability of the organization. In other news about Royal Neighbors of America, Promise Plus is a whole life insurance product with a cancer waiver of premium rider designed to waive premium payments in the event of a diagnosis of three specific types of cancer. If someone 59 years old or younger has this suite of products, and is diagnosed with Stage II or greater breast, cervical, or ovarian cancer, Royal Neighbors will waive life insurance premium payments for two years. Also, if a second type of covered cancer is diagnosed the individual is able to utilize this feature again. In fact, this benefit can be used once for each type of covered cancer.

Laser App Software, a provider of forms automation and management software for the securities and insurance industries, announced that registration for its 2015 Financial Services Conference is now open. This year’s conference will be focused on technology adoption for the broker-dealer community. It will be held August 18-21 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina. The conference is specifically designed to bring financial executives and broker-dealers together to discuss industry topics such as this year’s focus: Teaching BD’s and custodians how to get advisors using the tech they provide. Also this year, Laser App is introducing the Advisor Convention October 7-8 at The Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The Laser App Advisor Convention is designed to help advisors to better access the technology available in the marketplace. For more information and to register, please visit their website here.

The Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) has released the 2015 updated edition of its Advertising Compliance Manual. The manual covers print and electronic media advertising best practices, state advertising filing requirements, and more. It assists in ensuring that advertising copy and marketing materials meet statutory and regulatory requirements. The manual, published in a searchable CD format, is provided to members as a member service but is available for sale to non-members for only $695.For more information, including an index, see the PIMA website.

Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: BNFT) announced new benefits software solutions for consumers, employers, insurance carriers and brokers during the company’s One Place 2015 Conference. The new product announcements centered on the all-new BENEFITFOCUS® Marketplace, a powerful private exchange platform with innovative features, including: an elegant user experience, communications portal, mobile app, advanced administration capabilities, automated billing and payment, data analytics, an integrated wellness solution, voluntary benefits integration and more.

Agent Review provides non-biased guidance for consumers looking for information on insurance products, while offering local insurance agents the opportunity of working with them, according to a press release.  “We believe that even though consumers conduct their research online, ultimately they want to “buy local” from a trusted resource”, said Harley Gordon, co-founder and president. “For the first time, consumers will have the opportunity to work with agents whose credentials have been independently verified.”  Gordon continues, “They will also be able to rate their agent experience to help others make informed decisions.” National reports indicate that 80 percent of consumers looking for information about insurance or agents do so online and that social media influences 93 percent of their decisions. “The market for online insurance search is growing exponentially,” said Jonas Roeser, co-founder and CEO of Agent Review. “In today’s digital world performance reviews, peer ratings and client testimonials can make or break an agent. Surveys indicate, however, that buyers are concerned about the authenticity of online reviews. Agent Review’s platform will provide consumers verified information on both an agent’s credentials and reviews”, Roeser said.

Callidus Software Inc. (NASDAQ:CALD), a global leader in cloud-based sales, marketing, learning and customer experience solutions, announced that CallidusCloud® is now enabling over 130 of the world’s top insurers to improve agent effectiveness in the era of the digital agency. The insurance industry is undergoing a transformation as broken processes, stitched together by fragmented legacy systems are no longer competitive. ING Life Japan is the latest insurer to embrace automation and transform the process of bringing new agencies and producers on board. CallidusCloud’s solutions dramatically reduce the time required to complete the qualification and onboarding process, optimize incentive compensation, and improve lead management, which speeds time to revenue. The fully configurable suite of solutions is giving the world’s top insurance companies a competitive edge in the digital agency era.

DoubleNet Pay has launched a financial wellness app in the ADP Marketplace that fully integrates with employer payroll providers to pay employees’ bills and fund savings plans. DoubleNet Pay is an easy-to-use app that automatically tracks and pays employees’ bills around their paycheck cycles, leaving them with an exact amount for discretionary spending. It gives employees peace of mind that their bills are paid on time and helps them prepare for unexpected expenses and budgeting for recurring needs. It also lets employees sets aside savings based on personal goals. DoubleNet Pay is named for and founded on the principle that bills should be paid and savings funded before discretionary spending. The ADP Marketplace gives clients, partner companies and application developers access to its application programming interfaces (APIs) through a secure cloud platform. By accessing ADP’s APIs, companies can enhance data-sharing capabilities across their enterprise applications with a single set of workforce data.

In its continued commitment to improving the oral and overall health of children in Georgia, the Renaissance Family Foundation, an affiliate of RenaissanceDental, will bring Brush!®, a literacy-based oral health education program, to Head Start programs in more than 40 Georgia counties. Created in partnership with the McMillen Center for Health Education, Brush! is a 52-week program aimed at improving the oral health and school readiness of children entering kindergarten. The $35,000 grant marks Renaissance Dental’s broadest effort in the state yet. In total, more than 4,000 preschool-aged children, their parents/caregivers and 320 teachers across the state will take part in the comprehensive 52-week curriculum. Brush!® is unique because its lessons align with national Head Start domains and involves teachers, children and families. Students learn about dental health while also developing reading, science and math skills.

Minneapolis-based Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) announced that the rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) affirmed the company’s rating as AA (very strong) and maintained the company’s stable outlook. S&P’s AA rating is the third highest out of 21 possible ratings. S&P based its rating on Allianz Life’s operating results, market leadership in fixed index annuities and strong investment portfolio. Allianz Life has carried the AA rating for many years.

The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) recognized Voya Financial, Wells Fargo Advisors, Legg Mason, and AIG’s Liz Altman as the 2015 recipients of the IRI Marketing Innovation Award. The awards, which were presented during a ceremony at the IRI Marketing Summit 2015, identify breakthroughs in the areas of new products and services, development of consumer and advisor educational resources, and overall marketing campaigns to foster greater acceptance and use of insured retirement strategies.

  • Voya Financial: IRI recognized Voya Financial in the insurer category for myOrangeMoneyTM, a digital experience to help consumers better understand their retirement balances and what their balances mean for their future monthly income potential in retirement. The digital tool prominently illustrates savings as future monthly income and demonstrates the progress they are making toward their retirement goal. Customers who took action on myOrangeMoney increased their savings by 12 percent on average, increasing average savings by 29 percent more than non-users, and had a higher savings rate than non-users, as of the end of February 2015.

  • Well Fargo Advisors: IRI recognized Wells Fargo Advisors in the broker-dealer/distributor category for its interactive digital experience – Your Income Story. The engagement tool allows clients and prospects nearing retirement age to visualize how financial advisors can help transition their retirement planning from asset accumulation to retirement income generation. Users can personalize the experience through a questionnaire that produces a customized profile that can be shared with their advisors to facilitate a conversation on retirement income. The tool helps consumers focus on key factors that will affect their retirement and how they prepare for it. With the online tool as a starting point, advisors can educate and prepare their clients for more productive conversations on retirement income planning.

  • Legg Mason: In the asset manager category, IRI recognized Legg Mason for developing an innovative financial advisor and client-facing educational program, Aging and Its Financial Implications: Planning for Housing. This comprehensive program was designed to bring attention to the dramatic costs associated with housing as one ages, and encourage financial advisors and clients to be proactive in planning for these expenses. It offers a robust suite of client-facing materials including a brochure, presentations, worksheets, videos and podcasts – all designed to help advisors engage their clients and help them prepare for one of their most important needs in retirement. In addition to this program, Legg Mason has many other tools and resources available through The Advisor Partnership Program (TAPP)®.

  • Liz Altman, AIG: In the individual category, IRI recognized Liz Altman – Chief Marketing Officer, Individual & Group Retirement and Retail Mutual Funds, AIG – for leading several successful programs during her tenure with AIG, including Social Security Savvy, Income Solutions for the Income Generation, and What’s Your Strategy. These programs deliver educational resources to advisors and consumers that support the proliferation of insured retirement strategies. With more than 25 years of marketing experience, Altman currently leads the AIG marketing team and its development of cutting-edge materials for product marketing, advisor support and practice building. Under her leadership, the team has created consumer resources, such as IncomeGeneration.com, to help advisors and consumers build strategies to prepare for income needs in retirement.

 

GMC Software Technology (GMC), a customer communications management (CCM) and output management company, has been awarded Xplor’s Technology of the Year for the company’s Inspire Dynamic Communications, a game-changing new technology within GMC’s Inspire customer communications management platform. The award will be presented at Xplor International’s Xploration 15: the Customer Communications Conference, April 14-16 in Orlando. Xplor’s Technology of the Year Award honors an individual, company or organization that has conceived and developed an original concept leading to a significant advancement in the industry. Launched in 2014, Inspire Dynamic Communications fosters customer loyalty and trust by enabling the creation of immersive, digital customer statements that deliver intuitive and attractive charts, graphs and other graphical representations of customer financial information, responding to the needs of a new generation of mobile customers.

Mark Mouro, LUTCF, AIF®, of Capital Analysts Jacksonville, was recently selected as chairman of Columbus Life Insurance Company’s Field Advisory Committee. Mouro will succeed Darrel Woolley of the Intermark Financial & Insurance Agency, whose term ended on December 31, 2014. Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, Columbus Life is represented by more than 3,000 independent producers nationwide. Its Field Advisory Committee is a group of experienced financial professionals who represent the national group of independent producers. The work of the Field Advisory Committee has enhanced relationships between producers and Columbus Life, and improved service to Columbus Life’s policyholders. In his role as chairman, Mouro will lead initiatives between the national producer group and the Columbus Life home office. He will help ensure that the Field Advisory Committee gathers and prioritizes feedback from the field, and that effective decisions are made and carried out in partnership with Columbus Life team members.

Forethought Life Insurance Company (Forethought), a subsidiary of Global Atlantic Financial Group Limited, has bolstered its sales leadership team by naming Pete Seroka as national sales manager for fixed annuity distribution. Seroka will have responsibility for distribution of the fixed-rate annuity product line, which finished 2014 with over $3 billion in sales, the third best record in the industry, according to the recently released LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute Year-End U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey. Seroka joined Forethought in December 2013 from Commonwealth Annuity as part of the integration of the companies under Global Atlantic. He has over 25 years of industry experience selling fixed annuity products.

The MassMutual Funds have won the 2015 Lipper Fund Award for Best Overall Small Fund Group, the second consecutive year the Funds have been honored for overall investment excellence. The win also marks the fourth Lipper Asset Class Group Award the MassMutual Funds have earned in three years. The Lipper Group Awards recognize the strong performance of multiple funds within key categories. The Lipper Fund Awards honor mutual funds and fund management firms for delivering superior performance relative to peers. The MassMutual Funds include the MassMutual RetireSMARTSM, Select, and Premier Funds, and are primarily available to clients of MassMutual Retirement Services. The award was announced during the 2015 Lipper Fund Awards dinner at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. The Lipper Fund Awards recognize mutual funds and fund management firms for their consistently strong risk-adjusted three-, five- and 10-year performance relative to their peers, based on Lipper’s proprietary performance-based methodology.

The companies of OneAmerica announced another record-breaking year in 2014 with all–time highs in sales, benefits paid, assets, premiums and capital. The financial services enterprise grew sales by 9 percent to $2.6 billion and paid a record $2.8 billion of benefits to customers in 2014 — marking five consecutive years of record highs for each benchmark. Over the last 10 years, OneAmerica sales have more than tripled.And according to a press release, the company continues to out-perform industry averages. For example, annuity sales and group life sales grew by 18 and 29 percent, respectively; the industry saw only 3 percent growth for annuity sales and for group life, a one percent decline.Assets under administration grew by 25 percent in 2014 to the highest level in the company’s history at $45.6 billion. Statutory premiums and trust deposits and total available capital for the enterprise rose to record levels at $4.7 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively.