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The 13 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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Building on the success of last year’s program, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) employees donated food, clothing, and money in a week-long community service project known as the “Spirit of Summer Giving” campaign. People Responding in Social Ministry (PRISM), a community-funded social service agency that aids local families in need, will receive nearly 8,000 pounds of food and clothing as a result of employees’ efforts. Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization, will receive more than $30,000 in employee donations. Allianz Life provides several unique ways to raise money for Second Harvest Heartland. The company offers “casual for a cause,” an opportunity for employees to donate cash and get the benefit of dressing in casual attire for the month of June. Also, Allianz Life conducts an annual employee 5k run/walk where 100 percent of the registration fees go to the charity. Allianz Life has sponsored an annual Spirit of Giving Campaign since 2000. Over the years, Allianz Life employees have donated more than 250,000 pounds of food, 250,000 pounds of clothing, and nearly $500,000 in cash donations, showing a strong ongoing commitment to the local community.

American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) announced that it has repriced AG Select-a-Term, the flagship term product issued by American General Life Insurance Company (AGL) and The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York (U.S. Life). For the New York-issued product, nearly 97 percent of premium rates rank in the top three in popular durations and risk classes; nearly 80 percent of the time, they rank number one. Nationally, more than 90 percent of premium rates for AG Select-a-Term rank in the top three in popular durations and risk classes, and nearly 65 percent of the premium rates rank number one. In addition, AGL and U.S. Life will soon announce substantial underwriting changes to give distribution partners and customers more competitive offers – in less time. For more details on the market-leading pricing and vast flexibility of AG Select-a-Term, as well as innovative processing that can help speed application submission, go to the website here.

The listing of topics and speakers participating in the 2015 National Long-Term Care Solutions Sales Summit was announced by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). There is no cost to attend the conference or to watch the live stream online from the event taking place October 27, 2015 in Washington D.C. Some 25 different sessions will focus on topics ranging from “Are New LTC Policies Subject To Future Rate Increases?” to ways to sell both traditional and linked benefit LTC solutions.”The support of the five insurance companies makes it possible for us to stream the conference and make access available at free to anyone with Internet access,” Jesse Slome, director of AALTCI, explains. The five insurance companies are: John Hancock, Transamerica, Genworth, Nationwide and OneAmerica. To learn more about the conference visit the Association’s website here, where you can see the program and access registration information for both the event or the free online simulcast.

Applied Systems, Inc., a provider of software that powers the business of insurance, announced it has acquired SEMCAT, a provider of comparative rating technology in the U.S., to support Applied Systems’ integrated product strategy by expanding integrated rating solutions to the U.S. market. Applied Systems is a provider of agency management systems and data exchange between agents, carriers and their clients in the U.S. and globally. SEMCAT’s comparative rating solution provides 100 percent accurate rates with more than 500 carriers, which is the broadest coverage of any comparative rating provider in the U.S. today. Applied Systems plans to integrate SEMCAT’s rating technology seamlessly into Applied’s agency management systems to enhance real-time exchange of policy rating and improve operational workflows. In addition, independent agencies will benefit from the expanding number of real-time XML integrations with insurance carriers that will be supported by the advanced capabilities of Applied IVANS. For more information on this acquisition, please go here.

BizEquity, an online provider of business valuation knowledge and big data, announced that it has signed a distribution agreement with Four Seasons Financial Group, Inc. (FSFG), a U.S.-based wholesale provider of insurance and investments products and services to the institutional markets. FSFG, which works with over 150 banks and broker/dealers and over 5,000 financial advisors, will distribute BizEquity’s “Advisor Office” subscription service to major insurance companies – life, health and property & casualty – as well as banks, wire-houses, broker/dealers, registered investment advisors and other financial distribution sources and intermediaries. FSFG is already in talks with a number of global insurance groups, including top ten U.S. insurance companies, which are interested in potentially using the BizEquity valuation platform. In the insurance industry there is a strong opportunity for advisors to capitalise on enhanced business valuation knowledge with 50 percent of all U.S. businesses underinsured and 40 percent of U.S. business owners currently without life insurance.

Burnham Benefits Insurance Services, a California-based employee benefits brokerage firm, is celebrating its 20th year in business, a milestone that not only marks two decades of exceptional service and unprecedented growth, but also provides a starting point for exciting new opportunities in the coming years. The firm has announced that it will be expanding its Irvine, Calif. headquarters in anticipation of continued growth. Burnham Benefits has experienced consistent growth, at an average rate of 25 percent each year for the past decade. Today, Burnham’s team is comprised of 80 skilled professionals who manage more than $1.5 billion in premiums. With offices in Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sacramento and San Diego, as well as satellites in the Washington D.C.-metro area, Burnham Benefits has become the largest female-owned employee benefits insurance brokerage and consulting firm in the western region, repeatedly named one of the best places to work in Orange County and the benefits industry. Plans to accommodate continued growth in 2015 are well underway, with a major expansion of the firm’s Irvine headquarters. Remaining at its location on Michelson Drive in Irvine, Burnham will add on another 8,500-square-feet of space, growing to a total of 22,000-square-feet. In addition to adding staff in Orange County, Burnham anticipates additional offices and new hires in San Diego and San Francisco.

GMC Software Technology (GMC), a customer communications company, announced that Pacific Life’s Retirement Solutions Division has chosen GMC Inspire’s single platform software to help deliver a more consistent customer communications workflow. The company selected GMC Inspire to streamline and standardize the internal production processes that support a host of customer documents, including statements, confirmations of transactions and client correspondence. The software’s open architecture offers the robust flexibility, scalability and automation capabilities needed for Pacific Life to achieve its goals of a higher level of operational efficiency and enhanced customer experience. Key in the decision was GMC Inspire’s ability to process an unlimited number of input files. The software has the ability to collect client data from multiple systems to generate personalized, relevant communications on the fly, while ensuring consistent branding and automated approval processes. GMC Inspire will also make it possible to dynamically import images, graphs and charts into the communications, strengthening the value of each communication while reducing the time and cost to produce the documents. Additionally, the software provides Pacific Life the capability to significantly reduce the number of templates needed for its correspondence, again saving in application maintenance expense and strain on IT.

The national average cost of attending a four-year public college is more than $28,000 per year, and more than $59,000 for a private college. Given these costs and future projections, the need for financial assistance has become increasingly important. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), a mutual life insurer and provider of employee benefits, announced the launch of the College Tuition Benefit®, a value-added benefit that helps Guardian’s dental members pay for college. Employees covered by a Guardian dental plan that includes the College Tuition Benefit® earn Tuition Rewards® that can be used to pay up to one year’s tuition at one of over 340 private colleges and universities across the nation. Guardian is the only dental carrier to offer the College Tuition Benefit®.  

According to a recent Gallup Economy and Personal Finance Survey, about 75 percent of U.S. parents indicate their top financial concern is having enough money to pay for their children’s college education. With College Tuition Benefits, employees earn $2,000 in Tuition Rewards® for each year they are enrolled in a Guardian dental plan, and receive a bonus if they keep their plan for four or more years. The College Tuition Benefit®, offered through the SAGE College Tuition Benefit Program, provides employees with the confidence in knowing they can take their rewards with them if they change employers before their child (or other eligible relative) goes to college. The rewards can also be gifted to relatives, including children, step-children, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren.

Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects more than nine million employees and their families at more than 123,000 companies. Guardian also offers businesses and their employees a broad range of protection and risk management solutions.

Legal & General America was one of 20 workplaces honored at the annual Healthy Workplace Recognition Awards Ceremony, which recognizes Frederick County workplaces that are committed to improving employee health and well-being. All applicants for the Healthy Workplace Recognition Program completed the CDC Worksite Health Scorecard, which helps employers assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health strategies in their workplace to prevent heart disease, stroke and related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Legal & General America received a Gold score for its implementation of several wellness programs, including promotions for Community Sponsored Agriculture, Health Food, Drink More Water, Agility Testing, Gentle Yoga, Relay for Life, and CPR / First Aid Training Certification. Legal & General America also received high marks for providing wellness information on its employee intranet, for having a LEED certified building, a gym and a smoke-free environment. The Healthy Workplace Recognition Program is a partnership between Frederick Regional Health System, the Frederick County Health Department, and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE:LNC) announced the next generation of its Lincoln AssetEdge® Variable Universal Life (VUL) insurance offering, featuring expanded investment options for tax-efficient cash accumulation with downside protection, and supplemental income potential, as well as life insurance protection. In addition to offering clients an income tax-free death benefit and more than 80 market-driven variable investment options from the Lincoln Elite Series of Funds for maximum growth potential, Lincoln AssetEdge® VUL now offers three indexed accounts for moderate growth potential with guaranteed downside protection, and a fixed account for more conservative, predictable growth. Clients have the ability to adjust investment allocations over time to align with changing needs and financial goals.Lincoln AssetEdge® VUL provides advisors with another wealth protection strategy that can be used to help clients plan for a diverse range of financial needs including retirement, college tuition and certain unanticipated health costs. For more information on the product, visit the Lincoln Financial Group website.

MassMutual is launching a new patent-pending employee benefits guidance tool to help Americans make decisions about their financial needs, including health care coverage, insurance protection and retirement savings, based on their personal financial situations. MapMyBenefitsSM provides personalized guidance to help employees prioritize their health care, insurance and retirement benefits, and make the most of each benefit dollar based on their life stage, financial goals and personal financial situation. This all-inclusive approach to financial planning at the workplace combines retirement readiness, health care coverage and preparation for life’s unforeseen events. Nearly one in four employees say personal financial problems have become a distraction at work, according to a 2014 survey of financial wellness issues conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Money issues have consistently topped Americans’ list of biggest stressors since 2007, the American Psychological Association reports. This tool is available through financial advisors, third party administrators and benefits specialists who serve the retirement plan and employee benefits needs of employers and their employees. MapMyBenefits includes benefits made available by an employer to employees, including products offered by MassMutual and other providers. Currently, MassMutual is making several employee benefits products available through MapMyBenefits, including 401(k) and other defined contribution retirement plans, and life insurance. Additional insurance products are in the planning stages.

OneAmerica will be the title sponsor of the 2015 Retirement Income Industry Association annual conference to be held this fall in Indianapolis from September 16-18. “Mapping the New Realities of Retirement” will offer attendees valuable insights on emerging retirement income trends and will cover issues such as modern portfolio theory, life insurance, investment management, unique challenges facing women, Social Security, Medicare and retirement health care costs. In addition, thought leaders will come together and showcase what retirement looks like in 2025 and what financial advisors will need to consider when suggesting optimal solutions for their clients as part of a special post-conference research event.

Internationally known and well-respected retirement income authority, Moshe Milevsky, Ph.D. will be the conference’s keynote speaker. Milevsky will be joined by other nationally recognized retirement experts: Wade Pfau, Ph.D., professor of retirement income at The American College; Dana Anspach, CFP®, RMA®, Kolbe Certified Consultant, founder of Sensible Money and author of Control Your Retirement Destiny; Michael Zwecher, director AERS Advisory, Deloitte, author of Retirement Portfolios: Theory, Construction and Management; and more. See the complete program, including conference timeline, speakers, presentation topics and find registration information at riia-usa.org.

Valley Insurance Agency Alliance (VIAA), a cohesive family of nearly 100 independent insurance agencies in Missouri and Southern Illinois, earned two industry awards from the Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance (SIAA). The SIAA, a $5.7 billion national insurance coalition, is the nation’s largest partnership of independent insurance agencies. SIAA ranked its top performers across the nation, and VIAA ranked seventh out of 49 regions. VIAA also ranked first for implementation of a mobile app designed to better serve clients. Founded in 2006, VIAA generates more than $125 million in written premium. VIAA is the sister company of family owned and operated POWERS Insurance and Benefits, which is one of the largest family owned and operated independent insurance agencies in the bi-state region.