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The 10 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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OneAmerica and BMO Financial Group (TSX: BMO) (NYSE: BMO) announced that they have reached an agreement for OneAmerica to acquire BMO’s Milwaukee-based, U.S. retirement services business, BMO Retirement Services, a division of BMO Global Asset Management. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

“Adding BMO’s retirement services business enhances our already strong position as a leader in the retirement services industry and complements our high-touch, relationship-based service model,” said OneAmerica president and CEO Scott Davison, who took the helm as CEO last year. “With this acquisition, we’ll increase our assets under administration by approximately $26 billion. This brings our total to more than $70 billion — double our total less than two years ago.”

The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of calendar year 2015. At that time, the business will adopt the name OneAmerica Retirement Services LLC. OneAmerica has announced that it will continue business operations from BMO Retirement Services’ current locations, and most clients will continue to work with their current service teams. BMO Retirement Services employees covered by the agreement will become OneAmerica employees.

BMO’s U.S. retirement services business has more than 200 professionals with approximately 830 plans. The retirement services businesses of OneAmerica serve more than 11,000 plans and have more than $30 billion in retirement assets under administration. A year ago, OneAmerica announced an agreement to acquire City National Bank’s San Diego-based retirement services business, with 240 plans and $6.5 billion in assets under administration.

The Hamilton Project at Brookings released a new paper by Professor Wesley Yin, an economist with UCLA’s School of Luskin Public Policy, entitled “Strengthening Risk Protection through Private Long-Term Care Insurance,” which seeks to address challenges in the private long-term care insurance market. Yin discussed his new paper at a Hamilton Project forum on “Promoting Financial Well-Being in Retirement,” where U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez delivered remarks on June 23 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. In this new paper, commissioned by The Hamilton Project, Yin proposes the following reforms to long-term care (LTC) insurance financing in the private market that will offer individuals more-affordable and more-complete insurance against long-term services and support (LTSS) expenses, while allowing insurance firms to manage risk more efficiently.

Insurance nonprofit organization Life Happens announced the winners of its annual Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program, which celebrates insurance agents and advisors for their outstanding professional and personal commitments to supporting clients and their families in times of need. Currently in its 20th year, the program reinforces Life Happens’ core mission of raising public awareness of the importance of insurance coverage as part of a sound financial plan. This year, the program showcases the stories of agents who have gone above and beyond to ensure their clients and their loved ones were financially prepared for the future in the wake of a disabling accident or unexpected family death.

The 2015 Life Happens Real Life Stories award recipients are:

  • Lars Hansen, LUTCF, American National, Mesa, Ariz.:  For Jason and Nicole Sherman, providing for their two daughters was at the heart of everything they did. Working with agent Lars Hansen, they both agreed that purchasing adequate life insurance was important to them and a crucial part of protecting their daughters’ financial future. Lars continued meeting with the couple each year to review their needs and make adjustments to their coverage, helping to foster a friendship that went beyond that of a client-advisor relationship. Tragically, in 2005, after witnessing an accident on the freeway and checking to see if anyone was hurt, Nicole was struck by a car, leaving Jason as a single dad, concerned about caring for his young daughters while still working to provide them financial stability. With the proceeds from an individual life insurance policy Lars had helped put in place for Nicole, Jason was given time to grieve and spend time with his daughters, without having to worry about his family’s financial stability. To see more, watch the video here.
  • James Jacobs, CLU, ChFC, AXA, Chesterfield, Va.:  At the age of 27, Michael Sizemore was living his dream – training for his first marathon and starting a job as a lobbyist where he could do what he loved: give back to others. As a new employee, Michael was eligible for his employer’s benefit program, which agent James Jacobs had established for the organization. Although Michael was young and healthy, Michael took full advantage of all the benefits offered through his employer and a number of individual insurance policies, including a disability insurance policy with Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. Just a year later, while on a trip to Washington D.C., Michael was hit by a drunk driver, leaving him in a medically induced coma with more than $2 million in medical expenses. The group health insurance paid his hospital medical expenses and through the individual disability insurance coverage James helped Michael put in place, he has enough income to continue living his life and pay for his physical therapy, despite being unable to work. To see more, watch the video here.
  • Juli McNeely, LUTCF, CFP, CLU, McNeely Financial Services, Inc., Spencer, Wis.: As their family began to grow, Sam and Amy McNeely knew they needed more life insurance coverage than what was provided through Sam’s employer. To ensure their infant daughter, Charli, would be protected if anything happened to them, they turned to agent Juli McNeely for help taking out a policy that would provide adequate coverage in the event of their deaths. When Sam fell ill and suddenly died at the age of 38 from a dissected aorta, Juli reminded Amy of the life insurance policies with Mutual Trust Financial Group, Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company and EMC National Life she and Sam had purchased prior to Charli’s birth. Juli couldn’t take away the emotional pain of losing Sam, but she knew his insurance policy would help them financially. Sam’s life insurance policy through his work and the policies Juli helped the family set up, have allowed Amy and Charli to live their lives without financial hardship. To see more, watch the video here.
  • Craig Wiklund, CLU, ChFC, Wiklund & Bond Financial Services, Auburn Hills, Mich.: Craig helped advise his close friend and small business owner client, John Gongos, to purchase insurance to ensure both his family and his research company were taken care of if anything were to happen to him. Craig helped John develop a succession plan for his company and purchase life insurance policies with Voya Financial and AXA that would fund that agreement and protect the employees he considered family. Tragically, at the age of 51, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. Just two weeks after his diagnosis, John passed away, leaving his wife, kids, and devoted employees in shock. Thanks to John’s insurance policies, he was able to not only take care of his family, allowing his wife Anne and their three children to stay in their house, he was also able to take care of his employees and keep his business running. To see more, watch the video here.

This year’s four Real Life Stories honorees, along with their clients, will be formally recognized at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) annual conference in New Orleans later this fall. A presentation ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2015. Starting June 23, the 2015 Real Life Stories will be available to insurance agents and advisors, along with new Life Insurance Awareness Month marketing resources, via the new Life Happens Pro website.

LIMRA and LOMA are pleased to announce that noted economist José Antonio Ocampo will deliver the keynote address at the LIMRA LOMA 2015 Latin American Conference, Aug. 9–11, 2015, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Ocampo served as the United Nations undersecretary for Economic and Social Affairs from 2003–2007 and has held a variety of other leadership positions in the Colombian government, including minister of Finance and Public Credit, minister of Agriculture, and director of the National Planning Department. He is currently a professor at Columbia University in the City of New York, and continues to write and publish a variety of articles and books on global economic policies.

With a meeting theme of “Differentiating in a Competitive Market,” the conference sessions will address what needs to be done to stay ahead of the competition in areas such as future product strategies, agency productivity, automated underwriting and digital marketing.Robert A. Kerzner, president and CEO, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global Inc. will also address the conference, offering insights into using technology, big data, predictive analytics and social media for optimal results.

More than 175 life insurance and financial services executives will attend the meeting at the Hotel Las Américas Resort, Spa and Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Interpretation will be offered into English, Spanish and Portuguese. Those who register by July 10 will receive a discount. For more information and to register online, please visit: LIMRA LOMA 2015 Latin American Conference.

Lincoln Financial Group announced that its annuity and life insurance Customer Contact Centers have both been named to the prestigious Top 100 Call Centers in America by BenchmarkPortal for delivering excellent customer service. Two of Lincoln Financial’s core operational teams received this significant honor for demonstrating that they provide superior service and are leaders in customer satisfaction across a wide variety of industries. This marks the second consecutive year the annuity Customer Contact Center team placed in the Top 25 and the fourth consecutive year that the life team placed in the Top 50. The Top 100 award recipients are judged, in part, on their average speed of answer, calls per agent per hour, agent turnover and caller satisfaction. “The award process is based on actual performance,” said Bruce Belfiore, BenchmarkPortal CEO. “Recipients of the Top 100 Award have demonstrated, on a very objective basis, that they provide superior service. We congratulate Lincoln Financial on this great accomplishment.” For more information on the Top 100 Award, visit

PolicyGenius announced that it has secured a $5.3 million in its Series A funding round. The funding round, co-led by Karlin Ventures and Susa Ventures, includes support from previous investors in last year’s $750,000 seed round and brings the company’s total funding to just over $6 million. PolicyGenius was launched in July 2014 by co-founders Jennifer Fitzgerald and Francois de Lame and has seen rapid and substantial growth in the last year. Leveraging their multi-product platform, consumers are able to review unbiased advice and confidently research and compare quotes forlife, long-term disability, renters and pet insurance.

New York Life has announced that Senior vice president Mark Madgett will succeed executive vice president Mark Pfaff as head of the Agency Department, which manages the company’s field force of 12,000 career agents in cities and towns across the country. Pfaff, 57, plans to retire from the company at the end of 2015, following 30 years of distinguished service as an agent, field manager and Home Office executive. Madgett, 54, joined New York Life as an agent in Colorado in 1986.  He moved into sales management in Denver in 1992, rising in the ranks to managing partner of New York Life general offices in the state of Washington beginning in 1998.  Madgett moved to the company’s Home Office in Manhattan in September 2014, where he has been working closely with Pfaff in managing the Agency Department. He will continue in that capacity until Pfaff’s retirement at year-end, when he will assume the leadership of the Agency Department and begin reporting to New York Life’s president John Kim. 

LIMRA is pleased to announce that Patrick Leary, corporate vice president of LIMRA Distribution Research, was part of a team who has won second place in the 2015 Kenneth Black, Jr., Journal Author Award program. The article “Reversing the Decline in Life Insurance Ownership,” published in the Journal of Financial Service Professionals, discusses the dynamics that have contributed to the decline in life insurance ownership and potential challenges facing the industry. The team included Leary (photo, right), David Woods, former CEO of NAIFA and former president of Life Happens (formerly The Life Foundation) and Kate Kane,managing director of Northwestern Mutual’s Western Massachusetts office.


“Pat is an exceptional thought leader and his in-depth understanding of industry trends — particularly in distribution — is so valuable to our organization and our members,” said Alison Salka, senior vice president and director of LIMRA Research. “This article provides insight into the challenges of reaching a very diverse and ever-changing market, highlighting the important role life insurance plays in the financial security of American families.” 

“All three of us contributed to the article from our own perspective, Pat’s particular insights into the research he and LIMRA had developed were the meat of it,” noted David Woods. “Data without meaning are simply numbers. Pat gave meaning and life to those numbers.” 

The Kenneth Black, Jr., Journal Author Award Program recognizes the top three articles published in the Journal of Financial Service Professionals, as determined by an independent panel of judges, based on the originality of the research, clarity, timeliness, and appropriateness for the Journal’s readership.  The award is named for Kenneth Black, Jr., PhD, CLU, who served as editor of the Journal from 1959 to 2000.

Saybrus Partners, Inc. announced that Moira Lowe, J.D., principal and president of Saybrus Equity Services, Inc., has been named chief administrative officer in addition to her existing roles. She oversees all legal, compliance, marketing, human resources, metrics/reporting and finance functions for Saybrus Partners and reports to Edward Cassidy, managing principal. Lowe was one of the founders of Saybrus Partners in 2009 and was named principal, overseeing all legal and compliance matters. In 2010, she was appointed president and chief executive officer of the company’s new wholly owned broker/dealer and assumed responsibility for human resources. Over the next several years, she added responsibilities for financial, budgeting, business reporting and marketing functions. Prior to joining Saybrus, Lowe held roles such as senior counsel and chief compliance officer at financial services organizations including The Phoenix Companies, Inc., Tower Square Securities and Sun Life Financial. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University and a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law.


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