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The 9 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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New York Life has completed the acquisition, through reinsurance, of a net 60 percent interest in John Hancock Financial’s closed block, comprised primarily of participating whole life insurance policies. The transaction, which was initially announced in December 2014, has received all necessary regulatory approvals. The closed block of 1.3 million in-force policies with a face amount of more than $25 billion was established in connection with John Hancock’s demutualization in 2000. Through reinsurance arrangements, New York Life has assumed $7 billion of statutory reserves. New York Life’s NYL Investors, LLC unit, which oversees the company’s general account investments, manages approximately $12 billion in new assets as a result of the deal. With these additional assets, New York Life’s general account assets now exceed $213 billion (reflects cash and invested assets on a consolidated basis), a record high for the company. John Hancock, the U.S. division of Manulife Financial Corporation, will continue to administer the closed block policies, including paying claims and dividends. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.   

Delta Dental of Colorado has introduced new self-funded dental plans for businesses with more than 50 employees, responding to demand for more plan variety for small groups. “Small businesses in Colorado now have access to the same tools most large companies use to control costs and tailor benefits to their needs,” said Mark Thompson, director of sales and client services for Delta Dental of Colorado. “Business owners and brokers have been asking for a self-funded option, and we’re excited to deliver.” Companies considering self-funded medical plans may opt to “test the waters” with a self-funded dental plan first because of the relatively low costs of dental claims compared to medical claims, Reams said. 

The Financial Services Institute (FSI) has launched a new microsite for investors to weigh in with their members of Congress and the Department of Labor urging them to protect their retirement by ensuring their access to financial advisors, products and services that they depend on today for dignified retirement.The easy-to-use site, www.MySavingsMyChoice.org, allows each investor to send four total letters – two Senators, one member of Congress and one to DOL Secretary Tom Perez – in just two simple steps. The FSI advocacy software automatically matches the investor with their elected officials. Any financial advisor, whether an FSI member or not, is urged to send this link to their clients urging them to weigh in.

The site is just the latest in FSI’s extensive efforts to positively affect constructive change with the fiduciary rule. Last week, FSI unveiled its U.N.W.O.R.K.A.B.L.E. document, that has been helping Congressional staffers and members of Congress understand a complex issue in a simplified format. FSI is working directly with its 37,000 financial advisor members and 100+ firm members to reach their current clients asking them to weigh in on the rule. FSI will next provide an extensive comment letter to the DOL on the rule on July 21.

Nationwide announced several enhancements to its YourLife CareMattersSM  linked benefit long-term care (LTC) product, featuring an increase in the LTC benefit pool for most new policies. For the most commonly selected six-year benefit scenario, the LTC benefit will increase up to 21 percent for single-pay cases and up to 15 percent on 10-pay cases. Other benefit periods will also see an increase or stay the same depending on age, gender, payment plan and benefit option. Other product enhancements announced include: a monthly premium option for multi-pay cases; a maximum issue age increase to 70 for single-pay policies; and the 100 percent return of premium feature changing to a five-year vesting schedule for single-premium policies. 

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) has promoted James Nelson to vice president, Legal Business Operations and Product Development. In his new role, Nelson will oversee and manage strategy for legal support of tax, business operations and product development and will be responsible for advising on strategic planning and development of product life cycle and operations. He will also be a member of the company’s Senior Leadership Group. Nelson has been with Allianz Life since 2011, serving as lead attorney responsible for fixed annuity and fixed index annuity lines of business. Prior to joining Allianz Life, he was in private practice and held various counsel and general counsel roles at KMG America, Thrivent Financial and ING. Nelson has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and a juris doctorate, magna cum laude, from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

Burnham Benefits Insurance Services, a California-based employee benefits brokerage firm, announced that both the firm and its president and CEO, Kristen Allison, have been recognized by the Orange County Business Journal for outstanding achievements in business. Allison, honored as one of five exceptional professional women who have made significant contributions to their organizations, their professions and the Orange County community, was selected from of a field of hundreds of distinguished nominees from a broad spectrum of industries, while the firm she has led for 20 years earned high rankings among the Best Places to Work. Allison accepted the prestigious Women in Business award before a crowd of more than 800 at the 21st Annual Women in Business Awards Luncheon.

As part of its strategy to deliver solutions in the expanding defined benefit pension transfer market, MassMutual has appointed Lynn Esenwine as vice president of its pension buyout business. Esenwine is responsible for market and business development, advisor and key account management, product and solution design, quoting and analysis of business cases, oversight of plan support, and identifying future opportunities in the risk transfer market. Esenwine, with 14 years’ experience in the retirement plan industry, joined MassMutual from Prudential Retirement where she served as vice president in Institutional Pension Risk Transfer. In that role, she delivered pension risk transfer solutions, while also developing intermediary and customer relationships. In addition to holding several FINRA and insurance licenses, Esenwine received a BS from Pennsylvania State University and a MBA from the University of Connecticut.

The National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO) has named Kelly Crowe as its permanent CEO. Her appointment was approved unanimously by NASHCO’s Board of Directors. Crowe had served in an interim capacity as executive director and CEO since December. Previously, Crowe was a vice president at Leavitt Partners, and has also worked at the Center for Health Transformation and the Advisory Board Company. She also spent 14 years in the investment banking field as an equity analyst. Since Crowe has served as interim executive director and CEO, NASHCO has announced that its members enrolled one million members (as of March), and continued to lead the way for both competition and innovation in the health insurance marketplaces. Organizationally, NASHCO has expanded its preferred vendor program, which currently has nine companies across a variety of categories. Crowe has BBA from the University of Mississippi and Masters in Economics from the University of Memphis. She also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Association of the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery, based on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The Phoenix Companies, Inc. (NYSE:PNX) announced that Gina Collopy O’Connell, senior vice president, has been named chief risk officer. She will be responsible for overall leadership and direction for enterprise risk management. She will succeed Mark Griffin, who is resigning from the company effective July 17, 2015. O’Connell is currently senior vice president, Financial Planning and Analysis, and most recently played a significant role in the company’s restatement and remediation efforts. She will continue to serve as a senior advisor to the actuarial student program. O’Connell joined Phoenix in 1985 as an actuarial assistant and holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Boston College, is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) and a member of the Academy of Actuaries (MAAA). She serves on the finance committee of the YWCA Hartford Region.

Unum (NYSE:UNM) has appointed Marco Forato in the new role of senior vice president for global growth strategy. In addition, Steve Mitchell has been named chief financial officer for Unum’s U.S. businesses, Steve Zabel is the new president of the U.S. closed block operations, and Matt Royal has been promoted to chief risk officer for Unum Group. In his new role, Forato will work closely with Unum’s senior leadership team to identify and pursue new markets and business channels in the U.S. and the U.K. Prior to his promotion, Forato was chief marketing officer for Unum UK. He is based at the company’s offices in Dorking, Surrey.

Based in Portland, Maine, Mitchell will oversee the capital structure and financing of Unum’s U.S. businesses. Mitchell has been with Unum for nearly 30 years and has held leadership positions across the company. Most recently, he was president of Unum’s closed block operations. 

As the new president of Unum’s closed block operations, Zabel will oversee the business division that includes long-term care and individual disability policies that Unum no longer sells but continues to support. Before joining Unum in 2013 as senior vice president and chief risk officer, Zabel held leadership roles at Genworth in its long term care, finance and audit business areas.

As chief risk officer for Unum Group, Royal will be responsible for assessing and mitigating risk factors across the company. Royal joined Unum in 2013 as chief auditor. Previously he worked at KPMG and Marsh, where he managed audit and insurance advisory services. Zabel and Royal work at the corporate headquarters in Chattanooga.

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