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The 11 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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HealthMarkets Insurance Agency announced that it has acquired Benefitter Insurance Solutions, Inc., a San Francisco-based technology company providing employee benefit decision support tools to small businesses and their employees. Small and mid-sized business owners continuously struggle with providing and maintaining employee benefits due to rising costs and an inability to provide the range of options available to America’s bigger businesses. The demand for alternatives to major medical group plans and the broader access available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have accelerated the migration from small group coverage to individual market insurance tailored to each employee. Benefitter’s proprietary technology, software and services will equip HealthMarkets and its agents to better help employers make a positive, profitable and deliberate transition to the new era of health benefits.

Jackson National Life Insurance Company announced the launch of LifePay, the company’s first lifetime income benefit option within the  Jackson AscenderPlus Select fixed index annuity (FIA). The new feature, available for an additional charge, offers contract-holders the flexibility to start or stop income payments as needed, as well as the opportunity to manage longevity risk and increase growth potential. Jackson AscenderPlus Select with LifePay will replace the current Jackson AscenderPlus Select contract.

Legal & General America’s (LGA) level term product just got more affordable. A rate reduction across all non-tobacco underwriting classes puts LGA back among the brokerage carriers with the three lowest premiums. “Without compromising our discipline, we stepped outside the algorithms and reached farther and deeper than we had before,” says Troy Thompson, vice president of product management at LGA. “We intentionally focused on top three positioning. And if No. 1 was in reach, we grabbed it.”

LIMRA launched Recruit2Go™, an online and mobile-friendly tool designed to help candidates learn about insurance selling opportunities and help recruiters connect with candidates. The quiz is designed using the latest LIMRA research on effective recruiting practices. Recruit2Go can be completed on mobile devices and computers alike, including cell phones and tablets. When a candidate takes the recruiting quiz, managers or recruiters can gain insight into what motivates the candidate and at the same time receive a snapshot of the candidate’s talent. Recruit2Go serves a dual-purpose by capturing a candidate’s interest, and helping recruiters focus on messages that will resonate.

In other LIMRA news, the LIMRA LOMA 2015 Greater China Life Insurance Symposium will take place Sept. 23–24 in Shanghai. The conference, which has the theme “Profitability through Innovation,” comes as new research shows that four in 10 Chinese with investable assets of at least $1.6 million are not covered by life insurance. Executives and professionals in Greater China in strategic planning, recruiting, training and distribution channel management will attend the event at the Marriott Shanghai Hongqiao. The conference will be in Mandarin and English. For more information and to register, please visit: LIMRA LOMA 2015 Greater China Life Insurance Symposium.

Lion Street announced that executive benefits company Pen-Cal has become a Lion Street Owner-Firm in an effort to broaden Pen-Cal’s benefit plan offerings and expand its client base. Advisor-owners of Lion Street, a national financial services distribution company, operate independent firms that provide life insurance, business insurance and wealth management solutions to high-net-worth individuals, small business owners and corporations. Based in Pleasanton, Calif., Pen-Cal has a national footprint, and serves the needs of large and mid-size corporations and businesses. It is ranked among the top five U.S. executive benefit consulting firms by Plansponsor.

Sapiens International Corporation, (NASDAQ and TASE: SPNS), a global provider of software solutions for the insurance industry, announced that FNB – a financial institution providing personal, private, business and commercial banking services to millions of customers across South Africa and Africa  – has selected Sapiens ALIS for the launch of its new life insurance company. Sapiens ALIS supports any combination of life, pension, annuity and medical products for the individual and group markets, enabling carriers to explore new product offerings and hybrid designs. FNB recently secured a license to launch a new life insurance company, prompting the financial institution to find and implement a new policy administration system.

Jay C. Hardy, president and chief operating officer of Unity Financial Life Insurance Company, announced that during the first week of August 2015 Unity Financial Life’s assets exceeded $200 million for the first time. Hardy noted that it is an important milestone for a company that had only $16 million of assets in 2002. Revenue in 2002 was just over $5 million; in 2015 it will exceed $50 million. As reported by Inc. Magazine, Unity Financial Life has been the fastest growing privately-owned life insurance company in the country every year from 2008-2013, among companies with at least $10 million of premium.

WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. has strengthened its commitment to support and empower early-career, high-potential women via IMpower, a new results-driven and researched-based program. IMpower: Grow the Talent That Will Grow Your Company replaces WOMEN Unlimited’s TEAM program, Dr. Rosina Racioppi, president and CEO of WOMEN Unlimited, Inc., said. IMpower is the direct result of extensive research of WOMEN Unlimited corporate partners and other leading corporations. IMpower was developed to address the challenge many organizations face in retaining and developing high potential female talent throughout their career. The content has been designed specifically for today’s early-career, high potential female professional, so she will be fully prepared to advance her career by contributing to corporate goals and objectives in today’s complex, fast-paced business environment.

American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) President and CEO Dirk Kempthorne announced the appointment of Larry Burton as chief operating officer. He will join ACLI on August 24. Burton will coordinate ACLI’s state, federal and international advocacy and report to Governor Kempthorne. From 2012 to 2015, Burton was senior vice president of government affairs at CVS Health. Prior to that, starting in 2004, he served as executive director of the Business Roundtable. In 1987, Burton began a 17-year career at BP America, rising to the position of vice president of external affairs. Burton also has extensive Capitol Hill and federal government experience. He held senior positions with U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and former U.S. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). He also was a special assistant and associate director for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, where he served as senior liaison to the Senate on budget and regulatory matters.

The American College of Financial Services will induct Seymour, “Sy,” Sternberg, CLU® (New York, NY) and Stephen D. Tarr, MSM, CLU®, ChFC®, CAP®, CASL® (Zionsville, IN) into its Alumni Hall of Fame. These deserving individuals will be honored at The College’s Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at separate events in New York and Hawaii.

  • Sy will be inducted in recognition of his extraordinary professionalism and commitment to the industry. He was chairman and former CEO of New York Life Insurance Company. In 2014, Sy and Fred Sievert, MSM generously established the Sy Sternberg and Fred Sievert Doctoral Fellowship at The American College, which conducts state-of-the-art research on financial issues related to retirement. Sy was honored with the John Newton Russell Memorial Award from NAIFA in 2014. The College is pleased to induct Sy to its Alumni Hall of Fame in recognition of his steadfast dedication and advocacy to the profession and The American College. Sy will be inducted on November 30, 2015 at New York Life Insurance Company Headquarters in New York City.

  • Stephen is being recognized for his exceptional commitment to professionalism and dedication to The American College of Financial Services. Steve joined The College in 1979 as vice president of development and society relations. Most recently, Steve served as senior vice president and editor-in-chief of The Wealth Channel Magazine, the alumni publication. He has made significant and lasting contributions as both an alumnus and College leader and for these reasons is a truly worthy inductee to the Alumni Hall of Fame. Steve retired in early 2015 and he and his wife, Alice, live in Zionsville, Indiana. The College will induct Steve at a luncheon during Knowledge Summit, a three-day conference and conferment for its graduates scheduled for October 21-24 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Lincoln Financial Network (LFN), the retail wealth management affiliate of Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE:LNC), announced its 2014 Planners of the Year: Jack Friel of Friel Associates in Boston Mass.; Mike Lockwood, CFP®, CRPC®, of Lincoln Financial Advisors in Irvine, Calif.; and Peter Maller, CFP®, AEP®, of Maller Wealth Advisors in Hunt Valley, Md. The Planner of the Year recognition is awarded annually to the leading financial planners among thousands affiliated with LFN’s broker-dealer, Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. (LFA). In a tradition dating back to 1906, the LFN Planners of the Year will have their names engraved on plaques, which are presented and displayed in Lincoln offices.

  • Jack Friel: Friel, founding senior advisor and managing partner of Friel Associates, and registered representative of LFA, has been named Planner of the Year for the second time, first recognized in 1998. Friel founded Friel Associates, a Boston-based financial planning firm, in 1993.

  • Mike Lockwood: Lockwood, investment advisor and registered representative of LFA, was named Planner of the Year for the first time this year. Lockwood joined LFA in 1987. Within his practice, he focuses on retirement transition planning and wealth management for executives, retirees, healthcare professionals, and government employees. Lockwood currently serves as Retirement Plan Services Committee chair on the Board of Directors for The Resource Group, an invitation-only, nationwide network of the top 200 planners within LFA.

  • Peter Maller: Maller, founder and president of Maller Wealth Advisors, and registered representative of LFA, was named Planner of the Year, making this his seventh time receiving the award. He was previously recognized in 2007 and from 2009 to 2014. With more than 21 years of experience in the financial planning industry, Maller provides investment strategies, financial planning, risk management services, business succession planning and employee benefits to business owners, professionals and high-net-worth individuals.

Lincoln Financial Network also announced its 2014 Advisors of the Year: Mark Rychel, CFP®, of BCR Financial Services in Pittsburgh, Pa. and Art Sullivan, CFP®, of Constitution Advisor Group in East Hartford, Conn.  This annual recognition is awarded to the leading financial advisors among thousands affiliated with LFN’s broker-dealer, Lincoln Financial Securities Corp. (LFS).

  • Art Sullivan: Sullivan, founding partner and head of asset strategies for Constitution Advisory Group, and registered representative of LFS, has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. In his practice, Sullivan specializes in asset allocation and investment management. Prior to joining Lincoln 25 years ago, Sullivan served as an investment portfolio specialist with The Travelers Companies and senior financial advisor with Manulife Financial in Hartford, Conn.

  • Mark Rychel: Rychel, founding partner of BCR Financial Services and registered representative of LFS, has been in the financial services industry for 20 years. Prior to founding BCR Financial Services in 1997, Rychel served as an advisor for American Express Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh, Pa. Early in his career, he worked on institutional accounts for Merrill Lynch International in London. 


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