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The 11 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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AXA Strategic Ventures announced it has made a significant investment in VolunteerSpot, a free event planning and community engagement platform that saves time, simplifies coordination, and boosts participation with easy-to-use digital sign-up and fundraising tools for parents, teachers and volunteers. VolunteerSpot enables users to select where they want to pitch-in, share or swap tasks, make donations, purchase tickets, sync sign-ups to their online calendars, and send automatic messages and reminders. More than 7 million families, teachers and involved community members have used VolunteerSpot to participate in over 20 million school and classroom activities and good works in local fundraisers, sporting events, community service projects, potlucks, charity walks and races, and more.

“AXA Strategic Ventures invests in high-growth and high-impact companies like VolunteerSpot that are transforming the way we live,” said Manish Agarwal, general partner of AXA Strategic Ventures. ASV led the funding, timing the investment to coordinate with the start of the school year and support VolunteerSpot’s continued growth. In addition, Manish Agarwal will be joining VolunteerSpot’s board of directors.

International insurance brokerage and risk management firm Integro Ltd. announced a significant enhancement of its physician-focused professional liability capabilities with the acquisition of a sector leader, HealthCare Risk Specialists, based in West Hartford, Conn. The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

HealthCare Risk Specialists, incorporated in 1998, provides custom designed as well as traditional professional liability insurance solutions to physicians and physician groups across the U.S. HealthCare Risk Specialists has built strong relationships with carriers as well as risk management-driven Risk Retention Groups (RRGs), and developed unique programs for specialist physicians ensuring medical professionals gain access to the right protection at the right price. 

Founder David Rossi will remain with the firm in a consulting capacity and Matthew LeBlanc, Principal, will assume leadership of the business unit. HealthCare Risk Specialists brokers and colleagues, including Peter Behnke and Cory Shane, will join Integro and remain in their West Hartford office, which becomes Integro’s first in Connecticut.

Financial professional, speaker and philanthropist Steve Luckenbach has released his second book, The Art of Why. Luckenbach draws on nearly 29 years of experience in the financial services industry to explain how personal fulfillment and setting and achieving goals come from understanding the ‘why’ behind our actions.

The book contains five steps for achieving personal fulfillment, which include:

1.   Admitting the lies you’ve been telling yourself.

2.   Recalibrating your pleasure center to the intrinsic and long-term.

3.   Doing what demands the most courage.

4.   Becoming aware of your own thinking.

5.   Inducing a crisis.

Luckenbach is a regional vice president for Jackson National Life Distributors LLC (JNLD), the distribution and marketing arm of Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®). He is also an engaging speaker known for his energetic presentations on behavioral finance, investor psychology, retirement, annuities and portfolio management.

The Kansas Insurance Department (KID) can now assist Kansans in locating life insurance and annuity benefits they may be owed. The new Life Insurance Policy and Annuity Search is available by submitting a request form to KID. Kansans who believe they are beneficiaries, an executor or legal representative of a deceased person can request help through KID, which will then send the request to all Kansas-licensed life insurance companies to search their records.

If a policy or contract is found, the company will respond directly to the requestor to begin the claims process. This process will enable Kansans who are possible beneficiaries to find benefits from another person’s life insurance or annuity contract. It will eliminate multiple searches by individuals because the insurance department will act as a clearinghouse for those requests.

Those submitting a request will need to do the following:

    • Complete a form you can download off the KID website, here.

    • Have the form notarized.

    • Attach a copy of the certified death certificate of the policyholder.

    • Send all information to the department address listed on the form. 

It is especially appropriate that this service is first offered through the KID department during Life Insurance Awareness Month.

LIMRA announced the launch of the first of its three LifeSourceTM product databases: LifeSource Whole Life. This database, available only to participating carriers, provides competitive intelligence data including: sample illustrations, product design information, including key product features and riders, and historical performance data for participating whole life products. 

LIMRA LifeSource will offer companies insights into their competitors’ portfolios of permanent individual life insurance products — whole life (par & non par), universal life, indexed UL, and variable life, along with sales for all products currently sold. The searchable dynamic database provides data visualizations that can be customized.



Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) has promoted Todd Hedtke to senior vice president and chief investment officer for Allianz Investment Management (AIM) U.S. In his new role, Hedtke (photo, right) will lead the AIM investment leadership team and join the company’s executive leadership group, reporting directly to Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White. Hedtke succeeds Carsten Quitter, who will join Allianz S.p.A. in Italy as chief investment officer.

As chief investment officer, Hedtke is responsible for investment management, liquidity planning, hedging, and trading of more than $100 billion of insurance assets for Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty and San Francisco Reinsurance. He is also a member of the global Allianz Investment Management Board, which services the Allianz Group insurance companies. Hedtke has been with Allianz Life for more than 15 years. Before this promotion, he led the General Account Investment Management function within the AIM division, delivering strong investment portfolio results. Hedtke also participated in AIM global expert teams and strategic projects.

The Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) announced the winners of its top awards, presented at the FPA Annual Conference – BE Boston 2015. FPA presented the 2015 P. Kemp Fain, Jr., Award and two 2015 Heart of Financial Planning Awards.

The 2015 P. Kemp Fain, Jr., Award is bestowed upon an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession in the areas of service to society, academia, government and professional activities, and upholds FPA’s Core Values of competence, integrity, relationships and stewardship. The winner of the 2015 P. Kemp Fain, Jr., Award is Roy Diliberto, CFP®, ChFC.

  • Diliberto, who is founder of RTD Financial Advisors, Inc. with six offices along the eastern seaboard and a headquarters in Philadelphia, Pa., is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of the financial planning profession and among the innovators of financial life planning.

The 2015 Heart of Financial Planning Award recognizes individual professionals, financial planning firms, and organizations that engage in extraordinary work, contributing and giving back to the planning community and public through financial planning. Recipients embody the spirit of financial planning and also represent FPA’s Core Values. This year’s honorees are:

  • Leslie Beck, CFP®, MBA (FPA of New Jersey)  Beck has been a dynamic leader in the New Jersey chapter of the FPA for years, having served on numerous committees and as president and chair of the chapter. Her work with the state on the New Jersey Senior Designation Abuse Bill and with the New Jersey Financial Education in High School Bill have won her many accolades among her peers and the public. Beck, who is principal of Compass Wealth Management, LLC in Wood Ridge, N.J., has been described by her peers as someone who has advocated for increased community, cooperation and relevancy within FPA and the financial planning profession.

  • Sabrina Lowell, CFP® (FPA of San Francisco) – Lowell has served on numerous task forces and committees for local and national education events, but her service goes well beyond conference involvement. She has participated in the National Consumer Advocacy Group and the Professional Development Advisory Group, the San Francisco FPA Career Development Committee, and was one of the early ‘founding’ members of FPA NexGen. Lowell, who is an adviser and COO at Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc. in San Francisco, Calif., is also active in volunteer pro-bono efforts, including working with the Earned Asset Resource Network, Financial Planning Days and in the Junior League.

Legal & General America (LGA) announced the promotion of Andrew “Drew” D. Love to senior vice president and chief financial officer of Legal & General America. Drew, who previously served in the role of vice president, finance will take on broader responsibilities including strategic and executive direction on all financial, tax and capital management matters for Legal & General America and all consolidated subsidiaries.

Drew will be a director on the boards of Banner Life Insurance Company and William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York. Drew is a CPA and a graduate of Loyola University in Maryland. He is an experienced financial executive with increasing financial managerial experience at Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Maryland Casualty Company (a member of the Zurich Financial Services Group). During his tenure with Legal & General America, Drew has overseen the execution of a diversified set of financing solutions that have raised in excess of $6 billion in capital, managed the implementation of new financial systems that have significantly reduced processing time for financial statements and cost review initiatives of vendor services that produced significant cost savings.

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The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) announced the appointment of Brian D. Heckert, CLU, ChFC, to President and Ross Vanderwolf, CFP, to Secretary of the organization’s Executive Committee, effective Sept. 1, 2015. Heckert (photo, left) will be the 90th president of MDRT and succeeds 26-year MDRT member Caroline Banks, APFS, who will become the immediate past president. Mark J. Hanna, CLU, ChFC, a 26-year MDRT member will serve as first vice president, and James Pittman, CLU, CFP, a 41-year MDRT member will serve as second vice president.

Heckert will lead the association of more than 43,000 international members for a one-year term and will work closely with the executive committee to identify opportunities for members to broaden their expertise, grow their businesses and educate clients about the importance of financial planning. He will ensure the association maintains the highest caliber by continually improving the services and leadership it provides.

Heckert is a 27-year MDRT member and holds several professional merits, including seven Court of the Table and eight Top of the Table qualifications. He is a Legion of Honor Excalibur Knight – level donor of the MDRT Foundation, the philanthropic arm of MDRT. Heckert is also a member of its Inner Circle Society, a distinguished group of donors who have supported the MDRT Foundation.

New York Life has dominated the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) in the United States for the 61st consecutive year, with 2,464 members in 2015. MDRT granted membership to only 9,966 agents in the entire United States, making membership in this organization a distinguishing life insurance career milestone for those demonstrating superior professional knowledge, experience and client service. Of the 1,242 female MDRT members in the U.S., 34.3 percentare New York Life agents – making the company the leader in female MDRT membership.  In fact, New York Life has more than five times as many female members as the second-place company. 

For the past 16 years, New York Life has also been the leader of MDRT’s two top-tier categories, with 354 members of “Court of the Table” and 126 members of “Top of the Table.” These elite groups recognize the highest producing agents in the industry and have 2,402 U.S. members and 1,107 U.S. members respectively. And, the company’s operation in Mexico, Seguros Monterrey New York Life, is the leader of MDRT membership in Mexico, representing 50 percent of MDRT membership with 275 members. In addition, Seguros Monterrey New York Life has more than twice the female membership of the second place company in Mexico. 

Valley Insurance Agency Alliance (VIAA), a cohesive family of nearly 100 independent insurance agencies in Missouri and Southern Illinois, recently doubled its Illinois membership territory by adding 47 counties in Central and Southern Illinois. The expansion includes the cities of Bloomington, Champaign, Decatur, Peoria and Springfield. According to VIAA regional vice president of Illinois Janice Dunphy, the expansion was specifically designed “to create opportunity for growth and perpetuation of independent insurance agencies.  In less than 10 years, our alliance model has assisted agencies of all sizes throughout the bi-state area, and now we plan to focus even more of our efforts in Illinois.”


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