Executives from Globe Life Inc. say COVID-19-related unemployment has helped the company recruit new agents, but that disruptions in state licensing exam programs slowed efforts to put the new agents to work.
Larry Hutchison, Globe Life’s co-chief executive officer, talked about the licensing delays Thursday, during a conference call the company held to go over first-quarter earnings with securities analysts.
Globe Life is a McKinney, Texas-based company that sells protection life insurance and supplemental health insurance to moderate-income families.
Hutchison said that, when the work-at-home orders began rolling in, only four states provided temporary licenses for new agents who were unable to complete the usual licensing requirements, due to the COVID-19-related lockdowns.
“Now over 20 states have temporary licenses, and the testing centers are starting to reopen,” Hutchison said.
- A recording of Globe Life’s first quarter conference call is available here.
- An article about Globe Life’s first quarter numbers is available here.
Hutchison also talked about the need for agents at Globe Life’s traditional agencies to learn how to sell online, rather than face-to-face.
At one of the agencies, American Income, sales were down 20% from what they were in the comparable period in 2019, but now sales are only about 10% lower, Hutchison said.
Sales are still down 30% at the Liberty National agency, but “the agencies in the field are very quickly adapting to the virtual sales process,” Hutchison said.
Sales are also down 30% at the Family Heritage agency, Hutchison said.
“However, I am encouraged by the positive attitude of the agency owners,” Hutchison said.
At Globe Life’s direct-to-consumer internet operation and call centers, applications “have increased significantly,” Hutchison said. “As we have noted in the past, difficult times tend to highlight the importance of basic protection life insurance.”
Here are some other things executives said:
Persistency: At this point, Hutchison said, policyholders are keeping up premium payments about as well as they were before COVID-19 came along.
COVID-19 mortality: Frank Svoboda, Globe Life’s chief financial officer, said the company is assuming that the pandemic will lead to about 80,000 U.S. deaths, and about 2,500 to 3,000 life insurance claims for Globe Life, for a total of about $30 million in life insurance claims.
Agent commissions: Svoboda said Globe Life expects lower sales to reduce spending commissions and other sales-related expenses, and for those spending reductions to offset some of the cost of COVID-19-related insurance claims.
The U.S. Postal Service: “There has been a significant discussion in the media about the Postal Service running out of money and shutting down in the next few months,” Hutchison said. “We believe that it would be unrealistic from any perspective, political or otherwise, for the federal government to allow the Postal Service to cease operations.” At this point, he said, “post office service levels are in line with what we’ve experienced in the past. We have not seen any impact on our mailing processes.”
— Read Publicly Traded Life and Annuity Issuers Prepare to Talk About COVID-19 With Investors, on ThinkAdvisor.