What You Need to Know
- Ellen Cooper, the new Lincoln Financial CEO, pointed out that life insurers have come through a period of high claims unscathed.
- Cooper and executives from other insurers emphasized the importance of guarantees for the customers.
- They also acknowledged the need to design, price and manage guarantees carefully.
The CEOs of life insurance and annuity issuers told the financial world that they need to continue to offer long-term benefits guarantees because what they do — and what you do — matters.
Speaking at an online insurance conference organized by S&P Global Ratings, Ellen Cooper, who has been the CEO at Lincoln Financial for just seven days, said that Lincoln has changed its product sales mix, repriced many products, and changed or replaced other products in response to years of low interest rates and other headwinds.
But she also emphasized the value of the guarantees Lincoln’s life, disability and annuity products still provide for people trying to protect themselves against risk and prepare for retirement, and she talked about the resilience of Lincoln and its competitors.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, “we have all experienced excess claims,” Cooper said. “But we’ve maintained financial strength. There’s no question around the strength and stability of the life insurance industry, which I think is great.”
Anant Bhalla, the CEO of American Equity Investment Life, a major indexed annuity issuer, also emphasized the need to diversify and manage risk carefully — and to continue to offer guarantees.
“This industry has a really important role to play,” Bhalla said. “You can be a trillion-dollar bank, you can be a trillion-dollar asset manager, you can’t make a guarantee. Only this industry can.”
Paul Mahon, CEO of Great-West Lifeco, said the big life insurers and other big companies need to think about how to use their size and strength to help the world as a whole. He noted that, in the past two years, North America has faced social unrest, fears about the environment, the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain disruption and, now, the war in Ukraine.