Along with the changes of the last few years in life insurance underwriting has come some serious scenery changes in the companies. There has been a rash of large companies gobbling up smaller companies and in some cases large companies gobbling up large companies.
Growing up I used to think that the only insurance company in the world was Mutual of Omaha. Needless to say, Marlin Perkins and his wild kingdom show had an impact on my life. Well, Marlin is long gone, but Mutual of Omaha is still there, although not much of a player in the life insurance market.
But thinking back I do have a faint memory of the Kemper cavalry, the advertising thrust for Federal Kemper. About 10 years ago FK started slipping away. It was bought by Zurich Life and changed to Zurich Kemper (no more cavalry at that point). Then they did away with Kemper and it was just Zurich Life. That was then purchased by mega bank Chase and it became Chase Life and Chase Life was then bought by and is currently part of Protective Life. I can imagine being a Federal Kemper policy holder and wondering if you should just send your premium check and leave the pat to part blank.
Empire General, one of the best impaired risk companies in the business two years ago, was a subsidiary of Protective Life. Under the guise of cost cutting, Protective folded all of EG’s operations into West Coast Life, another subsidiary. Now it is starting to appear that West Coast Life will soon be gone and all of the good underwriting will go with it.
And Traveler’s (the umbrella folks). They were purchased by Met Life. I was sorry to see Traveler’s get out of the business. They were an outstanding life insurance company, one of the real leaders in the universal life market.
Probably the acquisition with the biggest impact for my business was when AXA Equitable bought MONY and US Financial. Three years ago these two companies were the best in the business for private pilots, diabetics and people with heart disease. AXA didn’t buy them because they liked the way they did business. It really appears from the outside looking in that the purchase was to get them out of the business and out of the way. They bought them and dismantled them.
The good news for the customers of the companies that have been purchased is that the guarantees in the original policies have to, by law, be honored. So the check may go somewhere else, but the policy is the same as the day you bought it.
The bad news for new consumers is that it appears that one after another, the companies that have been at the leading edge of offering the best prices and the best underwriting are being picked off and stomped in a mud hole, never to be seen again.
Bottom line. There is no better time to be using an independent agent. Other companies step forward to fill the underwriting voids, and it will take a good agent to keep up with all the changes.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.