Posted on 16 Aug 2010
New York Life Insurance Company, America's largest mutual life insurer, today announced strong gains in sales of life insurance, income annuities, long-term care insurance, and mutual funds, as well as an increase in the field force for the first six months of 2010.
Individual life insurance sales increased 47% through June, compared to an all-time record for sales in the first six months of 2009. For the most part, this growth is being driven by increased sales of both permanent insurance and term products, including the company's Custom Whole Life product, an innovative form of whole life that allows consumers to choose how long they pay premiums.
"This outstanding sales performance validates that consumers' behavior around their financial decisions has changed. In 2009, we saw that New York Life's sales of life insurance products reflected the need among Americans for products that offer safety and were backed by a trusted company with the inherent strength of New York Life, with its more than $15 billion in Surplus capital. Consumers also saw the added value of having a knowledgeable, trained agent to work with. These trends have continued in 2010. The first half of the year continues to show that families and businesses are putting their money where the guarantees are and where the stable returns are," said Mark Pfaff, executive vice president in charge of U.S. Life and Agency. "Even further, consumers who had turned to New York Life to help them overcome the economic hardship felt in 2009 are recognizing more and more that life insurance provides a solid foundation for family financial plans."
"Our sales growth is being driven by the agent force of more than 11,500 financial representatives in communities across the country, with first-half life insurance sales through agents up 38% over the 2009 period*. As a result the company continues to gain market share, which now exceeds 9% of the total U.S. life insurance market," added Pfaff. According to an industry source New York Life has the largest share of new life insurance premium in the nation.**
New York Life clients are utilizing whole life insurance for the death benefit it provides, as well as the living benefits afforded by the product's cash value, which help consumers meet retirement, education or other cash needs. And not only are sales of life insurance increasing: Policyholders are also placing more money into existing policies to build additional guaranteed cash value for future needs.
Pre-retirees and retirees continue to value the benefits of lifetime income annuities, and New York Life - the market share leader in these fixed immediate annuities - achieved a new record in six-month sales of $870 million, led by strong sales through its agents and Third Party distribution.
"After the economic crisis that began in late 2008, the nest eggs of many Americans were dealt a serious blow and they realized their retirement income needs were not going to be met. In this environment, New York Life's income annuity, which we call guaranteed lifetime income, became even more valued by providing a regular, guaranteed stream of income to those who saw their income in retirement drop. Clearly, Americans seeking safety and security to meet their retirement income needs has continued in 2010 with strong sales of income annuities," said Chris Blunt, executive vice president in charge of Retirement Income Security. "New York Life remains the top seller of income annuities because our message of financial strength and stability is resonating, our brand has never been more valued, and our financial strength is unsurpassed, with the four major rating agencies recently reaffirming our top financial ratings. This combination of attributes makes New York Life the undeniable choice for meeting at least basic income needs in retirement."
Even further, as pre-retirees recognize the increased health care issues that may come along with living longer, they are making the wise decision to protect their assets by purchasing long-term care insurance, and the company's sales of the product are up 10% over last year. New York Life reported earlier this year that for the sixth consecutive year, it will pay a dividend to its LTCSelect Premier long-term care insurance policyholders. In addition, New York Life is one of only a few insurers that has never raised premium rates on in-force policies.
"Reputation is key in the long-term care area, and New York Life has worked hard to avoid rate increases while offering policyholders a dividend, sending the message that our prudent approach to managing policyholder funds remains a top priority. The strong sales growth in the first half of 2010 is evidence that consumers recognize that New York Life's mutual structure keeps us uniquely aligned with our policyholders and makes us the company of choice for including long-term care insurance in a well-designed, comprehensive retirement plan that can help preserve a legacy and protect income," said Mike Gallo, senior vice president, Long-Term Care Insurance.
Sales of New York Life's mutual funds (MainStay Funds) totaled more than $5 billion in the first half of the year, with strong performances from Third Party channels accounting for more than $4 billion of the total. First-half net sales of $2.3 billion are on a record pace for the year.
"We continue to have good success with our Third Party distribution strategy, complementing our core distribution system of career agents. Our ability to achieve this was helped by the strong line-up of funds managed by our investment management subsidiary," Mr. Blunt said.
* New York Life counts Agency insurance sales of single premiums at 50%.
**Source: LIMRA International, first quarter 2010 sales survey; using recurring premium and 100% of single premiums.