Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
By Cyril Tuohy
MetLife has announced the launch of a final expense whole life insurance policy designed to appeal to middle-market customers 45 years old or older. Many of these consumers are still underinsured.
Rates vary from $10 a month for a 45-year-old woman seeking $2,500 in coverage to $326 a month for a 75-year-old man seeking $20,000 in coverage. The policy builds cash value and the premiums never go up, the company said.
“Everyone should have access to life insurance that is simple and affordable, but we know that many people perceive barriers that can make the coverage they want seem out of reach,” MetLife vice president Lewis Goldman said in a news release.
No medical underwriting is required and the coverage is available by phone and online, the company said.
Earlier this year, MetLife introduced a simplified-issue term life policy for coverage amounts of between $10,000 and $100,000, also with the medical exam.
Goldman said the company’s latest life insurance product launches were a continuation of MetLife's push into the consumer market, announced back in 2009.
“We see this as not just a huge opportunity but also a responsibility,” Goldberg told InsuranceNewsNet. “Life penetration is woefully low and the direct-to-consumer channel is complementary to the agent network.”
With baby boomers turning 65 at the rate of about 10,000 a day, and many of them living longer than they planned, a final expense whole life policy is designed to help the families pay medical bills, credit card debt and funeral costs for the deceased.
MetLife is keeping products sold through the direct-to-consumer channel simple, accessible and affordable, Goldman said.
MetLife reported first quarter net income of $1.29 billion, an increase of 36 percent over the year-ago period. Operating earnings were $1.56 billion, down 4 percent from the year-ago period.
Fewer than half of all American households own an individual life insurance policy, according to LIMRA insurance research. Of the households that are covered, many are underinsured for the coverage they need.
The latest available numbers issued by the American Council of Life Insurers show that at the end of 2012, individual in-force life insurance protection in the U.S. totaled $11.2 trillion, up 2 percent from 2011.
Annualized premiums for individual life insurance sales of universal life, variable universal life, term and whole life were flat in 2013 compared to 2012, according to LIMRA.
Face amounts and the number of individual life policies each declined by 3 percent last year compared to 2012, LIMRA also said.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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