MetLife has announced the launch of a new universal life (UL) insurance product aimed at making it easier for consumers to access cash within the policy and more lucrative for advisors to sell over the period the policy is in force.
The product, Premier Accumulator Universal Life, or PAUL, also benefits from MetLife’s newly developed “enhanced rate plus” underwriting process.
Gene Lunman, executive vice present of MetLife Retail Life & Disability Insurance, said in a news release that policyholders will have access to “most or all of what they put into their policy, within the first few policy years,” as a way to access liquidity.
With life insurance sales stagnant and interest rates remaining low, life insurance carriers are looking to generate sales by making their products more flexible — which is what consumers also say they want.
Surveys show many American families have low savings rates and could not come up with emergency funds of a few thousand dollars. Giving them access to the cash built up within a universal life policy is designed to address that.
In addition to offering consumers and small-business owners more cash faster than in traditional life insurance policies, Premier Accumulator delivers benefits from noncorrelated asset classes and low surrender charges, the company said.
Lunman told InsuranceNewsNet that changes to the compensation structure mean advisors who sell Premier Accumulator will get paid more in trailing compensation than they would by selling other life insurance products.
He said the combination of premium-based compensation and trail-based compensation, based on the cash value within the policy, “is much more level” than with other policies. The higher the cash values in the policy, the greater the trailing compensation, he also said.
New individual life insurance premium grew only 2 percent last year compared to 2013 and policy count fell 2 percent compared to the previous year, according to LIMRA’s Retail Individual Life Insurance Survey.
Policy count has declined in six out of the last 10 years, the survey also found.
Several large life insurers in the past year have made changes to their life insurance product portfolios.
John Hancock last year said it had “re-engineered” term life products to make them less expensive, and Lincoln Financial Group last fall said it had instituted changes to its Life Elements suite of level-premium term products.
Last August, MetLife said it was cutting rates on its guaranteed level term product to expand the reach into the middle market.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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