It was a very busy year in financial services. Our website visits grew by 72 percent to five million as we brought you comprehensive coverage of the industry. This week, we will bring you our top five most popular 2017 stories in life insurance, annuities, finance, politics, health insurance and the DOL fiduciary rule.
The year in life insurance was one of transition and the perpetual search for strategies to extend coverage to families that might not realize how much they need the product.
Our top five stories reflected that industry anxiety. The list is divided into two stories on company reshuffles, and three survey stories on who is using life insurance and why.
The list contains no surprises and our 2018 list one year from now will likely look the same. After all, these industry challenges aren't going away anytime soon.
This MetLife story began in late 2016 and was huge news in the industry. Readers were eager for news on the plan to spin off Brighthouse Financial, Met Life's U.S. retail life and annuity distributor.
Offloading Brighthouse Financial into a separate company represented a key element to MetLife’s plan to transform itself into a leaner, more nimble life insurer. Until the separation, Brighthouse operated as a standalone operating business segment within MetLife.
Upon completion of the move, Brighthouse became one of the largest life and annuity companies in the U.S. with $240 billion in assets, 2.6 million insurance policies and annuity contracts and a robust network of distribution channels.
This story first appeared in February 2016, but remained popular throughout 2017 as Genworth regrouped and fought through tough financial times.
In this story, Genworth announced the suspension of new sales of life insurance products and fixed annuities to help reverse financial losses. The move was to help save the company $50 million in annual expenses, executives said at the time.
This October story proved popular for obvious reasons: consumer satisfaction with life insurance companies hit a record high in the JD Power 2017 U.S. Life Insurance Study.
Better economic conditions, favorable pricing and higher customer engagement helped raise satisfaction levels, the company reported.
The average overall customer satisfaction index ranking of life insurers rose to 785 points, 16 index points higher than last year, J.D. Power found.
And here we have the pessimistic view from the advisory side in a Financial Planning Association survey from June.
The focus on fees and taxes was cited as difficult over the next year for life and annuity products in the eyes of financial planners, the survey on investing trends found.
Usage or recommendations of fixed, variable and indexed annuities fell by several percentage points from 2016 to 2017, the survey said. Likewise, usage/recommendations of fixed and variable permanent life insurance products also fell by several percentage points.
This story was not great news for the industry either, as new LIMRA data found more people than ever obtaining life insurance through their employer. However, fewer employers were offering coverage.
As many as 108 million Americans have life insurance coverage through the workplace, compared with 102 million covered by individual life insurance, according to the survey published Aug. 30.
It is the first time that more people are covered by workplace life insurance than by individual policies since LIMRA began tracking data in 1960, LIMRA researchers said.
The number of Americans covered by employment-based life insurance will continue to grow, but only slowly, said Anita Potter, LIMRA's assistant vice president, workplace benefits.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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