New York Life Insurance has been providing life insurance policies in the Big Apple since it was a tiny seed. While the top mutual life insurer in the US has branched out a bit, it retains its core business: life insurance and annuities. Its products include long-term care insurance and special group policies sold through AARP and other affinity groups and professional associations. New York Life Investments' offerings include mutual funds for individuals and investment management services for institutional investors. Through New York Life International, the firm provides life policies in overseas markets. Founded in 1841, New York Life is owned by its policyholders.
New York Life operates service and marketing offices throughout the US. The company also operates offices in Mexico, Taiwan, and India.
Sales & Marketing
New York Life distributes its products primarily through its network of some 17,000 career agents in the US, while it relies upon more than 51,000 agents to represent its products outside the US. A network of brokers represents the company's corporate and bank-owned products and those aimed at high net-worth customers.
The company, like many of its rivals, considered demutualizing and turning itself into a public company at one point. However, after encountering resistance from legislators, New York Life eventually dropped plans for such a change. Demutualizing would have allowed it to make riskier investments, but it also would have made it vulnerable to being gobbled up in a merger. As a result of remaining a staid old mutual, the company's comfy cushion of capital reserves saw it through the economic crises of 2008 and 2009. Unlike its public competitors, New York Life retained its pristine ratings, and even saw its earnings increase.
In 2011 New York Life and its subsidiaries achieved revenue growth of about 2% to $23.8 billion, mainly driven by a 10% increase in premiums. The company's net income fell by about 29% to $1.3 billion, mainly due to a 7% increase in expenses, including benefits and liabilities for future policy benefits. The firm's surplus, however, increased 6.5% to $17.9 billion. Individual life insurance in force increased 4% to $790 billion, and assets under management increased 10% to $338 billion. The company paid out more than $7.6 billion in benefits and dividends in 2011.
New York Life bases its strategy on protecting its financial strength, which it does by conservatively refusing to take risks or gamble on its policyholders' dime. The firm manages its investments for long-term strength through its own research and analyses, and as a result, it does not fall into deficit. More than 90% of New York Life's invested assets are in fixed-income investments diversified across multiple industries and regions. The company has been able to avoid such pitfalls as subprime mortgage debt and exposure to sovereign debt in Europe by sticking to its principles.
New York Life has used some its considerable capital reserves to expand into international markets over the years, targeting areas where life insurance markets are not yet mature, especially in Latin America and Asia. However, while New York Life seeks to expand in select emerging markets for the long-term, the company has also been divesting some noncore international operations in 2011 and 2012. It is also expanding its investment management operations through its New York Life Investment Management (mutual funds, group and individual retirement plans, college savings products).
In 2011 the company sold its life insurance operations in Hong Kong and Korea to ACE Limited for about $425 million. It then went on to sell its 47% stake in Siam Commercial New York Life Insurance Public to its Thai partner in the business, Siam Commercial Bank, for about $280 million. Then, in 2012, it agreed to sell its New York Life Taiwan Insurance Corp. to private financial group Taishin Financial Holding Co. for NT$100 million ($3.35 million). It also agreed to sell its Fianzas Monterrey unit, which provides surety insurance in Mexico, to ACE Limited to focus on its core life operations in the Mexico market (conducted through Seguros Monterrey). – less