Met Life Life Insurance
Thanks to the presence of its blimp at many sporting events and its incorporation of Snoopy from ThePeanuts comic strip into its advertising campaigns, Met Life has become the most recognizable lifeinsurance company in the United States. But Met Life is no Johnny-come-lately.The company was originally formed by a group of New York businessmen in 1863 and was known as theNational Union Life and Limb Insurance Company. Company executives decided to focus their energieson life insurance and gave the company its current name in 1868.Met Life nearly collapsed during the Depression of the 1870s but received a much-needed shot in thearm when the company president infused the organization with a team of British sales agents whohelped teach existing agents how to design polices for industrial workers. This proved to be a turningpoint in Met Lifes history as the strategy allowed it to shoot to the top of the industry in terms of thenumber of policies written, which is a status that it maintains today.
Stronger Than Ever
In the 20
century, Met Life endured the Great Depression in between the two World Wars and cameout of all of those crises stronger than it had been before. Indeed, it was dubbed the countrys strongestprivately held company.With the advent of the 21
century, changes were brewing for Met Life. In 2000, the company decidedto abandon its status as a mutual company to become publicly traded and its initial public offeringremains the seventh largest in history. In order to remain appealing to investors Met Life began todiversify its holdings. In 2001, it entered the retail banking industry when it launched its own bank andin 2008 it joined the residential mortgage market when it purchased a pair of mortgage companies.
The King of the Hill
Thanks largely to its popularity as a group life insurer, Met Life is the largest insurer in the United Stateswith nearly 100 million policies written which are believed to be worth in excess of $3.3 trillion.As one might expect, Met Life is regarded highly by independent ratings agencies. It has an A+ ratingfrom AM Best, an Aa2 rating from Moodys, an AA- from Standard and Poors and a AA rating from Fitch.While these ratings put Met Life near the top among life insurance companies, it should be noted thatother companies (Mass Mutual, New York Life and State Farm to name a few) are rated higher.Earlier in 2010, Met Life saw its rating be placed under review with negative implications by AM Bestwhen it purchased American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) the life insurance arm from the AmericanInternational Group (AIG). The move was heralded by Met Life as an attempt to expand its reach outsideof America, but the effects on its business are yet to be determined, as indicated by AM Bests actions.A life insurance companys ratings are the best tools available to a consumer who wants to understandthe financial strength of a company he is considering to do business with. The ratings reflect a