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Met Life Company Profile

Met Life Company Profile

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Published by: green4sd on Jun 15, 2010
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11/16/2010

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Met Life Life Insurance Thanks to the presence of its blimp at many sporting events and its incorporation

of Snoopy from The Peanuts comic strip into its advertising campaigns, Met Life has become the most recognizable life insurance 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 the National Union Life and Limb Insurance Company. Company executives decided to focus their energies on 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 the arm when the company president infused the organization with a team of British sales agents who helped teach existing agents how to design polices for industrial workers. This proved to be a turning point in Met Life s history as the strategy allowed it to shoot to the top of the industry in terms of the number of policies written, which is a status that it maintains today. Stronger Than Ever In the 20th century, Met Life endured the Great Depression in between the two World Wars and came out of all of those crises stronger than it had been before. Indeed, it was dubbed the country s strongest privately held company. With the advent of the 21st century, changes were brewing for Met Life. In 2000, the company decided to abandon its status as a mutual company to become publicly traded and its initial public offering remains the seventh largest in history. In order to remain appealing to investors Met Life began to diversify its holdings. In 2001, it entered the retail banking industry when it launched its own bank and in 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 States with 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+ rating from AM Best, an Aa2 rating from Moody s, 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 that other 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 Best when it purchased American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) the life insurance arm from the American International Group (AIG). The move was heralded by Met Life as an attempt to expand its reach outside of America, but the effects on its business are yet to be determined, as indicated by AM Best s actions. A life insurance company s ratings are the best tools available to a consumer who wants to understand the financial strength of a company he is considering to do business with. The ratings reflect a

company s ability to pay its policies. While it may seem unlikely that a company as strong as Met Life could ever be in a position where it might struggle to pay out policies, keep in mind that the same thing was thought of AIG. Staying True To Its Core Although Met Life has diversified quite a bit in recent years its core business is still life insurance. The company offers the basic term, whole and universal life insurance but within these categories there are plenty of variables. Met Life offers a unique one year term life policy that can be renewed annually up to the age of 95 and is convertible to whole life up to the age of 60. As one might expect, the premiums do increase from one year to the next, but it is the type of policy that is worth looking at as a form of supplemental insurance in the event of a short-term financial hardship. Met Life also has scheduled term Insurance in 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 year plans. These policies do not require a physical, but the premiums could change from one year to the next. In addition, Met Life has a fairly standard level term policy. Whole Life With Variables Met Life s whole life policies come with a range of riders and features that require close inspection. One of the more popular is a disability waiver which guarantees that the premiums are paid if the insured becomes disabled. The universal life products offered by Met Life allow for flexibility in terms of premiums, length of coverage and death benefit. Their Variable Universal Life products provide even more choices for the consumer including up to 60 different funding options. Met Life also has a survivorship life policy that can help the consumer decide how to disperse a death benefit among multiple beneficiaries, businesses or causes. While there is wealth if information about Met Life s policies available online, more sophisticated policies with variable interest rates, riders and benefits need to be discussed with a qualified sales agent. This will help the consumer understand the many options that are available. As the largest life insurer in the United States, Met Life has an abundance of qualified sales agents throughout the US. As you start to compare the financial strength of one company versus another it is important to remember that your dealings with the corporate entity will be minimal. It is the representative of the corporation the sales agent who you will call upon with your questions. There is no disputing the importance of strong financials, but an agent who is both trustworthy and informed has a value whose price cannot be quantified.

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