Date posted: March 5, 2012
Even though the financial markets and economy had a volatile year, Ohio National had a record year for their earnings, capital growth, and sales. Their industry was quite challenged this past year with low interest rates and volatile equity markets, but they maintained their strong capital position and excellent ratings.
With variable annuity sales of $1.6 billion in 2011, Ohio National increased their total by 8.5% over 2010. Last year they focused on protection and guarantees, and in January 2012 were able to bring on new withdrawal benefit riders and different managed volatility funds. Their individual life insurance sales increased 4.7% to $118.8 million. This is the 22nd year in a row that they have seen an increase, something no other insurance company has ever done.
Ohio National’s total assets went up 3.3% and their core earnings increased 5.6% from 2010 to 2011. Their capital position is very strong and increasing and all participating whole life insurance policyholders received a dividend payout for the 88th year in a row. Gross broker/dealer concessions increased 7.8% and they added over 2,000 financial representatives last year.
Financial strength ratings have been high and unchanged since 1991. Standard & Poor’s rates Ohio National “AA”, or very strong. Their A.M. Best rating is “A+”, or superior. And Moody’s rates Ohio National A1, their 5th highest rating on a scale that goes to 21. Ohio National was voted one of the best places in Cincinnati to work last year by Enquirer Media. They also donated over $1 million to local charities in 2011 and saw their 5th and 6th (out of 10) Habitat for Humanity houses built. Ohio National is on a strong path into the future.
Written by Rachel Summit
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Date posted: July 27, 2011
Ratings company A.M. Best has shown concern lately over marketplace happenings that may push them to downgrade some ratings. Due to the government’s arguing over the debt crisis and many weak European economies, the U.S. Life/Annuity sector may have its rating downgraded to negative from its current rating of stable. The Insurance Networking News article “Possible Revision to Rating Outlook for U.S. Life/Annuity Sector” explores the consequences of the ratings. Life insurance companies’ stability are being individually reviewed to see what happens to their risk-adjusted capitalization during times of economic stress. Some companies are more affected than others by the debt crisis and the falling European economies. Those companies who show a higher decline and those with a large amount of domestic and foreign sovereign credits may see their ratings decline.
The biggest stressors right now in the U.S. Life/Annuity sector are uncertainty in the global markets, higher volatility in the equity markets, a continuous weak real estate market, and unemployment coupled with low consumer confidence. Insurance companies are having a harder time increasing their revenues and earnings. Products like equity linked cds, fixed indexed annuities, and more are affected by the changing markets. While A.M. Best believes that raising the debt ceiling will help the financial markets’ stability in the short term, they think that other long term solutions are necessary. However, A.M. Best does acknowledge that many companies are being proactive to ensure their capital is protected, their portfolios are lower risk, and they are positioned for growth. If the annuity ratings outlook is downgraded, most insurers hope that their actions toward market protection will keep them positive.
Date posted: April 13, 2011
Transamerica Life Insurance Company is working on four new variable annuities with CUNA Mutual Group. The variable annuities will be offered to credit union members according to the CU Insight press center. They’ll be included in the MEMBERS brand of products and will be named MEMBERS Landmark, MEMBERS Liberty, MEMBERS Extra, and MEMBERS Freedom. Each variable annuity offers different features for credit union investors. The four new variable annuities are replacing the previous variable annuity offerings, but they will not affect credit union members who already carried those variable annuities. Starting May 2 of this year, the MEMBERS brand of variable annuities will be offered in most states.
CUNA Mutual has offered annuities to their members since the 1980′s, but this is their first partnership with Transamerica. Transamerica is an AEGON company, which has been in business since the early 1900′s. They have an A+ (superior) financial strength rating from A.M. Best. This partnership of variable annuities will be added to CUNA Mutual’s other annuity products, which include indexed, fixed, and single premium immediate annuities. They pride themselves as having an “all-weather” portfolio of products. Credit union members are being offered an expanding product line of variable annuities because annuities are becoming more popular in retirement for their guaranteed lifetime income. CUNA Mutual realizes the importance of annuities for their members who are both saving for and living in retirement.
Date posted: October 18, 2010
According to Insurance News Net’s article “Phoenix Cos. Forms Alliance for Indexed Annuities, Continues to Seek New Distribution Channels,” the Connecticut based company is looking to sell their products through many new channels. They are now collaborating with AltiSure Group, an annuity company that also designs and distributes life insurance. The companies will work together in developing equity indexed annuities and life insurance in hopes to bring them to a much greater number of consumers. Independent marketing organizations distribute Altisure’s products. All combined in 2009, they had $4 billion of annuity premiums sold.
James D. Wehr took over as President and CEO at Phoenix in May 2009. He has been working to increase the company’s financial strength ratings by opening new distribution channels like this partnership and coming out with some alternative products for generating retirement income. They began private labeling their products, so that Phoenix became the private label manufacturer with a different financial institution actually putting their name on Phoenix’s products. Their A.M. Best financial rating increased last week from a B+ (Good) to an A- (Excellent). Their outlook was also listed as stable. As fixed annuity rates remain fragile, Phoenix looks to their equity indexed annuities and other annuity products to help customers gain the retirement income that they need.
Date posted: July 28, 2010
According to California’s Daily Breeze article “MONEYWISE: Looking into the renewed interest in investing in annuities,” Stephanie Enright says that the government’s interest in promoting annuities has sparked an increased interest from investors. Annuities are most often issued by insurance companies and grow over time with the expectation that you can receive lifetime income payments in retirement. Two reasons annuities are popular are that some have a long-term-care insurance rider, which is increasingly popular today. They also grow tax-deferred until you receive your money, then they are taxed like ordinary income.
Fixed annuities and variable annuities are your two options. The fixed variety gives you a certain return based on interest rates at the time of purchase or a link to a financial index. Variable annuities can have greater risk, but greater reward as your return is variable.
The author believes that the two most important things to consider when looking into annuities are the financial strength of the insurance company issuing the product and the structure of your contract. Comdex ranks insurers based on the financial strength ratings from companies like Moodys, Standard & Poor’s, and A.M. Best Co. Their stability and financial strength is the only thing guaranteeing your lifetime income payments. You also want to know how your annuity agent is paid through commissions and fees. Other contract details include riders like death benefits for spouses or other relatives. Make sure you know all of the annuity details before purchasing the product.