Metlife 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.

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Company History

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.

MetLife 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 MetLife’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.

In the 20th century, MetLife 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 MetLife. 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 MetLife 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. 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.

Metlife Company  Ratings

As one might expect, MetLife 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 an AA rating from Fitch. While  these ratings put MetLife 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, MetLife 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 MetLife 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.

Metlife Products

Although MetLife 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.

MetLife 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.

MetLife 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, MetLife has a fairly  standard level term policy.

MetLife’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.

MetLife 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 MetLife’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.

Metlife Summary

As the largest life insurer in the United States, MetLife 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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