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Insurance Companies and Universal Health Care

Insurance companies serve a very important function in our society. The purpose of insurance is to share risk. Risk is the amount of economic loss that someone is willing to assume in an activity. For instance, a bank would not loan money for the purpose of buying a house, unless the house was protected against losses such as fire, wind and other perils. That protection is provided by a Homeowner’s policy.

A loan to purchase an automobile would not be available unless the car was insured for losses by theft or collision. That protection is provided by an auto policy.

Health insurance is a policy that shares the risk of losses caused by injuries or illness. A share of the risk is assumed by the individual through a deductible or co-pay. In-other-words, if someone visits the doctor, that individual may be required to pay the first $15 or $20 of the visit. The health insurance company assumes the risk of the remainder of the cost.

That shared risk comes about through an exchange of ‘consideration’. Consideration is value. The insured pays a premium in exchange for the promise of the insurance company to pay certain costs associated with the insured’s health care. Which brings us to the controversy surrounding the government’s efforts to institute what some call universal health care.

No matter what side of the argument you are on, in favor or against universal health care, one issue has been settled. President Obama stated publicly that it is impossible to insure the ‘uninsured’ without additional costs. So, the idea that this will be a ‘deficit neutral’ policy has been debunked by the administration itself. Either taxes go up to pay for the program, or health care will have to be rationed to keep costs neutral, or bring them down.

In response to the public out-cry about a government health care program, the administration has called the insurance companies villains. After all, insurance companies exclude preexisting conditions for some period of time when an individual enrolls (however that is not always the case with group policies), and insurance companies are making a ‘profit’.

PreExsiting Conditions

Think about the concept of risk and preexisting conditions. An individual has a home that has been damaged by fire. Would a homeowner’s insurance company now write a policy that would cover the repairs to home caused by the preexisting fire? Of course not! That is not shared risk, that is bad business.

An individual has a preexisting health condition, say diabetes. Purchasing a policy that would exclude the treatment for diabetes for a limited period of time (usually two years), now results in a shared risk. The health insurance company will cover the person for other perils, and if that individual pays the premiums over time, that exclusion regarding the preexisting condition is then dropped.

Is it possible for the government to insure everyone in the United States and force insurance companies to provide policies without regard to preexisting conditions? It is possible, but not without driving the cost of health-care way up. After all, the money to pay the doctors and hospitals have to come from somewhere and President Obama stated that ‘We are out of money’. Since the government doesn’t earn money, its only source of revenue is taxes.

Profit

Insurance companies are being cast as the bad guy since companies make a profit. Which do you prefer, companies that are well run that make a profit, or a company like General Motors that required billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail the company out? A profit is what allows companies to expand services and provide jobs. Companies that fail to make a profit, go out-of-business.

The government not only fails to make a profit, as a well run business entity should, it runs at a deficit. The latest example is Cash for Clunkers. Not only was taxpayer money used to subsidize auto sales, now car dealers are complaining that the government is not sending the checks for the Clunkers that were promised. It appears that many buyers will have lost their old cars and now face repossession of the new cars purchased since the money for the program did not actually exist.

This does not bode well for a government run health care system.

Tort Reform

Doctors and hospitals must practice defensive medicine. People will sue for anything. Tort lawyers use a ‘shot-gun’ approach when filing a malpractice lawsuit. All doctors, nurses, technicians and hospitals involved in a case are named as a defendant, whether that party had any actual responsibility for the claimed injury and damage.

We need a loser pay system, which provides that anyone who brings a lawsuit and loses, is required to pay the other side’s attorney fees and expenses. That would do away with most frivolous lawsuits and bring the costs of health care down.

Big Government Solution

Government should be required to live within its means. It does not, and the government, not insurance companies, is the villain in this scenario.

The founding fathers did not foresee a large, powerful centralized government. That is what was the war of independence against England was all about. The US Constitution delegated specific powers to the Federal Government, and it does not specify taking over any private sector industry.

Medicare and Medicaid are government health care programs on the verge of collapse. Even President Obama admits Medicare cannot be sustained. No program can be sustained when it runs at a deficit and all government programs run at a deficit.

Universal Health Care will run at a deficit from day one and that is just bad business.

How an Insurance Policy Works

Insurance is synonymous to a lot of people sharing risks of losses expected from a supposed accident. Here, the costs of the losses will be borne by all the insurers.

For example, if Mr. Adam buys a new car and wishes to insure the vehicle against any expected accidents. He will buy an insurance policy from an insurance company through an insurance agent or insurance broker by paying a specific amount of money, called premium, to the insurance company.

The moment Mr. Adam pay the premium, the insurer (i.e. the insurance company) issue an insurance policy, or contract paper, to him. In this policy, the insurer analyses how it will pay for all or part of the damages/losses that may occur on Mr. Adam’s car.

However, just as Mr. Adam is able to buy an insurance policy and is paying to his insurer, a lot of other people in thousands are also doing the same thing. Any one of these people who are insured by the insurer is referred to as insured. Normally, most of these people will never have any form of accidents and hence there will be no need for the insurer to pay them any form of compensation.

If Mr. Adam and a very few other people has any form of accidents/losses, the insurer will pay them based on their policy.

It should be noted that the entire premiums paid by these thousands of insured is so much more than the compensations to the damages/losses incurred by some few insured. Hence, the huge left-over money (from the premiums collected after paying the compensations) is utilized by the insurer as follows:

1. Some are kept as a cash reservoir.

2. Some are used as investments for more profit.

3. Some are used as operating expenses in form of rent, supplies, salaries, staff welfare etc.

4. Some are lent out to banks as fixed deposits for more profit etc. etc.

Apart from the vehicle insurance taken by Mr. Adam on his new vehicle, he can also decide to insure himself. This one is extremely different because it involves a human life and is thus termed Life Insurance or Assurance.

Life insurance (or assurance) is the insurance against against certainty or something that is certain to happen such as death, rather than something that might happen such as loss of or damage to property.

The issue of life insurance is a paramount one because it concerns the security of human life and business. Life insurance offers real protection for your business and it also provides some sot of motivation for any skilled employees who decides to to join your organization.

Life insurance insures the life of the policy holder and pays a benefit to the beneficiary. This beneficiary can be your business in the case of a key employee, partner, or co-owner. In some cases, the beneficiary may be one’s next of kin or a near or distant relation. The beneficiary is not limited to one person; it depends on the policy holder.

Life insurance policies exist in three forms:

• Whole life insurance

• Term Insurance

• Endowment insurance

Whole Life Insurance

In Whole Life Insurance (or Whole Assurance), the insurance company pays an agreed sum of money (i.e. sum assured) upon the death of the person whose life is insured. As against the logic of term life insurance, Whole Life Insurance is valid and it continues in existence as long as the premiums of the policy holders are paid.

When a person express his wish in taking a Whole Life Insurance, the insurer will look at the person’s current age and health status and use this data to reviews longevity charts which predict the person’s life duration/life-span. The insurer then present a monthly/quarterly/bi-annual/annual level premium. This premium to be paid depends on a person’s present age: the younger the person the higher the premium and the older the person the lower the premium. However, the extreme high premium being paid by a younger person will reduce gradually relatively with age over the course of many years.

In case you are planning a life insurance, the insurer is in the best position to advise you on the type you should take. Whole life insurance exists in three varieties, as follow: variable life, universal life, and variable-universal life; and these are very good options for your employees to consider or in your personal financial plan.

Term Insurance

In Term Insurance, the life of the policy-holder is insured for a specific period of time and if the person dies within the period the insurance company pays the beneficiary. Otherwise, if the policy-holder lives longer than the period of time stated in the policy, the policy is no longer valid. In a simple word, if death does not occur within stipulated period, the policy-holder receives nothing.

For example, Mr. Adam takes a life policy for a period of not later than the age of 60. If Mr. Adam dies within the age of less than 60 years, the insurance company will pay the sum assured. If Mr. Adam’s death does not occur within the stated period in the life policy (i.e. Mr. Adam lives up to 61 years and above), the insurance company pays nothing no matter the premiums paid over the term of the policy.

Term assurance will pay the policy holder only if death occurs during the “term” of the policy, which can be up to 30 years. Beyond the “term”, the policy is null and void (i.e. worthless). Term life insurance policies are basically of two types:

o Level term: In this one, the death benefit remains constant throughout the duration of the policy.

o Decreasing term: Here, the death benefit decreases as the course of the policy’s term progresses.

It should be note that Term Life Insurance can be used in a debtor-creditor scenario. A creditor may decide to insure the life of his debtor for a period over which the debt repayment is expected to be completed, so that if the debtor dies within this period, the creditor (being the policy-holder) gets paid by the insurance company for the sum assured).

Endowment Life Insurance

In Endowment Life Insurance, the life of the policy holder is insured for a specific period of time (say, 30 years) and if the person insured is still alive after the policy has timed out, the insurance company pays the policy-holder the sum assured. However, if the person assured dies within the “time specified” the insurance company pays the beneficiary.

For example, Mr. Adam took an Endowment Life Insurance for 35 years when he was 25 years of age. If Mr. Adam is lucky to attain the age of 60 (i.e. 25 + 35), the insurance company will pay the policy-holder (i.e. whoever is paying the premium, probably Mr. Adam if he is the one paying the premium) the sum assured. However, if Mr. Adam dies at the age of 59 years before completing the assured time of 35 years, his sum assured will be paid to his beneficiary (i.e. policy-holder). In case of death, the sum assured is paid at the age which Mr. Adam dies.

Insurance Companies Listings and Ratings Guide For Insurance Agents & Brokers

Here is the newest, revised version of the best insurance companies listings. These are compiled in a top 100 ratings guide format. The listings are in alphabetical order helping insurance agents & brokers locate an insurer. Find out how your opinion compares. How can you possibly rate an insurance company? I will mention briefly the various ways, show you the method I is used for this article, and why.

BY NUMBER OF AGENTS

This ratings guide listing method evaluates the insurer by the sheer number of insurance agents & brokers currently licensed and under contract. with carrier. I feel this evaluation to be worthless for a multitude of reasons. First of all there are a number of career health and life insurance agencies that have thousands of representatives. However, of these,up to 80% of the total agents are relatively new in attempting to establish credibility in the industry. Four years down the line only 6% of many an insurance company agency force will maintain enough production to stay career representatives.

Moreover, my findings uncover inaccuracy of this method due to licensing renewal process state insurance departments impose on the insurer. Most state departments of insurance send the renewal report forms on a yearly basis. There is a fee to be paid by each ins agent renewed. What makes it difficult is the variation of different paperwork procedures by individual states for removing non-active ins reps. The paperwork consists of costly, time consuming forms and procedures for the insurance company to make any changes. Renewing all the sales representatives is often cheaper, and thus the route the insurer frequently takes. This also gives the insurance company bragging rights to how many sales people write for them.

Personally I was shown in state insurance department records as licensed for 11 years after I wrote my last case.

INSURANCE CO FINANCIAL RANKING LISTINGS
There are four or five top independent firms that employ this insurer rating of a company based on a multitude of financial factors. A lot has to do with projecting the financial stability of the insurer. This is accomplished by closely dissecting past and present financial history. It covers how the insurer investments perform, and the rate of return. An insurance evaluation also takes in consideration the amount of cash on hand, and how much exists in reserves to pay present and future claims.

There is a consensus among life insurance association members into believing that the highest rated insurers are the best of the bunch. Yet association members make up less than 12% of the total producer base. The other insurance agents and brokers, (the majority), do not agree that these are always the best ones to use for their client’s needs. Logic tells you that a newer quality insurer does not have past history to start out top ranked. In my situation, clients bought what I presented them. Nearly half the time it was NOT the highest rated company by the rating firms. I however sold the client what their emotional needs demanded. Many past insurance companies with rankings in the best 100 later financially failed, and still frequently do in today’s world.

BY RANKING OF PREMIUMS COLLECTED

This is a very common type of insurance company listing & ranking to produce. Insurance companies are rated by total number of premiums they collected that year. It seems rather unfair to mix annuity premiums in with all dollars collected. Producers know it is easier to sell a $20,000 annuity than a $20,000 premium term insurance policy. The other fault I find with using total premiums collected is with who actually contributed a chunk of the premiums collected. With some companies an enormous amount of these premiums were not collected by the average sales person. A lot of institutional buyers directly bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of annuity premiums.

BY RATINGS IMPORTANT TO HEALTH & LIFE SELLERS

This is my way. As fair and balanced from an sales representative perspective as feasible. Premiums are collected from the 1,500,000 agents, trying to make a living by selling insurance policies in this industry. Often these sales are done one by one. Plus, of this 450,00 independent brokers, semi-independent agents and some career reps write, depending on which company, 50% to 100% of that insurance co business.

This rankings method is imposed because I find the insurance companies listing is intended to be a beneficial directory. One that independent brokers, semi-independent representatives, along with some career reps can turn to. This is a guide directory to other insurers that you may consider writing production for.

The insurance companies listing and ratings guide to the top 100 is purposely placed in alphabetical order instead of by premium or financial data. You may not agree completely with the listing, because we have left in some companies with a strong percentage of business sold in annuities, and investment products.

In the eyes of a typical health and life broker, this guide is of health and life insurance companies is about as accurate as possible.

1. Aetna 2. AIG Life Insurance Company** 3. Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America 4. American Family Life Assurance Co of Columbus 5. American Fidelity Assurance Company 6. American General Life and Accident INS Co** 7. American General Life Insurance Co** 8. American Income 9. American Memorial 10. American National Life 11. Americo Financial Life And Annuity 12. Anthem Blue Cross 13 Aurora National Assurance 14 Aviva Life and Annuity Company 15. AXA Equitable 16.Bankers Life and Casualty Company 17. Banner 18. Beneficial Life 19. C.M. Life Ins 20. Colonial Life & Accident 21. Columbus Life 22. Conseco Life 23. Farmers New World 24. First-Penn Pacific 25.Forethought 26. General American 27. Genworth 28. Gerber 29. Great American 30. Great-West Life & Annuity 31. Guardian 32. Hartford Life and Accident Ins Company 33. Hartford 34. Homesteaders 35. Indianapolis Life 36. ING 37. Jackson National 38. John Hancock 39. John Hancock Life Insurance Company USA 40.. Kansas City Life 41.. Lafayette 42.. Liberty Life Assurance Co of Boston 43.. Liberty National 44.. Life Ins Company of North America 45. Life Ins Company of the Southwest 46. Life Investors Ins Co of America 47. Lincoln Benefit 48. Lincoln Heritage 49. Lincoln National 50. Massachusetts Mutual 51. Metropolitan 52. Midland National 53. Minnesota Life 54. Monumental Life 55. MONY – America 56. MONY – New York 57. National Guardian 58. National Life 59. New England Life 60. New York Life Ins and Annuity Corporation 61. New York Life 62. North American Co for Life & Health Ins. 63. Northwestern Mutual 64. Ohio National Life 65. OM Financial 66. Pacific Life 67. Penn Mutual 68. Phoenix Life Ins 69. Primerica 70. Principal 71. Protective 72. Provident Life and Accident 73. Pruco 74. Prudential – America 75. Reassure America 76. Reliance Standard 77. ReliaStar 78. Riversource 79. Security Life of Denver y 80. Standard 81. Stonebridge 82. Sun Life and Health 83. Sunset 84. Surety 85. Symetra 86. Transamerica 87. Transamerica Occidental 88. Trustmark 89. U.S. Financial 90. Union Central 91. Union Security 92. United Healthcare 93. United Ins Company of America 94. United Investors 95. United of Omaha 96. United States Life 97. Unum 98. West Coast 99. Western and Southern Life 100. Western Reserve Life Assurance Co of Ohio Note: Sagicor Life, Foresters, and Illinois Mutual should appear on the bottom 3 listings, replacing the companies listed above as #6, 2, and 7.

**AIG Life Insurance Company, American General Life, American General Life and Casualty Comments

This group of companies USED to be one the highest premium generating, and highest ranked insurance companies in the United States. Still, after two massive Federal Bailouts, the future is uncertain. Therefore, AIG Life is no longer deserving of being on this top 100 list guide.

GUIDE TO QUESTIONABLE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY LISTINGS

The following insurance companies listings often could be included in different types of some top 100 Life ins company rankings IF you were evaluating premiums written. Sometimes the premiums consist of considerable amounts of annuity premiums. Also counted in would be insurers where a large portion of sales do not come from representatives and sales people. Instead it is written by security stock brokerage firms, and independent broker-dealers of variable investment contracts not governed by insurance departments. In other cases, products may be directly strictly toward teachers, the military, or credit unions. In a couple cases, there are companies with pending litigation. A representation of this mix of insurers is listed below:

1. Cuna Mutual 2. Genworth Life and Annuity 3. Harford Life and Annuity y 4. John Hancock Variable Life 5. Mayflower National 6. Metlife – Connecticut 7. Metlife Investors USA 8. MML Bay State 9. Nationwide 10. Nationwide Life & Annuity 11. NYLife of AZ 12. PHL Variable 13. Sun Life Assurance Co of Canada 14. Teachers Ins and Annuity Assoc of America 15. USAA 16. Shenandoah — financial difficulties

There is a grand total of over 600 Licensed Life/Health Companies “active” in every state of the United States. However, some are not currently writing new business. In addition, there are many active in only one or a few states, so you will find them missing from the top insurance company listings. Most states have a true actual listing count of 220 to 330 life and health home offices currently accepting new cases from licensed agents & brokers.

Advisor’s predition. If I choose from the provider listings above, Foresters would be my top pick as the next rising star. Its innovative niche products are starting to create a high demand. Also watch Genworth, its stock value has zoomed and the company is very adaptive to market opportunities.