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Is your life insurance company a top performer?

By Maryalene LaPonsie on July 24th, 2012

After reviewing financial data from more than 800 health and life insurance companies, the Ward Group has identified the 50 top performing companies in the market. These insurers have outpaced other companies when it comes to financial growth and have posted above-average returns on equity.

The life insurance companies making the top 50 list include a mix of some of the largest names in the industry as well as smaller companies.

Prominent companies making the list include:

  • Aetna
  • Farm Bureau
  • Fidelity
  • New York Life

However, many smaller and less recognizable insurers were also designated as being top performing firms. Some, such as Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Company, offer coverage in a specific geographic area while others, including National Teachers Associates Life Insurance Company and Amalgamated Life Insurance Company, cater to specific professions or workers.

Ward: Two decades of analysis

The current list is the 22nd annual analysis conducted by the Ward Group, a consulting firm that offers benchmarking and best practices services within the insurance industry. In addition to health and life insurance companies, the group also reviews data from property-casualty insurers.

To be considered a top performing company, insurers must meet minimum standards related to their growth, net income and financial surplus. Those that meet these standards are then scored on a variety of criteria, including annual growth in revenue and average returns for assets, equity and total revenue.

Life insurance companies on the list posted significantly higher returns than the average for all companies in the health-life category. The top 50 companies saw their five-year premium income increase 42 percent compared to 5 percent for the industry overall. In addition, these insurers saw a 19 percent increase in statutory return on equity from 2007 to 2011. During the time period, the average return for all companies was only 3.4 percent.

Despite the above-average numbers, Jeff Rieder, partner and head of Ward Group, commented in a statement announcing the results that financial returns declined in 2011 in almost every sector of the insurance industry. Still, companies are taking steps to position themselves for future growth.

"Companies are investing in new systems, improving internal processes and focusing on developing new capabilities to meet customer demands," says Rieder in the statement. "In selecting the Ward's 50, we identify companies that pass financial stability requirements and measure their ability to grow while maintaining strong capital positions and underwriting results."

A complete list of the 50 top performing health and life insurance companies can be found on the Ward Group website.

Maryalene LaPonsie
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.

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