Morning Briefing: Lapse rates concentrate carriers’ minds

Lapse rates concentrate carriers’ minds... Anbang Insurance eyes further NY deals... MetLife in $1.4BN property deal with NY Common Retirement Fund... Icahn demands AIG makes ‘drastic shift’ in vision... Armed forces welfare group underwrites senior appointments... Higham joins Everest Specialty Underwriters...

Richard Brown

Lapse rates concentrate carriers’ minds
Lapse rates for voluntary policies are notoriously hard to calculate, according to a new report. Eastbridge Consulting Group’s survey Voluntary Lapse Rates discovered that of the 22 carriers polled, all but one could measure and track lapse rates for their voluntary business. 

Carriers that record at account level cited average lapse rates from 2-35 percent for their voluntary line. Meanwhile, carriers that track employee level lapses reported an average lapse rate between 12-32 percent.  Most rates at account and employee levels had remained static or risen during the past two years. Rising numbers of takeovers, changes in distribution and new enrollment technology and methods were mentioned as reasons for policies lapsing. 
Anbang Insurance eyes further NY deals
The Chinese owner of New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel has revealed an appetite for more acquisitions in the Big Apple.

Wu Xiaohui, Chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Co., the Chinese insurer which splashed out a record-breaking $2 billion on the Waldorf, told a China General Chamber of Commerce meeting at the hotel New York offered further purchasing prospects.

“New York has a lot of investment opportunities, just like in China”, said Wu, adding that further investment by Anbang “will benefit both China and the U.S. economy”.

The revelation comes on top of Anbang last November snaffling HRG Group Inc.’s Fidelity & Guaranty Life for close to $1.6 billion cash. Wu’s buying spree has embraced office property from Blackstone Group LP and financial companies including Belgian insurer Fidea NV and South Korea’s Tongyang Life Insurance Co.
MetLife in $1.4BN property deal with NY Common Retirement Fund
America’s biggest life insurer MetLife, Inc. has launched a real estate investment venture with New York State Common Retirement Fund, which boasts the third largest public pension fund in the U.S. Managed by MetLife Investment Management (MIM), the new $1.4 billion investment vehicle carries seven properties covering over 3.7 million square feet of mainly office space in major U.S. markets.  

Icahn demands AIG makes ‘drastic shift’ in vision
Carl Icahn is urging American International Group Inc. CEO Peter Hancock unveil a ‘drastic strategic shift’ in vision during his presentation next week (Jan. 26).

The renowned activist investor wants New York-based AIG to shrink in size and scope and boost returns to investors.

Ichan insisted it ‘would be a mistake to squander this opportunity to present a bold new strategy and instead waste investors’ time providing excuses for past underperformance’.

Hancock said he would pursue a “prudent, insightful plan” with the backing of the board. AIG has divested small units, including in Central America and Taiwan. These sales are meagre compared with news last week that MetLife Inc. will sell, spin off or IPO a U.S. retail business with $240 billion in assets. Both MetLife and AIG are regarded as systemically important financial institutions which can trigger tighter capital rules.

In a separate move, AIG has raised limits on property policies to $2.5 billion from $1.5 billion per incident, or 67 percent, in a bid to lure multinational clients. 

Armed forces welfare group underwrites senior appointments 
A venerated military welfare association formed with the blessing of former General of the U.S. Army Dwight D. Eisenhower and its underwriter have announced new appointments and a departmental restructuring.

Led by Cynthia Light, Senior Vice President, Marketing, the marketing department of Alexandria, Virginia-based Armed Forces Benefit Association (AFBA) will merge with the business development unit of 5Star Life Insurance Company (5Star Life).  

Michael Moser, previously Senior Vice President, Compliance; General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of 5Star Life, will now become General Counsel for the entire AFBA / 5Star Life enterprise.  AFBA claims 435,000 members with over $42 billion of life cover in force and in excess of $1.8 billion of claims paid since inception.
Higham joins Everest Specialty Underwriters
Everest Re Group has named Charles Higham Vice President and leader of the Financial Institutions Group at Everest Specialty Underwriters, a division of Everest Insurance. Higham will be responsible for professional liability lines at the unit which serves the security broker/dealer industry, insurance agents, asset managers, and the banking and insurance industries.  

Formerly of Zurich North America, where he led the financial institutions group, Higham’s career has included stints at Gulf Insurance Group, plus underwriting and management positions at The Hartford and Arch Insurance Group.

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