U.S. Life Insurance Sales Rise on Covid-19 Fears

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-life-insurance-sales-spike-on-covid-19-fears-11647347494

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Americans went on a buying spree for life insurance in 2021, driven by concerns of death from the coronavirus pandemic.

Premium volume for new individual life-insurance policies surged 20% from 2020, while the number of policies issued rose 5%, the biggest year-over-year percentage gains since the 1980s, according to industry-funded research firm Limra.

“As we zero in on one million Americans who tragically lost their lives, it’s not a surprise that people are thinking about their own mortality and the impact on loved ones if anything were to happen to them,” said David Levenson, Limra’s chief executive.

The exact number of policies sold is still being calculated, but it is expected to top 10 million, Limra said. That milestone was last crossed in 2016. In 2020, an estimated 9.83 million policies were sold, up 1.7% from 2019.

Author(s): Leslie Scism

Publication Date: 15 March 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hits Life Insurers

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/rise-in-non-covid-19-deaths-hits-life-insurers-11645576252

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U.S. life insurers, as expected, made a large number of Covid-19 death-benefit payouts last year. More surprisingly, many saw a jump in other death claims, too.

Industry executives and actuaries believe many of these other fatalities are tied to delays in medical care as a result of lockdowns in 2020, and then, later, people’s fears of seeking out treatment and trouble lining up appointments.

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Primerica executives similarly cautioned in their fourth-quarter call about outsize numbers of non-Covid-19 deaths in 2022. “Some of these will be the result of delayed medical care or the increased incidence of societal-related issues, such as the increased prevalence of substance abuse,” Chief Financial Officer Alison Rand said in an email interview.

From early stages of the pandemic, many medical professionals have raised concerns about Americans’ untreated health problems, as Covid-19 put stress on the nation’s healthcare system.

Trade group American Council of Life Insurers said the pandemic in 2020 drove the biggest annual increase in death benefits paid by U.S. carriers since the 1918 influenza epidemic, totaling billions of dollars. The hit to the industry’s bottom line has been less than initially feared, however, because many victims have been older people who typically have smaller policies, if any coverage.

Still, Covid-19 and other excess deaths have cut into many carriers’ quarterly earnings, especially as deaths linked to the Delta variant increased for people in their working years with employer-sponsored death benefits. “Earnings impacts have been material and there still appears to be some Covid-19 discount, but investors are starting to look through mortality claims costs,” said Andrew Kligerman, a stock analyst with Credit Suisse Securities.

Author(s): Leslie Scism

Publication Date: 23 Feb 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hits Life Insurers

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/rise-in-non-covid-19-deaths-hits-life-insurers-11645576252

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Excerpt:

In earnings calls for the past two quarters, Globe Life Inc.,Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Primerica Inc. andReinsurance Group of America Inc. were among insurers noting higher non-Covid-19 deaths, compared with pre-pandemic baselines.

“The losses we are seeing continue to be elevated over 2019 levels due at least in part, we believe, to the pandemic and the existence of either delayed or unavailable healthcare,” Globe Life finance chief Frank Svoboda told analysts and investors earlier this month.

Among the non-coronavirus-specific claims are deaths from heart and circulatory issues and neurological disorders, he said. “We anticipate that they’ll start to be less impactful over the course of 2022 but we do anticipate that we’ll still at least see some elevated levels throughout the year,” he said.

Primerica executives similarly cautioned in their fourth-quarter call about outsize numbers of non-Covid-19 deaths in 2022. “Some of these will be the result of delayed medical care or the increased incidence of societal-related issues, such as the increased prevalence of substance abuse,” Chief Financial Officer Alison Rand said in an email interview.

From early stages of the pandemic, many medical professionals have raised concerns about Americans’ untreated health problems, as Covid-19 put stress on the nation’s healthcare system.

Author(s): Leslie Scism

Publication Date: 23 Feb 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Covid Spurs Biggest Rise in Life-Insurance Payouts in a Century

Link:https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-spurs-biggest-rise-in-life-insurance-payouts-in-a-century-11639045802

Excerpt:

The Covid-19 pandemic last year drove the biggest increase in death benefits paid by U.S. life insurers since the 1918 influenza epidemic, an industry trade group said.

Death-benefit payments rose 15.4% in 2020 to $90.43 billion, mostly due to the pandemic, according to the American Council of Life Insurers. In 1918, payments surged 41%.

The hit to the insurance industry was less than expected early in the pandemic because many of the victims were older people who typically have smaller policies. The industry paid out $78.36 billion in 2019, and payouts have typically increased modestly each year.

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In the 1918 flu pandemic, the number of U.S. deaths reached about 675,000, with mortality high in people younger than 5 years old, 20 to 40 years old, and 65 years and older, according to the CDC’s website.

The ACLI’s data show two other years, both in the 1920s, when year-over-year increases topped 15%, when there also were influenza epidemics, said Andrew Melnyk, the ACLI’s vice president of research and chief economist.

Author(s): Leslie Scism

Publication Date: 9 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal