Life Groups Calls on States to Review Agent Exam Difficulty

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/09/22/life-groups-calls-on-states-to-review-agent-exam-difficulty/

Excerpt:

The American Council of Life Insurers has joined with two rival producer groups, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and Finseca, to send state lawmakers, insurance commissioners and other policymakers a new 10-page position paper, “A Workplan to Identify & Remove Unnecessary Barriers to Producer Licensure.”

The groups contend that better licensing rules would expand the supply of agents, brokers and other insurance producers, as well as increase producer diversity.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

John Hancock to Pilot 50-Cancer Detection Test

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/09/20/john-hancock-to-pilot-50-cancer-detection-test/

Excerpt:

John Hancock wants to find out what happens when life insurance insureds get a blood test that might reveal early signs of about 50 different types of cancer.

The Boston-based Manulife subsidiary is working with Munich Re and other reinsurers to offer a pilot program that will pay either 50% or 100% of the cost of Grail’s Galleri cancer screening test for insureds in the John Hancock Vitality wellness program.

John Hancock will not get individual test results for the insureds who use the pilot program, nor will the program results affect the participants’ coverage, premiums or Vitality points.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Senate Finance Chair Broadens Inquiry Into Private Placement Life Insurance

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/09/21/senate-finance-chair-broadens-inquiry-into-private-placement-life-insurance/

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Excerpt:

A lawmaker who helps shape federal tax legislation has indicated that he wants to keep wealthy families from using private placement life insurance to replace any federal tax loopholes that Congress closes.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, today announced that he has written to Prudential Financial, Zurich Insurance Group and the American Council of Life Insurers to get more information about the PPLI market, and the possibility that many PPLI policies may serve only to reduce the income taxes of families that rank in the wealthiest 1% of American families, not to provide genuine insurance.

“Is investment in PPLI products marketed to new or existing clients as a means to minimize or eliminate ordinary income, capital gains or estate taxes?” Wyden asks in the letters to Prudential and Zurich. “If so, please explain the legal basis for why these products help minimize or eliminate taxes.”

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 21 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Insurers Must Reach Millennials and Gen Zers. Here’s How

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/09/12/insurers-must-reach-millennials-and-gen-zers-heres-how/

Excerpt:

Based on the widely used Pew Research definitions, the millennials are turning 26 through 41 this year, and Gen Zers are turning 10 through 25.

More than half of Gen Zers ages 16 through 24 are already in the workforce.

It’s time for carriers to innovate rapidly to respond to the buying preferences of members of these generations.

…..

As an example, if the target customers are millennials and Gen Zers who need a simple term life insurance solution, you may want to focus on instant decision underwriting and lower face amounts to meet the most basic needs.

This approach could mean that many historical riders and features are actually not necessary.

It likely also means that the tools used in underwriting need to focus on information that is available instantly as opposed to traditional methods that could take weeks or even months.

Author(s): Jeremy Bill

Publication Date: 12 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Social Security COLA for 2023 Estimated at 8.7%

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/09/13/social-security-cola-for-2023-estimated-at-8-7/

Excerpt:

The consumer price index data for August, released Tuesday, shows 8.3% inflation over the past 12 months before a seasonal adjustment and was 0.1% from July to August on a seasonally adjusted basis. In July, prices rose by 8.5% over 12 months and were unchanged from June.

Based on the new data through August, The Senior Citizens League estimates the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2023 could be 8.7%, lower than the 9.6% it predicted last month.

An 8.7% COLA would be the biggest increase since 1981. The adjustment would increase the average retiree benefit of $1,656 by $144.10, according to the league.

Author(s): Dinah Wisenberg Brin

Publication Date: 13 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

5 Worst States for Working-Age Death Increases in July

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/09/12/5-worst-states-for-working-age-death-increases-in-july/

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Excerpt:

Early government mortality numbers show that the number of U.S. deaths has stayed very high this summer, both for members of the general population and for working-age people.

For all U.S. residents, for the period from July 3 through Aug. 27, the number of deaths recorded in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluView reports was 426,881, according to the report released Friday, which included data sent to the CDC by Sept. 3.

The “all cause” total for the general population was down just 0.8% from the total for the comparable period in 2021, and it was 22% higher than the total for the comparable period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

For U.S. residents ages 25 through 64, the all-cause death total during that same period was 113,665, according to early, weighted data in the CDC’s Weekly Counts of Deaths by Jurisdiction and Age reports, as of Sept. 8.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 12 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

12 States High Earners Are Flocking To

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/08/11/12-states-most-high-earners-are-moving-to/

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U.S. households that earn upward of $200,000 a year can have a significant impact when they move between states, despite their relatively small numbers, according to a recent analysis by SmartAsset. In 2020, these tax filers comprised 6.8% of total tax returns filed across the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

High-earning households’ influence is so great because a state that loses more of them than it gains in a given year may experience a decline in tax revenues and its fiscal situation may worsen.

As part of its analysis, SmartAsset identified the states with the most movement of high-earning households. Researchers examined the inflow and outflow of tax filers making at least $200,000 in each state and the District of Columbia between 2019 and 2020.

Author(s): Michael S. Fischer

Publication Date: 11 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

USAA Customers Have a Strong Grip on Their Life Policies: Researchers

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/07/13/usaa-customers-have-a-strong-grip-on-their-life-policies-researchers/

Excerpt:

USAA — a policyholder-owned insurer that has historically focused on serving military veterans and their relatives — may be the big U.S. life insurer with the lowest policy lapse rate.

A team of researchers led by Ralph S.J. Koijen has presented data supporting that conclusion in a new analysis of how economic slumps affect which insureds drop their life insurance.

To conduct that analysis, the Koijen team crunched data from the public financial reports of the 30 biggest U.S. life insurer groups, for a period from 1996 through 2020.

….

Overall, a severe crisis, such as the 2007-2009 Great Recession, might increase a company’s life policy lapse rate by about 1 percentage point or more, after holding other factors considered equal, the researchers concluded.

The researchers found that, after holding factors such as risk class, smoking use and type of coverage equal, being under age 35 increased the risk of letting a life policy lapse by 46%, and being ages 25 through 34 during an economic slump increase lapse risk by an additional 15%.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 13 July 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Life Insurance Has an Inclusivity Problem

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/06/10/life-insurance-has-an-inclusivity-problem/

Excerpt:

Modern underwriting approaches and distribution methods, often spearheaded by insurtech companies, unlock unique, data-driven insights that enable the industry to understand who they’re serving well — and where they fall short.

The industry can use these insights to adopt a more personalized, progressive approach to product design, underwriting, and distribution to reach specific populations with coverage options and pricing that suits their unique needs.

For the LGBTQ+ community, historical rules and underwriting approaches around mental health could make coverage unattainable or unaffordable.

For example, while our survey didn’t ask respondents about treatment for mental health, the cost of health care in general was a primary concern for nearly 70% of respondents.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that LGBTQ+ people used mental health services at 2.5 times higher rates than heterosexual or cisgender individuals.

Additionally, studies have found that they are two and a half times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse — items that are all considered in the underwriting process for life insurance.

Since many in the LGBTQ+ community struggle with mental health concerns, we must find better ways to understand the situation and evaluate the risk holistically.

Author(s): Jeremy Bill

Publication Date: 10 Jun 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Sanders’ Social Security Bill Would Extend Payroll Tax to Capital Gains for High Earners

Link:https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/06/10/bernie-sanders-new-social-security-bill-would-extend-payroll-tax-to-capital-gains-for-high-earners/

Excerpt:

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced Thursday the Social Security Expansion Act (SSEA), which would, among other measures, boost benefits, adopt the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, or CPI-E, for benefit increases, and subject all income above $250,000 — including capital gains — to the Social Security payroll tax.

Dan Adcock, Director of Government Relations and Policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, told ThinkAdvisor Friday in an email that the DeFazio-Sanders bill, like the Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust, introduced by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., “both extend solvency and improve benefits.”

The Larson bill, however, “is consistent with President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 per year,” Adcock said, while “the Sanders-DeFazio bill is not.”

A Sacred Trust adopts the consumer price index for the elderly as the basis of the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and applies the payroll tax to annual wages above $400,000.

Author(s): Melanie Waddell

Publication Date: 10 June 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Why Social Security Looks ‘Relatively Good’ — for Now

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/06/03/social-security-looks-relatively-good-now-long-term-outlook-still-ugly-ssa-actuary/

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In a post-mortem of the Social Security Trust Fund report released Thursday, the Bipartisan Policy Center hosted a webinar featuring speaker Steve Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration. Goss looked beyond the headlines stating that the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance will run out in 2034 (a slight improvement from last year’s forecasted demise of 2033) and that the Disability Insurance fund is now solvent for another 75 years.

“We’re in a little better shape [than 2021] because the economy has come roaring back to such a wonderful extent,” Goss said.

He also pointed out that labor demand has had a “remarkable rebound.” For example, it took 10 years for the job market to come back after the 2008 Great Recession. However, the 2020 recession, which was “very deep and very abrupt,” has also reversed just as quickly and in the first quarter of 2022, “we are virtually back to the high level that we had just before the start of the recession.”

Author(s): Ginger Szala

Publication Date: 3 June 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Fed Hikes Rates 75 Basis Points; Powell Says 75 or 50 Likely in July

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/06/15/fed-hikes-rates-75-bps-intensifying-inflation-fight/

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The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points — the biggest increase since 1994 — and Chair Jerome Powell said officials could move by that much again next month or make a smaller half-point increase to get inflation under control.

Slammed by critics for not anticipating the fastest price gains in four decades and then for being too slow to respond to them, Chairman Jerome Powell and colleagues on Wednesday intensified their effort to cool prices by lifting the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.5% to 1.75%.

“I do not expect moves of this size to be common,” he said at a press conference in Washington after the decision, referring to the larger increase. “Either a 50 basis point or a 75 basis-point increase seems most likely at our next meeting. We will, however, make our decisions meeting by meeting.”

Author(s): Craig Torres

Publication Date: 15 June 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor