Industry Leader Forum: North American Company for Life and Health Insurance

Playing It Smart. The economic crisis of recent years has taken a serious toll on many in our industry. With the financial world recovering from the great recession, many have been holding their breath until the storm passes. While the clouds have begun to part slightly over the past year, with a reported 5 percent industry-wide growth over 2010’s annualized premium (LIMRA U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Quarterly Report), stock prices remain down by 25 percent (ACLI CEO Report, 2011).
Yet even as the industry as a whole is still recovering from the country’s economic crisis, North American Company continues to grow. During a time when the industry was stagnant, North American’s life sales compound annual growth rate was 8 percent from 2005 to 2010. In fact, relative to the industry, North American is one of the fastest growing companies with our capital and surplus increase of 18 percent in 2010 (BestWeek).
2011 was another good year for North American. Our successes are the direct result of a continued focus on business fundamentals, in addition to the loyalty and production of our distribution partners. We’ve had a great year celebrating our 125th anniversary, maintaining our financial ratings, and reaching our growth goals—but even as we celebrate our past and present achievements, we never take our eyes off the road that lies ahead. And that’s where our sights are set: to the future.
So what do we see when we look down that road? In 2012, we remain focused on creating long term, consistent value for our policyholders, our distributors and our employee owners. We believe that creating long term value requires strength, not size, and quality, not quantity. We focus only on life insurance and annuities, while leveraging our resources to drive business smartly, efficiently and with a high level of service—and have seen substantial growth as a result.
We pride ourselves on taking a hard look at all the variables—from product design to our investment portfolio—so that we can make smart decisions for the long term. We’re deliberate and careful—we don’t make bets on things that could hurt us later. We never forget that ultimately we’re here for our policyowners. Making decisions for the long term means never having to say we’re sorry to our policyowners or our distribution partners for under-performing products or ­financials.
Because we concentrate our efforts so intentionally, we’re able to provide exceptional products to your clients, as well as a distinctive level of service to distribution partners. North American seeks out agents who share our commitment to success, and who have equally high standards. We’re sometimes faced with criticism for our stringent agent selection process. But we’re not going to apologize for that. We want the highest quality producers representing North American.
As a privately owned company, we have the luxury of making decisions for the long term, decisions that are right for us, our policyowners and our distribution partners, rather than succumbing to the competitive landscape or financial pressures.
Our philosophy of partnership has separated us from the pack and allowed us to build solid relationships with our distribution partners. Trust is crucial in this business, not just on the consumer level, but also between North American and our distribution. We have a deep understanding of the independent market—we know our distribution partners, how and where their sales are made, and we stand by our commitment to deliver proven results through our sales programs and support.
All of this—our products, our focus on quality and our strategy—is what has led to North American continually ranking among the best in the industry. We’re proud of our results, and make it our goal to keep reaching for the top. Yet we’re never satisfied with “good enough.” That’s why in the coming year, North American will continue to examine our operations and make improvements wherever we can to strengthen our service and operating model.
We’ve got a positive outlook in 2012, for both the industry as a whole and for North American to grow even stronger. We plan to keep pushing forward, making smart strategic moves and seizing opportunities that will benefit our policyowners, our distribution partners and our company for years to come. [SCP]

January 2012 Issue of Brokerworld Magazine. Author’s Bio Steven  C. Palmitier, CLU, LLIF President, North American Company for Life and Health Insurance

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