American National Insurance Company

    “STEADY AS SHE GOES”—A command to the helmsman to observe the compass direction on the present heading and maintain that course. This phrase and definition are the best descriptions for American National Insurance Company (ANICO). Founded in 1905 and paying dividends every year since 1911, ANICO is “steady as she goes.” Based on published results through the third quarter of 2014, total annualized premium continued its steady positive double-digit growth. 2014 was another good year for ANICO despite the low interest rate environment and regulatory challenges to ­consumer-oriented product approvals.

    Our focus has been and will continue to be on middle income America. There were numerous accomplishments in 2014, and we are proud of our continuing steady movement forward.

    Products: In 2014 we introduced the new Signature Indexed Universal Life (IUL). This new series of IUL products continued the focus on the accumulation market with two new annual point-to-point buckets in addition to the existing, very popular, high cap bucket. Sales results have been outstanding.

    Relationships: A unique proprietary IUL product was released for one of our largest distribution clients. This was a promise we made to them due to their commitment to ANICO. The proprietary product was designed in concert with the partner distributor and was released on time for introduction at their annual convention. The product has been a huge success.

    Services: We listened to you, our customer. Early in the year, we implemented a state-of-the-art commission advancing system which increases accuracy through easier to understand transaction reconciliation. We also implemented a new contracting workflow system which has decreased the process time dramatically. Both of these system innovations were major investments for ANICO and a huge step forward in making it easier to write business with us.

    Challenges: When this article is released in January, I expect the IUL illustration debate will not be settled. ANICO is fully supporting the ACLI proposal and plans to continue this support. Please get involved with this issue by telling the insurance companies you work with and your state’s department of insurance (DOI) where you stand on the issue. We believe the ACLI proposal is in the best interest of the consumer while acknowledging that indexed universal life is different in structure from whole life or current assumption universal life. A personal comment: Isn’t it amazing how an “expert’s” attitudes and opinions change when the entity paying the expert’s salary changes? Based on conversations regarding this subject at the recent NAILBA meeting, many share the same opinion. Another challenge experienced by many insurance companies is with state departments of insurance not applying the same product approval standards to all companies. Just like ANICO, there are many frustrated insurance companies that believe this practice creates unfair competition and is harmful to the very consumers the DOIs are supposed to protect. We continue to be diligent in seeking approvals so we can bring a choice of quality products and features to consumers in every state.

    For 2015, ANICO will continue the steady movement forward for the continued success of ANICO and our distribution partners.

    Products: We will continue to pursue product innovations. Although I cannot comment in detail on product development at this time, we are looking at many of our products with plans to increase the competitiveness and features for our customers.

    Relationships: ANICO will continue to support partnership relationships through enhanced services, product innovation and financial marketing support. We are open to win-win relationships with distributors, including non-traditional BGA distributors who understand our value proposition and do not spreadsheet every case. We will continue to reduce the number of top contracts in the field to add value to the distribution partners who are actively promoting and producing with ANICO. Not everyone is a fit for ANICO; therefore, not everyone should have an ANICO contract.

    Services: We made another large investment in our systems which will positively impact our life new business workflow during the year. More information will be released later this year, but our partners will see faster turnaround of pending life applications which will lead to higher placement rates and receipt of commissions sooner.

    Challenges: Hopefully the IUL illustration debate will be resolved so the industry can move forward without controversy. Our goal is to provide quality illustrations with reasonable assumptions, giving consumers a way to access quality life insurance while at the same time accumulating value within the contract for supplemental retirement income when desired.

    We also are very concerned about the absence of new brokerage agencies and brokerage agencies which are transitioning to the next generation of ownership. The LIMRA brokerage committee is in beginning discussions with NAILBA to develop a program to shine a spotlight on this situation. Our goal is to find a way to assist in the growth of the brokerage market working in concert with agencies. A survey is in progress which should help in determining the direction of this program. More to come on this project.

    In summary, if you want to work with people who value relationships and will help you grow your company, then you should consider a win-win relationship with ANICO. We are not a company for everyone; however, we are the company for a select few. We look forward to earning your business in 2015. [CWK]

    Craig W. Klenk, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, Vice President Brokerage Sales, American National Insurance Company