The start of 2019 represents new opportunities and an increased focus on what we do best at Ohio National—create and deliver valuable protection benefits for our policyholders.
We have rounded out our recent five-year strategy, which led us to renew our focus on our historic strengths in life and disability income (DI) insurance. As we prepare for this coming year and beyond, our mission remains unchanged: To make a difference in the lives of our policyholders by providing financial security and independence today and for generations to come.
As a mutual company, the decisions we make are for the long-term best interest of all our policyholders. This is in perfect alignment with our field partners’ desire to partner with a company that will best help them meet their clients’ needs.
In addition to focusing on life and DI sales, we are also expanding our presence in Latin America and continuing to offer a diverse portfolio of investment products through ONESCO, our retail broker dealer. From a product offering perspective going forward, we made the decision to no longer sell retirement plans and annuities. We will continue to service and support our existing customers.
Life insurance will always be a primary product focus for us. It is the foundation that protects holistic financial plans and a hallmark for us. With 110 years of experience providing quality life insurance products, including term, whole life, universal life (UL) and indexed universal life (IUL), as well as one of the leading DI products in the industry for individuals and businesses, our value proposition is unique and will continue to attract new distribution partners to our company.
Our increased focus on life and DI will also enhance our organizational agility. Our strategy is strengthened by new leadership and an organizational structure that aligns and integrates all strategic operations—everything including recruiting and onboarding new distribution partners, sales and marketing, underwriting, policy issue, service and claims. Greater focus also increases our long-term financial flexibility to invest in growth opportunities to support our policyholders, customers, business partners, associates and communities in which we operate.
Looking ahead to 2019, I believe our future is bright. We’ll be delivering new whole life products and enhancements and updates to our already competitive DI offering and have continued focus on expanding our distribution channel. Our energy is revitalized in fulfilling our value proposition to our field partners, helping them achieve their business goals by supporting their diverse needs and business models.
What’s new for life and DI
Because all products have to be updated with the 2017 mortality table, we have taken that opportunity to review our whole life portfolio. This review includes the introduction of Prestige 20-Pay, a fifth whole life product, adding depth to our already competitive portfolio.
While offering lifelong protection, Prestige 20-Pay focuses on providing competitive long-term values through guaranteed cash value accumulation and strong dividend potential. This product is ideal for those looking for flexible ways to supplement their retirement income and a preferred loan feature helps policyholders maximize the policy’s potential cash flows.
We’ll also be announcing additional enhancements to our portfolio of whole life, UL and IUL products in the months ahead.
Our life insurance strength is also bolstered by our average face amount, which is one of the industry’s highest for life insurance at $676,976, and our average annual whole life premium, which is the highest in the industry at over $13,100 per policy.1
We are also pleased to maintain the same dividend interest rate for participating whole life insurance policies for 2019. We estimate the dividend total will exceed $100 million, its highest level ever.
For DI, we continue to experience success with the Multi-Life Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI) market, which is the fastest growing area of DI today according to LIMRA. Multi-Life GSI provides field partners the ability to quickly grow their client base and revenue. We expect the multi-life area to become 40 percent of our overall DI sales in the coming years.
We continue to find ways to provide operational efficiencies with a new online life/DI combo application that saves time and accounts for half of our applications submitted online today. We also are looking forward to our partnership with Disability.
Management Services, Inc., to manage our DI administrative and claims management services. This partnership will ensure our DI customers continue to receive the quality customer service they expect.
Latin America updates
Ohio National’s Latin America unit achieved several important milestones last year. Life sales grew 4.4 percent and total production rose 28 percent year-to-date through November, 2018.
Most notably, we launched our initial life product administration platform in Peru. The online illustrator gives field partners a tool that is at the forefront of the local market and allows Ohio National Peru to formally enter the individual life market. Future rollout phases of these systems will bring full automation to the finance and accounting platforms, in addition to the capability for mass consumer products.
Ohio National Peru also formally entered the Peruvian individual life market with our first issued UL policy, an important milestone for our local subsidiary. We are the only current U.S. individual life company with a presence there. We are committed to building the life portfolio to scale and sustainability in this important emerging market in Latin America.
Ohio National Chile has successfully bid to participate in the sixth installation of the national disability and survivorship program, where we expect to help protect millions of families. Ohio National Peru is also continuing its participation in its national SIS program, having successfully bid to stay on risk through year end 2020.
Last year was one of considerable growth for our distribution footprint with the addition of 24 new builder general agencies (GAs), 375 career agents and 359 brokers in the career channel and more than 1,000 producing general agents (PGA). Many of these independent producers joined us because of our competitive IUL and DI products. We have consistently grown our distribution over the past five years in numbers of producers and builder general agents as well as paid and submitted premium.
We continue to find success by offering a wide variety of contracts to best fit a general agent’s business model and agency objectives. Very simply, we support the entrepreneurial approach of all our distribution partners—it’s their vision, their business, we’ll help.
This philosophy has been important in attracting female financial professionals. In 2018 a record number of more than 340 new female field partners joined our career and PGA distribution networks. I am also honored and excited to be Ohio National’s first female president.
While we’re certainly undertaking efforts to support and celebrate diversity—which is critical to the success of our business and industry—some of the most exciting developments are coming from the bold vision of our financial professionals as well as diverse leaders in our home office. This seems particularly true for our female field partners. For example, we launched a new women’s study group to share ideas and make connections and plan to offer more in 2019. We are also actively involved in other organizations supporting diversity such as Women in Financial Services and the Conference of African American Financial Professionals.
Ohio National continues to attract top industry producers as evidenced by our company MDRT ranking, which is #7 of U.S. companies.
Our individual life sales were also strong with our traditional agent distribution selling more than $110 million of new premium through November. 2018 also marked the first full year of Ohio National offering IUL. This product has been very well received by our field partners and we were very pleased to have exceeded our first year sales goal by 33 percent.
Ohio National also continues to break company records in DI. We’re excited by the continued growth of our DI sales, which was supported by the 2017 introduction of ContinuON Income Solutions II®. This new product grabbed the industry’s attention with an impressive balance of strong protection features, design flexibility and competitive pricing.
2018 also marked nine consecutive years of DI sales growth, including our life/DI combo sales. DI sales are up 18 percent over 2017 as of November, 2018.
Looking ahead, I’m very excited about the strategy we’re rolling out and our distinct value proposition. We continue to offer high quality products with the benefits and protection our customers need. We are here to help our field partners best achieve success and ensure that they are delivering value to their customers.
I am honored to be part of a company with such a strong vision and clear path for the future. [BT]
- Reference: LIMRA 2018