Our Products And Services Are Needed Now More Than Ever
After one of the most challenging years our industry has ever experienced, I feel optimistic about our future and opportunities heading into 2021. Our products and services are needed now more than ever.
Enduring a year that no one saw coming, with a global pandemic, prolonged low interest rates, and increased market volatility, was difficult and brought about an unprecedented scenario for both our industry and the global economy. Despite these headwinds we remain focused on executing our strategy and managing the things we control. We are mindful of the many ways we can fulfill our Mission to help our policyholders, field partners, associates and community achieve financial security and independence today and for generations to come.
In March we quickly transitioned to a remote workforce without service interruption, and continued to deliver valuable protection products and benefits to our policyholders and beneficiaries while continuing to attract new distribution partners.
Our 2020 accomplishments emphasize our commitment to providing great value to our policyholders:
- Paid dividends for 97 consecutive years to eligible policyholders.
- Paid benefits to policyholders and their beneficiaries totaling almost $1.3 billion in benefits in 2019 and more than 1 billion through third quarter of 2020.*
- Introduced a new fixed indexed annuity in May and further enhanced our offering in August with the addition of an annual S&P 500 (higher cap) point-to-point allocation option.
- Enhanced our indexed universal life policy with a new uncapped S&P 500® indexed account.
- Added enhanced flexibility to our whole life portfolio by introducing term and paid up additions riders—available with our three limited pay whole life policies.
- Partnered with two external companies to offer life and disability income clients a wellness report that provides all lab results in an easy-to-understand format.
- ONESCO, our retail broker-dealer, launched the Envestnet Insurance Exchange, an insurance network featuring reputable insurance carriers and annuity products alongside traditional managed account investments.
- Added more than 630 new personal producing general agents as well as 12 builder general agents and 260 career agents.
- Made ongoing investments in technology for our field partners, making policy applications easier with an expanded eSuite (e-illustration, eApp and e-delivery) offering.
- Recognized among the top three whole life insurance providers and the top 15 life insurance companies by Forbes Advisor.
Our mutual heritage continues to guide us as we look ahead to 2021. We know challenges will continue but we remain resilient and are committed to delivering on the promises to our policyholders.
As many of us are glad to have 2020 in our rear view mirror, we look forward to what lies ahead. In 2021 we continue to be laser focused on serving the needs of our field partners and policyholders. The addition of fixed indexed annuities to our life and disability income insurance product lineup allows us to offer a depth and quality of products that give us a competitive advantage. We continue to focus on policyholder value and evaluate products and enhancements to provide solutions for their evolving needs. We are committed to making the customer experience better and we are determined to continue to deliver the service and support our customers expect.
Competitive protection products
We see opportunity in the current environment with our indexed universal life (IUL) product that offers strong accumulation potential while maintaining some of the lowest expenses compared to similar products in the market. With the passing of new illustration regulations (AG49A) we are confident our product stayed true to our mutual principles and avoided the competitive pressures to increase expenses and risk for the benefit of higher illustrated returns. We also see an increasing awareness among financial professionals of the benefits of a traditional low-cost IUL policy to meet client needs.
Our robust life insurance portfolio is well positioned during a time when we believe there is greater awareness of the need and value of life insurance and its ability to protect against risk. Our competitive whole life, universal life, indexed universal life and term products provide exceptional value to meet our clients’ needs now and in the future.
The need to secure income against the risk of disability became an even more sobering reality due to the pandemic. Our policyholders are better able to plan for and protect their future when they add a disability income (DI) insurance policy. To help our customers round out their protection, we continue to offer a permanent discount for the DI policy when purchased with a qualifying life insurance policy.
We expect our DI insurance line to continue to evolve, especially as our ContinuON Income Solutions® II individual DI insurance product becomes available in California in 2021. It offers exceptionally attractive features, occupation classes and definitions, while maintaining attractive flexibility and pricing. Planned enhancements to offer greater flexibility include a student loan rider and lump sum retirement rider, addressing two specific client financial needs, as well as the third generation of this highly competitive product portfolio for individual and employer-sponsored multi-life DI.
Our annuity business remains a key part of our $39.8 billion (as of third quarter, 2020) in assets under management and provides earning diversification. While we no longer sell variable annuities (VA), we continue to service and support our annuity contract holders, and sales of our single premium indexed annuities (SPIA) remain steady.
The addition of our FIA product can help meet client retirement needs by providing the opportunity to accumulate assets by earning tax-deferred interest based in part on the performance of a selected market index. We continue to look at enhancements for the flexibility of this annuity for clients, including the potential addition of riders.
Reaching more financial professionals
We continue to recruit new distribution partners with a value proposition best exemplified by our tagline, “Your business. Your vision. We’ll help.®” Our relationship-oriented approach supports the entrepreneurship and independence each of our financial professionals exhibit. They are attracted to Ohio National for a partner that offers personalized service and support, an array of contract choices, a broad and competitive product portfolio, and an affiliated broker-dealer that respects and supports their independence.
The O.N. Equity Sales Co. (ONESCO) offers registered representatives choice, support and stability. We are in the process of enhancing ONESCO’s open architecture technology package with full e-signature capabilities without a mandated platform. The ONESCO relationship also helps our career channel builder agencies attract and retain top securities professionals and the payout-to-fee ratio remains among the lowest of independent broker-dealers.
We’re excited that our field distribution continues to become more diverse. By recruiting diverse talent, our organization aims to increase access to our product offerings to additional market segments and build competencies in how we do business. Focusing on improving diversity goes beyond metrics; inclusion, awareness and equality help us better execute our Mission, Vision and Values. Ohio National’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion lead us to our recognition as a Leader in Gender Equity by Queen City Certified (QCC), the first data-informed and cohort-based leadership program for gender equity in the United States.
We continue to see the emerging need for life insurance in Latin America. Our subsidiaries in Chile and Peru and our joint venture in Brazil are poised for continued innovation in the boutique life insurance industry despite the challenging economic and political environments.
Additionally, we remain focused on selective strategic opportunities to expand distribution to serve the protection needs of more individuals, families and businesses.
As so many businesses and industries faced restrictions with doing business during a pandemic, these challenges helped propel the need to find new ways to operate. That meant finding opportunities to increase our operational efficiencies to meet the expectations of our field force and policyholders and make it easier to do business with us.
We were able to adjust our underwriting guidelines for a period of time when traditional methods in the life application process were curtailed by social distancing guidelines. We took those lessons learned to continue to pursue a faster, more efficient experience for our application and underwriting while maintaining our hallmark disciplined approach toward long-term sustainability.
Our e-delivery capability expanded beyond our term life policies, and is now available with our whole life, universal life and indexed universal life products. This enhancement created an end-to-end digital experience for life insurance customers, improving the time for policies to be issued and delivered while also reducing costs. We look to expand this service to our DI policies. Technology enhancements on the horizon include e-bill, e-mobile pay, e-service forms and agent dashboard improvements.
We are continuing to implement robotics to automate low exception, high volume and repetitive processes to improve our business efficiencies.
Looking ahead, I continue to be very excited about how we are executing on our strategy. Our diversified product portfolio continues to provide our customers with the benefits and protection they desire.
I am both excited and proud to lead an organization that focuses on serving the needs of our policyholders working towards achieving financial stability and independence, while also cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with our field partners. We continue to offer products, solutions and services that help them achieve financial security and independence now and for generations to come. We also have actively supported our community in this time of need, including support of area Food Banks and a special United Way sponsored Covid-19 relief fund in addition to our annual support. [BT]
*Benefits paid to policyholders and beneficiaries include cash payments for life insurance benefits, systematic withdrawal transactions on deferred annuity contracts, annuity lump sum death claims and disbursements, monthly disability income benefits and retirement plan benefits.
Life insurance, disability income insurance and annuity products are issued by The Ohio National Life Insurance Company and Ohio National Life Assurance Corporation. Product and product features vary by state. Issuers not licensed to conduct business in New York or outside of the United States. The payment of dividends is not guaranteed.